I want to ask, who were some of the people you most admired and looked up to? What was it about them that made them so special?
Well, some of the best people, I would argue that Jim Sinegal at Costco was about as well-adapted for the executive career he got. And by the way, he didn’t go to Wharton, and he didn’t go to the Harvard Business School. He started working at age 18 in a store, and he rose to be CEO at Costco. In effect, he was a founder under a man named Sol Price. I would argue that what he accomplished in his own lifetime was one of the most remarkable things in the whole history of business in the history of the world. Jim Sinegal and his life. He’s still very much alive, but he had one business throughout his whole life basically. And he got so damn good at it, there was practically nothing he didn’t understand, large or small. And there aren’t that many Jim Sinegals.
I’ll tell you somebody else, for a job of the kind he has, Greg Abel in a way is just as good as Sinegal was. He has a kind of genius for the way he handles people and so forth and problems. And I can’t tell you how I admire somebody who has enough sense to kind of run these utilities as though he were the regulator. He’s not trying to pass on the cost because he can do it. He’s trying to — he’s trying to do it the way he’d want it done if he were the regulator, instead of the executive. Of course, that’s the right way to run a utility. But how many are really run that way? So there are some admirable business people out there, and I’ve been lucky to have quite a few of them involved in my life.
The guy [Paul Andrews] who ran TTI was a genius. TTI is a Berkshire subsidiary. You Daily Journal people, think how lucky you’d be if we still had our monopoly on publishing our cases or something, we’d be like TTI. Well, TTI has just marched from triumph to triumph. And it was run by a guy, he got fired and created the business.
He got fired from where?
It was a defense contractor. I forget which one.
General Dynamics, maybe?
I can’t remember exactly. But he was a terrific guy. And he ran the business for us. he wouldn’t let us raise his pay. How many people have the problem with their managers that they won’t let them — they won’t allow you to raise their pay? (Laughs)
It’s pretty rare. (Laughs)
Jim Sinegal, Greg Abel & Paul Andrews.
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." ~Isaac Newton