October celebrates a monumental event in the history of Comstock’s more than 100 year history. This month, we are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of when our two companies – Comstock & Theakston, Inc. and C.J. Holt & Co, Inc. – joined together as one. The story of how this occurred and what has happened since 1987 is unique and we wanted to take the time to share it with you…

In the late 1980’s the duty drawback community in New York was a small, friendly group of four major players – J.G. Eberlein run by John Eberlein and Ed Denninger, F.E. Wallace run by Ned Wallace and Frank McCarthy, C. J. Holt run by John Van Buskirk and Tom Ahearn, and Comstock & Theakston, Inc. led by myself (Dave Simcox).  Although we were all competitors, we often formed a united front when dealing with issues with Customs.  As such, we all knew one another and had our own recognized industries we specialized in for drawback:  Eberlein was the piece goods expert; Wallace was sugar; Holt was chemicals; and Comstock focused on tobacco and metals.  John Eberlein was the elder statesman on the group, and I was the youngster on the block.

In the mid 1980’s John Van Buskirk approached me to see if I had any interest in buying his company. Holt had an excellent reputation and was one of the oldest drawback specialists in the country (customs broker license #73), so I knew this was a great opportunity to expand on Comstock’s current client base and to gain the extensive experience and history of a well-respected name. After an amicable agreement with John, Comstock officially purchased Holt as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Due to the history of the name, we decided to keep the Holt name on the marketplace instead of merging Holt into Comstock, but it was agreed that the two companies would work seamlessly together – sharing resources, staff, and office space.

I appointed Ed Van Ek (aka the Godfather of Drawback, as he eventually became known) as the President of Holt, while I remained as President of Comstock. We immediately set out to meet with the existing Holt accounts to establish relationships and analyze the drawback potential in each account. In a matter of 10 years we doubled Holt’s business and have continued to grow Holt’s book of accounts since that time, expanding both companies into all commodities and industries.

By taking a risk with the purchase of C.J. Holt & Co., our company and our people have been able to grow in ways that were not possible beforehand. In my 42 years here, I know that this decision in October 1987 was one of the best strategic moves that I have made in my drawback career.


From the desk of: Dave Simcox, President & CEO of Comstock & Holt