Rail giant BNSF Railway was Berkshire Hathaway's biggest purchase ever in 2010 at $34 billion, and is currently the largest entity in its portfolio to date. So is there a lot of pressure to perform when you're reporting to Warren Buffett himself?
BNSF Executive Chairman Matthew Rose doesn't think so. He calls the acquisition a "marriage" that's going great.
"I told my team when we first did this that it'll take us 10 years to review this, and then we'll look back and say, 'Were we a better company in this structure versus being a publicly traded company?'" Rose asked. "And I think the answer will be yes."
Since Buffett bought the company, BNSF's total revenue has grown from $14 billion to $23 billion in just five years, an increase of roughly 64 percent. In addition, the company plans to spend $6 billion—a record level—in maintaining and expanding its 32,500-mile rail network this year.
The U.S. freight rail industry is doing well across the board. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), it hauls nearly $70 billion worth of goods and commodities, and every freight rail job sustains another 4.5 jobs elsewhere.
Touching the American consumer and labor market gives the industry, and in particular BNSF—the second-largest freight rail network in the country—a great vantage point of the U.S. economy.