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Monthly Event Highlights: HR Block
June 1 - June 30
The year was 1922 when Leon and Hortense Bloch had a son they named Henry. Henry Wollman Bloch, the second of three sons, attended Southwest HS and then attended UMKC and later University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
His mother Hortense AKA “Horty” had ancestors that were some of the first pioneers to settle in Kansas City. His father was a prominent lawyer here in town. When WWII broke out, Henry enlisted in the Army Air Corps and flew 31 combat missions over Germany as a B-17 Navigator. He would later attend Harvard Business School courtesy of the Army studying statistics. With a $5,000 loan from a Great Aunt in NYC, Henry and brother Leon started the United Business Company that began in a store room for $50 a month. Soon, Leon left the struggling business to attend law school. It was Henry’s mother who suggested that he take on his younger brother Richard as a partner.
Here’s where fate kicks in… they had decided to drop tax preparations as a part of their business so they notified the KC Star to drop that part of their ad. A Star salesman (a name lost to the ages) suggested they promote that part of their business instead of cancelling it. They took out a small ad saying Taxes $5.00 showing a man behind an 8-ball. That started a tidal wave of business. They did two things almost immediately, they took the “H” out of their last name and changed it to a “K” so people would call them by their new name H & R Block and it became H&R Block from that day forward.
Luck has a way of compounding success because it was 1955 that the IRS stopped preparing tax returns for free. Success breeds success and H&R Block became almost overnight the nation’s leading tax preparation company and also became one of the pioneers in the franchising business. They built a franchise list of over 12,000 franchise locations across the country. While the company was owned by Henry and Richard, Henry became the pitchman for the company with commercial lines like “Our people will get you the maximum refund you’re entitled to” and ” What can we find for you?”
Henry became a leader in philanthropy in the arts and education. He never rested on his successes. It was not just luck they relocated the corporate office to the heart of the Urban Core. They wanted to be a part of the downtown revitalization and the H&R Block building of glass and steel building is a testament to that idea. Henry passed away in 2017 leaving a company generating $3.1 billion in revenue. This story could go on for pages and pages but suffice to say the “Bloch(K)” name is synonymous with Kansas City and the Urban Core… A place we call home!
This just in = The Urban Core Group will be having a “Coming Out 25th Anniversary Celebration” on the 22nd of September at the Kansas City Club. Much much more on that soon.
All the best
Artist, Author, Urban Core Group member and Networking