Monthly Archives: October 2018

Largest Private Bus Operator in Vancouver Commits to BYD Electric Buses

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BYD Canada has been awarded an order for zero emission, battery-electric buses by WESTCOAST Sightseeing, the first tour company in Canada to order clean energy buses, and the first to commit to having a 100% clean-energy fleet by 2023.

Battery and Electric Vehicle Pioneer BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles and batteries, and the overwhelming global leader in battery-electric buses.

The largest private bus operator in Vancouver, WESTCOAST Sightseeing has agreed to work exclusively with BYD on converting their entire fleet of 90 buses, which will include open top buses, double decks and singles and others. WESTCOAST Sightseeing will also work with city to develop charging infrastructure that will not only benefit WESTCOAST but many other companies that want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and climate impact.

“Our business is built around the natural beauty of our home and we are especially conscious of the impact our day-to-day operations has on the environment,” said Rob Safrata, Chief Executive Officer of WESTCOAST Sightseeing.” We are proudly working towards a greener and more sustainable future. And adding electric buses and boats is the first step to achieve our goal in 2023 of becoming the first Sightseeing firm in Canada with 100% electric vehicles.”

WESTCOAST Sightseeing recently added Electric Harbour tours to its line of sightseeing products, providing the first Harbor tour on a 100% electric boat in Vancouver.

The BYD battery-electric buses will make an immediate improvement to air quality and noise levels for the B.C. region. These buses alone will deliver a reduction in carbon emissions of some 4,500 Metric Tons of carbon emissions per year based on EPA standards.

“CEO Rob Safrata has long held a clean energy vision and we are excited to be working with him,” said BYD Canada’s Vice President Ted Dowling. “This aligns perfectly with the recent announcement by British Columbia Premier John Horgan for the need to find other ways to reduce emissions.”

BYD is the world leader in zero emission buses.

BYD Canada was the pioneer in Canada and is now the market leader. In addition to this BC order, BYD Canada has buses on order or in operation for Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) in Quebec; Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in Ontario; and St. Albert (STAT) and Grand Prairie in Alberta. BYD had more electric buses on the Canadian roads than any other firm.

Investing more than $250 million in North America to date, BYD has delivered more than 270 buses in North America; and sold or leased in excess of 600 buses in total to more than 50 municipal, transit agency, university, airport, federal and other commercial and private sector clients in 14 U.S. states, and across 4 provinces in Canada.

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.

© 2018 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.

Kentwood Real Estate Opens Office in Fort Collins

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Kentwood Real Estate, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, has opened a new office in Fort Collins, Colorado, named Kentwood Northern Properties.

The REALTORS® joining to form the Kentwood Northern Properties team are top-producing brokers Shirley Watson, who will be the office’s employing broker, Catherine Rogers, residential broker-associate, Andrea Stull, residential broker-associate, Kris Laine, commercial and residential broker-associate, William Gedge, office administrator, Tim Gannon, licensed professional assistant, and Carol Kauffman, licensed professional agent.

“The Kentwood Northern Properties office is a welcome addition to our Kentwood family,” said Gretchen Rosenberg, CEO and president of Kentwood. “The brokers joining our team are among the highest caliber luxury real estate agents in the region, and truly embody the culture and professionalism of our distinguished team.”

The Northern Properties office will mark Kentwood’s fourth residential Colorado office, joining Kentwood Real Estate DTC, Kentwood Real Estate Cherry Creek, and Kentwood City Properties in downtown Denver. Kentwood Real Estate also offers a commercial office, Kentwood Commercial, and a leasing and property management office, Denver Rental.

“We are thrilled to join the Kentwood family of distinguished brokers and be part of the esteemed luxury brand,” said Watson. “Kentwood has deep roots in the Denver market and we look forward to continuing to build upon the brand’s legacy throughout Northern Colorado.”

© 2018 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.

ReeceNichols Real Estate Creates Initiative to Serve Growing Hispanic Community in Kansas and Missouri

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ReeceNichols Real Estate, the top-ranking real estate company in the Kansas City metropolitan area, is launching an initiative to serve the growing Hispanic community in Kansas and Missouri. This initiative stems from ReeceNichols’ ongoing commitment to serve, reflect, and grow with Kansas City.

