Each company was started by a young man who had graduated from the University of Tennessee and stayed put in Knoxville. Neither had a meaningful amount of capital nor wealthy parents.
But, so what? Today, Clayton and Pilot each have annual pre-tax earnings of more than $1 billion. Together they employ about 47,000 men and women.
Jim Clayton, after several other business ventures, founded Clayton Homes on a shoestring in 1956, and “Big Jim” Haslam started what became Pilot Travel Centers in 1958 by purchasing a service station for $6,000. Each of the men later brought into the business a son with the same passion, values and brains as his father. Sometimes there is a magic to genes.
吉姆·克莱顿（Jim Clayton）在经历了数次其他商业冒险之后，于1956年凭空成立了克莱顿之家（Clayton Homes），“大吉姆”·哈斯拉姆（Big Jim）Haslam于1958年以6,000美元的价格购买了加油站，开办了飞行员旅行中心。后来，每个人都把一个与父亲一样具有激情，价值观和智慧的儿子带入了企业。有时候基因有魔力。
“Big Jim” Haslam, now 90, has recently authored an inspirational book in which he relates how Jim Clayton’s son, Kevin, encouraged the Haslams to sell a large portion of Pilot to Berkshire. Every retailer knows that satisfied customers are a store’s best salespeople. That’s true when businesses are changing hands as well.
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=When you next fly over Knoxville or Omaha, tip your hat to the Claytons, Haslams and Blumkins as well as to the army of successful entrepreneurs who populate every part of our country. These builders needed America’s framework for prosperity – a unique experiment when it was crafted in 1789 – to achieve their potential. In turn, America needed citizens like Jim C., Jim H., Mrs. B and Louie to accomplish the miracles our founding fathers sought.
Today, many people forge similar miracles throughout the world, creating a spread of prosperity that benefits all of humanity. In its brief 232 years of existence, however, there has been no incubator for unleashing human potential like America. Despite some severe interruptions, our country’s economic progress has been breathtaking.
Beyond that, we retain our constitutional aspiration of becoming “a more perfect union.” Progress on that front has been slow, uneven and often discouraging. We have, however, moved forward and will continue to do so.
Our unwavering conclusion: Never bet against America.
The Berkshire Partnership
Berkshire is a Delaware corporation, and our directors must follow the state’s laws. Among them is a requirement that board members must act in the best interest of the corporation and its stockholders. Our directors embrace that doctrine.
In addition, of course, Berkshire directors want the company to delight its customers, to develop and reward the talents of its 360,000 associates, to behave honorably with lenders and to be regarded as a good citizen of the many cities and states in which we operate. We value these four important constituencies.
None of these groups, however, have a vote in determining such matters as dividends, strategic direction, CEO selection, or acquisitions and divestitures. Responsibilities like those fall solely on Berkshire’s directors, who must faithfully represent the long-term interests of the corporation and its owners.
Beyond legal requirements, Charlie and I feel a special obligation to the many individual shareholders of Berkshire. A bit of personal history may help you to understand our unusual attachment and how it shapes our behavior.
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Before my Berkshire years, I managed money for many individuals through a series of partnerships, the first three of those formed in 1956. As time passed, the use of multiple entities became unwieldy and, in 1962, we amalgamated 12 partnerships into a single unit, Buffett Partnership Ltd. (“BPL”).
By that year, virtually all of my own money, and that of my wife as well, had become invested alongside the funds of my many limited partners. I received no salary or fees. Instead, as the general partner, I was compensated by my limited partners only after they secured returns above an annual threshold of 6%. If returns failed to meet that level, the shortfall was to be carried forward against my share of future profits. (Fortunately, that never happened: Partnership returns always exceeded the 6% “bogey.”) As the years went by, a large part of the resources of my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws became invested in the partnership.
Charlie formed his partnership in 1962 and operated much as I did. Neither of us had any institutional investors, and very few of our partners were financially sophisticated. The people who joined our ventures simply trusted us to treat their money as we treated our own. These individuals – either intuitively or by relying on the advice of friends – correctly concluded that Charlie and I had an extreme aversion to permanent loss of capital and that we would not have accepted their money unless we expected to do reasonably well with it.
I stumbled into business management after BPL acquired control of Berkshire in 1965. Later still, in 1969, we decided to dissolve BPL. After yearend, the partnership distributed, pro-rata, all of its cash along with three stocks, the largest by value being BPL’s 70.5% interest in Berkshire.
Charlie, meanwhile, wound up his operation in 1977. Among the assets he distributed to partners was a major interest in Blue Chip Stamps, a company his partnership, Berkshire and I jointly controlled. Blue Chip was also among the three stocks my partnership had distributed upon its dissolution.
同时，查理（Charlie）在1977年结束了业务。他分配给合作伙伴的资产中包括对蓝筹邮票（Blue Chip Stamps）的主要兴趣，该公司是他与合伙人，伯克希尔和我共同控制的公司。蓝筹股也是我合伙解散后分配的三只股票之一。
In 1983, Berkshire and Blue Chip merged, thereby expanding Berkshire’s base of registered shareholders from 1,900 to 2,900. Charlie and I wanted everyone – old, new and prospective shareholders – to be on the same page.
Therefore, the 1983 annual report – up front – laid out Berkshire’s “major business principles.” The first principle began: “Although our form is corporate, our attitude is partnership.” That defined our relationship in 1983; it defines it today. Charlie and I – and our directors as well – believe this dictum will serve Berkshire well for many decades to come.
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Ownership of Berkshire now resides in five large “buckets,” one occupied by me as a “founder” of sorts.
That bucket is certain to empty as the shares I own are annually distributed to various philanthropies.
Two of the remaining four buckets are filled by institutional investors, each handling other people’s money. That, however, is where the similarity between those buckets ends: Their investing procedures could not be more different.
In one institutional bucket are index funds, a large and mushrooming segment of the investment world. These funds simply mimic the index that they track. The favorite of index investors is the S&P 500, of which Berkshire is a component. Index funds, it should be emphasized, own Berkshire shares simply because they are required to do so. They are on automatic pilot, buying and selling only for “weighting” purposes.