Tracy Britt Cool Leaving Berkshire Hathaway

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One of Warren Buffett’s most trusted lieutenants is leaving Berkshire Hathaway. Tracy Britt Cool will be leaving the company to form her own business acquisition company.

Britt Cool plans to launch a new long-term platform to acquire and build businesses. She will use her experience from Berkshire Hathaway as a value investor and an entrepreneurial-minded operator to focus on buying and growing companies that are smaller than Berkshire Hathaway’s size threshold for acquisitions.

Britt Cool has been with Berkshire Hathaway for 10 years. In addition to serving as CEO of Pampered Chef for the last 5 years, she has held a variety of roles including Financial Assistant to the Chairman, board member of Kraft Heinz, and Chairman of several Berkshire Hathaway companies.

To support a smooth transition, Britt Cool will remain with Pampered Chef until March 2020, when Pampered Chef’s Chief Operating Officer Andrew Treanor will become CEO.

“While it has been a difficult decision to leave such an amazing and well-respected company, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with Warren Buffett, as well as many accomplished colleagues,” Britt Cool shared. “I’m proud of my time at Berkshire Hathaway and am grateful to have helped grow several Berkshire companies, including Pampered Chef. Our team has transformed Pampered Chef into a vibrant company that is growing, innovating, and enriching lives. I’m confident Andrew is the right leader to continue to drive our growth and success.”

Over the last five years, Pampered Chef focused on rebuilding the foundation of the business and creating new engines for growth through a renewed focus on the independent consultant base, a refreshed brand, enhanced product innovation, expanded international footprint, and significant digital channel growth. Following more than a decade of decline, the company has meaningfully grown sales and earnings over the last 5 years. It has grown into a strong and diverse business with more than 50% of Pampered Chef’s business now coming from digital sales, up from approximately 10% in 2014.

Warren E. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, stated: “Five years ago I asked Tracy to redirect and re-energize Pampered Chef. Direct selling was encountering new challenges and Pampered Chef’s sales and earnings had been declining. Under Tracy’s leadership, major financial gains have been achieved. Even more important, our corps of consultants is rapidly growing and prospering. Tracy is handing Andrew a company infused with excitement and momentum.”

“As a founder, I couldn’t have asked for a better leader and partner in rebuilding Pampered Chef than Tracy. She has played a critical role leading the company’s transformation and building a strong team to continue our growth,” said Doris Christopher, Founder and Chairman of Pampered Chef. “I’m confident in Andrew’s leadership and Pampered Chef’s growth, and I’m excited for what Tracy will do next. I know she will be successful in building even more companies and will be a strong partner to founders, entrepreneurs, and management teams.”

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Adds Staff in France

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) today announced that it has expanded its leadership team in France, naming Katell Pouliquen as Head of Claims, Louis du Ché as Head of Property and Ludovic Ruiller as Head of Environmental.

“We are pleased to begin expanding our team in Paris with three individuals who are exceptionally well equipped to bring to market the strong value that resides in BHSI’s underwriting expertise, claims excellence, and financial strength,” said François-Xavier d’Huart, Country Manager for France, BHSI. “We look forward to continuing to round out our team and our capabilities in France and throughout Europe.”

Katell Pouliquen has been honing her claims expertise for more than 15 years. She spent the majority of her career moving through increasingly senior claims positions at AIG Europe in Paris, where she was most recently Deputy Head of Claims. She holds one master’s degree in Insurance Law from the University of Paris Créteil, and another in Law and Social Sciences from University La Sorbonne.

Louis du Ché comes to his role as Head of Property with more than a decade of insurance industry experience. He was most recently Global Property Manager, Benelux, at AIG Europe Limited. Prior to that, he held increasingly senior roles in property insurance at other major insurers in France. He earned a master’s degree and European Bachelor of Science in Business degree from the Ecole Supérieure d’Assurances (ESA).

Ludovic Ruiller brings to BHSI nearly 20 years of experience in the environmental field, spanning both technical consulting and underwriting. He was most recently Environmental Risks Line Manager, France & Benelux, at Axa XL. Before that, he spent 12 years specializing in environmental risk underwriting at AIG Europe and ASSURPOL in France. He holds a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Ecole des Métiers de l’Environnement in Rennes, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology & Ecosystems from the University of Rennes I.

BHSI’s initial focus in France is on large and upper middle market customers. The company will continue to expand product offerings in France, with construction, casualty and executive & professional lines capabilities expected to launch soon.

© 2019 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Carloads Make Up Ground after Weak Spring

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BNSF Railway’s carloads for 2019 have made up some ground from earlier in the year, but continue to lag 2018. The decline is due in part to decreases in coal and grain shipments.

Coal shipments as of the week ending September 7, 2019, are down 5.2% over the same period last year, and combined intermodal and carloads numbers are down 3.90% in the aggregate.

