While other billionaires made their fortunes by building just one business, Warren Buffett owns dozens, producing everything from bricks to underwear. A list of the most prominent brands reveals many surprises.

And here’s another surprise, which came to light over the weekend: The Federal Reserve now has an investment in Buffett’s massive holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

As part of its growing coronavirus economic rescue program, the Fed has started buying corporate debt, including bonds issued by a couple of businesses that are part of Berkshire.

Buffett didn’t ask for and doesn’t need the Fed’s help. But he has been benefiting from the incredibly low interest rates the Fed’s bond-buying has helped generate.

Cheap money might help him add to his empire, which now includes these companies. You probably never knew Buffett was the owner of many of these businesses.

With nearly 3,000 employees, the Acme Brick Company produces a range of masonry products — though as the name suggests, bricks are a large part of its business.

It’s a venerable operation: Acme Brick was founded all the way back in 1891.

Ben Bridge is a large American jewelry chain that sells diamonds, engagement rings, wedding rings and other expensive jewelry, such as Rolex watches.

After watchmaker Samuel Silverman founded the company in 1912, his son-in-law Ben Bridge expanded it from one store in Seattle to more than 80 across the United States.

If Buffett has inspired you to think about buying a business — or a few dozen — you’ll want to consult with a financial planner to determine whether you’ve got the money and the stomach for it.

  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2001

Benjamin Moore is a brand that’s familiar to homeowners and homebuyers because it’s one of the world’s largest and oldest paint suppliers. The company was founded in 1883.

In a news release, Buffett said he was “extremely excited about the opportunity to add a company with such an outstanding reputation for quality and leadership in its industry to the Berkshire group.”

The company has won many awards for the quality of its paints, ranging from customer satisfaction to being one of America’s most “green” companies for its efforts in environmental sustainability. Buffett reportedly spent $1 billion to buy Benjamin Moore.

Berkshire Hathaway Automotive

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  • Sector: Auto sales
  • Ownership stake: 90%
  • Acquired: 2015

Berkshire Hathaway Automotive was founded in 2015 when Berkshire Hathaway completed the acquisition of Van Tuyl Group, a company that owned more than 80 car dealerships in 10 different states. After the acquisition, Van Tuyl was rebranded.

In a statement, Buffett said the acquisition gave him “the ideal platform with which to build an auto dealership business that will be thriving and growing 50 and 100 years from now. The fun has just started.”

The dealerships are a good fit with another Buffett business we’ll get to shortly — one of America’s top car insurance companies.

Borsheims Fine Jewelry

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  • Sector: Luxury items
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1989

Known as simply “Borsheims,” this jewelry story has been in operation since 1870 in Omaha, Nebraska — Warren Buffett’s hometown.

Buffett famously holds shareholder-only events at the store after-hours, helping it grow in mystique since Buffett acquired a controlling stake in 1989.

Brooks Sports

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  • Sector: Apparel
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2006

Brooks Sports makes high-performance apparel for athletes. Headquartered in Seattle and founded in 1914, the company now sells its products in more than 60 countries around the world and has more than 1,000 employees.

After applying for bankruptcy protection in 1981, the company turned its fortunes around and became one of the most successful niche brands in the running shoe market.

BNSF Railway Company

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  • Sector: Railroads and logistics
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2010

The BNSF Railway Company is the largest freight railroad network in North America. The company has more than 42,000 employees and operates over 32,000 miles of track in 28 states.

The Fed has reportedly bought some BNSF bonds as part of its wide-ranging strategy to push interest rates down and pull the economy out of its coronavirus recession.

The company was founded in 1995 through a merger of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the Burlington North Railroad, becoming the “Burlington Northern and Santa Fe” (BNSF) Railway.

Buffett’s acquisition cost a reported $34 billion. He touted the importance of freight travel in a statement, saying: “Our country’s future prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system.”

Clayton Homes

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  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2007

Clayton Homes builds modular homes in the U.S. and maintains its own mortgage business. You might get both a home and a record-low mortgage rate through one-stop shopping.

