Wisdom from a Western Kentucky wealth wizard

| October 16, 2011

Kentucky Road SignInvestment guru Pete Mahurin of Bowling Green is often described as “the Warren Buffett of Kentucky.”

Tom Eblen and Al Smith compared Mahurin to Buffett in their newspaper columns. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who serves with Pete on the board of Gray Construction, also has used that description.

Mahurin was a high school physics teacher who got into the investment business and became one of Hilliard Lyons’ top producers. He owns banks. He sits on the boards of major industrial companies. He made a great fortune but has spent all of his 70-plus years in small town Kentucky.

I once emailed Mahurin about the Buffett connection, and he wrote, “I never took a business class in school and have read very few business books. Things by and about Buffett interest me. Books about high functioning people interest me. From Roosevelt (Teddy and FDR), Lincoln, House of Morgan to Johnny Unitas, things about how people achieve, fascinate me. People like Ervin Houchens, Bill Gatton, Owsley Brown, as well as high functioning people the age of my 30-year-old daughter, stimulate and motivate me.”

Jim Gray passed along a quote from Mahurin, in which he said, “The best utilization of an extra bucket of feed is to give it to your best milk cow. In other words, do what you do best. Focus on what’s important, nurture that service or product with resources, and improve, improve, improve.”
Focus on high achievement and gifted people seems to be part of Mahurin’s DNA. He puts his money where his mouth is.

He and his wife, Dixie, funded an endowed professorship in Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University, one of the few such endowed professorships in the country. They stepped up to the plate again last year to allow the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children to move from the University of Winnipeg to Western’s campus.

Like Warren Buffett, Mahurin is a lifelong Democrat and champion of the capitalist system.

In his Courier-Journal piece, Al Smith quoted Mahurin as saying, “I consider the Democrats still a party of hope and opportunity. I was poor on a farm, but Democratic programs enabled me to slip in the side door, or kick in the back door, and attend this great party called capitalism. Today, my family and I can walk in the front door anywhere in the country.”

Mahurin has the common sense of a man who grew up in Short Creek, Ky., and achieved higher than many from wealthy families and Ivy League pedigrees. What he learned from childhood was that you have to seize opportunity when it is front of you.

Jim Gray passed along a story in Mahurin’s own words:

“When I was young, all the little communities in my area had a baseball team. One Sunday afternoon someone on the other team hit a little pop fly that at least three of us were close enough to catch. Three of us ran toward it, and all stopped, waiting for another person to catch it. No one did, and the base runners ran around the bases. We lost.

“Fifty years later I realized why that memory remained fresh and bitter. It was not that we lost, or that an error was made. Losing because I failed to act stuck with me forever, while failures made attempting to execute faded away.”

I’ve spent nearly 30 years around the financial business. I’ve known a lot of “paper gurus” who can talk a decent game but really don’t practice what they preach.

Mahurin walks the walk with his numerous contributions to charity and his work encouraging other entrepreneurs. Gray compares his talk to “divine wisdom.”

There have been nearly 100 books written about Warren Buffett and his philosophies about the market. I hope someone gets around to writing one about Pete Mahurin.

The world needs to hear what he has to say.

Kentucky-based columnist Don McNay is the author of “Wealth Without Wall Street: A Main Street Guide to Making Money.”

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Category: Don McNay

About the Author (Author Profile)

Don McNay
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the best sellling author of the book Wealth Without Wall Street: A Main Street Guide to Making Money.

McNay is an award winning financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.

He is the Chairman of the Board for the McNay Settlement Group (www.mcnay.com) which provides structured settlement consulting for injury victims, lottery winners, and the families of special needs children.

McNay founded Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC, which assists attorneys in as conservators and setting up guardianship’s. It is nationally recognized as an administrator of Qualified Settlement (468b) funds.

Don has appeared on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and over 100 radio and television programs.

McNay has Master’s Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Don is a Quarter Century member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.

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