Category Archives: Marmon Group

Special Report: Dairyvative Gets $2.5 Million Investment in New Milk Technology

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Dairyvative Technologies, a Wisconsin-based developer of a patented process that allows pasteurized milk to be concentrated to a liquid that has one seventh of its original volume, has received a major new round of funding.

Dairyvative received a $2.5 million investment from two undisclosed Wisconsin dairies, and from the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation.

The money will be used to enable the company to expand its staffing and boost production for more commercial trials.

What’s that have to do with Berkshire Hathaway?

Berkshire’s Cornelius, Inc. and Dairyvative are looking to change the way milk is shipped, stored, and dispensed.

In August 2015, Cornelius signed a strategic partnership agreement with Dairyvative that makes Cornelius the exclusive provider of equipment to hold and dispense the concentrated milk provided by dairies using Dairyvative’s patented SEVENx technology.

One of the newer members of the Berkshire Hathaway family, Cornelius was acquired for $1.1 billion on January 2, 2014, by Berkshire’s wholly owned Marmon Group.

With 4,500 employees, and manufacturing facilities in seven countries, spanning North America, Europe, and China, Cornelius provides beverage dispensing technology to leading food service and retail companies, including PepsiCo, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Yum, Starbucks, and Burger King.

All of these companies and more are potential customers for Dairyvative’s new technology.

A Whole New Way to Store Milk

Dairyvative claims its SEVENx technology “allows pasteurized milk to be concentrated to a liquid that has one seventh of its original volume. The lactose-free end product is shelf-stable without refrigeration for up to 6 months. The process also keeps milk proteins intact, maintaining nutrient and flavor profiles.”

Unlike milk treated with Ultra-high temperature processing (UHT), SEVENx technology has relatively minimal thermal treatment by comparison.

“I have been working on this process for 28 years,” said Dr. Charles E. Sizer, founder and CEO of Dairyvative Technologies. “There have been a lot of hurdles in maintaining the functionality and freshness of the product.”

One of the first markets for the SEVENx technology will be in quick service restaurants, where using Cornelius’s dispensing technology, the new dispenser will allow individual consumers the choice of adding several different flavors to the milk. Cornelius’ technology also enables the milk to be carbonated during dispensing.

Looking for a World Leader

“We knew Cornelius is the leader in dispensing products, so we approached them and signed an exclusive deal,” Dr. Sizer explained.

While Dairyvative touts the concentrated milk as having the “natural fresh taste of milk,” it does note that it is slightly sweeter due to the conversion of lactose into the sugars glucose and galactose.

Dairyvative also says that the cost for dairy processors to produce the concentrated milk is low, as much of the equipment that processors need is already in place. They also note that the long shelf-life means less spoilage and returns, lower transportation costs, and environmental benefits such as less electricity needed for milk storage.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Reducing the carbon footprint is very important to Dr. Sizer. He notes that currently it takes 2.05 kilos of carbon to bring 1 kilo (1 liter) of milk to the consumer.

“We can reduce that by 20%-30% right out of the gate,” Dr. Sizer said. “And by locating in close proximity to the dairy, we can reduce it even further.”

Expect to see the U.S. rollout of the new milk product in 2016, and Dairyvative is already in discussion with multi-national dairies for international markets.

© 2015 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 Wants to Change How You Drink Beer

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

First Berkshire Hathaway wanted to change the way you drink milk, now they want to change the way you drink beer.

In August 2015, Berkshire’s subsidiary Cornelius, Inc. signed a strategic partnership agreement with Dairyvative that made Cornelius the exclusive provider of equipment to hold and dispense concentrated milk using Dairyvative’s patented SEVENx technology.

Now, Cornelius and Sustainable Beverage Technologies (“SBT”), a Colorado-based developer of concentrated beer technologies, are launching a strategic partnership to market concentrated beer dispensing solutions to beverage brand owners and foodservice retailers across the globe.

