The Ballad of Ballard International

Justin Ballard of Ballard International got his start while attending Lawrence Technological University and studying mechanical engineering. To help pay for the cost of education, Ballard would buy and sell industrial electronics—initially small items, like controllers. “It grew from very small [pieces] to a little bit larger then just kind of snowballed and never really stopped.”
 
Based in Waterford, Ballard International is an “asset service and solutions company.” Ballard explains that the company has three distinct facets: first, they buy and sell industrial and scientific equipment through a number of different avenues (existing customers, auctions, etc.). They also provide services to assist industrial companies in liquidating their assets (including equipment and structures), and also in organizing the moving, removal and decommissioning of equipment as needed. Finally, and most recently, Ballard International has started acquiring businesses themselves.
 
While Ballard himself has been buying and selling equipment for some time, he was also working in engineering sales for several years after school. Ballard International was officially formed in 2008, and over the time that Ballard has been doing this line of work he has built up an extensive network of industry contacts and has honed his marketing tactics so that the company’s average turnaround for any piece of equipment, even “the tough stuff,” is 30-60 days. “It’s just our niche that we have,” he explains. “We know people that are looking for specific things and we’ve been doing it for so long we’ve been able to create a great marketing process for each product.” It’s probably easiest to think of Ballard International as a facilitator, assisting companies with unloading or acquiring major equipment that they simply cannot take the time to do properly or effectively. “Companies want to focus on doing what they do best, which is running their business.”
 
Ballard fully went on his own with Ballard International in 2011. In November, Ballard acquired its first business that was re-launched under the Ballard umbrella — a distressed hydraulic industrial hose making company. Ballard restructured and invested in the company, adding new services like on-site electronic mobile repair, and after eight months of restructuring is already celebrating the first profitable month of the new Loryco Hose & Fitting Solutions. He says that this is the next major focus of the company and he hopes to continue acquiring others businesses and growing them while still continuing with the machinery and sales side of the business. He is looking at a variety of companies for acquisition but primarily in the industrial field since his background is all in industrial and mechanical.
 
To transition fully over to self-employed CEO, Ballard sought out Oakland County’s small business services in partnership with the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. “Oakland County helped quite a bit,” he says. “I was essentially a machinery buyer and seller. I needed to find a specific structure in my business and how to transform my idea in the direction I wanted to go – how to make the leap from where I was to where I wanted to be. Working with Oakland County helped me to define those goals and make that transition.” From increasing the number of employees on staff to taking a dying business and making it profitable after eight months while still continuing the provide the services the company was built on, Ballard International is well-positioned for its next phase, and is yet another Oakland County small business success story.