Brothers walk away from business after Cubs win

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Photo provided (From left): Sam, Jim, John and Billie Balsley make up the third and fourth generations of the family-owned Rockton business. Jim and John retired following the Cubs championship title.

ROCKTON — Brothers John and Jim Balsley of Balsley Printing are walking away from the printing business, thanks to the Chicago Cubs winning the 2016 World Series.

“We kept saying that when the Cubs win the World Series, we’d retire,” John said. “This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, mind you. We’ve been planning our retirement for the last decade. We kept saying, ‘There’s always next year.’ well, next year finally came.”

The possibility of entering retirement didn’t become a concrete notion until the Cubs bested the Indians in Game 5 of the World Series, after the once-lovable losers fell behind 3-1 in the series, he recalled.

“After Game 5, we got excited. That’s when we became real believers about retiring. It was pretty exciting. If not for them winning, we might be working here another 108 years,” John joked.

The family-owned printing shop opened its doors in 1914 in Rockton, and now the store handles orders in 40 states. The expansion came after the shop made connections with various urgent care clinics across the country. The store also handles some of the Chili’s Restaurant franchise’s material needs.

“We now have the capabilities that any mid-to-large printing company has...Great grandpa RI Balsley and grandpa Guy Balsley would be proud,” said Jim’s son Sam Balsley.

The two brothers started working at the store in the 1970s. Jim handled production and John oversaw sales, Now the fourth generation of Balsley’s, Sam and Billie, will handle day-to-day operations at the printing business at 119 E. Main St. Jim’s children work with a staff of 15, with most having spent over 20 years with Balsley Printing.

“To start working under my uncle and Jim, they instilled in us their productive mindset and stressed the importance of quality and service,” Billie said.

Looking back, John said he was proud to see the shop grow from serving the Stateline Area, and he spoke fondly of the entire staff. A long-tenured staff lends to stronger customer service, and understanding nuanced business needs, he added.

“When it started it was a two man operation, now we’re across the country,” John said.

Jim said he was most proud of finally being able to hand the business over to Sam and Billie. He said Sam was the driver behind connecting with the heath care industry, and touted Billie’s sales expertise.

“That’s a really big deal for us,” Jim said. “My father and grandfather would be very proud right now. The fact they are taking over is really great.”

Jim will fine tune his golf skills, after spending seven years away from the game. The brothers will stick around for “a few months” to help ensure a smooth changing of the guard, but after that, will ride into retirement, Jim said.

John plans to stay active in his retirement, and will keep running 5K events, while participating in relays of triathlons with his children. Jim is currently spending a much-needed stint at the Balsley’s winter condominium near Daytona Beach, Florida. John will soon spend some time at the beach house, he added.

“We’d been on them for a few years to retire and get out,” Billie said. “It’s definitely been an interesting ride, and we are excited to see the company develop.”

“You left your legacy in good hands,” Sam added. “Our team is ready to take this to the next level. Thank you both for all of your hard work.”

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