Monthly Archives: March 2017

MiTek’s SAPPHIRE Supply Brings Big Results for McCabe Lumber

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s MiTek USA has announced that Cincinnati-based McCabe Lumber has implemented MiTek’s SAPPHIRE Supply, resulting in a 50% reduction in the time required to generate estimates and material take-offs.

McCabe Lumber is a long-time user of MiTek’s SAPPHIRE Structure for designing and manufacturing prefabricated components.

Using SAPPHIRE Supply, the newest SAPPHIRE module, McCabe can now create the most-accurate 3-D BIM structural frame in the building industry. With SAPPHIRE Supply, a wide range of structural products can be designed for roofs, floors, and wall applications, including proprietary EWP products, dimensional lumber, and MiTek’s USP Structural Connectors’ metal connectors.

SAPPHIRE Supply can also estimate non-structural materials such as drywall, roofing, and housewrap. A flexible formula-builder gives SAPPHIRE Supply users the power to define their own accumulation rules, further increasing accuracy.

McCabe Lumber has a staff of 120 and generates $40 million in annual revenue, Its customers are predominantly high-end custom production home builders and professional remodelers.

“With SAPPHIRE Supply, our material counts and delivery stages are so accurate, we see a clear path to reducing the error and waste rate from as much as 8% down to 2%, which is near-perfect accuracy,” said Dave Renchen, McCabe Lumber’s Estimating Manager.

“SAPPHIRE Supply uses a single shared structural model, and that offers McCabe a unified solution for efficient, consistent and accurate modeling, estimating, on order fulfillment across their organization,” explained MiTek’s Brian McCormick. “SAPPHIRE Supply eliminates the classic problem of inconsistent sales estimating, because it delivers accurate modeling and estimating on every structure.”

© 2017 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.

Intero Real Estate Services Recognized with Leading RE Awards

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Intero Real Estate Services, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc, received recognition at the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World annual Awards Gala on March 2, 2017 in Miami.

Leading RE is a global community of more than 550 high quality independent real estate firms with offices around the world.

Intero serves Northern California with 16 offices throughout the greater Silicon Valley. The Intero Franchise network is comprised of nearly 50 affiliates located in Alabama, Arizona, California, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. The company is headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley.

In addition to the awards received, Intero collected a record number of nominations this year. The dedication Intero applies to excellence in real estate is reflected not only by devoted and skilled associates, but also Intero as a whole for its outstanding accomplishments in 2016.

Intero was one of the recipients of the Top Five Outgoing Closers Award, given to companies with the highest volume of property sales. Having received this award, Intero has accepted its position by improving outgoing referral equivalent closings by 217% in 2016, as well as continuing its commitment to offering unparalleled service and advocacy for their clients. In addition, Intero also received the Momentum Club Award from LeadingRE for its continued efforts in expanding its scope of influence in their field.

Tom Tognoli, President and Chief Executive Officer at Intero says of the awards received, “The dedication our agents put forth in order to not only service our clients, but also giving their time and expertise to the greater community of real estate professionals is something we take great pride in. And, this year, we are very happy to see one of our own acknowledged for her outstanding contributions.”

Diana McGrogan, Director of Relocation at Intero, was acknowledged individually by receiving the President’s Service Award. Her efforts on behalf of Intero and her clients is well-recognized not only by her co-workers and customers, but also by receiving this esteemed accolade from LeadingRE. Diana works hard for her clients, ensuring they are represented by only the most dedicated agents and brokers.

Diana says of her award, “It’s been a great opportunity to work at Intero, and having received this award. Being a member of Leading RE’s Relocation Advisory Council, I recognize the importance of working with our associates out in the field.” Diana continues, “Our team at Intero has received these recognitions not only through our individual contributions, but by working together to achieve our company goals.”

© 2017 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.

Berkadia’s L.A. Office is Top Freddie Mac Lender in Western Region, Again

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Berkadia, Berkshire Hathaway’s joint venture with Leucadia National Corporation, has announced that its Los Angeles team was recently recognized as the 2016 top conventional seller/servicer office by Freddie Mac in the western region for multifamily loans.

This is the third consecutive year that the L.A. office has topped the ranking.

