Balkowitsch Enterprises, Inc. was one of the very first online merchandising companies in North Dakota.
Pursuing a Passion
Shane Balkowitsch also runs a studio for his passion project of wet plate photography, which is an art medium that captures mesmerizing portraits in a short time span.
Every business starts as an idea. These ideas come to life with the efforts made by entrepreneurs willing to take risks and grow their ideas into fully-formed business ventures. From baseball team CEOs to mobile bar owners, every person has a unique passion that they merged with the business landscape. While we couldn’t talk to every inspiring entrepreneur in the Bis-Man area, we talked to some of the many to hear about their unique journey on the road to success.
Did You Know?
As of this year, Balkowitsch Enterprises, Inc. has been in operation for 24 years.
Balkowitsch Enterprises, Inc. is a retail and online merchandising company with a customer base that spans the globe. Shane Balkowitsch first ventured into this journey when he saw this opportunity during his time as an Oncology Nurse. Making the entrepreneurial leap to pursue this full-time was only the first step of many for Balkowitsch to get to where he’s at today.
1. What was your journey like for you to get to the position you’re at today?
In the beginning, we started with $50 in inventory in my mother’s basement. Today, we’re a multi-million dollar company that continues to ship 30,000 to 40,000 products every year across the globe.
2. Which parts of taking this risk will stick with you forever?
I will never forget when I was charging $5000 in stethoscopes on my credit card while working as a nurse. Within six months, however, we were the #1 distributor in the world for Philips Medical and that particular electronic stethoscope.
3. What steps were the hardest when taking the leap to start your own business?
I was being worn down as an Oncology Nurse on the weekends, as I was also running the business and raising a young family at the same time. It was a tough decision to decide to focus solely on the business and my family, and in turn abandon my nursing career, as that had a guaranteed paycheck and insurance.
4. What was a typical day in your life like when you were beginning your business?
A typical day consisted of trying to find more products to put out, as well as talking with (and reassuring) customers. When I began this venture, it was during an era when nobody trusted online companies. They would say, “You mean I’m going to send you a check or give you my credit card and I have no guarantees that you will deliver anything?.”
5. What would you have done differently if you could go back and start again, knowing what you know now?
I cannot in my mind make any changes because if I did, I wouldn’t know if going down a different path would destroy everything that we’ve worked so hard for and built to this day.
6. What advice do you have for readers considering taking this leap?
There is something wonderful about working for yourself. There’s a certain pride and happiness that comes with being an entrepreneur. That being said, there is also newfound respect for anyone who decides to go through it alone. It’s the American dream, but that dream has its pitfalls and challenges that one cannot imagine until they’ve gone through it themselves.
7. What is something you wish more people knew about your company?
You can drive by our 6,500-square-foot facility and nobody would ever guess how much sales we are doing with our skeleton crew of 6 employees. Surely, few people would assume that we’ve grown to the position we’re in today with such a small crew of core employees.
8. What is a day in your life like for you now?
I’m a CEO steering this company into the future on a very uncertain landscape. I only come into the office four days a week nowadays, with Friday being my creative day at Nostalgic Glass [Wet Plate Studio]. I’m currently booked out for the next seven months into the future for my Friday sessions! People will fly in from all around the world to experience what it is that I’m doing in my studio.
I have works in 49 museums, including the Smithsonian and Library of Congress. There is a documentary on Amazon called “Balkowitsch”, which is about my creative life and also discusses my business life. There is no more challenging or fast-paced market in the world, as online merchandising is a brutal market.
9. What’s one thing the local business community could do to help you?
Think of us when you need to purchase any of the products that we offer! Of the 35,000 items we sold last year, only 15 of them were in the entire state of North Dakota.
Get In Touch
4419 Centurion Drive
Bismarck, North Dakota 58504