Setting the Pace for Expansion

In the 1970s, H&R Block built a national brand by offering professional services for a mass market. The company established a national presence, increasing the number of tax offices to more than 8,600. Its combined annual growth rate in number of clients served was a slow but steady 2.7 percent; the company’s network of tax offices increased 99 percent.

In 1972, Henry Bloch first appeared in the television commercials that helped build H&R Block into one of the most widely recognized brands in American business. Henry’s personal integrity along with his simple and direct Midwestern style personified the company’s sincere commitment to clients. He continued to appear in H&R Block television ads for more than 20 years.

By 1978, H&R Block offices prepared more than one out of every nine tax returns filed in the United States. With that growth came the challenge of hiring enough qualified tax professionals. The company created H&R Block Income Tax Schools to fill the need.

We want each client to say, ‘Thank you. That’s a fine job you did for me.” If they don’t, then we’ve failed.

The company faced another challenge in 1978. Richard Bloch, the chairman of the company, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and had three months to live. Richard refused to accept the bleak prognosis. He participated in two years of intensive therapy and defeated the disease.  In 1980, he dedicated his life to helping others fight cancer. In 1982, he sold his interest in the company, resigned his position as chairman and dedicated his time to supporting cancer research and education.

H&R Block never would have become what it is today if it weren’t for Dick. He had such a quick mind. I admired him and his adventurous spirit. And I valued our close friendship.

Working with the IRS and Sears in 1986, H&R Block took a leadership role in the pilot test of electronic filing. That year, the company filed 22,000 returns electronically from two sites: Cincinnati and Phoenix. The test was a success. Electronic filing significantly reduced the amount of time required for a taxpayer to receive their refund and decreased the number of filing errors.

In 1989, Henry became chairman of the board, filling a position that had been vacant since his brother, Richard, left the business in 1982. He retired as chairman in 2000, when he assumed the title of chairman emeritus.