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From Home Furnishing Business

Buffett Waxes Eloquent on Nebraska Furniture Mart

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett singled out Nebraska Furniture Mart for praise in a letter to shareholders on the company's performance.

He noted progress on Omaha, Neb.-based NFM's new Dallas-area store, now under construction and set to open next year with 1.8 million square feet of retail and warehouse space.

"NFM already owns the two highest-volume home furnishings store in the country (in Omaha and Kansas City, Kan.), each doing about $450 million annually," Buffett wrote. I predict the Texas store will blow those records away."

He recalled meeting with the late Rose Blumkin on his birthday in 1983 to close a purchase proposal for the retail operation she founded and how NFM grew from net worth of $72,264 and $50 of cash on hand into the home furnishings giant it is today under Mrs. B's leadership and that of her son, Louie Blumkin, and her grandsons Ron and Irv Blumkin.

"The punchline to this story is that Mrs. B never spent a day in school," Buffett said. "Moreover, she immigrated from Russia to America not knowing a word of English. But she loved her adopted country: At Mrs. B's request, the family always sang 'God Bless America' at its gatherings.

"Aspiring business managers should look hard at the plain, but rare, attributes that produced Mrs. B's incredible success. Students from 40 universities visit me every year, and I have them start the day with a visit to NFM. If they absorb Mrs. B's lessons, they need none from me."

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