GEICO on Hiring Spree in Georgia

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GEICO’s Macon, Georgia regional office is looking to extend job offers to more than 500 Central Georgia residents in 2020.

There are full-time and part-time career opportunities in Claims, Salvage, Emergency Roadside Service, Customer Service and Sales. Recent college graduates and others looking to train for leadership positions are encouraged to apply for the Emerging Leaders Program or Management Development Program. No prior insurance experience is necessary; training, mentorship and support are provided to all new associates.

New associates will join Central Georgia’s largest private employer and GEICO’s largest regional operation. They will be welcomed onto a team with a proven track-record of success. Last year, nearly 40 percent of GEICO associates in Macon received promotions for their efforts to provide quality service to GEICO’s ever-growing policyholders.

GEICO associates are offered the Total Rewards Program, with a wide range of benefits, including a health benefits package, retirement and finance options and continuing education opportunities. In addition, associates can expect career growth opportunities and a friendly and supportive environment in which to develop and thrive.

GEICO also provides associates with many opportunities to be involved in their community. GEICO has been the biggest contributor to the United Way of Central Georgia for the past 14 years, and associates have been honored for their volunteer work at Bibb County Public Schools and Middle Georgia Community Food Bank.

© 2020 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 Precision Castparts Plans 737 Max Layoffs

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Berkshire Hathaway’s aerospace company Precision Castparts has given pink slips to 150 workers in Oregon.

The layoffs are due to the suspension production of Boeing’s 737 Max.

The company has positions across a broad swath of next-generation commercial platforms, including Boeing’s 737 MAX, 777X, 787, and Airbus’s A320neo and A350 XWB.

There is still no firm date on the resumption of production, however, the latest estimates stretch into the summer of 2020 with some deliveries running up to two years late.

© 2020 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 Forklift Facility in California

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China’s BYD has committed to building a new California facility for its rapidly growing electric forklift business.

The company will construct a 50,000-square-foot facility in Rancho Dominguez that will include office space, warehouse space and facilities for demos and training.

“This expansion will help us build and strengthen our relationships and give us an important opportunity to showcase the variety of top-notch material handling equipment built by BYD,” Terry Rains, director of BYD’s North American forklift division, said in a statement. “BYD has been revolutionizing the material handing market and our extraordinary technology turns the industry inside-out,” added Rains.

Globally, BYD has delivered more than 12,000 zero-emission electric trucks across all classes, and it expansion into product handling equipment, such as forklifts, are part of a diversified electric powered product line that includes cars, delivery trucks, batteries, and even monorails.

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.

© 2020 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.

Susan Adzick Promoted to Chief Operating Officer of McLane Foodservice

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Berkshire Hathaway’s McLane Company, Inc., a leading supply chain services company providing grocery and foodservice solutions, announced that Susan Adzick has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of McLane Foodservice, and in July of this year, Adzick will transition to president of McLane Foodservice.

“Susan Adzick is an experienced supply chain industry executive who is well respected by all who know and work with her,” says Tom Zatina, current president of McLane Foodservice. “I have the utmost confidence in knowing Susan will be a steward of the values of our business and keep our company a great place to work, a great place to trade and a great place to invest.”

Since joining McLane Foodservice in 2000, Adzick has held various leadership positions including her most recent role as senior vice president of sales and strategic relationships, which she has held since 2018. She has worked to elevate the McLane Foodservice brand to higher visibility within the industry, grow market share with existing brands and add new customers in the casual dining and fast casual segments. Over the last few years, Adzick provided the strategic direction, business development and customer relationship management for the entire portfolio of McLane’s foodservice business.

Additionally, Adzick serves on the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors, National Restaurant Educational Foundation Board of Directors as vice chair, Restaurant Leadership Conference Advisory Council and served on the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) Board of Directors as chair in 2018.

Prior to joining McLane Foodservice, Adzick worked with PepsiCo as vice president of operations before being promoted to senior vice president, national accounts. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering and MBA, both from Vanderbilt University.

“McLane Foodservice is positioned to support the supply chain needs of our strategic partners today and tomorrow,” says Adzick. “I’m excited about helping to further shape the future of our business.”

