Andy Puzder, CEO of Carl’s Jr. parent CKE Restaurants, has for the first time publicly put a hard date on the fast-food firm’s possible move to Texas. Nothing will happen before 2015, when the lease on the company’s Carpinteria headquarters expires, Puzder said.
Puzder spoke at a “Meet the CEO” speaker series sponsored by the Martin V. Smith School of Business at CSU Channel Islands near Camarillo on Sept. 9. His address was devoted to a critique of government stimulus proposals to revive the economy, explaining why he feels they cannot be the basis for sustained job creation.
During a question and answer session after his speech, the Business Times asked Puzder for an update on reports CKE is actively considering a move of its headquarters to the Lone Star State.
“Yes, there is a possibility that we will move to Texas,” Puzder said. He said that CKE has a lease on its Carpinteria headquarters, where some 120 people work at relatively high-paying jobs, until 2015.
“We’d love to stay,” he said, and he noted that he has been talking to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Gov. Jerry Brown about the business climate in California. No decision is imminent, he said, and management will continue to consider the issue through 2014.
He said CKE plans to build 300 restaurants in Texas over the next 10 years. Comparing the business climate in the two states, he said it takes eight months to get permission to build an outlet in California, and only six weeks in Texas. Regulations on overtime and work breaks are more flexible in Texas, he said, and there is no state income tax there.
Puzder said he received a phone call from Texas Gov. Rick Perry 18 months ago inviting him to make the move of the company headquarters.
In his prepared remarks to well over 200 people at the luncheon, Puzder reacted to President Obama’s proposal Sept. 7 for stimulating the economy by saying he liked better what the president had to say in an Aug. 5 speech. In that address, Obama said the U.S. needs to create a self-sustaining cycle of spending by consumers, hiring by businesses and growing the economy.
Puzder said government stimulus cannot create a self-sustaining cycle. It uses tax dollars that people were going to spend anyway and redirects them, Puzder said. And the worst part, Puzder said, is that stimulus measures expire.
He said recent reports indicate that businesses are sitting on $2 trillion that they are not investing in creating jobs. The reason, he said, is that there is too much uncertainty about taxes, labor costs — particularly health insurance costs — and energy costs for businesses to draft a five-year plan with any confidence.