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A Warren Buffett Protégée Strikes Out on Her Own

“He liked it when people didn’t put him on a pedestal,” she said.

In 2013, when Ms. Britt Cool married Scott Cool, a corporate lawyer, Mr. Buffett walked her down the aisle, knowing that she had lost her father. When she told him in late 2019 that she planned to start her own firm, Mr. Buffett was supportive. He told her, Ms. Britt Cool said, that it reminded him of when he parted ways with his mentor Benjamin Graham — the famed value investor — in the 1950s to pursue his own career.

Drew Van Pelt, a former chief executive of Larson-Juhl, a picture frame maker owned by Berkshire, said Ms. Britt Cool had cleverly positioned Kanbrick as the antithesis of private equity — just as Mr. Buffett did with Berkshire.

“The No. 1 reason people don’t want to sell to P.E. is: Who are these jerks?” said Mr. Van Pelt, a business school classmate of Ms. Britt Cool’s whom she recruited to Larson-Juhl. “That’s very much the opposite of her style.”

In 2020, the firm bought a majority stake in Thirty-One Gifts, a company that sells bags and housewares through a network of sales consultants. Cindy Monroe, the company’s founder, had followed the turnaround engineered by Ms. Britt Cool at Pampered Chef and was hoping for something similar.

In June, Kanbrick struck its second deal, buying a majority stake in Marine Concepts, which patented a system that simplifies the process of covering boats.

Ms. Britt Cool, a firm believer in the power of relationships, is also building connections — and perhaps a pipeline of future acquisition targets — with entrepreneurs by hosting training programs and events. In 2020, her firm launched an accelerator program called Build With Kanbrick, inviting leaders of midsize companies to apply for a three-month course on expanding their businesses.

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