Stewart Horejsi’s business was in a funk. It was 1980, and Brown Welding Supply, his family’s third-generation distributor of hydrogen and oxygen tanks, was battling competitors intent on expanding into its corner of Kansas.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that while 'it was a profitable business', says Horejsi, 75, 'the competition just grew'.
Frustrated, he bought 40 shares of Berkshire Hathaway for $265 each with the company’s cash after friends told him about Warren Buffett, the company’s then-little-known chairman. He bought another 60 shares two weeks later at $295 and 200 more at $330 a month after that.
Today, he’s a billionaire.
The 4,300 Class A Berkshire shares Horejsi says he acquired over the years are now worth $745m; combined with other holdings, that gives him a net worth of at least $1.1bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. In addition to Buffett, the world’s fourth-richest person, at least six current or former billionaires derive their fortunes from the stock. They include Charles Munger, the company’s vice chairman, and David Gottesman, a Berkshire board member and founder of asset-management firm First Manhattan.
Until now, Horejsi (pronounced 'Horish') had never appeared on such a ranking, and there are probably other Berkshire billionaires to be uncovered. In a June 2010 Fortune magazine article, Buffett said he knew of two shareholders who qualified for the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans but weren’t on it. These lost billionaires probably fall into one of two categories: investors in the early partnerships Buffett managed, the first of which was started in 1956; or business owners smart or lucky enough to sell their companies to Berkshire for stock instead of cash.
To access the complete Bloomberg Businessweek article
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