The L.A. office originated $3.16 billion with Freddie Mac in 2016, representing 72 loans secured throughout the country. The L.A. office’s 2016 production with Freddie Mac increased more than a 25 percent over 2015, a year in which they were also the top office in Freddie Mac’s western region.

“Berkadia is proud to recognize our Los Angeles mortgage banking team for the third year in a row. Their continued in-depth knowledge of the programs, deep relationships with the Freddie Mac team and relentless desire to serve their clients has clearly led to their success,” said Ernie Katai, executive vice president and head of production at Berkadia. “It’s work like this being completed by Berkadia offices—in Los Angeles and across the country—that underscores the reason why, on a nationwide combined basis, Berkadia is number one with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and HUD, as well as having the distinction of being the one and only lender ranked in the top four within all of these organizations.”

In 2015, Berkadia’s Los Angeles team originated $2.52 billion, and in 2014, they secured $1.79 billion in financing through Freddie Mac.

About Berkadia

Founded in 2009 as a 50/50 joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corporation, Berkadia is a third-party commercial mortgage servicer, as well as an approved lender for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD/FHA.

The company is among the top Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae multifamily lenders.

Berkadia owes its origins to GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, which was acquired in 2009 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Christened Capmark Financial, the company had $10 billion of originations in 2008 and a servicing portfolio of more than $360 billion before running into bankruptcy in October 2009.

In a deal approved by the bankruptcy court, Capmark sold its mortgage loan and servicing to the newly formed Berkadia in a deal worth $515 million.

The deal brought Berkshire into the heart of the commercial loan serving business, and the company has one of the largest commercial real estate servicing portfolios.

© 2017 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.

BYD to Build Electric Bus Assembly Plant in France

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BYD Company is continuing to build out its global electric bus manufacturing capability. The Chinese battery and vehicle maker has announced it will invest €10 million in a new assembly plant in the town of Allonne, near Beauvais, in Hauts-de-France.

The project will create roughly 100 jobs in its initial phase. The production facility will occupy 32,000 sq m of a parcel totaling nearly 80,000 sq m, and will assemble up to 200 vehicles a year—single-deck buses and coaches—in its first phase.

Other vehicles may be added as BYD expands its product line.

Production is scheduled to get underway in the first half of 2018. In addition to bus assembly, BYD plans an after-sales unit for maintenance and repairs, as well as a logistics center for spare parts. In the longer term, a test center for batteries could be added.

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 is now worth roughly $1.77 billion.

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

© 2017 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 Breaks Ground on Polyisobutylene Unit in Texas

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Lubrizol Corporation has broken ground on the construction of a new polyisobutylene (PIB) unit at its Deer Park, Texas facility.

The facility is being developed as part of Lubrizol’s previously announced technology license agreement with Daelim Industrial.

Commenting on the new unit, Dan Sheets, president of Lubrizol Additives, states “With this significant investment, Lubrizol intends to meet future customer demands, as well as be fully prepared for anticipated performance upgrades in lubricants and fuels.”

The new unit is expected to be fully operational in the first half of 2019. It will provide Lubrizol with capacity for highly reactive polyisobutylene (HR PIB), a key raw material for next-generation dispersants and lubricants.

© 2017 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 to Build $2.3 million facility in Minnesota

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BNSF Railway has announced that it will build a $2.3 million facility in Dilworth, Minnesota. The new facility will replace its existing facility.

The new facility will enable the company to hold meetings and on-site training, as it will be significantly larger than its current location.

Construction will begin this spring with completion planned by the fall of 2017.

© 2017 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.

Rupa to Bring Fruit of the Loom Brand to India

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The Fruit if the Loom brand is coming to India in a deal that will bring extensive royalties to Berkshire Hathaway and little risk.

Rupa and Company, the number one knitwear maker in India, has struck a deal with Berkshire’s Fruit of the Loom to license the brand for India.

Rupa, which has the capacity to make over 700,000 pieces of knitwear a day, will pay a fixed royalty for the right to manufacture Fruit of the Loom branded products.

Siddhant Agarwal, VP-Business Development & Acquisitions at Rupa and Company, told CNBC-TV18 that the company plans to debut the Fruit of the Loom brand in September or October 2017.

