• Standing Firm (1925 - 1945)

    Through the Great Depression and World War II, in a time when reservations about installment buying ran deep, CIT maintained an unshakeable belief in the soundness of American institutions and the good judgment of its customers.


    Standing Up For Consumers

    "The American is now the best customer in the world," declared Henry Ittleson in 1926, while defending installment purchasing from critics who feared it encouraged irresponsible debt. Though hard times lay ahead, Ittleson stood firm in his view of the reliability of consumers.

    The times offered evidence for both views. A Florida real estate bust in 1925-1926 increased auto repossessions and cost CIT $422,000, the largest loss in the company's history to that point. But 1926 also brought CIT record profits of $3.5 million. The company moved to larger quarters at One Park Avenue, continued expanding its auto finance business, and in 1928 entered a new field, factoring. Just a few months after the notorious stock market "Crash of '29," CIT announced another year of record earnings, additional diversification and expansion, and new offices in Europe. During the next few years the company provided financing for the Detroit Aircraft Company, signed a contract with Sears Roebuck for consumer purchases of Coldspot refrigerators, and acquired William Iselin & Company, Inc., making CIT subsidiary, Commercial Factors Corporation, the nation's largest factoring business.

    Through the Hard Times

    CIT remained remarkably sound throughout the 1930s, the worst economic decade in U.S. history. And in the summer of 1933, the company lent its financing expertise to a federal commission that established the Federal Housing Administration. With war clouds on the distant horizon, CIT closed its German operations in 1934.
    Through the remainder of the decade, CIT acquired Universal Credit Corporation, Ford Motor's financing wing; launched a new subsidiary, Equipment Acceptance Corporation, to provide financing for machinery and equipment manufacturers; and established the CIT Safety Foundation to promote safe driving. In 1939, Arthur O. Dietz succeeded Henry Ittleson as CIT President, while Ittleson remained as Chairman of the Board.

    On To Victory

    America's entry into World War II in December 1941 focused CIT efforts, along with the entire nation's, on victory. CIT offered a month's bonus pay, life insurance and a guaranteed job on return to its 2,000 employees who served in the armed forces. CIT also acquired two manufacturing companies in the early war years, Microswitch Corporation and Holzer-Cabot Electric Company. Both earned awards from the military for outstanding productivity. By war's end in 1945, both CIT and the country looked eagerly toward a future of peace and stability.