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H&R Block co-founder provides perspective at Innovation Conference

Henry (left) and Tom Bloch took part in a question-and-answer session for the midday keynote at the 2011 Innovation Conference in Kansas City. Photo courtesy of Pipeline

The slate of speakers at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference, held July 14 at H&R Block‘s world headquarters, helped illustrate the sort of innovation present in the city today. But the event’s midday keynote provided a different perspective on innovation in the city, taking a look back. H&R Bloch co-founder Henry Bloch took part in a question-and-answer session with his son, Tom — NASA scientist Dennis Bushnell and Policy Solutions managing partner Dan Carter delivered the day’s opening and closing keynotes, respectively — and touched on a variety of topics.

A few of the highlights:

H&R Block’s beginnings

“Without Kansas City’s community and businesses, H&R Block wouldn’t have survived,” Henry Bloch said. At a time when Richard and Henry Bloch would discontinue tax preparations services, an employee from The Kansas City Star suggested they advertise their services. This advice led to an identifiable market and need for tax preparation services, and, in 1955, H&R Block was born.

Insights from Ewing Kauffman

Henry Bloch and Ewing Kauffman spoke often in the early days of H&R Block. “If you’re in business for yourself, remember that you are trying to help people,” Kauffman said to Bloch to suggest identifying a need that helps people is at the core of every business.

The benefits of being a seasonal business

Henry Bloch was asked if tax preparations business was impacted by the seasons. He said that business wasn’t impacted and the break between tax seasons was helpful in preparing product and services for tax season. Bloch indicated that being in a seasonal business actually helped increase profits by saving on expenses throughout the year.


“When a business is doing well, you should hire someone from within,” Henry Bloch said when asked about whether or not a successful company should hire new employees to executive positions.

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