Monthly Archives: December 2019

Precision Castparts to Build $128 Million Innovation Center in Mason, Ohio

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After a global search, Precision Castparts Corp. has announced a new Mason, Ohio, campus to house a concept research and development integration center for its PCC Aerostructures division and a manufacturing innovation center for its SPS Technologies business.

PCC’s campus will anchor the US Route 42 entrance of the new Mason R&D Park East, where they will invest $128 million in two facilities on 31 acres. The new campus is expected to bring 190 new employees to the city.

The site in Mason’s new 400-acre R&D Park was, in part, selected for its connectivity to complementary aerospace clients and partners along Innovation Way and southwest Ohio.

“We were really impressed with the strong industry partnerships Mason has established in the business community, as well as the state and local collaboration. This is exactly the type of environment we were seeking,” said Blake Ray, Vice President of Advanced Manufacturing at PCC.

“It was really important for us to test this new integration model in an environment where we were in close proximity to vendors and diverse engineering firms, which strengthen the talent pool,” Mark Gancevich, VP of Technology & Innovation for PCC Aerostructures.

PCC is one of the largest build-to-print manufacturers of complex structural and mechanical assemblies in the aerospace industry. With few exceptions, every aircraft in the sky flies with parts made by PCC. The new Mason engineering campus is designed to create innovative concepts in vertical integration and seamless process improvement.

“We are honored PCC and SPS chose to locate in Mason,” said City of Mason Mayor Kathy Grossman. “This announcement is a continued reinforcement of the strong economic position of our city and a reflection of our positive partnership with JobsOhio, REDI and Mason City Schools. We look forward to helping these innovative technology companies grow here.”

“We are fortunate to have a strong, progressive partnership with Mason City Schools, who work seamlessly with our team to support thoughtful economic growth in the city,” said Mason City Manager Eric Hansen. “They are a critical part of our economic development success, which ultimately benefits Mason taxpayers through a reduced share of the tax burden.”

“We have the highest concentrations of aerospace talent in the country, which played a major part in bringing the largest capital investment from an aerospace company to our region so far this year,” said Kimm Lauterbach, President and CEO, REDI Cincinnati. “Seeing complex projects like PCC’s come to fruition for Mason and the Cincinnati region reinforces the fact we have the right people and partnerships in place to help businesses achieve their goals and set their sights on continued growth.”

The State of Ohio, JobsOhio, and Mason City Council each approved incentive packages for the new PCC Campus investment. Mason City Council approved an ordinance authorizing an economic agreement with the company for an incentive package to include a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) Tax Abatement, Mason Port Authority Infrastructure and Wellness Incentives, which will bring 190 jobs within four years with a $14.55 million payroll and overall investment of $128 million. In addition, the State of Ohio approved a Jobs Creation Tax Credit, and JobsOhio plans to offer assistance, which will be made public after a final agreement is executed.

© 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.

Pilot Flying J Opens 26th California Travel Stop

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Pilot Flying J has opened a Flying J Travel Center in Jurupa Valley, California.

The new facility at 11053 Riverside Drive will be Pilot Flying J’s 26th location in California, including travel centers and dealer locations. It is expected to contribute $5.1 million annually in state and local tax revenues.

The Flying J Travel Center features full amenities for area residents and the traveling public, while adding approximately 50 local jobs and other economic benefits to the community.

“We’re committed to making a better day for people living, working and traveling through Jurupa Valley county and across the nation,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “We continue to invest in new locations to bring convenience, quality, great food and amenities to those who are traveling the roadways.”

To celebrate the grand opening, the company is donating $5,000 to benefit the Jurupa Unified School District career technical education programs.

“Pilot Flying J is honored to be a part of the Jurupa Valley community and to contribute to the local school district,” said Jason Herriott, travel center general manager for Pilot Flying J. “Our friendly team members look forward to serving our guests and providing a clean, all-in-one fuel stop with a variety of food, drinks, supplies and amenities.”

This Flying J Travel Center offers many amenities, including:

• 16 gasoline fueling positions and 12 diesel lanes with high-speed pumps for quicker refueling
• Fresh-made pizza and grab-and-go food offerings prepared on site daily, including salads, sandwiches, burgers, fruit cups and an array of hot and cold snacks
• Pilot’s Best Gourmet Coffees, including bean-to-cup selections and cold brew
• Cinnabon
• Wendy’s with drive-through
• Nine showers
• 107 truck parking spots and 22 bobtail parking spots
• Two ATMs
• Western Union
• Everyday products for quick shopping needs

Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot Flying J has a network of more than 900 retail and fueling locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces, 35 Truck Care service centers with roadside assistance, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers, and 34 Boss Shops.