After initial success, Clayton went public with over $1 billion in revenues. It was acquired one year later. Now, the company is expanding its low-priced property division.

CORT Business Services

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  • Sector: Furniture
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2000

CORT is an office and home furniture rental company, helping furnish offices and homes around the United States.

Offices use the rental company to upgrade their furniture without the hassle of inventory, and homeowners use it for staging (that is, to make their homes look good when it’s time to sell).

Berkshire Hathaway bought the company for a reported $467 million.

Dairy Queen

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  • Sector: Food and beverage
  • Ownership stake: 99%
  • Acquired: 1997

A global chain, Dairy Queen is most famous for the “Blizzard,” an ice cream concoction that’s supposedly so thick you can hang it upside down and it won’t drop out of the cup.

Warren Buffett famously loves junk food, so the Dairy Queen acquisition was a good fit for his sweet tooth.

Duracell

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  • Sector: Household products
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2016

Duracell is best known for its batteries for small electronics, but the company also makes home power systems.

“I have always been impressed by Duracell, as a consumer and as a long-term investor in [former owners] Procter & Gamble and Gillette,” Buffett said in a news release.

The company was founded in 1924 as the PR Mallory company, named for its founder Phillip Mallory, but rebranded as the company grew. Now, it has more than 2,700 employees and over $2 billion in revenue.

Fechheimer Brothers Company

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  • Sector: Clothing
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1986

The Fechheimer company produces uniforms for public safety workers. Think military personnel, law enforcement officers, firefighters and more.

The company has been in operation for over 175 years and is still going strong, working with many local public safety agencies across the United States.

FlightSafety International

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  • Sector: Business services
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1997

FlightSafety supplies high-tech pilot training to aircraft operators in the military, government and commercial airlines.

The company has more than 1,800 instructors teaching more than 4,000 courses, serving customers in more than 160 countries around the world.

Forest River

  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2005

Forest River is a manufacturer of many different kinds of vehicles. It produces cargo trailers, recreational vehicles (RVs), utility trailers, buses and pontoon boats.

Founded in 1996, the company grew to billions in revenue and now has more than 11,000 employees.

Fruit of the Loom

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  • Sector: Clothing
  • Ownership stake: 99%
  • Acquired: 2002

Bought for a reported $835 million, Fruit of the Loom makes underwear and some sporting equipment.

Founded in Texas in 1851, the company has consistently grown since its founding and now has more than 32,000 employees.

Buffett praised Fruit of the Loom after the acquisition, saying: “It’s a product that has a deserved quality image.”

Garanimals

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  • Sector: Clothing
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2002

Garanimals is a line of clothing made for and marketed to kids. Each item of clothing has a “garaminal” on it, one of many different animal characters produced by the company.

After some initial failures, the brand was relaunched in 2008. It is now sold exclusively through Walmart.

Geico

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Geico’s signature mascot is the gecko.

  • Sector: Insurance and finance
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1996

Maryland-based Geico is one of America’s best-known auto insurance providers. Its name is a shortened version of its initial title, the Government Employees Insurance Company.

Consumers who shop around for car insurance typically find that Geico’s rates are very competitive.

Founded in 1936, the company now boasts over $25 billion in revenues annually and approximately 40,000 employees. It’s also famous for its funny commercials and gekko mascot, voiced with a Cockney accent.

Gen Re

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  • Sector: Insurance and finance
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1995

Founded in 1846, the General Reinsurance Corporation provides reinsurance — that is, it insures the insurers who provide car insurance, life insurance and other policies.

Now the company goes by the shortened “Gen Re” and has more than 40 offices and 3,500 employees. Buffett spent a reported $22 billion on the acquisition.

Helzberg Diamonds

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  • Sector: Luxury items
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1995

Helzberg Diamonds is a national jewelry retailer out of Kansas. Founded in 1915, the company has more than 200 stores in over 30 states.