© 2020 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: Berkshire Hathaway to Make $1.3 Billion on Sale of Newspapers to Lee Enterprises

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Berkshire Hathaway’s sale of its BH Media newspaper empire to Lee Enterprises will get Warren Buffett and Berkshire out of the newspaper business, and the good news it won’t be at a loss. Berkshire Hathaway will make a bundle on the deal.

Berkshire is selling BH Media Group’s publications and The Buffalo News for $140 million in cash, and providing approximately $576 million in long-term financing to Lee at a 9% annual rate.

What’s more, Lee Enterprises will lease also the existing newspapers’ facilities from Berkshire, including assuming the maintenance and upkeep costs, giving Berkshire an additional long term revenue stream.

Anyone that worries about Berkshire’s ability to collect on its loan can take comfort that the deal actually strengthens Lee’s balance sheet.

The proceeds Lee receives from the Berkshire financing will be used to pay for the acquisition, refinance Lee’s approximately $400 million of existing debt, and provide enough cash on Lee’s balance sheet to allow for the termination of Lee’s existing revolving credit facility. The financing requires no fees, will result in approximately $5 million of interest rate savings on Lee’s refinanced debt annually.

The transaction is expected to drive an 87% increase in revenue for Lee Enterprises, a 40% increase in adjusted EBITDA and immediately reduce leverage to 3.4x before synergies. Based on Lee’s work managing BHMG publications over the last 18 months, Lee expects $20-25 million of anticipated annual revenue and cost synergies. As a result, Lee will benefit from a stronger financial profile and be positioned to de-lever more rapidly.

Subsequent to the deal closing, Berkshire Hathaway will be Lee’s sole lender, putting Berkshire in first position in case of default.

The deal will reduce Lee’s leverage from 3.5x to 3.4x, before any cost and revenue synergies. Lee has identified approximately $20-25 million of highly achievable annual synergies, including revenue synergies from the management of digital advertising and subscriber programs, and cost synergies, primarily from the reduction of administrative expenses. Lee expects to achieve the full synergy run-rate within 24 months of closing, which is expected in mid-March 2020, subject to customary regulatory approvals.

Lee Enterprises is a longtime favorite of Warren Buffett, and it has moved in and out of his portfolio at various points. Lee has managed BHMG’s publications since July 2018 under a management agreement, and Buffett was clearly positioning Berkshire to get out of the newspaper business, no matter how much affection he had for ink stained paper.

A Windfall for Berkshire

In the end, Berkshire gets out of a declining business that had negligible impact on its balance sheet, can look forward to $1.296 billion in interest payments on its loan to Lee, and another $80 million in lease payments for the 10 years of its lease agreement. There could be significantly more if those leases renew.

How does Buffett feel about it? Buffett said, “My partner Charlie Munger and I have known and admired the Lee organization for over 40 years. They have delivered exceptional performance managing BH Media’s newspapers and continue to outpace the industry in digital market share and revenue. We had zero interest in selling the group to anyone else for one simple reason: We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges. No organization is more committed to serving the vital role of high-quality local news, however delivered, as Lee. I am confident that our newspapers will be in the right hands going forward and I also am pleased to be deepening our long-term relationship with Lee through the financing agreement.”

Warren Buffett has built Berkshire Hathaway into a half-trillion-dollar conglomerate through acquisitions, but he’s not afraid to sell on occasion, especially when the deal means long term profits with no costs.

© 2020 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’s Lipofoods Brand Moved to Health Business of Lubrizol Life Science

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On January 1, Lubrizol’s Lipofoods SLU became a part of the Health Business of Lubrizol Life Science (LLS Health), strengthening the organization’s global presence and providing support to advance its growth in the rapidly developing nutraceutical market.

The Lipofoods brand, was previously part of the Lubrizol Life Science Beauty business.

Lipofoods Nutraceutical Ingredients is now the umbrella brand for the new Nutraceutical Division within LLS Health and includes all existing brands and product platforms for microencapsulated minerals and botanicals.