According to SBT, using only traditional brewing ingredients (water, malt, hops, and yeast), SBT’s patented BrewVo technology utilizes a unique process called “Nested Fermentation”, in which brewers manage the fermentation environment where a highly concentrated beer is produced. When the beer concentrate is later mixed with carbonated water, the result says SBT compares to any premium beer on the market.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cornelius will be the exclusive provider of equipment to dispense the concentrated beer provided by SBT. Using Cornelius’ technology, the dispenser will utilize a state-of-the-art water filtration system that will mix carbonated water with the beer concentrate to provide the end user with a premium beverage. This solution will significantly reduce beer related space requirements within bars and restaurants creating an easy install for owners.

Cornelius, Inc., the world-leader in beverage dispensing equipment, was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway’s Marmon Group in January 2014.

© 2015 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 Reveals Price it Paid for GE Railcar Services’ Fleet

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

The price for Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of substantially all of GE Railcar Services’ owned fleet of railroad tank cars has just been revealed.

Berkshire’s Marmon Holdings, Inc. acquired the assets on September 30, 2015, but at the time no price was announced.

In a filing on Friday, November 6, Berkshire revealed that the price was $1 billion.

Approximately 25,000 full-service and net-leased tank cars were acquired in the transaction, and Marmon also will take over certain GE Railcar Repair Services’ repair and maintenance facilities by the end of 2015.

Marmon already owns tank car manufacturer UTLX, which manufactures tank cars and engages in full-service leasing. UTLX furnishes all the services that are normally the responsibility of an owner and backs those services with the necessary specialists to keep fleet records of maintenance, repairs, and other administrative details.

GE is selling its remaining railcar leasing business, General Electric Railcar Services LLC, to Wells Fargo & Co.

© 2015 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.

Special Report: Oil Volatility and the NTSB

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Shipments of Bakken Formation crude oil have brought billions in revenues to BNSF Railway, and new opportunities to Berkshire Hathaway’s tank car manufacturer UTLX. It has also put Berkshire and BNSF in the middle of disputes over the safety of these shipments and the source of various hazards.

On one side are environmentalists and communities along rail lines that have cited volatility concerns as to the flash point of Bakken Formation crude oil, claiming it is a special hazard as compared to the transportation of other crude oils. On the other side is the AFPM, a trade association representing 400 refining and petrochemical companies, which is suing over BNSF Railway’s $1,000 per tank car surcharge in a battle to keep costs low in producing crude oil from the Bakken Formation.

BNSF’s surcharge is designed to incentivize shippers to move to tank cars that meet new Department of Transportation standards. Technically, BNSF is not calling its $1,000 per tank car charge a surcharge, rather it says it has raised its rates and is discounting rates for shippers using new DOT 117/TC-117 tank cars. A court will decide whether that holds up and certainly key to that may be whether Bakken crude is more hazardous than other cargo.

The AFPM has disputed that Bakken crude oil is more hazardous a cargo than other crude oil, or other chemicals hauled by railroads. AFPM’s position is that the surcharge on tank cars ignores the root cause of derailments, which they assert is tied to poor track conditions and human error.

Will the Surcharge Stand Up?

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, AFPM stated that “Any effort to enhance rail safety must begin with addressing track integrity and human factors, which account for sixty percent of derailments. Investment in accident prevention would result in the greatest reduction in the risk of rail incidents.”

Now, the head of the National Transit Safety Board has weighed in on the issue.

NTSB’s Christopher Hart Dismisses Volatility Concerns

Concerns that the oil from the Bakken Formation are of higher volatility and create a greater risk in the case of accidents were downplayed in recent statements by the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Christopher Hart.

Hart, in a radio appearance on radio station KFGO-AM in Fargo, North Dakota, stated that the NTSB’s accident investigations of rail accidents found that Bakken crude volatility isn’t a significant issue.

“The biggest contributor to a large explosion or fire is how much product is released, rather than the volatility of the product,” Hart said.

The Department of Transportation is working to reduce the amount of product of all types released in a rail accident by mandating new tank car standards that  require jacketed and thermally insulated shells of 9/16-inch steel, full-height half-inch-thick head shields, and re-closeable pressure relief valves and rollover protection for top fittings.

The Department of Energy Report

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report in March 2015 looked at the volatility of light sweet crude from the Bakken Formation in comparison to other crude oils in the same category. The report was prepared by Sandia National Laboratories with the assistance of a technical team that included the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center.