The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 73,000 parking spaces for trucks with Prime Parking at more than 400 locations, 5,200 deluxe showers and more than 6,200 diesel lanes with 5,200 offering Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) at the pump.

© 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.

Nebraska Furniture Mart Updates Branding with Streamlined Logo

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When your highest volume store is a 9-hour drive from Omaha, Nebraska, it makes sense that Nebraska Furniture Mart would look at its branding.

Much like how Kentucky Fried Chicken evolved into KFC, in order to reflect that it had more than fried chicken, Berkshire Hathaway’s Nebraska Furniture Mart is streamlining its logo branding to NFM.

After all, it’s 658 miles from Omaha, Nebraska to Dallas, Texas, and a store named for a faraway state may not resonate as much in Texas.

“It’s not an official name change, just a logo update, Nebraska Furniture Mart spokesman Andy Shefsky told the Dallas Morning News. “We sell a lot more than just furniture, and we’re in a lot more than just Nebraska,” he said. “It’s simply modernizing, reflective of who we are as a company, but not forgetting that Nebraska is our everything.”

The Dallas store will see its Nebraska Furniture Mart exterior signage replaced with NFM sometime in the spring of 2020.

© 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 Todd Combs to Become Head of GEICO

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Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio manager Todd Combs will be taking over the helm at GEICO as of next week. Current president and CEO Bill Roberts will move to vice chairman.

Roberts began his career with GEICO in 1984 as an officer in the Marketing department. Over his 35-year career, he has helped lead GEICO to become the second largest auto insurance company in the U.S. Roberts will become vice chairman of GEICO effective January 1, 2020.

Roberts has announced that he will retire from GEICO in December 2020.

“Bill told Ajit Jain, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and I in early November he was about to turn 70 and finishing up his 35th year with GEICO, and that he intended to retire at the end of 2020,” said Tony Nicely, GEICO’s executive chairman. “Bill has done an outstanding job leading and growing GEICO throughout his career. Our results throughout his career have been excellent and our culture is strong. He has put in place a strong plan for the coming year.”

“Todd has a strong career in insurance,” said Ajit Jain. “He initially worked at Progressive Insurance Company before going to graduate school to begin an investing career.”

Since 2010, Combs has been an investment manager at Berkshire Hathaway, and in addition to becoming GEICO’s CEO, Combs will continue to manage $14 billion of investments for Berkshire Hathaway.

“I am looking forward to taking on the responsibilities of CEO at GEICO,” said Combs. “They have a strong senior management team, a great organization of 40,000 employees, a great brand, and are a very successful insurance company.”

Combs will assume his position as GEICO’s CEO effective January 1, 2020.

© 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.

CORT adds Vice President of Business Strategy

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Berkshire Hathaway’s furniture rental company, CORT, has announced that J.T. Marcum has joined the furniture rental company as Vice President of Business Strategy.

Marcum will be relocating from Dallas, Texas, to CORT’s headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia, where he will report directly to CORT’s Chief Operating Officer Mike Davis.

“We are thrilled to have J.T. as part of the CORT leadership team,” said Davis. “J.T. brings great perspective and insight during a time of rapid change in Logistics and Last Mile services. His ability to push innovative customer solutions and question the status quo are just a few reasons we hired him. He has a proven track record of success in creating and leading teams, and we look forward to leveraging his fresh thinking at CORT.”

Marcum brings close to 15 years of experience in developing new business units and pursuing untapped revenue segments. Prior to joining CORT, Marcum was the Vice President of Account Management at Lineage Logistics headquartered in Novi, MI. In his new role, Marcum will focus on new adaption of CORT’s current business offerings and support corporate operations strategy. By integrating CORT’s warehousing, transportation, fulfillment and distribution processes with the latest innovations, Marcum aims to help these teams think about new ways of doing business to solve customers’ logistics and supply chain issues.

“I am thrilled to join CORT and work with the leader in furniture rental,” said Marcum. “Using our networks and capabilities as they exist today to help customers solve real business problems will be my core focus. I am excited to develop and launch new programs while reimagining existing service offerings to help CORT stay relevant and evolve as a business to meet customer demands so we can continue to lead the industry for decades to come.”

© 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.

