Soundview Executive Book Summaries


No Better Buyer than Buffett

I came across this review of a book released earlier this year that discusses R.C. Willey, the furniture and electronics store purchased by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. I wonder if people didn’t focus on this book because it dealt with Bill Child, the founder of R.C. Willey, rather than on Buffett himself. That’s a shame, because Child is a fascinating character whose efforts helped propel his business to blue chip status in the eyes of the world’s most famous investor.

How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy does more than just give readers a peek into how to remodel a business from one that struggles to one that exceeds expectations. The book goes beyond numbers into the aspects of moral character and trust that form both a good workplace and a company profile that Buffett admires.

In regard to ethics, Child’s own belief in the adaptability of a business and the importance of creating a loyal work force have been echoed time and again in books about Buffett. When we reviewed Alice Schroeder’s comprehensive Buffett biography, The Snowball, we were struck by how often Buffett executed acquisition decisions by paying as much attention to the company’s philosophy as he did its balance sheet.

As the reviewer in the article above notes, the acquisition of R.C. Willey made Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway a substantial profit, while Child certainly benefited from receiving “A” shares in Buffett’s company as part of the buy-out. Without going into a long explanation, “A” shares in Berkshire Hathaway trade for a significantly higher price than “B” shares. It just goes to show that there is still a value on companies founded on a strong work ethic and firm moral character.

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