In its report, the DOE found no link between crude oil properties and the chance or severity of a fire caused by a derailment. Instead, the report found that the kinetic energy created by the derailment was a larger factor in the size of a fire than the volatility of the crude being transported, the researchers said.

Is Bakken Crude More Volatile?

As for the volatility of crude oil from the Bakken Formation, Turner, Mason & Company conducted a study in 2014 for the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) which found that Bakken crude “appears to be generally similar in vapor pressure and light ends content to most light crude oils, and there are certainly crudes, particularly those produced from tight oil formations, which are higher in those parameters.”

Congress Looks at Bakken Crude

The U.S. Congress took up the issue of the safety of transporting crude oil from the Bakken Formation last year.

In September 2014, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held an energy and oversight hearing with experts from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Department of Energy, ND Petroleum Council, Turner, Mason & Company, and the Syracuse Fire Department. The hearing examined the characteristics and behavior of crude oil from the Bakken region.

At the hearing, officials testified that the increased risk of an incident has to do with the increased volume of product being transported and not the volatility characteristics of Bakken crude.

BNSF’s Role as a Common Carrier

As a common carrier, BNSF Railway can’t refuse under most circumstances to carry cargo, despite the potential loss or damage presented by the cargo.

And, while BNSF’s growing role as a mobile crude oil pipeline has meant billions in new revenue, it also has presented new risks in regards to fire in the event of derailment, collision, or other accidents.

BNSF has responded by pushing for safer tank cars, and has boosted training for both its crews and emergency responders in communities along its routes.

New Tank Cars and Retrofitting Existing Fleets

Under Enhanced Standards for New and Existing Tank Cars for use in an HHFT—New tank cars constructed after October 1, 2015, are required to meet the new DOT Specification 117 design or performance criteria.

The standards will require replacing the entire fleet of DOT-111 tank cars for Packing Group I, which covers most crude shipped by rail, within three years and all non-jacketed CPC-1232s, in the same service, within approximately five years.

An HHFT (high-hazard flammable trains) is defined as a train carrying 20 or more tank carloads of flammable liquids, including crude oil and ethanol.

The need for replacement and retrofitted tank cars impacts a wide-range of shippers that transport by rail. Those shippers include shippers of LPG, oil producers and refiners, and ethanol producers that own their own tank cars or lease them from leasing companies. It also impacts BNSF Railway’s own fleet of tank cars.

Retrofitting existing tank cars is an important bridge to safer shipping of flammable liquids, as the current backlog of new tank car orders sits at a record 52,000 units.

A Significant Portion of BNSF’s Revenue

One thing that’s not in dispute is how significant the transportation of volatile liquids is to BNSF. Petroleum, Ethanol and LPG make up roughly 7-percent of BNSF’s freight hauling. In 2014, BNSF moved enough petroleum to fill the gas tanks of 350 million vehicles.

Another thing that’s not in dispute is that the move for safer tank cars benefits Berkshire’s UTLX, a manufacturer and retrofitter of tank cars that has been hiring and opening new facilities due to the unprecedented demand.

Berkshire has also been expanding the number of tank cars that it owns.

Berkshire’s Marmon Holdings, Inc., the unit of Berkshire Hathaway that owns UTLX, acquired substantially all of GE Railcar Services’ owned fleet of railroad tank cars as of September 30, 2015. Roughly 25,000 full-service and net-leased tank cars are covered by the transaction.

Still One More Dispute in the Wings

With NTSB’s Christopher Hart dismissing the volatility issue of Bakken crude as an extraordinary hazard, BNSF’s dispute with the AFPM may mean it is now in a weaker position to justify its tank car surcharge, which is something that could potentially cost Berkshire and BNSF millions down the road.

© 2015 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.

Marmon Buys GE’s Railroad Tank Cars Business

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Marmon Holdings, Inc., a unit of Berkshire Hathaway, has acquired substantially all of GE Railcar Services’ owned fleet of railroad tank cars as of September 30, 2015.

Approximately 25,000 full-service and net-leased tank cars are covered by the transaction.