Also, showing weaker numbers are grain shipments, which are down 10.53%, and shipments of motor vehicles are down 4.9%.

2018 was a strong year for BNSF, with the combined carloads including intermodal up 4.03% over 2017, however 2019’s numbers have been hurt by weak global demand for coal and severe flooding in the Midwest during the spring that closed some routes and slowed others.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Audi Looking to BYD for EV Batteries

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Chinese battery and vehicle maker BYD and Volkswagen Group’s premium car brand, Audi, are reportedly in advanced stages of negotiation on an agreement that would see BYD become a key battery supplier for Audi’s EV cars.

The batteries would equip cars the Premium Platform Electric architecture jointly designed by Audi and Porsche engineers.

Audi has announced 15 EVs, which it plans to bring to market by 2025, with the first debuting in the spring of 2022.

Volkswagen has been working with BYD’s Chinese competitor CATL, and has been looking to broaden its battery sourcing as it looks toward a heavily electric vehicle future.

Volkswagen work with CATL goes back to its development of its battery-assisted start/stop system, and CATL also has been working with BMW since 2011.

Volkswagen first began exploring battery development with BYD in 2009.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $230 million has grown in value almost ten-fold, and is now worth roughly $1.96 billion.

For More on BYD, read the Special Report: BYD, Berkshire’s Tesla.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Offers Commercial Package Coverage in New Jersey

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Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies recently added their Commercial Package product in New Jersey. This offering includes: Commercial Property with limits up to $120 million per location with an enhanced causes of loss form which includes built-in equipment breakdown and inland marine coverages as well as crime coverage; General Liability with base limits of $1 million to $6 million with even higher limits considered; Employment-Related Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI); and Commercial Umbrella for added protection. According to CEO Sy Foguel, “Our goal is to become a ‘One Stop Shop’ for our agents and their insureds. We continue to expand our portfolio to supply our network of independent agents with quality products that enable them to grow. New Jersey is our second state for Commercial Package after initially rolling it out in Pennsylvania, and more states are soon to follow.”

Executive Vice President Lyle Hitt explains that “GUARD’s coverages are unique, including our built-in inland marine protection for Commercial Property that sets us apart from our competitors in the market. We further enhance our base coverages with a wide range of add-ons and industry-specific endorsements. We take a customized approach to expanding the limits and scope of traditional property and casualty insurance.”

According to Vice President of Commercial Package Ellen Hauser, “Our Package product is designed to address the insurance needs of larger, more complex operations or businesses with multiple exposures.” Hauser also notes that “our initial target markets include light-to-medium manufacturing, wholesalers and distributors, truck stops/travel plazas, resort hotels, and country clubs/golf courses with plans to expand into additional markets.”

GUARD’s Assistant Vice President of Marketing Elizabeth Hartman says, “Our product is competitively priced with discounts available when two or more lines are purchased as well as additional discounts based on unique business characteristics. Agents should make sure to combine their CPP quote with a submission for other applicable commercial lines – like Workers’ Comp and Commercial Auto.”

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies is a property and casualty insurance specialist writing policies nationwide for over a quarter million policyholders. Headed by CEO and President Sy Foguel, the Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies maintain a total of eight offices throughout the country.

© 2019 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Borsheims Creates New Position, Promotes Executive

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Borsheims has promoted Adrienne Fay to Vice President overseeing the customer purchase journey. In this newly created role, Fay will ensure that customers shopping online, by phone, or in person will have the same excellent experience that is a hallmark of Borsheims since its founding in 1870.

In her new position, Fay will bring together every part of the store that interacts with customers and unite them in a true omnichannel approach. It is a strategy Borsheims has been focusing on as it moves toward its 150th anniversary, making several changes including:

• Implementing and converting to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution,
• Developing ‘virtual showroom’ technology to allow the sales team to create personalized selections for retail and business customers,
• Implementing new eCommerce and Gift Registry platforms that allow for ease of navigation and ordering for customers,
• Promoting new customer outreach tools, both in traditional and new media methods,
• Creating a new role, eCommerce Fulfillment Specialist, dedicated to ensuring online orders and customer interactions receive the same instore exemplary customer service, and
• Unveiling a new corporate gifts online ordering functionality, working with companies, educational institutions, and nonprofits throughout the United States to help reward their employees.

Fay is a 15-year veteran of Borsheims, most recently serving as the Director of Marketing and Business Sales. In that role, she led the marketing team, grew and managed Borsheims’ business sales division, and guided the store’s philanthropic efforts. She also oversaw the store’s participation in the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders weekend, including the shareholder-only parties at Borsheims and the mini-Borsheims at the exhibitor’s hall.