The transition gives the Lipofoods brand strong global infrastructure for driving more innovative solutions to the expanding nutraceuticals market.

“Over the last few years, the Lipofoods brand has experienced rapid growth and scale-up,” says David Padró, Business Unit Manager of the Nutraceuticals Division of LLS Health. “This has propelled the need for a larger structure to meet the demands of the fast-changing, highly segmented global nutraceuticals marketplace. This new structure will bring technology and scientific support to active ingredients with functional performance attributes.”

The newly formed Nutraceutical Division will leverage the broad range of internal Lubrizol capabilities for improving bioavailability and oral delivery for its portfolio of active ingredients. It will benefit from LLS Health’s technological platforms, well established applications expertise, global sales and marketing structures, operations and regulatory know-how to continue developing the nutraceuticals market, while keeping the current sales structure and distribution network.

“The addition of the Lipofoods brand to our portfolio will boost Lubrizol’s exposure to the nutraceuticals market and complement our product offerings in the health and wellness industry,” adds Barbara Morgan, Global Business Director for Pharmaceutical Solutions of LLS Health. “This illustrates our holistic commitment to improve health outcomes by providing expertise that accelerates customers’ growth through expanded access to innovative nutraceutical platforms.”

© 2020 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.

Chicago’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate Adds QuickBuy

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate, one of Chicagoland’s largest and most experienced real estate organizations, has introduced QuickBuy™, an alternative home sale option made available through a partnership with Moving Station, LLC, a leading U.S. iBuyer since 2012.

The relationship allows Starck Real Estate to present Midwest home sellers with a reliable “instant” offer for their home as an alternative to a traditional home sale. Consumers who request a QuickBuy™ offer from Starck can enjoy the certainty and convenience of an immediate offer with the expertise and guidance of a knowledgeable agent. Homes must qualify for the program before an offer is made. But once the seller accepts a QuickBuy™ offer, the home may close in as few as 14 days.

There is no cost for consumers to request a QuickBuy™ offer and home sellers in Northern Illinois are free to explore this new option through their local Starck Real Estate brokerage.

“Our business has always focused on the needs of consumers and adding an instant buying option is just one more way to respond to our clients and give them more choice and control over the sale of their home,” states Aaron Starck, President of Starck Real Estate. “The web is increasingly crowded with real estate algorithms and home value estimates, but the majority of consumers look to their local real estate broker for superior market intel and trusted guidance for their real estate transaction. People simply can’t get that from the internet,” he continued.

For sellers who want to test the sale of their home on the market to find a better price, but with the assurance of a cash buyout, if the home does not sell, they can also select QuickBuy™ Lock. If the home does not sell in 150 days, the seller can accept the QuickBuy™ Lock offer to close in 180 days.

Seller’s homes are qualified over the phone and after a visit from a Starck Broker, if the home qualifies, QuickBuy™ will generate an offer put together by our real estate professionals with over 25 years of residential property experience. The Starck broker will present the offer to the seller and upon acceptance typical home inspection will follow. If the offer is rejected, the agent will provide other home sale options.

© 2020 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 Buses Pass Altoona Test

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BYD (Build Your Dreams) has announced that its American-built K11M 60-foot battery-electric, articulated public transit bus successfully completed the Federal Transit Administration Model Bus Testing Program in Altoona, Pa.

The K11M, which exceeds all Buy America requirements, became the first articulated bus to successfully complete the new FTA “Pass/Fail” protocol and is the only five-door model to do so.

As a result, U.S. transit agencies can use FTA funding to buy the BYD K11M. Several agencies, including the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, based in Lancaster, Calif., Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and IndyGo in Indianapolis, have already deployed the model.

“This is a milestone for battery-electric buses, and clearly highlights the style, innovation, and safety features that are hallmarks of the BYD brand,” said BYD North America President Stella Li. “Not only are these American-built buses safe, they are quiet and comfortable and contribute to better air quality and a higher standard of living in our communities.”

In September, BYD’s K11M became the first battery-electric transit bus of its size to complete the full 15,000-mile durability test in an impressive 106 days and requiring a minimum amount of maintenance, setting a high bar for all other bus manufacturers.

