Monday, March 25, 2024

Member Profile: Melissa Ball of Ball Office Products

Q: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

A: Nothing more than a deep need to pay a mortgage! I liked working for someone else early in my career, but don’t think I’d ever be a good candidate for that again. The company I worked for was a sinking ship and I figured we better make a job. So I started a business — Ball Office Products.

Q: Please tell us about your journey to become a CEO.

A: I’ve worked in the furniture and office product business since 1988. I learned the business along the way. The Ball family is actually 3rd generation in the industry. I worked for my father-in-law for a different company before his retirement and the sale of that company by remaining partners.

Q: You’ve been a member for 13 years, how has your experience in the Council changed over that time? 

A: When I first joined VACEOs there were very few women. It has been good to see that change. I love that my group is nearly equal men/women. The fact that that my roundtable has been consistently valuable over more than a decade is impressive. I really value speakers and industry experts but the most valuable business resources are the members of my roundtable.

Q: You have another business, C.P. Dean. Can you tell us about that? 

A: C.P. Dean’s slogan is “We deliver fun” and that is accurate. Pool tables, foosball, air hockey, shuffle board, multicades — and awards, plaques and trophies. My daughter runs the day-to-day operations at C.P. Dean and serves as president. We recently opened a new location in Chesapeake. It has been fun to learn a new business and to watch her grow and develop as a business owner. C.P. Dean has been in business since 1886. Our goal is to make sure it remains healthy and a strong part of our business community for generations to come.

Q: How are you promoting leadership development at Ball Office?

A: We are a small company. I’m not big on titles or management levels. Each employee is valued for their contribution. We work to make sure we are finding the best fit for each person at both Ball and C.P.Dean, and then offer opportunity for advancement or opportunities for new roles.  

Q: Where did you grow up and tell us a little about yourself. 

A: I grew up in a few places. I’m originally from West Virginia, moved away as a kid but will always feel like that is my home. Bethlehem, PA and then Baltimore, MD. I graduated HS in Baltimore and lived there the first 5 years of married life. Moved to Richmond in 1993. So, when I’m somewhere else I say I’m from Richmond but in Richmond I’d say I’m from WV by way of Baltimore. Not sure how many years you have to live in VA to be allowed to say you’re from here.

Q: When you are not leading Ball Office, what do you like to do? 

A: I love dogs. Can’t imagine life without one. I have never gone more than a few months without a dog!

We have a sail boat we keep on the Rappahannock and sail around the Chesapeake. I’m more of a mountain person than a beach person and far prefer fall and winter to summer. I would love to spend more time in the mountains.

I love volunteering at several organizations, but The Doorways is my primary focus. I also volunteer occasionally for literacy program at Carver Elementary in the Richmond.

I spend a lot of time on business-related policy, generally through NFIB, the Virginia Retail Federation and Rally VA. I like to make sure political candidates really understand the impact of policy on independent business, serving on the NFIB state leadership. Currently serve an appointment on the Governor’s small business advisory board.

Q: During these last few uncertain/difficult years, how do you keep yourself upbeat and motivated? 

A: During Covid I signed up for just about every streaming option; Master Class, Wonderioum, Curiosity Stream and other documentary type services. I tried to watch things that had nothing to do with anything I would typically be exposed to. It was a great distraction and good for my attitude. I like audio books, reading actual books. I like fiction with no basis in reality when I’ve had all the reality I can take.

Posted by Aida Pehlic at 3:12 pm

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