President and CEO Mike Frazier stated, “Homeownership is a fundamentally important and rewarding experience. At ReeceNichols, we are committed to serving all members of the communities in which we operate, not only through assisting them with the home buying and selling process, but also through education on how to become a homeowner and how to grow and protect their home and its value. We recognize the complexity of this industry and understand the importance for Hispanics to connect and be accurately informed in their language of preference. Let’s find home together!”

ReeceNichols Real Estate is a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire’s HomeServices of America, Inc.

Leading ReeceNichols’ initiative is Community Affairs Director, Fabián Gayosso-González. Born and raised in Mexico City, Fabián earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and has worked, among other companies, for the Consulates of Mexico in Kansas City and El Paso, Texas and at a marketing firm that focuses on the Latin market. He specializes in strengthening community partnerships and building strategic alliances to develop, implement, and promote programs and strategies aimed to improve the living standards of the communities.

“With a team of bilingual agents that speak our language (Spanish) and breathe our culture, ReeceNichols is ready to guide Latinos to a rewarding experience, help them reach their goals and get them to the place we all want to be: Home. As an immigrant myself, I understand the various challenges that people, regardless of their cultural, religious or socio-economic backgrounds, face outside their homeland. I am thrilled to lead this initiative at ReeceNichols to strengthen the communities we serve,” Gayosso said.

Although the focus will initially be on the local Hispanic community, this foundation will allow ReeceNichols to better reflect our current and evolving community within our agent population, leadership and client base. We realize our business is based on relationships and that every individual interaction makes a difference. We are committed to being a trusted resource for both our agents and the community and to ensuring exceptional service and a transparent process.

© 2018 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 Receives $22.6 Million State Grant for Clean Technology Pilot Program

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BNSF Railway may have scrapped its plan for liquid natural gas powered engines, but that doesn’t mean it has given up on lower-polluting technology for a host of railroad applications, including locomotives and railyards.

BNSF and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District were preliminarily awarded a $22.6 million Zero and Near Zero Emission Freight Facilities grant from the California Air Resource Board to pilot several emissions reducing technologies in and around railyards.

BNSF will collaborate with various industry partners to test the feasibility of these technologies.

“BNSF is focused on continuing to reduce our environmental impact, and we’re committed to doing our part to test and prove the commercial viability of emerging technologies that reduce emissions,” said John Lovenburg, vice president, Environmental.

These initiatives will build on BNSF’s existing investments in sustainable technologies including idle control, electric wide-span cranes, electric hostlers, automated gates at its intermodal facilities, and Tier 4 locomotives. As part of the project, BNSF will partner with GE Transportation on a battery-electric locomotive that will be paired with diesel locomotives to power a freight train traveling from Stockton to Barstow.

Transportation will develop an all battery-electric locomotive to validate the technology’s tremendous operational benefits and growth potential in the freight rail industry. The company will design and build an AC Evolution Series locomotive featuring an overall energy-management system, including onboard energy storage, which coupled with advanced system-optimization controls will improve performance. This battery-electric locomotive will generate 2,400 kilowatt-hours of power and could potentially reduce a freight train’s total fuel consumption by at least 10 to 15 percent.

“Battery-powered or hybrid locomotives are promising technologies for the rail industry with the potential to reduce operating costs and emissions,” said Dominique Malenfant, vice president, Global Technology, GE Transportation. “This project will give us tremendous insight into the capabilities of battery power and the best operational methods of leveraging the technology. It will accelerate the development of this cleaner, more efficient solution for the freight rail industry.”

In addition, two hybrid rubber-tire gantry cranes from Mi-Jack will be piloted; one at the Stockton Intermodal Facility and another at the San Bernardino Intermodal Facility. The hybrid cranes, when compared to their diesel counterparts, have the ability to reduce emissions by 70 percent.

A Taylor all-electric side loader will also be piloted at the San Bernardino Intermodal Facility. Finally, BNSF will partner with SH&H, a drayage truck provider, to demonstrate a BYD all-electric drayage truck in San Bernardino.

The equipment will be manufactured in 2019 and deployed in 2020. The grant will cover approximately half the cost of what is estimated to be a $45 million project. The remaining amount will be funded by BNSF and the other corporate partners.

