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Billionaire investor Warren Buffett paid a visit to Buffalo Thursday, dropping in at the Amherst service center for Geico Corp. to help the insurer celebrate a strong performance last year and mark its 10th anniversary.

Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns Geico and The Buffalo News, visited Geico’s operation at the CrossPoint Business Park in Amherst, where the company now employs more than 2,700 workers, on its way to a target of 3,500 within a few years. The operation had started from scratch on March 8, 2004, and has grown through local hiring, with plans to hire 200 to 300 more workers this year, said Rick Hoagland, regional vice president and general manager of the facility.

The facility handles sales, customer service and claims for New England and New Jersey, and last year exceeded its target for growth in customers by 27 percent, Hoagland said. It also beat its profitability target, but he wouldn’t divulge details.

“We had some pretty aggressive targets for our growth as an office,” Hoagland said. “So it was a pretty exciting day here to show how the Buffalo location for GEICO exceeded our goals for 2013. It was just a terrific week all around for us

Additionally, Buffett noted that the Amherst facility racked up 1,300 staff promotions last year, representing nearly 17 percent of all 7,700 promotions at the company’s 10 major operations nationwide.

“We’re growing more than some other locations,” Hoagland said. “As we grow, we’re also adding management and those positions are being filled by people who started with us in entry-level positions.”

email: jepstein@buffnews.com