Expanding UTLX

Marmon already owns tank car manufacturer UTLX, which manufactures tank cars and engages in full-service leasing. UTLX furnishes all the services that are normally the responsibility of an owner and backs those services with the necessary specialists to keep fleet records of maintenance, repairs, and other administrative details.

In addition, Marmon also agreed to acquire certain GE Railcar Repair Services’ repair and maintenance facilities by the end of 2015.

The price of the acquisition was roughly $1 billion.

GE is selling its remaining railcar leasing business, General Electric Railcar Services LLC, to Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC)

“We’re pleased to sell our railcar business and, separately, our tank car fleet and railcar repair shops, to buyers that are long-term players in the industry committed to expanding the businesses,” said Keith Sherin, GE Capital chairman and CEO.

The sale of the remaining railcar leasing business to Wells Fargo is subject to customary regulatory and other approvals and is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

© 2015 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.

Pat Griffin Named President of Marmon-Herrington

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Pat Griffin has been named president of Marmon-Herrington, a unit of Berkhire Hathway’s Marmon Group.

Prior to joining Fontaine Modification last year, Griffin held executive leadership positions in engineering, quality, and Lean Six Sigma with Wabash National Corporation and Hayes Lemmerz International. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in welding engineering from The Ohio State University, and a Master of Arts in organizational management from Tusculum College.

“We are fortunate to have a person of Pat’s caliber to lead Marmon-Herrington into the future,” says Kent Finkbiner, group president of MHT Commercial Truck. “Having worked globally with both OEM and aftermarket providers in heavy-duty truck, automotive, and rail transportation markets, he brings a knowledge base which will serve us well.”

About Marmon-Herrington

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Marmon-Herrington is a developer of drivetrain technology with roots dating back to the 1850s.

Originally formed in 1851 as the Nordyke and Marmon Machine Company, which specialized in the manufacture of flour mill machinery, the company entered the emerging auto industry around 1900. Today, the company offers durable axles and transfer cases for trucks and specialized vehicles, along with OEM solutions and installation kits. Its products are used in a wide range of applications, including military, forestry, mining and construction.

© 2015 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.

Special Report: Breakthrough Aims to Change the Way You Drink Milk

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Go into any quick service restaurant and you will find machines dispensing soda and noncarbonated beverages, such as lemonade or fruit punch, but don’t expect them to be dispensing milk. The problem is that milk ships in bulky cartons, must be kept refrigerated, and has a limited shelf-life. It’s a problem that has vexed dairy producers and retailers alike.

That’s All About to Change

Cornelius, Inc. and Dairyvative Technologies, a Wisconsin-based developer of a patented process that allows pasteurized milk to be concentrated to a liquid that has one seventh of its original volume, are looking to change the way milk is shipped, stored, and dispensed.

Cornelius has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Dairyvative that makes Cornelius the exclusive provider of equipment to hold and dispense the concentrated milk provided by dairies using Dairyvative’s patented SEVENx technology.

One of the newest members of the Berkshire Hathaway family, Cornelius was acquired for $1.1 billion on January 2, 2014, by Berkshire’s wholly owned Marmon Group.

With 4,500 employees, and manufacturing facilities in seven countries, spanning North America, Europe, and China, Cornelius provides beverage dispensing technology to leading food service and retail companies, including PepsiCo, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Yum, Starbucks, and Burger King.

All of these companies and more are potential customers for Dairyvative’s new technology.

A Whole New Way to Store Milk

Dairyvative claims its SEVENx technology “allows pasteurized milk to be concentrated to a liquid that has one seventh of its original volume. The lactose-free end product is shelf-stable without refrigeration for up to 6 months. The process also keeps milk proteins intact, maintaining nutrient and flavor profiles.”

Unlike milk treated with Ultra-high temperature processing (UHT), SEVENx technology has relatively minimal thermal treatment by comparison.

“I have been working on this process for 28 years,” said Dr. Charles E. Sizer, founder and CEO of Dairyvative Technologies. “There have been a lot of hurdles in maintaining the functionality and freshness of the product.”

One of the first markets for the SEVENx technology will be in quick service restaurants, where using Cornelius’s dispensing technology, the new dispenser will allow individual consumers the choice of adding several different flavors to the milk. Cornelius’ technology also enables the milk to be carbonated during dispensing.

