Colorado’s DaVita — The Comeback Kidney

Berkshire endorsement shines light on health care gem


Few companies are as dedicated to the well-being of their costumers and employees as DaVita (NYSE:DVA), whose very name means “life giving.”

When the kidney care provider announced plans to relocate from El Segundo, Calif., to Denver in 2009, CEO Kent Thiry cited the city’s high standard of living as a key motivation for the move, saying the company sought “an environment where our people could live great lives.”

Helping people live great lives has been part of DaVita’s mission since its inception in 1994 as Total Renal Care. Five years later, facing bankruptcy, the company welcomed Thiry, who presided over the dialysis company’s rebranding and a turnaround that allowed DaVita to purchase Gambro Healthcare in 2004. DaVita now maintains 1,800 dialysis facilities and employs more than 41,000 people, 1,000 of whom reside in Colorado, where DaVita has created 300 new jobs since the relocation.

The company made a splash when Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B, BRK.A) invested in DaVita earlier this year. The move raised eyebrows and grabbed headlines, as the dialysis supplier does not easily fit within any of the categories which dominate Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio — namely financials, industrials and consumer goods.

In addition to meeting the health care needs of countless Americans, DaVita’s impact can be measured through its extensive philanthropy work. On top of annual bikeathons and walkathons, DaVita oversees numerous nonprofits. The Kidney Trust has provided close to 15,000 free kidney screenings over the last five years, as well as additional education about chronic kidney disease. Meanwhile, Bridge of Life has performed pro bono kidney dialysis in 18 developing countries.

DaVita’s financial growth has been impressive to say the least, but DaVita appears to be about much more than making money.

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As of this writing, Ryan Hauck did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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