© 2018 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.

McLane Opening New Texas Distribution Center in Fort Worth

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Berkshire Hathaway’s McLane Co. Inc. will have a new distribution center in Fort Worth, Texas open in March.

The site, dubbed McLane North Texas, will be located at 7550 Oak Grove Road in Fort Worth.

The 625,000-square-foot facility includes ambient, cooler and freezer capabilities. It is currently undergoing renovations to meet the company’s specifications and standards.

The company estimates that the facility will reach full utilization by December 2019.

“McLane North Texas continues the company’s strategic initiatives which drive customer results and position the company for growth into the future,” said Lee Cobb, regional vice president of McLane Grocery.

Craig Rosenthal, a 30-year supply chain veteran, will lead the opening and continued operation of the site.

Rosenthal is currently the division president of McLane Southern in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

McLane North Texas’ service territory will primarily be the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, as well as portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. The division is expected to employ approximately 600 people, including 450 distribution center workers and 150 drivers.

Temple-based McLane is one of the largest supply chain service providers in the United States, offering grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for convenience stores, mass merchants, drugstores and chain restaurants.

© 2018 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.

Axalta Coating Systems Parts Ways with Newly Hired CEO After Investigation

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Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. has parted ways with its recently hired chief executive officer, Terrence Hahn, after only five weeks on the job. The dismissal came after an internal investigation turned up conduct that Axalta “believes was inconsistent with company policies.” The chief financial officer Robert Bryant is taking over as acting chief executive.

Berkshire Hathaway currently owns 24,264,000 shares of Axalta with a current market value of $736,655,040. Some 20 million of those shares were purchased in April of 2015 from The Carlyle Group.

Axalta has repeatedly been a failed takeover candidate, most recently from Nippon Paint.

Previously the company fought an unsolicited takeover from paint company PPG, and also held merger discussions with Dutch coatings company AkzoNobel.

Axalta was founded in 1866 as Herberts, the original producer of Standox paint products. Spun off of DuPont Performance Coatings in 2013, it was sold to The Carlyle Group and renamed Axalta Coating Systems. Today the company is a leader in coatings for commercial vehicles.

When Berkshire took its stake in Axalta back in 2015, the company looked like a possible merger candidate with Berkshire’s Lubrizol. However, Berkshire’s never been shy about owning significant minority stakes in companies if they are purchased at favorable prices.

Unfortunately, with Axalta continuing to lose money, it looks more likely that Berkshire will simply exit its position through a third-party acquisition.

© 2018 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.

MidAmerican Energy Places 356 MW Order for Wind XI Project in Iowa

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Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has received a firm order from Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy Company for 356 MW of V110-2.0 MW turbines for the Wind XI project.

The order includes supply and commissioning of the wind turbines as well as a five-year Active Output Management 5000 (AOM 5000) service agreement, Vestas’ full-scope service package maximizing uptime and energy production.

The turbines will be manufactured at Vestas’ Colorado factories and delivery will begin in the second quarter 2019.

“This project will harness low-cost wind energy for MidAmerican Energy’s customers, all while enhancing the reliability and resiliency of the grid. Vestas is proud to deliver its industry-leading technology to this project that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits, including landowner lease payments, tax payments, and long-term secure jobs”, said Chris Brown, President of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada.

In August 2016, The Iowa Utilities Board approved our request to invest $3.6 billion to install additional wind turbines in Iowa by year-end 2019. The project – Wind XI – is the largest economic development project in Iowa’s history.

Wind XI will generate an average of approximately $12.5 million per year in property tax payments, $18 million per year in landowner payments, and $48 million per year in state and local expenditures associated with the project.

When fully operational, the Wind XI project will ensure the utility generates approximately 90 percent of its retail energy load from wind.

The Wind XI project consists of multiple sites in Iowa that will be placed into service between 2017 and 2019.

MidAmerican Energy is the largest regulated utility owner of wind energy in the U.S.

© 2018 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.

Kraft Heinz Launches Tech Venture Fund Evolv Ventures

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Kraft Heinz has launched Evolv Ventures, a venture fund that will invest in emerging tech companies transforming the food industry.

Kraft Heinz has committed up to $100 million to Evolv Ventures and brought on venture investor Bill Pescatello to lead the fund.

