Family-owned truss business gets strong support from NB|AZ®
With about 5,000 residents, Snowflake may be the epitome of small-town Arizona. But for Charlie and Ben Ballard, the town is where they grew a successful family-owned, truss production business that has expanded its reach throughout the state.
“My family has been in the lumber business since my grandfather opened his lumberyard and truss plant in Mesa after working as a mechanic during the war,” says Charlie Ballard, co-owner of Ballard Truss. “My dad fell into the business after marrying my mom, and opened his own lumberyard and truss plant in the Snowflake area in 1976.”
Business was good back then. So much so, the older Ballard opened additional lumberyards in the White Mountains, Heber, Show Low and Winslow. With business booming, it was all hands on deck for the Ballards. Dad, mom and all nine brothers were involved in the business at one time or another.
“Growing up in the lumber and truss industry, it was a given we’d all be asked to pitch in and help,” says Ben. “In high school, between school, sports, activities and chores, we were the crew a lot of the time. In fact, there were mornings where we’d get up early and build a couple of trusses before going to school.”
Today, Charlie and Ben can still be found pulling their weight at the family business, but this time as co-owners of Ballard Truss. The brothers bought the business from their dad about four years ago and since then, have worked tirelessly to build its name as one of the most trusted and reliable truss builders in Arizona.
In operation for more than 40 years, Ballard Truss builds and assembles roof and floor trusses primarily for custom homebuilders using high-quality, machine stress rated (MSR) lumber from British Columbia. Throughout the years, the company has enjoyed great success, but also has weathered a few storms, especially during times of recession.
“My dad closed all the lumberyards except for the one in Snowflake in the ’80s. Then we got hit hard again in 2008,” says Charlie. “My dad always said if you can’t pay cash for it, don’t buy it. That’s what saved us. We owned everything and didn’t have outstanding debt. Sales got low, but we hunkered down and got through it.”
That sound business philosophy still holds true today, especially as the Ballard brothers look toward growing and improving the business, which now has plants in Snowflake, Eloy, Mayer and Mesa.
“The truss industry is becoming more and more automated, from the design and engineering, to the production and building of the trusses,” Ben says. “Our plan is to invest in automation and purchase new equipment. There are a lot of new concepts designed to improve efficiency. We’re definitely looking into that right now.”
To help them with their growth plans, the Ballards say they’ve relied on their relationship with National Bank of Arizona, who they’ve been banking with since the local branch opened in Snowflake.
“They had a big hand in helping us open a manufacturing plant and sales office in Mayer,” says Ben. “That was a big undertaking and they were key in making it happen.”