Ball’s Machine & Manufacturing Co. | Candler, NC
Gary and Gordon Ball
Ball’s Machine & Manufacturing Company, led by Gary and Gordon Ball, is a 37-year-old secondgeneration family business in Candler, North Carolina. Founded by their parents, Joe and Mary, Ball’s Machine specializes in custom machines, design engineering, precision machining, and fabrication for all types of industries by utilizing state-ofthe- art technology, equipment and systems combined with an experienced, professional staff. In 2000, the business expanded its services to CNC Machining, doing work for over 100 industrial companies. By 2008, the economic downturn had reduced their business to just 30 industrial clients. Gary and his family knew they would need to diversify in order to keep Ball’s Machine going strong.
Gary, his wife Janet, and the team at Ball’s Machine researched and analyzed ways that they could use the machine shop to enter new markets. This research led to a market niche of manufacturing and assembling solar energy systems, collaborating with local businesses like CM Wilson to develop and install photovoltaic solar energy kits.
The solar energy division, Solarnomics.net, soon became a profitable revenue stream for Ball’s Machine. During the expansion to this new market, Ball’s Machine needed to refinance its existing debt to keep the business afloat and support the growth of the solar sector of the business. While overall sales slowly began to improve in 2011/2012, the client was struggling to pay some long- and shortterm debts. Cash flow for the business became extremely tight.
In an effort to help Ball’s Machine get a loan refinanced, the SBTDC worked with the client to develop a business plan and financial projections for a new initiative related to solar energy. After several attempts, a local lender refinanced the client’s business, which saves the company over $3,000 per month in interest expense, freeing up cash flow. As a result of the refinancing, the client was able to retain 16 manufacturing jobs in Buncombe County and Western NC.
Over the last two years, the SBTDC has also provided assistance with government procurement, marketing, connecting the client with potential customers and regional business resources, and IT infrastructure needs.
Today Ball’s Machine is thriving — Solar sales have shown a steady increase of more than 250% every year since the 2008 launch, and their solar systems and DIY kits have sold in 15 states. They are also working to train a stronger workforce of electricians for their region by partnering with trade programs at local community colleges. They already work with local high schools where students learn about solar energy and solar panel installation during an enrolled class.
“Our DIY kits make solar simple. Solar should be for everyone.”
“Our business counselor who came from a manufacturing background, helped everything evolve. The SBTDC’s advice and guidance are invaluable.”
Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2012-2013 Annual Report.
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