“New technological innovations in the food industry create endless new opportunities to strengthen business models,” said Bernardo Hees, Chief Executive Officer at Kraft Heinz. “Through Evolv Ventures, we will work with tomorrow’s most innovative founders and companies in the space, and use the full resources of Kraft Heinz to help them succeed.”

Pescatello brings more than a decade of successful venture investing experience at two leading venture funds to Kraft Heinz. Most recently, he was a Partner at Lightbank, the Chicago venture capital fund founded by serial entrepreneurs Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, and was also a founding member of the Peacock Equity Fund, a $250 million global capital fund of GE Capitaland NBCUniversal.

While Kraft Heinz has a long history of developing iconic brands including Philadelphia, Heinz and Oscar Mayer, the new fund will accelerate the company’s exposure to emerging technologies and businesses, and better leverage its position in the industry.

“At Evolv Ventures, we will move beyond brands to have a committed first look at our industry’s most promising and disruptive tech-enabled companies,” said Pescatello. “With the insights, data and access available at Kraft Heinz, we look to take full advantage of our unique position and be the foremost value-added investor in the space.”

Evolv Ventures will be based in Chicago.

© 2018 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 HomeServices Crest Real Estate Opens Office in La Cañada Flintridge

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crest Real Estate, a transaction and service leader in Burbank, La Crescenta and Sunland, has a new office in La Cañada Flintridge.

The office, located at 1115 Foothill Blvd., gives the brokerage a foothold on the strategically important La Cañada Flintridge market and gateway to one of the area’s most distinctive and affluent communities. It features an array of modern amenities including open-concept collaboration space, soft seating, coffee bar, a large monitor for virtual home tours and ample supporting technology.

“We see wonderful opportunity in La Cañada Flintridge and we’re excited to establish an office there,” said Brokerage Owner Ray Mirzakhanian. “We believe our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand will be warmly embraced in the market as residents understand its appeal and marketing potential.”

Brokerage Manager Carey Harvey said residents should expect a high level of service from the office’s agents. “Crest Real Estate already conducts business in La Cañada Flintridge, and our agents are highly familiar with the community and its nuances,” she explained. “Our team will hit the ground running with the same quality service for which our brokerage has always been known.”

Carey added that the office will be a place of collaboration for agents and their clients. “Today’s real estate agents can make calls or hop online anywhere, yet they still need physical space to meet clients and collaborate,” she explained. “Our La Cañada Flintridge office give us that space and encourages interaction. It’s a terrific place to conduct business.”

One of Crest Real Estate’s strategic objectives is to raise its average selling price across the communities it serves. The La Cañada Flintridge office will help the brokerage with this goal, said Angelica Leon, Crest Real Estate’s attorney/broker associate. “The market is one of Southern California’s finest with a wide range of estates, custom homes, equestrian properties and other upscale residences,” she said. “Clearly, our service to the market is strategically important to our company. I can’t think of a better fit for the La Cañada Flintridge community than Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crest Real Estate.”

Crest Real Estate’s La Cañada Flintridge office is the next in a series of growth steps, said Mirzakhanian. The brokerage is considering office locations in Pasadena, among other neighboring communities.

© 2018 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 Chairman Matthew Rose to Retire in April 2019

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BNSF Railway chairman Matthew Rose has announced that he will step down and retire in April of 2019.

At the end of his tenure, Rose will have been Executive Chairman for six years, and BNSF Chief Executive Officer for the prior 13 years. He also served in senior leadership for marketing and operations before assuming the CEO role in 2000.

During his tenure as CEO, he helped guide the acquisition of BNSF by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) in 2009.

“It was a very lucky day for me and for Berkshire Hathaway when I met Matt Rose,” said Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. “Under Matt’s management, BNSF has become a major source of profit and pride for Berkshire. And, as a citizen, Matt has been an exemplar for corporate leadership.”

“I have been incredibly fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented people in the transportation industry,” said Rose. “Through my 26 years at BNSF – 19 in leadership – I have seen enormous change in our economy. Our company has navigated those changes well and now is extremely well positioned for the next several decades. It has been an honor to lead this organization, as a publicly traded company and also as part of BRK.”

© 2018 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.