The company closed several stores in 2017 but still has a large physical footprint.

H.H. Brown Shoe Group

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  • Sector: Clothing
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1991

The first H.H. Brown shoe rolled out of a factory west of Boston in 1883.

Through its various brands, the company manufactures a range of footwear, from stylish sandals to cowboy boots, to work shoes for soldiers and nurses.

Johns Manville

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  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2001

The Johns Manville company is based in Denver and produces insulation, roofing materials and other engineered products.

The company bounced back after filing for bankruptcy protection in 1982. Warren Buffett bought it in 2001 for a reported $1.8 billion.

Jordan’s Furniture

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  • Sector: Furniture
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1999

Founded in 1918, Jordan’s is a furniture retailer in New England with seven locations spread across the Northeastern United States.

Known for its big promotions and bizarre attractions, the company has done everything from sponsoring pro football games to opening a trapeze school.

Justin Brands

  • Sector: Clothing
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2000

Justin Brands is the parent company of Justin Boots, which makes equestrian footwear.

Founded in 1879, the company allowed people to measure their own feet and order boots by mail, which was unheard of at the time for custom footwear.

“It is an absolutely first-class business run by first-class people,” Buffett said of his acquisition in a statement.

Larson-Juhl

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  • Sector: Home fixtures
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2001

Larson-Juhl is a century-old framing and molding company.

It makes picture frames, crown molding, wall trim and other decorative products for walls. It also sponsors a number of children’s charities.

Louis Motor

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  • Sector: Motorcycles
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2015

Louis Motor is a motorcycle enthusiasts brand, selling everything from bike parts to goggles to “functional underwear.”

To get people engaged with the biker lifestyle, the company also provides multiple guides on how to buy a hog.

Lubrizol

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  • Sector: Chemicals
  • Acquired: 2011

Lubrizol provides specialty chemicals to the transportation, industrial and consumer markets.

Founded in 1928, the company now has over 8,000 employees and pulls in billions in revenue each year. Warren Buffett bought the company for a reported $9.7 billion.

Medical Protective

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  • Sector: Liability insurance
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2005

Medical Protective, also known as MedPro, is an insurance provider for physicians and dentists.

The company can trace its origins back to 1889, when it was known as the Physicians’ Guarantee Company. Today, MedPro pulls in nearly $1 billion in revenue.

National Indemnity Company

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  • Sector: Insurance and finance
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1967

Taking the title of Berkshire Hathaway’s oldest operating subsidiary, the National Indemnity Company is an insurance firm based in Omaha.

It was founded in 1940 and bought by Buffett in 1967 for $6.8 million — approximately $49.78 million in today’s dollars.

Nebraska Furniture Mart

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  • Sector: Furniture
  • Ownership stake: 80%
  • Acquired: 1983

Nebraska Furniture Mart was founded in 1937 by Russian immigrant Rose Blumkin, who earned Buffett’s respect for her honesty and business savvy.

Buffett bought the company from her when she was 89 years old through a simple one-page agreement, without even auditing the company’s financial statements.

“Mrs. B simply told me what was what, and her word was good enough for me,” Buffett wrote in a letter to shareholders. “Aspiring business managers should look hard at the plain, but rare, attributes that produced Mrs. B’s incredible success.”

The company now has four enormous locations in four states.

NetJets

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  • Sector: Business services
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1998

NetJets sells fractional ownership in private jets, much like a timeshare for condos.

Instead of having to spend millions to buy your own private jet, you can purchase a percentage of it, which entitles you to use any jet in the NetJets fleet for a set amount of time.

The company has more than 750 aircraft worldwide and carries out more than 300,000 flights every year.

Omaha World-Herald

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  • Sector: Media
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2011

The Omaha World Herald is a daily newspaper that serves eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

It was founded in 1885 by Todd Sears, of the Sears family (behind the now bankrupt department store chain). Warren Buffett paid $150 million to buy the newspaper.

