Hallmark Corp.: A Brief History Essay, Research Paper
History Hallmark corporation, with its numerous subsidiaries, has become the king of an industry which deals in everything from greeting cards to real-estate. Through creativity, innovation and drive, Hallmark has set the standard for success. A success which is rooted in its people at every level, and from every walk of life. A success which has thrusted Hallmark from a shoebox to a 3.8 billion dollar industry giant that employs over 11,000 employees worldwide. Unlike many large corporations, Hallmark s birth began in a most unique fashion. Three young brothers Joyce, Rollie and William Hall pooled their money together and created the Norfolk Post Card Company. With minimal success, the new business venture hung on by a thin thread. Unsatisfied with the route the new company was taking, Joyce C. Hall the eldest of the three, decided it was time for him to venture on his own. On January 11, 1910, at the early age of eighteen, Joyce C. Hall dropped out of high school, packed two shoeboxes with postcards and boarded a train for Kansas City. Once in Kansas City, Joyce, wasted no time implementing his new mail-order plan for distributing postcards. Using the floor beneath his bed for inventory storage, Joyce invoiced, packaged and distributed packets of postcards to card dealers throughout the mid-west. Within a couple months, Joyce C. Hall, had profited two-hundred dollars and set the foundation for an unstoppable business. With the foundation now laid for a promising business, Joyce Hall s brother Rollie joined in. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse. On January 11, 1915 a fire devoured his entire inventory. Undaunted by this tragedy, the two Hall brothers floated a loan and purchased a local engraving firm. This was a bold move, but one that would eventually pay-off. Hall was quoted as saying “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” Ultimately, this would set the stage for one of Hallmark s first original designs. By 1922, the Hall Brothers firm, which now included the third brother William, began growing at a phenomenal rate. Now with one-hundred twenty employees and its own six-story building, their dreams in a shoebox had transformed into a reality. Their success continued to ascend, and in 1954 they officially changed their name to the all too familiar “Hallmark Cards Inc.” The rest is history Management style Managing a successful business was not an easy task, it took devotion, pride and the drive to succeed regardless of obstacles. Hall, with his unique style of managing, guided Hallmark on a path that few companies can match. Hall drove himself hard and expected no less from those who worked for him. Known as the “Benevolent Patriarch”, he could blister an executive who failed to follow through, yet on the other hand comfort and console on who made an honest mistake. Hallmark was run with as a small, close-knit personable business, regardless of the fact that it was actually a billion dollar corporation. Hall was always seen as a “people person” that always found time to walk around the building to greet and speak with his employees. With his personable yet firm nature, he rule his people as a benevolent patriarch, advising, cajoling, reprimanding, praising and even helping whenever times were tough. He created an environment of pride that reflected not only in business but in the lives of all his employees. A pride that bolstered creativity, promoted innovation, and above all invigorated hope. I don t believe that there was a single employee that didn t believe that the ultimate success of the company relied on each and every individual. Pride was not the only compensation for employees to do their best. Hallmark, respectively, has one of the most unique and productive employee compensation packages. To begin with, Hallmark initiated the Career Rewards Program. In this program, employees are given the option to own a sizable piece of the company. According to recent reports, three-quarters of Hallmark is owned by the Mr. Hall, whereas the remaining one-fourth of the company is owned by the employees. Hallmark also initiated a special program called the ” Career Development Program”. Designed to increase employee knowledge of the company as a whole, this program has proven to be asset to not only Hallmark but to all of its employees. Within the program there are several focused stages which candidates participate. Each candidate completes up to four to six assignments in different areas of the company, such as Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Operations and Sales. As the candidates successfully perform their duties within each of these sections, they inevitably gain valuable knowledge as to how the company operates from every level and every aspect. In addition, the candidates receive high visibility and exposure from within the company, which allows their creativity and talents to be seen and recognized. Upon completion of the program, the candidates then begin working full-time in one of the many diverse divisions, armed with the complete knowledge of how Hallmark works at every level. Additionally, Hallmark has one of the most commendable minority programs in the U.S. In an era when discrimination all too often creates impassable obstacles for minorities, Hallmark has taken a different path. Hallmark, recognizing the potential in minority groups, has initiated extensive programs to recruit employees from minority schools and neighborhoods. Within the company, each facility has an Equal Opportunity Coordinator which offers guidance, advise and support for minorities. In addition, Hallmark has initiated an Affirmative action program and Minority Advisory Council, which is setup in conjunction with the EEO Coordinator. Together theses programs provide the necessary support for both company and employees, to assist Hallmark in maintaining a productive operation well into foreseeable future. Recognizing the needs of its employees is a trait which has bolstered morale and created an environment of pride and potential for every employee at Hallmark. From compensatory services such as, adoption assistance, dependent daycare referral and sick-child care assistance, Hallmark has earned the trust and devotion of its employees, which in business equals success. As quoted from Irvine O. Hockaday Jr., President and CEO “We fully expect to get performance from our people commensurate with the total compensation package they have, and the total compensation package is above average, so we expect above average performance.” Organizational Ups n Downs Like all business, hallmark has had its share of ups and downs, with respect to its organization. No company is immune to the obstacles which can hinder the success of its organization, including Hallmark. For Hallmark, their obstacle was the inevitable flattening out of card sales. In the early eighties Hallmark experienced its first low point since its introduction into the market. Greeting card sales had flattened out and a clear solution as to how to increase the companies profitability could not be seen. They attempted to change the designs of the cards, but to no avail the companies stance remained the same. To make matters worse, rival companies were accusing Hallmark of stealing design ideas. In at least one documented case, Hallmark was taken to court over design espionage, and consequently lost. This marked a low period for the organization, which seemed to have lost its direction. As a result, many decisions were made that were questionable. For example, Hallmark had changed advertising firms numerous times for what they claimed were conflicts of interest. Eventually, after evaluating the situation and reviewing their alternatives, they concluded that the only way to increase the companies profitability was to diversify.
