Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates
Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates was founded in 1889 as Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Company in Adams, Massachusetts. The first mill built by the company was Berkshire Mill No. 1 in Adams. By 1917 the company was capitalized at $2,500,000 and contained over 260,000 ring and mule spindles and 6,500 looms for the production of cotton textiles, making it one of the largest cotton textile companies in the world. In 1929, Berkshire merged with the Valley Falls Company of Rhode Island, and became known as Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates. Its head was Malcolm Greene Chace of the influential Chace family of New England. Malcolm's descendants (his son Malcolm Jr, and grandson Malcolm III) would run the company until 2007.
Unlike many New England textile companies that failed during the 1920s and 1930s, Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates would survive the Great Depression intact. At its peak in 1948, Berkshire earned $29.5 million and employed 11,000 workers at 11 mills, under the leadership of Malcolm Greene Chace, Jr.
By the 1960s, the Berkshire mill empire had declined to seven plants and 6,000 people, but still annually produced one quarter of a billion yards of material that sold for more than $60 million. The assets, and a sizable amount of cash on the balance sheet, caught the eye of Warren Buffett, an up-and-coming but little-known investor from Omaha, Nebraska.
Buffett, who had founded Buffett Partnership Limited to make investments, started buying stock in Berkshire at $7.60 a share. He eventually paid an average of $14.86 a share, or a total of $14 million, and took control of the company on May 10, 1965.