It’s hard to believe that legendary investor Warren Buffett got his start in New Bedford, MA. I grew up a couple of towns over in Mattapoisett. His Berkshire Hathaway deal didn’t turn out the way he had planned it would, but he obviously learned a thing or two from that experience. The Mayor of New Bedford is trying to salvage the property as the WSJ explains here:
NEW BEDFORD, Mass.—Americans tend to celebrate the birthplaces of great businesses, such as the garage in Los Altos, Calif., where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Inc. and Sam Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville, Ark., the origin of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
But there is little support thus far for a campaign by the mayor of New Bedford, Mass., to save from the bulldozer a squat, dilapidated office building once the headquarters of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Control of the New England textile manufacturer was acquired in 1965 by an ambitious 34-year-old investor named Warren Buffett, who made Berkshire Hathaway the base of his own budding conglomerate. It, of course, went on to become synonymous with investing prowess and business success.
But there is now a problem facing New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell in his efforts to salvage the property: The story of the old mill headquarters doesn’t exactly fit the Buffett mystique.
The billionaire investor, famous for his golden touch, lost money on the Berkshire Hathaway deal, even though the mill’s cash flow helped fund the early growth of the conglomerate. Famously unemotional about his investments, Mr. Buffett originally bought the mill partly because he was upset at the company’s then owner, he acknowledges in a phone interview.
Mr. Buffett even regrets transforming Berkshire Hathaway into his holding company. “One of the dumbest things was to make a textile company the base of other things we bought or invested in,” Mr. Buffett said. He never considered changing the name, though.
Mayor Mitchell is running out of time. The current owner of the 86-year-old office building wants to level it for a parking lot. The mayor has persuaded him to hold off for a few months in a final push to find a buyer.
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