Looking for a World Leader

“We knew Cornelius is the leader in dispensing products, so we approached them and signed an exclusive deal,” Dr. Sizer explained.

While Dairyvative touts the concentrated milk as having the “natural fresh taste of milk,” it does note that it is slightly sweeter due to the conversion of lactose into the sugars glucose and galactose.

Dairyvative also says that the cost for dairy processors to produce the concentrated milk is low, as much of the equipment that processors need they already have in place. They also note that the long shelf-life means less spoilage and returns, lower transportation costs, and environmental benefits such as less electricity needed for milk storage.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Reducing the carbon footprint is very important to Dr. Sizer. He notes that currently it takes 2.05 kilos of carbon to bring 1 kilo (1 liter) of milk to the consumer.

“We can reduce that by 20%-30% right out of the gate,” Dr. Sizer said. “And by locating in close proximity to the dairy, we can reduce it even further.”

Expect to see the U.S. rollout of the new milk product in 2016, and Dairyvative is already in discussion with multi-national dairies for international markets.

© 2015 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.

New Tank Car Standards Means New Facility and Employees for UTLX

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)




Berkshire Hathaway’s wholly-owned tank car manufacturer UTLX is opening a new facility in Marion, Ohio, and will be adding 200 new employees over the next three years. The expansion will double the number of employees it has in Marion.

The move comes as new federal safety standards have created unprecedented demand for new and retrofitted tank cars.

Retrofitting the Existing Fleet

Under the Enhanced Standards for New and Existing Tank Cars for use in an HHFT— Existing tank cars must be retrofitted in accordance with the DOT-prescribed retrofit design or performance standard for use in an HHFT.

An HHFT is defined as a train carrying 20 or more tank carloads of flammable liquids (including crude oil and ethanol).

The need for replacement and retrofitted tank cars impacts shippers that ship by rail, including shippers of LPG, oil producers and refiners, and ethanol producers that own their own tank cars or lease them from leasing companies, and Berkshire’s BNSF Railway’s own fleet of tank cars.

Retrofitting existing tank cars is an important bridge to safer shipping of flammable liquids, as the current backlog of new tank car orders sits at a record 52,000 units. 

The new facility is be able to rewrap 60 tank cars a week when it reaches full capacity.

 A Bundle of Tax Credits and Grants

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority granted a 55-percent, 5-year tax credit to UTLX for the creation of $8,272,000 in new annual payroll, provided that the company maintains operations at the facility for 11 years.

The company will also receive a $75,000 grant from the Ohio Rail Development Commission to cover the cost of on-site rail improvements.

Greg Cieslak, president of UTLX, noted, “We have a quick need to expand into a second facility due to the industry’s changing landscape, and found the Columbus Region to be a strategic location to grow. The area offers access to the right workforce and real estate to fit our needs, and the Midwest location and rail infrastructure are convenient to our customers.”

Higher Paying Job Opportunities

The new employees will earn between $15 to $21 per hour plus benefits. The jobs include welders and fabricators, tank car repairers, rail car switchmen, material handlers, and general labor and helpers with general welding knowledge.

UTLX is looking to the Tri-Rivers Career Center’s workforce development program to provide training for the new employees.

© 2015 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.

Commentary: Is Now the Time for Berkshire to Pull the Trigger on USG?

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)




With demand for housing finally outstripping supply in a number of markets, the need for drywall and other construction supplies looks finally to be reviving from the lingering doldrums of the Great Recession.

Building permits for new houses rose a stellar 30-percent in June 2015, as compared to the same time period in 2014.

The rise in new housing starts, which are up 26-percent year-to-year, is certainly welcome news for Berkshire Hathaway’s Johns Manville, which makes insulation and roofing products, and it’s good news for many of Berkshire’s Marmon Group companies that manufacture materials used in both commercial and residential construction.

The revival in new housing is also great news for USG Corporation (formerly known as United States Gypsum Corporation), which is North America’s leading manufacturer of drywall and related building products.

