Spotlight on Leadership
Board Member Richard Balka, President/CEO of Home Rubber Co., LP
A Profile in His Own Words
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, I left for four years of college and football at Kenyon College, in Ohio, where I majored in English literature. I returned to Philadelphia and embarked on a short bar-tending career while exploring other options and soon began developing real estate. My focus was on renovating brownstones and old lofts both for rent and for sale.
In the late 80’s, when the last recession hit, I realized that my ability to earn a living would not be in the current real estate market so I began using the two practical skills that I had developed – construction and borrowing money. I spent about a year doing construction management (self-employed) and that too dried up so I formed a company to help others place their debt. This led me to helping clients find equity partners as well and soon I began networking with business brokers along with lenders and investors. All the while I was growing increasingly disconcerted that I was assisting others in growing their businesses but all I was doing was consulting.
I happened to meet a business broker who was helping Charlie Stokes (former owner of both Home Rubber and the distributorship, Rubber Supply Company) with his sale of Rubber Supply to Charlie Cook and Mike Lentz (NAHAD members and business partner-owners of Rubber & Specialties). He said that once that transaction was complete Charlie intended to sell Home Rubber and he asked me to keep my eyes opened in case I came across anyone interested in buying it.
I bought Home Rubber in November of 1996 with two partners, one of whom I bought out in 2003 and the other in 2005. In 2006, I acquired Ivanhoe Rubber, a small batch custom mixing company that was based right across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. Ivanhoe was moved under Home Rubber’s roof in February of 2007 and now offers Home Rubber great synergies for our core products.
[When you greet Rich at the upcoming convention in Phoenix, here is some personal information that he shared as part of this profile:]
I will soon be living in Washington Crossing, PA where I am currently renovating a mid-century modern home.
I have two sons; Max (19) who is a freshman at Johns Hopkins, hoping to be a lawyer and Sam (16) a sophomore in high school hoping to be a Theatre Arts major in college for musical theatre and then on to Broadway.
I am divorced with joint custody of the boys and have a girlfriend, Paula Jones, who is an attorney in Philadelphia.
I am Chairman of the Board of The New Jersey Employers’ Association, a non-profit organization that helps employers throughout the State navigate any employee / employer related issues. I’m an active member of my son, Sam’s, high school Parent Association.
Other interests include skiing, tennis and travel. Editor’s Note: as well as providing excellent guidance and feedback as a member of the NAHAD Board of Directors.
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