BYD’s 60-foot articulated transit bus is ideal for high-volume passenger operations, providing service with less noise and vibration. Depending on the configuration, the bus can accommodate up to 89 passengers. It has a range of up to 220 miles and can be fully charged in three to four hours.

The K11M is built at BYD’s Coach & Bus factory in Lancaster, Calif. All of BYD’s zero-emission buses not only meet but also exceed FTA Buy America requirements, incorporating more than 70% U.S. content.

BYD is the first battery-electric bus manufacturer that has both a unionized workforce and a Community Benefits Agreement, which sets goals for hiring veterans, single parents, second chance citizens, and others facing hurdles in obtaining manufacturing employment.

BYD offers the widest range of battery-electric bus and coach models in the United States, ranging from 23-foot motor coaches on up to the 60-foot K11M.

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.

© 2020 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 to Change Corporate Name

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Pilot Flying J, the 14th largest private company in America, will change its corporate name to Pilot Company, according to the Haslam family.

Pilot Company will now be the umbrella name for the company’s over all business.

The change will include a new logo that that is inspired by the first Pilot gas station founded by chairman Jim Haslam.

Pilot will still operate its various brands under their current names, such as Pilot, Flying J, Mr. Fuel, PJ Fresh, Pilot Coffee, and its PFJ Energy brands, including BunkerHill, Tartan Oil, Saratoga, Pro Petroleum, and Pilot Water Solutions.

“If you pull up to a Pilot, it’s going to be a Pilot,” Haslam Johnson said on Knox News. “If you pull up to a Flying J, it’s going to be a Flying J. Same thing on the energy side of the business. So I think it’s less about that side of it and more about grounding us under one company with all of these different brands.”

Berkshire Hathaway and Pilot

In 2017, Berkshire Hathaway made a $2.76 billion investment in Pilot Travel Centers. Under the terms of the agreement, the Haslam family will continue to own a majority of Pilot Flying J and Jimmy Haslam will remain as chief executive officer. Pilot Flying J President Ken Parent and the Company’s management team will also remain in place. The Company will continue to be headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Berkshire will become the majority owner in two more years.

© 2020 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.

Johns Manville to Build Polyiso Production Plant in Texas

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Johns Manville, a global building and specialty products manufacturer that is a Berkshire Hathaway company, plans to build a polyiso production plant in Hillsboro, Texas.

“We take great pride in creating and delivering the best products for our customers,” said Mary Rhinehart, President and CEO of Johns Manville. “This expansion south of Dallas/Fort Worth, in an area where construction is surging, will increase availability of our premium products to customers throughout the region.”

JM will begin construction on the new production facility later this year, pending various government approvals, and anticipates the completion in mid-2021. When complete, JM will employ more than 50 people at the new facility.

“There are tremendous growth opportunities in the Southwest for polyiso products,” said Joe Smith, President of JM’s Roofing Systems business. “Three of the 10 largest cities in the country are a short drive from Hillsboro, and some of our largest roofing contractors are located within the service area.”

The Hillsboro plant will manufacture polyiso products including ENRGY 3® roof insulation, ProtectoR® HD high density cover board, AP® Foil Faced Foam sheathing and GoBoard® tile backer. These polyiso products are preferred in the market due to their high R-value per inch and the lightweight strength and durability they offer for several building applications.

The Hillsboro facility will also include a JM roofing distribution center. The warehouse will stock many JM products, including TPO and TPO accessories, to help JM meet local demand.

“We are excited to build in an area close to our customers and where we can hire good people into the JM family to help our customers be successful,” said Matt Sayer, Polyiso and Boards Product Manager for JM. “Johns Manville will be well-positioned with this expansion to increase product supply to meet the growing demand from our customers.”
Local officials welcomed JM’s decision to expand in Hillsboro.

“Johns Manville is an important addition to the manufacturing and industrial base in Hillsboro,” said Hillsboro City Manager Frank Johnson. “Johns Manville has a long-term, stable national and international presence and is known to be a good corporate citizen. We are excited to have them become part of our community.”

© 2020 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.