Borsheims President & CEO Karen Goracke believes in the importance of serving the customer however they choose to shop. “Customers value Borsheims integrity and quality, and we in turn value making shopping a seamless experience for them – no matter how they come to us,” Goracke said. “Whether it’s an online sale, a live chat that leads to an instore consultation, or research conducted on borsheims.com for a special purchase—we are designing all our business functions with the customer in mind. Adrienne has the ideal skills to lead us in that direction.”

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett echoed, stating, “Borsheims has been in business for nearly 150 years due to its leaders’ ability to adapt to the environment around them. The evolving business focus and Adrienne’s promotion to this new role are evidence of that.”

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Lubrizol Receives Gold Sustainability Rating From EcoVadis

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As an affirmation of its commitment to sustainability, Lubrizol is proud to announce the company recently received a Gold sustainability rating from EcoVadis. EcoVadis is the world’s most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings, providing detailed assessments of business’ environmental, social and ethical performance.

A Gold rating means Lubrizol scored within the top five percent of more than 55,000 companies rated by EcoVadis and the top two percent of its industry. The company was evaluated on the strengths of its actions and policies relative to Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement. This is the sixth year Lubrizol was part of the EcoVadis evaluations and has seen a steady increase in its scores every year.

“The EcoVadis scores are an important external validation of our focus on sustainability,” says Julie Edgar, Lubrizol’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Lubrizol touches the lives of billions of people every day, and we take our responsibilities to those consumers, our customers, our employees and our communities very seriously.”

Lubrizol’s commitment to inspiring sustainability that improves lives is fully integrated across the organization. The company’s approach includes a broad view of sustainability, including balance among Environmental, Social, Governance and Ethics, and Economic factors, as well as life-cycle thinking to support business strategies.

In addition to its own internal sustainability assessments, the company seeks and incorporates external stakeholder feedback, such as the EcoVadis scores, and applies global trends to identify opportunities in the continued progression of its sustainability strategy and practices.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment

BYD Pure Electric Buses Running at Kansas City International Airport

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Chinese battery and vehicle maker BYD now has its pure electric buses running at the Kansas City International Airport.

The Kansas City International Airport added four BYD K7 transit buses to their bus fleet and is now greener than ever.

The K7 seats 22 plus the driver and has a range of up to 150 miles and a top speed of 56 mph.

The buses use BYD’s iron phosphate batteries, and have a charging time of 2.5-3 hours.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $230 million has grown in value almost ten-fold, and is now worth roughly $1.96 billion.

For More on BYD, read the Special Report: BYD, Berkshire’s Tesla.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Wellfleet Insurance Co. Takes Over NGL’s Student & Special Risk Business

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Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance company Wellfleet has agreed to terms with National Guardian Life Insurance Company (NGL) to acquire through renewals its Student and Special Risk business.

Much of that business is processed through Commercial Travelers Life Insurance Company in Utica, New York, a wholly owned NGL subsidiary.

Wellfleet will immediately assume responsibility for administrating NGL’s special risk policies and collegiate accident and health insurance, which insures over 26,000 students on approximately 100 campuses across the United States. Wellfleet will maintain NGL’s Utica, NY office, employing more than 30 insurance professionals.

“We are pleased that we have entered into this agreement with Wellfleet, one of the nation’s leading providers of health and accident insurance products to the higher education market. This transition provides our customers the ability to renew their business with a highly respected insurer who will deliver quality service. This transaction allows NGL to focus on our other lines of business,” said Knut A. Olson, NGL’s President & CEO.

“Wellfleet’s specialization in Student and Special Risk coverage for more than 25 years, and respected reputation in the market, gives NGL’s talented employees, loyal clients, and growing member base the best possible solution for operational continuity,” Olson said.

Wellfleet President & CEO, Andrew DiGiorgio, noted Wellfleet’s longtime business relationship with NGL and Commercial Travelers, and reiterated Wellfleet’s commitment to a smooth transition for NGL’s clients and members.

“Our priorities are to honor the commitments NGL extended to its customers, and to deliver quality service and customer-centric solutions to clients, members and distribution partners,” said DiGiorgio.

Completion of the transaction is subject to various conditions, including the receipt of required regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Strike Over at Berkshire Hathaway-Owned Plant

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The strike is over at a Berkshire Hathaway-owned metals plant in upstate New York.

More than 200 workers at Berkshire Hathaway’s Specialty Metals spent three weeks walking a picket line. At issue were the long hours workers put in at the plant, which runs 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Workers ratified a new contract on Saturday morning and they will be back to work as of Monday.

The Special Metals plant in New Hartford, New York, produces premium quality nickel base superalloys for both static and rotating aerospace and land-based gas turbine applications.

Specialty Metals is owned by Berkshire Hathaway’s Precision Castparts Corp., which is a global conglomerate operating in more than a dozen countries that manufactures complex metal components and products, high-quality investment castings, forgings and fastener systems for power generation, aerospace, space exploration, military and other mission-critical applications.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.