Rupa has received broad recognition for its success in the knitwear industry, including receiving the Best Corporate Brand Award by The Economic Times at ‘The Economic Times Best Corporate Brands Summit 2015’ held in Mumbai.

The company’s shares are listed at NSE and BSE.

© 2017 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 Buys Government’s 24% stake in India Joint Venture

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The state-run Indian Oil Corp has agreed to sell a 24 percent stake in a joint venture to the US-based partner Lubrizol Corporation.

The transaction will enable Lubrizol to take over the government’s stake in Lubrizol India Pvt Ltd, according to a government statement. When completed, Lubrizol’s ownership in the company will reach 74%.

The move comes as the Indian government plans to divest its interest in public companies.

“The sale will enable IOC to have long term association with its joint venture partner and … Lubrizol India Pvt Ltd (LIPL) to have access to the latest global additive technologies developed by Lubrizol Corporation, USA,” the statement said.

© 2017 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 Launches Professional First Professional Liability and Network Security & Privacy Policy in Canada

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It was just last year that Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) marked its initial entry into Professional Lines in Canada with the launch of Professional First Miscellaneous Professional Liability Insurance, geared for large commercial entities, from consultants to property managers.

Now, BHSI has introduced its Professional First Professional Liability and Network Security & Privacy Policy and announced that it has appointed Geoffrey Kendrick as Head of Professional Lines in Canada.

“We are pleased to round out our Executive & Professional Lines products with comprehensive professional liability coverage for large, complex technology-related risks,” said Michael Densham, Head of Executive & Professional Lines, BHSI, Canada. “We are also excited to have Geoff leading our efforts in the Professional Lines marketplace. His extensive experience will serve BHSI and our customers well.”

BHSI’s new Professional First Professional Liability and Network Security & Privacy Policy is designed to address the needs of a wide range of enterprises, from systems integrators, to telecommunications providers, to IT staffing firms. The policy provides coverage for numerous exposures, encompassing: (i) third party exposures resulting from security and privacy breaches, including regulatory investigations, fines and penalties; (ii) a wide range of direct expenses an insured incurs in responding to a breach or extortion threat; (iii) media liability exposures; and (iv) lost income and related expenses resulting from interruption of the insured’s business due to a network security failure. The new form was purposefully drafted with clear, concise language, and builds in as standard many coverages traditionally available only by endorsement.

Geoffrey Kendrick joins BHSI after 11 years at Zurich Financial Services, Global Corporate. At Zurich, he held various underwriting roles of increasing responsibility focusing on professional indemnity and product safety & recall business in offices around the globe. Developing international insurance solutions for large, multinational risks, while addressing the complex and ever changing business, legal and compliance environment is his specialty. Geoffrey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Western Ontario, King’s College.

He is based in BHSI’s office in Toronto.

© 2017 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.

GEICO Reaches 15-Million Policyholder Milestone

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Fifteen million is a lot of anything, and for insurer GEICO it represents continued growth that has seen it become one of the dominant players in the auto, motorcycle and recreational vehicle insurance markets.

A Covington, Ga., couple called GEICO recently looking to purchase a new auto insurance policy. Little did they know that their 15-minute phone conversation with GEICO sales counselor Jon Hollingshed of Macon, Ga., would propel GEICO to a record-breaking 15-millionth policy.

“We are extremely excited that the 15-millionth policy was purchased here in Georgia,” said GEICO regional vice president Rhett Rayburn. “For the second time in 12 months, we’ve been a part of a significant policyholder milestone. This is a true testament to the tireless effort and hard work of our GEICO team here in Macon.”

Speaking with the couple over the phone, Hollingshed mentioned that they did their homework by asking the right questions, looking at coverage options, comparing quotes and reading customer reviews. “They reviewed different auto insurance companies but chose to go with GEICO because of our easy sales process, price discounts and mainly positive customer comments,” said Hollingshed.

As for being a part of GEICO’s historic milestone, Hollingshed had no idea that he had just sold GEICO’s 15-millionth policy. “When they told me the good news, I couldn’t believe it,” said Hollingshed. “My initial impression: what are the chances of that happening?”

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company serves more than 15 million private passenger customers, insuring more than 24 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

© 2017 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.