We Are Either Going Forward Or Going Backwards

Posted on: August 31st, 2020 by Emily Novotny | No Comments

When CITY opened its Des Moines location 10 years ago, it was a far cry from the sprawling operation in 2020. Today, CITY operates its own state of the art depot in Polk City with over 10 employees and multiple routes.


“I don’t think we are ever staying the same,” Mark Ballo, CITY’s Des Moines Regional Manager said. “We are either going forward or going backward. I set the boats on fire when we landed and there will be no going back. It used to be that fear drove me and now it’s the success we have here.”

Success is an important part of Des Moines’s daily culture, although Mark Ballo believes culture is an opinion. Because it can be opinionated and is hard to measure there are only a few elements that truly count in measuring Mark’s leadership in Des Moines.


“I am a results guy. I am not interested in a lot of storytelling,” Mark said. “I think culture is important to get this thing that we call results. Because without results, we’ve got a really nice culture of people that are underachieving. A solid culture is important, but we have to have even better results.”


Barney Webb is Des Moines’ District Manager taking care of CITY’s Route Service Representatives and making sure customers get what they need on time and with high-quality service. While being detached from CITY’s main Oelwein operation has its challenges, Barney is proud of what his team is accomplishing every day.


“It’s very nice to be able to do things our own way and make sure that we get everything done,” Barney said. “When you are on an island like this, you need to hold yourself accountable because you don’t have a crutch to fall back on.”


A full semi-truck makes its way from Oelwein to Polk City every day making sure garments can be delivered fresh and on time. Barney likes the responsibility because he wants to make sure all of CITY’s customers can rely on clean and simple services no matter the circumstance.

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CITY is an honest company that tries to do right by their customers and do right by their employees,” Barney said. “We represent certain values here and it comes from Mark’s leadership and him showing us how things need to get done. We all know our part to make sure we provide results we can be proud of.”


Shane McKinney has seen CITY’s Des Moines operation change firsthand. Shane was Mark’s first employee in Des Moines and learned the craft from Mark riding in the same truck with him for three months. He now trains new employees and shows them how Polk City’s culture influences its operation every day.


“There’s just not many negatives here,” Shane said. “We all make mistakes, that’s normal, but we try to correct those mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again. That’s part of who we are here, we want to make each other better so we can be better for the customer.”


Making each other better is one of the hallmarks of Mark’s approach towards a culture driven by producing positive results on a daily basis. Leading by example is what leadership means to Mark and his example has created a culture of success that trickles down through every part of CITY’s Polk City depot.


“I don’t think you tell people what a great leader you are,” Mark said. “I believe that leadership is something you see, it’s not something you hear. That’s my take on leadership.”


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