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Berkshire Beyond BuffettThe Enduring Value of Values$
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Lawrence Cunningham

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231170048

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231170048.001.0001

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Berkshire Beyond Buffett

Lawrence A. Cunningham

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the advantages and challenges of family businesses through the experiences of the following Berkshire companies: Nebraska Furniture Mart Inc., RC Willey Home Furnishings, Star Furniture Company, Helzberg Diamond Shops Inc., and Ben Bridge Jeweler Inc. Many families selling to Berkshire, such as the Tatelman brothers of Jordan’s Furniture, and the Bridge family, shared sales proceeds with their employees. Intangibles like these—partnership, generosity, fairness—glue family businesses together. Along with valuing soft factors, such as family identity and legacy, these traits help family firms prosper indefinitely, as founders go, second-generation siblings join, and third-generation cousins come to be co-managers. Berkshire seeks out family businesses whose members prize such qualities and offers them autonomy and permanence. The mutual payoff is a durable, multi-generational family business.

Keywords:   family business, family-owned corporations, Berkshire Hathaway, Nebraska Furniture Mart Inc, RC Willey Home Furnishings, Star Furniture Company, Helzberg Diamond Shops Inc, Ben Bridge Jeweler Inc

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