John Balbach was a pioneering settler and prominent citizen of San Jose, California. He was a blacksmith and made the first commercially available metal plow on the west coast in 1852.
During the Civil War, he served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army. He was wounded in action and suffered severe wounds to his left leg and hand.
Early Life and Education
John Balbach was born in Madison, WI on December 21, 1926. He was the middle child of Olin Burr and Rosella (Haugen) Balbach.
He grew up on the family farm and attended Warren High School. He was a member of the United Methodist Church and volunteered his time to many local organizations. He served on the Jo Daviess County Housing Authority and was board chairman for over 15 years.
After the Civil War, he became a blacksmith in Doon, IA, where he worked until his retirement. He is a well-known citizen of the community and regarded with esteem by all. He has been married to Miss Jane Hicks for over 50 years and she is the mother of three children, Sandy Shea, Marsha Stark and Jean Beeler.
John Balbach was a distinguished Louisville business advisor for over 40 years. Among his many accomplishments, he was the first to integrate computer systems into an accounting practice. His practice included taxation, estate planning and general business consultation.
He also managed and raised capital for an impact investing fund, advised leading nonprofit organizations on the infusion of cleantech solutions into their supply chains and was a strategic adviser to hundreds of technology-based startup ventures through a Michigan economic development program. Lastly, the most impressive feat of his illustrious career was his work on the State of the World Forum, an annual summit which brought together leaders from 80 countries. He was also the author of the world’s largest stock trade. It was a 17,190 unit exercise in 2003 worth $267,648.
Achievements and Honors
Balbach was a longtime member of the College’s Board of Trustees, and he served as an active advocate for students, alumni, faculty and staff. He was also a devoted volunteer in the community, serving on the board of Our Lady’s Rosary Makers and on the executive committee of United Crescent Hill Ministries.
He was also a well-known philanthropist, serving on the board of trustees for many organizations over the years, and was a savvy fundraiser. His efforts in support of the College were recognized by President Neil L. Rudenstine who presented him with the HAA award for outstanding philanthropy.
John’s accomplishments were numerous, but one of his most significant contributions was as a founder of the downtown “Balbach Street.” He was the first to be awarded the honor in 2007. It’s a well-deserved recognition for his efforts to transform a once-overgrown and underfunded area into a bustling commercial district that supports an exceptional level of quality of life and a diverse set of cultural and recreational offerings.
On hearing of the gold-seekers’ great need for blacksmiths in California, Balbach decided to make the journey to the golden state. After a brief stay in San Jose, he began to work as a blacksmith and established the first shop for the repair of wagons and buggies, which he had made in Harrisburg.
The business has flourished, and his factory, on the corner of Second and Fountain Streets, is now managed by three of his sons. In the spring of 1852 he manufactured the first plow made on the Pacific Coast, and subsequently built fifty.
He was a member of the Germania Verein and has two commemorative plaques in the city. He was also a member of the fire department and was known for having a very interesting collection of stories to tell.
John balbach is a well-known chemical and coatings industry expert. He is Managing Partner of the Cleantech Group, LLC, and heads the group’s Silicon Valley office. He also serves as a senior policymaker in Washington, D.C. and an advisor to world leaders. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College and an MBA from Harvard University. He is an independent director of RPM International and has earned $248,746 as compensation for his work. He has made over 10 trades of RPM International stock since 2003, according to a Form 4 filled with the SEC. He currently owns at least 13,260 units of RPM International stock.