Berkshire Replaces Todd Raba: Anticipates Housing Rebound

Warren Buffett made a move while preparing Berkshire Hathaway for the US housing rebound. He replaced the current head of one of his building products units. The company is worth a total of $2.5 billion in annual sales.

Johns Manville, based out of Denver, is now being run by former chief financial officer Mary Rhinehart, 54, who was effectively named CEO and given immediate control of the company. Todd Raba, 55, was asked to “relinquish” his position of the unit of Berkshire Hathaway, based out of Omaha, Nebraska.

In a statement made by the 82 year old Warren Buffett, he said that Raba “worked diligently during a tough economic environment to effectively position the company for future success.” A spokeswoman for Johns Manville, named Melody Dunbar, chose not to comment about the departure.

Johns Manville currently consists of 45 manufacturing facilities, and it employs 7000 people, in China, Europe and North America. Rhinehart will now oversee this business. They make roofing and insulation, and some of their customers are in industries like the building industries, the automotive industry and the aerospace industry. The company’s new CEO has been with them for over 30 years.

“I couldn’t be more enthused to have her taking on this role,” said Buffett.

Todd Raba was the CEO of this company for the past five years, and when David Sokol departed in 2011, he also added the title of chairman to the list. Sokol was the chairman of Berkshire’s luxury aviation, energy and Johns Manville units, but he had to leave because he disclosed that he bought stock in Lubrizol Corp. prior to recommending them as a takeover target to Warren Buffett.

Rabba worked under Sokol at MidAmerican Energy, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. During August, he announced the purchase of Industrial Insulation Group, which was a former joint venture between Calsilite Group and Johns Manville.

Better Balance

During the past July, Warren Buffett said that the housing market in the US was starting to get better. And he would know, since he tracks economic activity closely. He has no choice, since he has to look over the results of more than 80 businesses under the Berkshire Hathaway company umbrella.

“It was just a question of getting households in balance with” the supply of homes, said Buffett to Betty Liu in an interview that he gave on Bloomberg television on July 13. “That happens in different paces in different parts of the country, but you have seen a much better balance developing here in recent months. And that’s why you’re seeing some pickup in prices.”

Berkshire’s paint unit, Benjamin Moore, replaced Denis Abrams this past June with Bob Merritt. CORT Business Services Corp., another subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and the world’s largest provider of rental furniture, replaced Paul Arnold as CEO. He retired after 40 years, and Jeff Pederson has taken his spot.

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