‘Like a family reunion’: Berkshire Hathaway shareholders weekend kicks off | Local Business News

Shaun H. Ruff

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As the doors opened to the CHI Health Center on Friday afternoon, thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders lined up and went through the security checkpoints.

For the most part, the scene was similar to a world before COVID-19, which was the last time shareholders gathered in Omaha. People stood shoulder to shoulder in lines. Others milled about, going from exhibit to exhibit purchasing merchandise from vendors that included Fruit of the Loom and Oriental Trading Co., picking up sweet treats from See’s Candies and Dairy Queen and taking pictures with the Geico gecko mascot.

About the only differences from the “before times” were the occasional person wearing a face mask and the thousands of attendees having to show proof they had received their COVID vaccinations.

“It’s been nonstop,” said Roberto Mendez, president of Duracell’s North American region. “I have not really noticed, just physically looking at the traffic flow, any loss or reduction versus the past. It’s been very well attended.”







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People line up to get inside the Berkshire Hathaway 2022 Annual Shareholders Meeting weekend at the CHI Health Center in Omaha on Friday, April 29, 2022.




Courtney Cohen, a vice president at See’s Candies, said she’s seeing happy shareholders. She has been manning the See’s Candies booth at the shareholders meeting for 24 years.

“All of the shareholders are buying so much candy and chocolate right now,” she said. “We’re matching 2019 numbers, which is pretty amazing.”

Michelle Trindade, a senior vice president with Geico, said this year’s meeting “is almost like a family reunion.”

“I’m watching people connecting, smiling and having a reason to come together. That’s so needed with everything that has been going,” she said.

Hotel reservations indicate that activity is down from years past, when more than 30,000 shareholders attended the annual meeting. Earlier this week, Omaha’s tourism bureau said about 15 hotels in Omaha were showing rooms available. Typically, that wouldn’t be the case less than one week out from the event, said Visit Omaha executive director Deborah Ward.







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People shop the booths Friday as the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders weekend began at the CHI Health Center.




First-time travelers to the shareholders meeting were motivated to do so to see Warren Buffett, 91, and his right-hand man Charlie Munger, 98, speak. That included Brian Macak of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“It’s exciting. I’ve been taking everything (COVID precautions) pretty carefully,” he said. “This is the biggest event I’ve been to in person since COVID started.”

It worked out for Macak and his friends, who included Denver resident Noel Avison. Macak said they took a photo with Greg Abel, who has been tapped to lead Berkshire after Buffett.

Toni Haikonen made the trip from Finland with a coworker to attend his first Berkshire shareholders meeting after buying a share last week. He said he’s been following Berkshire since the 1990s.

“I have always wanted to come here,” Haikonen said. “I want to see (Buffett and Munger). I don’t really have too much expectations. I just wanted to make the trip here before it’s too late. You never know what will happen.”

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