Scott Ballo, left, and Alli Wood have purchased the Morel Ink printing business in the Cully neighborhood from Bill Dickey. (Ted Perkins)
By Ted Perkins
Last month, Bill Dickey announced that he and business partner Matt Witham had sold their printing business, Morel Ink, to longtime employees Alli Wood and Scott Ballo – and their spouses Ben Wood and Shauna Ballo. Morel is the 42nd Avenue business district’s largest employer. Piedmont neighbor Alli Wood has been Morel’s bookkeeper since 2004 and Concordia neighbor Scott Ballo has worked in the sales department since 2009. Morel Ink offers printing, direct mail, promotional products and signs. They are a union shop and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The Morel family of businesses includes Homestead Greeting Cards, Ashcreek Media and ADCO Commercial Printing & Graphics.
“Matt Witham is riding off into the sunset looking for new challenges and I am staying on as the crotchety old man in the corner,” said Dickey. “Actually, I am now a salesman handling my long-term customers for the next few years – without the hassle of being responsible for the daily grind of managing the company. Alli and Scott are making a huge investment in new equipment – a multi-million dollar investment I did not want to make at 61-years-old. The investment positions the company to aggressively compete with anyone in Portland and provide our loyal customers with the highest-quality printing in the city.”
“We’re going to be adding a lot of capacity,” said Scott Ballo. “So that’s going to allow us to grow.”
“Our employees are staying put and our union contract rolls over to the new owners,” said Dickey. “Morel remains in the same location, having signed a new ten-year lease with their landlord – me. The company focus of giving back a generous portion of profits to the community will continue, and I will continue to try to hone my philanthropic skills with my personal money too. None of this is possible without our loyal customers. My grandfather, Paul Mickelsen, opened a shoe store on Union Avenue over 100 years ago and for the last 100 years someone in my family has been working here in town, providing goods and services. I am comfortable in my new role, yelling advice from the corner – as well as handling my political customers for many cycles to come.”
Carrying the torch for Dickey’s community stewardship is important to Wood and Ballo.
“We like what we do,” said Wood. “Part of what we do is give back to the community. Carrying on Bill’s legacy is extremely important to us. We’re not just a business. We interact with our community and our neighbors – and we want to see that grow too.”
“This is my neighborhood. It’s home,” said Ballo. “It’s great that we were able to buy an existing business that we both believe in and that’s been a part of our families. We’ve all been building the brand. Bill’s been leading it and now is our chance to continue his work.”