BYD Celebrates 400th eBus Built at U.S. Facility

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BYD (Build Your Dreams) is celebrating its 400th bus built at its Lancaster, Calif. manufacturing plant.

The 400th bus is a 60-foot articulated K11M model transit bus built for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), part of a 20-bus order. The buses will be used to provide transportation for guests traveling between terminals and gates on the Los Angeles International Airport’s airfields.

“The 400th American bus is another great milestone for our Lancaster team,” said BYD North America President Stella Li. “Since delivery of our first American battery-electric bus from Lancaster in 2014, BYD has provided buses to customers in 14 states and four Canadian provinces. We are passionate about our mission to create a cleaner environment here in North America and across the globe.”

In just six years, BYD has grown to become the largest battery electric bus manufacturer in North America, with more than 750 employees. The company has expanded its Lancaster manufacturing plant, a former motorhome manufacturing facility, from 100,000 square feet to over a half million square feet.

In all, BYD has invested more than $250 million in North America, and in 2018 alone, has spent $70 million on components and services from American vendors.

From one bus model under production in 2014, BYD’s product line now includes transit bus models ranging from the 30-foot K7 to the 60-foot K11, and coach models ranging from 23-foot C6 to the double-deck, 45-foot C10MS.

BYD now has more than 50 municipal, transit agency, university, airport, federal and other commercial and private-sector bus customers, including the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Denver RTD, Kansas City International Airport, and Solano County Transit.

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.

Blockchain Market Leader ShelterZoom Announces Partnership With Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty

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ShelterZoom, the inventor of Contract of Things™ (CoT™), the next milestone in the evolution of contracts, today announced a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty.

Headquartered in Mason, Ohio, BHHS Pro is a full-service brokerage with more than $1 billion in annual sales. They will play a major role in scaling ShelterZoom’s reach in Ohio – a key state in the company’s growth plans – by offering among the fastest, most secure and transparent real estate buying and selling platforms in the industry.

This partnership comes as the real estate industry undergoes enormous change fueled by modern technology like blockchain and buyers, sellers and agents who are frustrated with the time-consuming, inefficient and paperwork-heavy process that still permeates the industry. While the majority of sellers and agents have been slow to adjust, forward-thinking brokerages like BHHS Pro are ready to use ShelterZoom’s first-to-market Contract of Things platform to transform their contracts and end-to-end transactions into fully digital, interoperable and intelligent assets.

“We’re excited to get started with ShelterZoom’s blockchain-powered platform for buying and selling real estate and managing documents, contracts and transactions. It’s a truly innovative product that resolves many of the hurdles that slow down the transaction process and make it frustrating for agents and buyers alike,” said David Mussari, Managing Partner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty. “For us, it is all about adding value to the process of buying or selling real estate. ShelterZoom’s platform offers the rare ‘win-win’ situation where our agents can better serve their clients by removing the obstacles to buying and selling properties while, simultaneously, their clients enjoy a more transparent, secure and smooth real estate experience.”

© 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.

NetJets Announces QS Security Services

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NetJets has rolled out QS Security Services to provide global security as an add-on option for its customers.

The new subsidiary will also help to enhance NetJets’ crew security by vetting airport-hotel transportation/routes and hotels used for crew rest, according to Jack VanderStoep, v-p of global security at NetJets and the head of QS Security Services.

QS Security Services will initially be offered as a premium service on select routes with tiered security packages that correspond to both the destination threat level and passenger needs. Currently, security packages are being offered at Paris Le Bourget and popular destinations in Mexico, VanderStoep told AIN. This will be progressively expanded to the rest of North America and Europe next year and Central and South America, the Middle East, and Africa in 2021, with worldwide coverage expected in 2023.

Security packages range from vetted limo transportation services and routes to armed convoys employing armored vehicles, in addition to close-protection agents and medically trained personnel. QS Security will also be able to provide onboard armed security officers to meet Homeland Security requirements to operate into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Beyond the currently-available executive protection services, the subsidiary later plans to add security consulting and training to its portfolio.

QS Security Services will also eventually provide security for customers of NetJets subsidiaries NetJets Europe and Executive Jet Management, said VanderStoep.

© 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.

BYD Nabs Europe’s Largest-Ever Zero-Emission Bus Order

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China’s BYD has secured the largest ever single order for electric buses in Europe.

The landmark order with Keolis Nederland BV comprises 259 pure-electric, 100% emissions-free BYD eBuses scheduled for programmed delivery from next summer.