Oriental Trading Company

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  • Sector: Toys, crafts and party supplies
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2012

The Oriental Trading Company, based in Omaha, was one of the first wholesale providers of novelties and gifts in the United States when it was founded in 1932.

It now carries more than 40,000 products, including party supplies, toys and crafts, and has about 2,000 employees.

Pampered Chef

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  • Sector: Food and beverage
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2002

Pampered Chef makes a line of kitchen products such as strainers, whisks, graters, and more.

Structured as a multilevel marketing company, Pampered Chef representatives sell products on their own, such as by hosting parties in their homes.

The company has offices in the U.S., Germany, Austria and Canada and claims a community of more than 50,000 “consultants.”

Pilot Flying J

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  • Sector: Retail, food, beverage and petroleum
  • Ownership stake: 38.6%
  • Acquired: 2017

Pilot Flying J is a national chain of truck stops and gas stations.

The company has over $20 billion in annual revenues. Berkshire Hathaway currently owns more than one-third of the company, but Buffett announced in 2018 that he intends to buy a majority stake by 2023.

Precision Castparts Corp.

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  • Sector: Aerospace and defense
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2016

Precision Castparts is a metal fabrication manufacturer. It creates the metal casings and covers that go on airplanes, turbines and other industrial goods.

Buffett paid $37 billion to acquire the company, which pulls in billions in annual revenue and has more than 30,000 employees.

Precision Steel Warehouse Inc.

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  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1979

Precision Steel offers products such as spring steel or stainless steel, which can be molded per client specifications.

The company remains one of the oldest acquisitions by Warren Buffett that is still operating today.

RC Willey Home Furnishings

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  • Sector: Furniture
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1995

Founded in 1932, RC Willey is a home furnishings company that operates in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and California. When people in the region buy a home and take out a mortgage, they often go to RC Willey with a shopping list.

The company sells furniture, electronics, home appliances, mattresses and flooring, taking it a long way from its founding as a door-to-door company that only sold home appliances.

Scott Fetzer Company

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  • Sector: Manufacturing and marketing
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1985

The Scott Fetzer Company began as a machine shop in Cleveland. The company began to make vacuum cleaners and then expanded to create many different home and office products.

The company now offers more than 20 brands such as France Lighting, Ginsu and Northland Motor Technologies.

See’s Candies

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  • Sector: Food and beverage
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 1972

Warren Buffett bought See’s Candies for only $25 million back in 1972 and has seen a great return on his investment.

The candy company expanded from its humble beginnings in 1921 and now has revenues of nearly half a billion dollars annually.

It employs around 1,500 full-time staff. Its headquarters is in Los Angeles, on the site of its original factory.

SE Homes

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  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2007

Southern Energy (SE) Homes was one of the first modular home companies to allow buyers to customize their property, helping it win market share.

The company was acquired by Clayton Homes, which is another company owned by Warren Buffett through Berkshire Hathaway.

Shaw Industries

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  • Sector: Materials and construction
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2002

Shaw Industries, headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, is one of the largest carpet manufacturers in the world.

Since Warren Buffett bought the company in 2002, it’s grown to over $6 billion in annual revenues and employs more than 20,000 people worldwide.

TTI, Inc.

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  • Sector: Electronic component distribution
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2007

TTI makes components that work in both residential and commercial electrics. These include sensors, semiconductors, connectors, switches, capacitors and resistors.

Founded in 1972, the company now employs more than 5,500 people and has over $3 billion in annual revenues.

WPLG-TV

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  • Sector: Media
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2014

WPLG is the local ABC-affiliate station serving Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Founded in 1957, the company changed ownership several times before getting snapped up by Berkshire Hathaway.

XTRA Lease

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  • Sector: Logistics
  • Ownership stake: 100%
  • Acquired: 2001

XTRA Lease is a leasing company that provides access to rental trailers across the U.S. Options include dry vans, storage trailers and more specialty equipment.

The company has 85,000 trailers available in its fleet and is headquartered in St. Louis.

Founded in 1957, the company now has around 100 employees servicing its customers.