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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Kansas City: Continuing the mission

Ron+Worley+stands+outside+the+Hallmark+Visitors+Center+in+the+same+place+that+J.C.+Hall+did+in+the+late+1900s.+He+is+retireing+after+over+27+years+with+the+company.+
©HAWKEYE image credit: Adrian Knowlton
Ron Worley stands outside the Hallmark Visitors Center in the same place that J.C. Hall did in the late 1900’s. He is retireing after over 27 years with the company.

 

 

 

Nestled right in the heart of Kansas City is the Hallmark Visitors Center. As downtown Kansas City declinedwas declining through eras of urban blight, the Hallmark corporation decided to give back some of their immense wealth to the people of Kansas City. The company did this through the creation of Crown Plaza, a massive complex that included hotels, museums, and shops in an effort to revive downtown. It was just one of several of the Hallmark corporation and Hall family’s many ways of giving back to the community. The Hallmark corporation has always been invested in the Kansas City community, whether it be through getting employees to volunteer or funding philanthropic endeavors.

Founded by J.C. Hall in 1910, the Hallmark corporation quickly grew into one of the largest card companies in the world. J.C Hall came from humble beginnings, growing up in a small town in Nebraska. His father was almost completely absent from his life, leaving his mother and his siblings to fend for themselves. From a young age, he sold products to prospective customers as a way to scrape by.  It was apparent even as a child that he had a natural talent for marketing that very few had, guiding his future endeavors at Hallmark. When he was just 19, he left Nebraska for the nearest big city, Kansas City. He came here with just two dollars and a dream. And with those two dollars, he founded what is now the largest greeting card company in the world. He was known for being bullish with the company and taking risks. Early on, the company went $ 17,000 into debt to buy printing presses to do all the manufacturing in house. These risks paid off big-time, helping to make the Hallmark corporation what it is now. Even when the company grew too big to manage, he reviewed every single Hallmark product and personally approved of it. He realized that with his great wealth, it was also his responsibility to give back to the community. He launched several philanthropic efforts around Kansas City, rewarding the place that had given him everything. However, he never asked to take credit for any of his initiatives, showing his great selflessness. He truly represented the ideal of the American Dream, going from rags to riches while helping to uplift his community in the process. You can see this reflected in the employees at the Hallmark Visitor Center.

My babysitter worked at hallmark as I was growing up. They were a married couple that worked there. He worked in manufacturing, she worked in assembly. Another woman that lived down the street was a Hallmark card illustrator.

— Kimberly Watt


Incoming Exhibit Director of the Hallmark Visiting Center, Kimberly Watt, knew the impact of  knew the impact of Hallmark from practically the day they were born. “My babysitter worked at Hallmark as I was growing up. They were a married couple that worked there. He worked in manufacturing, she worked in assembly. Another woman that lived down the street was a Hallmark card illustrator. So if she were drawing little elephants or baskets of flowers she might ask me, which elephant do you like better? Or which basket of flowers do you like better? And there was someone else who was a card writer, so just someone that would hand scribe cards. So it was very influential.”

This job just kind of grew with me. And then working over there for 22 years and learning the company and being so appreciative and all that opportunity, I came over here to kind of share the hallmark vision.

— Ron Worley


The average lifespan of a company in the United States is 10 years, but Hallmark has lasted for 114 years. Asked on what led to this company’s success, the incoming executive director at the Hallmark Visitor’s Center said that it has to do primarily with the treatment of employees. “People work here for 30 or 40 years. Even when they retire. They come back and work part time.” It was the last day at the visitor center for Ron Worley, who has worked for Hallmark for over 27 years. The other employees at the visitors center said that they had never seen him in a bad mood. He projected this positive optimism onto all the people around him. Before transitioning to his current (and soon to be former) job at the Visitor’s Center, Ron worked next door at Kaleidoscope for 22 years before that. Talking about his time at Kaleidoscope, Ron said “I was offered a job there, at Kaleidoscope, doing a variety of different things, and I’ve been grinding different roles ever since. Well, that was challenging, but it taught me new things. So this job just kind of grew with me. And then working over there for 22 years and learning the company and being so appreciative and all that opportunity, I came over here to kind of share the hallmark vision. Working over there working with kids is great. But now the challenges are born from working with adults and sharing the Hallmark story mainly with them.” Asked what advice he would give to the incoming director, he said “Oh, just enjoy the ride. Enjoy it.”

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About the Contributors
Evan Kerani
Evan Kerani, Sports Editor
Evan Kerani is a reporter for HSM who joined after being coerced into joining by Vince DeMiero. He hopes that through HSM he will become a better writer and gain journalistic experience. In his free time, he enjoys arguing with people on the internet (and in real life) about politics and also enjoys writing poetry. He also enjoys reading mainly non-fiction books about a variety of topics. After high school he plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison and study political science.
Kaylee Miyamoto
Kaylee Miyamoto, Online Manager
Adrian Knowlton
Adrian Knowlton, Photo Editor
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