Keolis Nederland BV is the Dutch subsidiary of global public transport provider, Keolis.

“This is a momentous occasion for BYD,” said BYD Europe Managing Director, Isbrand Ho, “and also represents a huge commitment to electric mobility since it becomes the largest European fleet ever switched to electric at one time.”

The deal was reached following close cooperation between Keolis and BYD to devise a demanding whole-life package which delivers a total transport solution and takes into account operational needs and passenger comfort requirements.

The deal was confirmed on Friday 6thDecember at Keolis’ head office in Deventer in the Netherlands with the contract being signed by Frank Janssen, the CEO of Keolis Nederland and Isbrand Ho, Managing Director of BYD Europe.

This latest order follows a number of recent significant deals for BYD with major public transport operators right across Europe – further reinforcing BYD’s strong and leading position in Europe where it has made deliveries and taken orders in nearly 60 cities and more than 10 countries, to-date totaling more than 1,200 electric buses.

For Keolis Nederland, BYD’s 8.7-metre midi bus, 12-metre and new 13-metre eBus models will enter service from the end of 2020 on routes throughout the Netherlands’ IJssel-Vecht region, including front-line operations in the municipalities of Zwolle, Apeldoorn and Lelystad. BYD’s 13-metre modelis equipped with new upgraded battery technology to provide extended range and ‘city-to-city’ capability.The majority of the Keolis order comprises 206 of BYD’s best-selling 12-metre model all of which will be equipped with pantographs.

In 2016, the Dutch minister of Traffic and Infrastructure signed a covenant which aims to reduce emission, such as CO2, Nox and PMs by 2025. Keolis has surpassed this target by operating almost emission free straight from the start of the concession.

With its headquarters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has provided BYD with a staging post to extend its European activities, and has also seen some strategically important orders for the company. Notably in 2012, BYD won its first European order to supply six eBuses to the Dutch national park island of Schiermonnikoog, the first public tender for electric buses in Europe. High profile deals followed soon after, including 35 BYD eBuses for Schipol Airport – the first airport worldwide to adopt airside electric mobility. In just seven years, BYD has delivered electric mobility to Public Transport Operators in towns and cities right across Europe, emerging today as the market-leading eBus brand.

Frank Janssen, CEO Keolis Nederland is delighted and proud to partner with BYD in operating the largest zero emission bus fleet in Europe starting December 2020. “It is another milestone for Keolis Nederland and the Keolis Group in developing and deploying electromobility solutions around the world and it reaffirms our commitment to supporting public transport authorities in the transition to sustainability. We’ve chosen BYD due to our excellent experience with their e-buses. These are a fundamental part in our daily operation to the full satisfaction of our passengers and employees. Furthermore we trust in BYD’s expertise as a manufacturer in developing and maintaining battery-packages.”

“This is another landmark deal for BYD in Europe,” said BYD Europe Managing Director, Isbrand Ho, “but, this is more than simply building and supplying 259 eBuses – significant though that is – we have worked tirelessly with Keolis to provide a complete transport solution. Delivery programmes on this scale,” he said, “can only be achieved through excellent cooperation and by striking up a long-term partnership. Our relationship with Keolis provides an excellent template to explore opportunities with other large fleet operators.”

This announcement of the Keolis order, the largest in European history, further underlines BYD’s credentials as the world’s leading electric bus manufacturer, after last month’s order from public transport operator, TransMilenio SA, in the Columbian capital of Bogotá to supply 379 eBuses scheduled to enter service in September 2020.

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.

9 Dairy Queens Close Suddenly in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

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A local Dairy Queen franchisee has gone belly up in Fort Worth, Texas, forcing the closure of nine Dairy Queen Grill restaurants.

The restaurants were owned by Lickety Split Food Services and located in Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Euless, Hurst, Keller, and Roanoke.

A letter posted on the front door stated:

“It is with deep regret that we have discontinued operating our Dairy Queen restaurants. Nothing gave us greater joy than to serve you DQ’s amazing treats and eats. Thank you for the wonderful season we shared. Fun numbers: 9 DQ locations opened 2013 – 2016. 6 years and 7 months in business. 7,500,000+ customers served. 4,250,000 Blizzards flipped. Special thank you to our amazing team members who worked hard to make your DQ experience better than you remember.”

Never fear DQ lovers, there are some 40 other DQ locations in the area that are owned by other operators and are doing business as usual.

© 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.