“Most people think that the rapid expansion of H&R Block was part of a grand plan,” says Henry, “but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Nearly 30 years ago the Internal Revenue Service haltered its program of tax preparation. Two Kansas City brothers, one a bookkeeper, decided to fill the void, offering to complete anyone’s tax return for five dollars. Today, Henry Bloch, bookkeeper-turned-entrepreneur, can look with pride at over 12,000 H&R Block offices across the nation, offices that serve millions of Americans.
“Most people think that the rapid expansion of H&R Block was part of a grand plan,” says Henry, “but nothing could be further from the truth. We did a land-office business that first year, so we opened a few more storefront offices the next year and did even better. I told my brother that if we could do so well in Kansas City, we could do a lot better in a place like New York.”
Although HRB has been one of the fastest growing companies of the past several decades, the road has not always been smooth. In 1972, for the first time in its 17-year history, the company registered a decline in profits. Block stock dropped markedly and the crowning blow came when the IRS began to attack commercial tax-preparation services. Although most of the competition was driven from the marketplace, HRB recovered and prospered. In the mid-70s, Henry Block began to consider diversification as an avenue for improving HRB’s position.
In 1978 the company acquired Personnel Pool of America, Inc., now the largest proprietary home health care agency in North America. Two years later CompuServe, Inc. became part of the Bloch companies thus giving the corporation a firm toehold in the fast-paced computer services business. In the same year Block Management Company, which provides administrative and marketing services to Hyatt Legal Services, was founded.
In fiscal 1983 and in the first quarter of its current year, HRB earned $3.34 per share. Looking ahead, analysts project earnings in the range of $3.80 to $4 per share for fiscal 1984 and upwards of $5 per share for fiscal 1986. Henry Block sums it up in his usual understated manner, “We’re well positioned for the future,” he says modestly.