KANSAS CITY, Mo., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- On January 10, 1910, a teenager from Nebraska stepped off a train in Kansas City with big dreams and two shoeboxes of picture postcards. He rented a room at the YMCA and began wholesaling postcards to retailers in the region.
Billions of well-wishes later, Hallmark Cards, Inc. celebrates its 100th birthday in 2010 with a nod to the past, a focus on the future, and the grandsons of that Nebraska teenager at the helm.
"We're best known for greeting cards, ornaments, the stores that bear our name and television programming, but what we're really about is the emotional connections our products and experiences represent," says Donald J. Hall, Jr., Hallmark's president and CEO and grandson of founder J.C. Hall. "It's a privilege few companies in the world enjoy, and a trust we intend to keep."
From Hall Bros. to Hallmark Cards
In his youth in Norfolk, Neb., Joyce Clyde Hall supplemented his family's meager income with odd jobs. At age 18, he dropped out of school and headed for Kansas City to wholesale postcards out of shoeboxes under his bed at the YMCA.
Five years later and a month before Valentine's Day, his postcard inventory was wiped out by fire. "If we were going to quit," he would later say, "this would have been a good time to do it."
Instead he and his brothers, who had by then joined him in the business, borrowed money to purchase an engraving firm and began producing their own greeting cards in envelopes. By 1923, Joyce and his brothers incorporated as Hall Bros., Inc., which would later be renamed Hallmark.
Growing and expanding
What followed was a stream of innovation that continues today. Modern gift wrap... the first greeting card advertising... sponsoring Amahl and the Night Visitors as the first Hallmark Hall of Fame... all helped build the brand through the early years.
Growth exploded under the leadership of Donald J. Hall, J.C.'s son who was president and CEO from 1966 to 1982 and remains Hallmark's chairman. Partyware and Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments were added, new card lines for African-American, Hispanic and Jewish consumers were launched, and Shoebox humor cards took the greeting card world by storm.
Today, Hallmark is led by Donald J. Hall, Jr., president and CEO, and his brother, David E. Hall, president of the company's North American business. Privately held and headquartered in Kansas City, it encompasses subsidiaries like Crayola and the top-rated cable Hallmark Channel, employs more than 14,000 people full time, sells products in more than 41,000 retail outlets in the U.S. and produces products in 30 languages sold in 100 countries.
Making emotional connections, today and tomorrow
Hallmark enters its second century ready to build on its strengths: a deep understanding of people, a passion to innovate, world-class creative talent, and commitment to quality.
As digital technology changes every facet of life, president and CEO Hall is enthusiastic about the power of the Hallmark brand and potential of the business. The digital explosion makes possible new options for greeting cards, he says, and opens new ways to help people connect.
"Making emotional connections is a universal need that reaches across the tools and customs of any point in time," the founder's grandson says. "Today our brand helps make those connections in many ways - through paper greeting cards, gifts and ornaments, online tools and mobile phones, and quality television programming from the Hallmark Hall of Fame and Hallmark Channel.
"If you're looking for a way to celebrate, console, thank, encourage or laugh with someone, Hallmark will be there with a way to help, whether it's delivered on paper, through your computer, phone or television, or ways yet to be imagined."
For more information about Hallmark and its centennial celebration, visit www.hallmark.com/100years.
About Hallmark's 100th Birthday: 100 Years of Helping You Say It All
In 2010, Hallmark celebrates its 100th year of helping people laugh, love, heal, say thanks, reach out... say it all to those they care about. Through moments big and small, and through both happy and difficult times, Hallmark helps give voice to caring thoughts and emotions with tangible reminders of appreciation, belonging and love. Even as the pace of change accelerates, Hallmark continues to hold its place as an iconic and trusted brand by staying close to the needs of people, passionately pursuing an understanding of what is universal in the human heart, and meeting those needs with products and experiences that bring people together. Visit http://www.hallmark.com/100years for more details.