In 1957, Bill and Dr. Carol Angle were like any other husband and wife. They wondered about their financial future: making ends meet, retirement, etc.
The Angles heard about an investment class being taught by a bright 21 year-old kid. Rumor was, he impressed just about everyone he came in contact with. So, they decided to check it out. They joined about 20 other folks that night for the class, called 'Investing Principles.'
What the Angles didn't know was that this kid wasn't just impressive. He was also a genius. As the story goes, by the end of the talk, Bill Angle announced to the crowd, 'I'm putting $10,000 in. The rest of you should, too.'
Carol Angle was a believer, too. They would later up their contribution to $30,000 -- half their life savings. It turned out to be the best decision they ever made. The Angle family is worth more than $300 million today.
There are dozens of families with a similar story. A 1998 article in Forbes mentioned that there at least 30 families in the local area, and many more elsewhere, worth at least $100 million.
All thanks to a young man who had to take a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking before he had enough confidence to get up in front a crowd.
By now, you can probably guess who I'm talking about.
Many already know the story of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A). In 1962, Warren Buffett began buying the shares of a struggling textile company, which at the time was trading well below its book value.
Just five years later Buffett would buy the entire company, making it his crown jewel.
By 1970, Buffett's ventures funded by Berkshire's company's cash flow were blossoming, particularly in insurance. The insurance business offered Buffett something he dearly loved -- loads of cash.
As you know, insurance companies collect premiums and hold them until presented with claims. In the meantime, it can invest that money -- called the float -- and earn a nice return. Buffett and Berkshire simply take the float and buy undervalued companies that generate even more cash.
Now, Berkshire Hathaway's long-term performance is nearly impossible to duplicate. But there is nothing to say a similar business model couldn't be followed by another company. In fact, a handful of companies could be likely successors: Chubb Corp. (NYSE: CB), Loews (NYSE: L) and Markel (NYSE: MKL).
All of these companies have one thing in common: cash-generating insurance operations that can be used for investing. For example, Markel specializes in off-beat and niche insurance markets that most other companies won't touch like summer camps, antique motorcycles, auto races and amusement parks. These niche markets mean Markel faces limited competition, allowing the company to have pricing power over its rates without fear of losing customers.
Sometimes investors forget that it isn't just Buffett who became rich from Berkshire Hathaway. The people who invested with him amassed great wealth, too. Investors in these three companies could be next in line.