Under Warren Buffett's leadership, Berkshire Hathway (BRK.A) has grown into a $270 billion company that owns ten of billions of dollars in common stock in companies like Wells Fargo (WFC), IBM (IBM), The Washington Post (WPO), and Coca-Cola (KO). In addition, the Buffett empire fully owns 80 businesses ranging from insurance to furniture to candy and ice cream.
At this year's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffett said at least eight of the companies he owns are so successful, that they would be on the Fortune 500 list if they were stand alone entities.
So how does a business change once it gets backed by Buffett?
Long before the billionaire got involved, Dairy Queen had been busy dishing up dillies and other delectable treats for more than 60 years at its thousands of iconic stores scattered around the country.
While the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) billionaire’s sweet tooth is the stuff of legend, so is his business acumen and eye for a deal. When he got the chance in 1998 to acquire this household name, he scooped it up on the cheap.
"Over the last five years, we've had some tremendous growth," says Dairy Queen International President & CEO John Gainor from the floor of the Century Link center in Omaha, Nebraska. "Right now we have 6,300 stores, we're in 22 countries. Our international business continues to grow. We have 1,100 units in international markets, and our biggest international market is China where we have 550 stores."
And Dairy Queen isn’t alone. In fact, business after business in the Buffett empire will tell you that the prestige, autonomy and financial clout that comes from being a part of Berkshire Hathaway is a huge competitive advantage. But this doesn't mean the company gets gutted or restructured.
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