Diversification was the key to getting Hallmark out of the low point they trapped in. After reviewing their viable options, they began the process of acquiring different related companies. First, they acquired Springbok Editions, which made jigsaw puzzles. Second they acquired Binney and Smith, which manufactured the popular Crayola products as well as other artists supplies. Third, they acquired Revell-Monogram, which manufactured model crafts. Together these three major companies, combined with the giant Hallmark, marked a new era of success for the corporation. In the years proceeding the acquisition of the three major companies, Hallmark purchased numerous other smaller companies which dealt with products such as, cards, candles, jewelry and even real estate. From this point on Hallmark had given birth to a new direction for the company, globalization. With the drive to reach a wider mass market, Hallmark embarked on a business venture which has proven an outright success. Rather than concentrating more on products, Hallmark envisioned a wider spectrum, mass media. From there Hallmark Entertainment was born. Hallmark Ent. began producing family oriented television programming which could reach the mass market. Among their successes were “Gulliver s Travels”, “Jake s Women”, “Streets of Laredo” and “Mrs. Santa Claus”.Now with Hallmarks diverse product line spanning from greeting cards to television programming, the dream envisioned by Joyce C. Hall had far surpassed any reasonable expectations. He had literally turned a fad in sentiments into a 3.8 billion dollar goliath of an industry. Eye to the Future With firm foundation and innovative spirit, Hallmark has overcome numerous obstacles with creative ideas and the “Midas Touch.” The only question remaining is, what does the future hold for a corporation that has thus far accomplished so much with a sentimental item such as greeting cards? According to Hallmark, their future success in a growing global economy lies in its Specialty Retail Groups (SRG). In most major cities, Hallmark owns and operates Specialty Retail stores which are used for the sole purpose of testing new products and technology. Within these stores, specialists from various fields test floor plans, custom fixtures, experimental lighting, and techniques that could potentially start new trends in the industry. Hallmark envisions that by the year 2007, their SRG stores will be the resource of choice not only for Hallmark, but for consumers and retailers. On the other hand, after reviewing the vast accomplishments of Hallmark Inc., I believe the future of the corporation lies in not its product or stores, but its real estate venture(s). Fully financed and operated by Hallmark Inc., the Crown Center Complex was constructed on an eighty-five acre lot in Kansas City. The complex was a city within a city, and a model for future urban re-development. Contained within the eighty-five acres are 11 office buildings, a full service bank, a 724 room Westin Crown Center Hotel, the 730 room Hyatt Regency Hotel, a 400,000 square foot retail complex, two live professional theaters and a six screen cinema; and a 245-unit condominium and apartment community. As for the future of Hallmark I believe that urban re-development financed from the private sector will prove to be not only profitable, but a sound business move for a company that has seemingly reached the pinnacle of its industry. It s difficult to pinpoint the exact source of success for a company that has accomplished so much. One could say it is a direct result of a superb management , or its because of dedicated employees, or for that matter just pure luck. Ultimately, I believe the success of Hallmark resulted from hard work at all levels. Success, whether business or personal is always determined by the dedication of a person to accomplish their aspirations without ever sacrificing hope. It is best described by Irvine O. Hockaday, President and CEO of Hallmark, who stated “If you look long term – and admittedly this is easier for privately held companies like ours – anybody ought to recognize that there are two qualities that enable companies to endure and be successful over time: commitment to excellence and, because I can t think of a better word for it right now, a commitment to brotherhood. Maybe it s more aptly put as recognition of the values of people to an organization. Somebody asked Aristotle what hope was, and he said it was the dreams of a waking man. As soon as people can no longer dream of some progress, and in a business context, of career progress, then you lose hope. When that happens, the quality of work, the inspiration necessary, particularly in a creative business, begins to diminish. We believe that we have to manage for the long term, protect our people from cyclical, changing markets, and if they know we re going to do that, they will help us solve the problem ” (Fortune, 25 May 1987) Bibliography + Graham, Lawrence O. The Best Companies For Minorities. 1st ed.. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1993 + Mast, Jennifer A. Ward s Private Company Profiles. 3rd ed. Washington D.C.: Gale Research Inc., 1994 + Moskowitz, Milton. Everybody s Business. 1st ed. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1990 + Information package received direct from Hallmark Cards Inc. Consumer Affairs Office. Http://www.hallmark.com/email/consumeraffairs.asp + http://www.hallmark.com/ourcompany_bin/corporate/hisbuild.asp + http://www.hallmark.com/ourcompany_bin/corporate/hisemploy.asp + http://www.hallmark.com/ourcompany_bin/corporate/hisbirth.asp