Lawrence Cunningham, "Berkshire Beyond Buffett"
The November 6, 2014 Rotary Club of Des Moines meeting was gaveled to order at the Wakonda Club by President Bruce Kelley. Past President Skeet Wooten gave the invocation and led the group in the Rotary Four-Way Test. Dr. Robert Jones provided piano accompaniment for the singing of God Bless America. Shawn Mullen served as vocal director, with help from Susan Voss on the high notes. Dale Belknap introduced visiting Rotarians and guests. KCCI anchor Kevin Cooney provided a summary of breaking news. New member Philip Boxwell was introduced by Greg Edwards.
Eric Lohmeier introduced guest speaker Lawrence Cunningham, attorney, professor of law and author of ten books on value investing. Mr. Cunningham’s latest book is Berkshire Beyond Buffett, which asks the question: “Will Berkshire Hathaway survive after its iconic chairman Warren Buffett is gone?” Mr. Cunningham’s answer is a resounding “Yes”!
In support of his premise, Mr. Cunningham notes that Mr. Buffett, while well known for his stock-picking and investment acumen, is also a highly skilled manager. Mr. Cunningham believes that Mr. Buffett’s largest single achievement has been to create an organization larger than himself that will survive him and continue to thrive.
Berkshire has a deep bench of managerial talent, shareholders with a long-term outlook, and a talented board of directors. It is the fifth-largest corporation in America, with more than 80 subsidiaries involved in insurance, energy, rail transportation, manufacturing, consumer goods and a variety of other businesses. Berkshire Hathaway Energy, formerly MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, is a Berkshire subsidiary based in Des Moines.
Despite the wide range of businesses under the Berkshire umbrella, Mr. Cunningham notes that they share common cultural traits: thriftiness, earnestness, integrity, kinship, entrepreneurship, autonomy, investor savvy, a focus on the basics, and permanence.
In summary, Mr. Cunningham believes the powerful management principles of the Berkshire companies will not only inspire individuals, but will ensure business longevity and success into the future.
Following his presentation to the Rotary Club of Des Moines, Mr. Cunningham was off to Drake University, where he was scheduled to speak with business school students. Drake University is one of the first stops on a multi-college book tour to promote Berkshire Beyond Buffett. More information about the book can be found at berkshirebeyondbuffett.com.
Thanks to Mr. Cunningham for an informative presentation about one of the most respected business leaders in the world - Warren Buffett.