About USG

In 1902, 30 independent gypsum rock and plaster manufacturing companies merged to form the United States Gypsum Company.  Over more than a century, USG has been issued 1,100 patents for its products. In addition to drywall, the company is a leading manufacturer of acoustical panel and specialty ceiling systems. The company has 34 manufacturing plants in the U.S., and has roughly 9,000 employees in more than 30 countries.

USG and Berkshire

Berkshire has had a growing minority stake in USG that goes back to the nadir of the recent financial crisis.

In 2008, with the housing market imploding and lending all but frozen, Berkshire came to USG’s rescue with $300 million of convertible notes that paid Berkshire 10-percent interest.

At the time, the boost in confidence the company received from Warren Buffett’s financing helped the company avoid bankruptcy. The day of transaction the stock soared 22-percent to $6.89 a share.

Today, the stock is hovering around $29 per share.

Berkshire has not only profited from the healthy interest payments, but the stock’s appreciation as well.

In December 2013, Berkshire exchanged $243.8 million of the convertible notes for common stock, and with additional purchases its stake in USG now sits at just under 40-percent.

The Chinese Drywall Scandal

As an American manufacturer, USG has been a beneficiary of the Chinese drywall scandal that came to a head in 2009. Imported drywall from China that had high sulfur content brought reports of fumes that created upper respiratory problems, and the market for drywall from China was hit hard. Thousands of homes in Florida and other states had their drywall ripped out and replaced.

Time to Pull the Trigger?

The Chicago-based company has seen its ups and downs, including three bankruptcies.

The last bankruptcy was in July 25, 2001 under Chapter 11 in order to deal with a mountain of asbestos litigation costs related to asbestos containing joint compounds.

The establishment of the The United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust put the company’s asbestos woes in the rear-view mirror, and its stock price reflects it. With the growing strength in the new housing market, its roughly $29 share price looks poised to move past the 5-year high of $35.33 that it hit in February 2014.

With a Market Cap of just over $4.2 billion ($1.5 billion of which is already owned by Berkshire), USG is a great fit for Berkshire if it wants to gobble up the whole thing, or if it just wants to continue its incremental takeover by moving to over 50-percent ownership.

USG would fit nicely into the Marmon Group of companies, which include a host of companies that supply the construction industry.

Berkshire might want to consider a tender offer for the company’s outstanding stock, because it just looks to get more expensive from here, as the housing market finally has put the drywall business back in high demand.

All it takes is a little cash, which is something Berkshire’s got a lot of.

© 2015 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.

Owl Wire Rehabs Manufacturing Plant

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)




Owl Wire and Cable, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway’s Chicago-based Marmon Group, is set for a $1 million rehab of its Madison Street manufacturing plant in Rome, New York. The work will include a new roof, and repairs to walls, floors and columns.

Owl Wire and Cable produces a wide range of sizes and classes of wire and cable. The company employs about 45 people.

The building was previously owned by Rome Cable, which filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

About Owl Wire

Owl Wire and Cable was founded in 1954, and is a manufacturer of un-insulated copper wire and cable for a variety of end uses, including:

  • Electrical and electronic wire and cable for energy-related markets servicing the oil, gas, nuclear, and wind energy markets.
  • Low and medium voltage cables are provided to the appliance, building, mining, and industrial markets.
  • Varied specialty cables utilized in aeronautical, high temperature, and marine markets.
  • Transit, aerospace, defense, communication and other industrial applications. Uses include industrial power and instrumentation; aerial and underground utility distribution; and environments where exposure to harsh elements is anticipated.

The company has three facilities totaling more than 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Corporate Headquarters and manufacturing are located in Canastota, New York, with manufacturing facilities also located in Rome and Boonville, New York.

Berkshire and Marmon

In 2007, Berkshire Hathaway acquired 60% of the Marmon Group for $4.5 billion from the Pritzker Family of Chicago. At the time, Marmon was made up of 125 manufacturing and service businesses that all operated independently within diverse business sectors.

Berkshire has gradually increased its stake in Marmon even as Marmon has grown, and in 2013 it bought the remaining 20% share owned by the Pritzker Family.

Today, Marmon Group has 160 independent manufacturing and service businesses and employs 17,000 people worldwide.

© 2015 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.