Stacey Bales, 32
Bales Metal Surface Solutions
Location: Downers Grove, Ill., and Harlingen, Texas
Birthplace: Downers Grove, Ill.
Social media: LinkedIn
Education: Studied at the College of DuPage; attended the Technology & Manufacturing Association's Executive Leadership Institute.
Career highlights: President, Bales Metal Surface Solutions, 2009 to present; office manager, Bales, 1998-2003: miscellaneous titles: shipping clerk, receptionist, nickel laborer, sales assistant.
Associations: Technology & Manufacturing Association board member, and committee member of Women in TMA and Young Leaders; National Association of Surface Finishers-Chicago Chapter, board member; AESF Chicago Foundation, board member; member of the Society of Plastics Engineers and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.; regularly attend American Mold Builders Association meetings.
Q: Tell us about your family.
Bales: Daughter, Sarina, 15; dog, Roxy; two cats
Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?
Bales: I grew up watching my dad work hard every day building a company that operates on high standards and ethics. When I was 10, my dad brought my sister and me to work for “Take your kids to work day.” He actually let us play with the blasting machines and masking supplies to create some “art.” I have been hooked ever since! I began officially working at Bales when I was in high school, working after school and weekends. I had the opportunity to learn the company from the ground up.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Bales: To date, receiving the 2015 Annual Award for Business Excellence in the family business category from the (Lisle, Ill.) Daily Herald Business Ledger. The award validated that I am bringing innovation and growth to our company and the industry. In the past five years, we have doubled our sales by pursuing new markets.
Q: What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Bales: I can't recall a specific big failure, but I have had some pain points. One area I struggled with when I took over as president was learning to work on the business and not in the business. I am a bit of a controlling person and had the attitude of, “It's easier if I just do it myself,” which led to taking work home with me every night and feeling overwhelmed. As I learned to be more patient and developed the personnel underneath me, I realized that the tasks were being done just as well (if not better) than I would have done them.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Bales: Leave work problems at work and home problems at home.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Bales: Reach out to local plastics associations to learn about the skills needed, training available and different potential employers. In my experience, most associations have the resources to provide job training and assist in job placement.
Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?
Bales: My best mentor would be my dad. He started Bales in 1978. Growing up, I watched him work 14-hour days and weekends. But he always made time for family and made sure to be home for dinner every night. As I started working for him, I was able to see a different side. He taught me to be fair and honest, to be patient and stand up for what you believe in. Because he also mentored all of our employees personally, he built a solid foundation of caring individuals who would help see Bales through the transition of his passing. I try to incorporate his values into our decisions on a daily basis.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Bales: I enjoy traveling, trying new restaurants, wine tasting, fishing.