One of Warren Buffett’s proteges at Berkshire Hathaway has announced she is leaving the firm to start her own company with the goal of acquiring businesses “too small for Berkshire,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Berkshire executive Tracy Britt Cool has been working for Berkshire since 2009, when she became Buffett’s financial assistant at the age of 25. She was later named CEO of Pampered Chef, a cookware subsidiary of Berkshire in 2014. But now she’s got her eyes on a bigger — or maybe smaller — prize.
Britt Cool’s goal with her new company is to adapt strategies she’s learned while under Buffett’s tutelage to acquire smaller businesses for the long term.
“I want to build a long-term platform and a long-term vehicle to acquire and build businesses,” Britt Cool said in an interview with the WSJ. “There are companies that I think there’s a lot of value in helping them get to the next level, but they’re too small for Berkshire.”
Britt Cool got her start at Berkshire after graduating from Harvard Business School. According to the WSJ, she was instrumental in helping struggling Berkshire businesses and served as chair for Johns Manville, Oriental Trading Co., Benjamin Moore & Co. and Larson-Juhl.
“She was the fireman,” Buffett said. “Anything I’ve assigned her she’s done a first-class job on.”
After being named CEO of Pampered Chef, sales for the company rose 19% in the second quarter of 2019. Pretax earnings were up 52% compared to the previous year, according to Buffett.
And now she has the chance to take what she’s learned from a decade at Berkshire and apply it on a smaller scale. Buffett and Berkshire have been on the hunt for new companies to acquire, but the bull market that has lasted as long as Britt Cool has been at the firm has made it tough to find good value. Buffett seems to think Britt Cool’s strategy will work out.
“The toughest part is finding things to buy,” Buffett said. “She’s got an easier job than I’ve got.”