"If a man goes into business with only the idea of making money, chances are he won't."
Joyce C. Hall is a man that is with almost everybody that celebrates holidays whether they know it or not. He is somebody that has truly impacted the phrase "making a name for yourself" and has created one that will never disappear - Hallmark.
A Legend In The Making
Joyce C. Hall was born on August 29, 1891, in tiny David City, Nebraska. The youngest son of the poor but religious parents George Nelson Hall and Nancy Dudley Houston Hall gives him a valid reason for his unlikely first name. Hall explains in his autobiography, "When You Care Enough," that he was named after a Methodist Bishop, Isaac W. Joyce who was in town the day he was born. Shortly after Hall was born, his family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska before 1900. Joyce started young in getting business experience from selling perfume to his neighbors, then clerked after school at his brother's bookstore. These small jobs were his first steps on the long road of success. Hall eventually went on to turn around his mediocre beginnings into something spectacular. Nothing could stand in his way, and Hall would soon be living the quintessential American dream.
Never Judge A Business By Its Shoebox
Joyce C. Hall's first big venture came at the young age of 16 when he and his two older brothers William and Rollie combined their money and opened what they called the Norfolk Post Card Company. With this business, they would sell postcards that were imported from around the world, but unfortunately the need for these postcards was minuscule and the business was on shaky ground. Then, in January of 1910, at the age of 18 and despite the disapproval of his parents, Joyce dropped out of high school, packed all of his postcards into two shoe boxes and got on the first train to Kansas City.
Once in Kansas City, he targeted businesses like gift shops, drugstores and bookstores. This proved to be a step in the right direction and soon Hall was expanding to the towns outside the center of Kansas City which were reached mostly by the railroads. In fact, young Hall was doing so well that his brother Rollie headed out to Kansas to join Joyce a year later. Together, these brothers would open up a specialty store in downtown Kansas City where they dealt with post cards, books, gifts and stationery. They would buy designs that were created and made somewhere else, then sold them wholesale in their store.
The Start Of Something Unimaginable
The saying "things always happen for a reason" is always hard to believe in times of hardship and misfortune. I'm sure the same thing was going through the minds of the young brothers only five years and one day after they got to Kansas City. On January 11, 1915, a fire wiped out their entire inventory. Trying to deal with such devastation, the brothers took out a loan that would allow them to purchase one of the engraving firms that had sold them their earlier merchandise. Hall was now on the road to what would gain him fame and fortune. With this addition came another brother, William Hall who joined Joyce and Rollie in Kansas City where they formed Hall Brothers, Incorporated. This is the early creation of what is now Hallmark.
Each brother played a major role in their pride and joy company. Rollie B. Hall died in 1968 at the age of 68. He was the Vice President and Director of National Sales. William F. Hall died in 1971 at the age of 87 and was the Vice President and Treasurer.
The Gut Feeling Of Gold
With idea after idea, Hall changed the card industry forever. Nobody knows what it was that made Hall set his mind the way he did, but he clearly had what is known as the "Midas" touch. Each idea that Hall created was looked at as undesirable and risky. In the 1920's, Hall decided that he wanted to change the name that showed on the back of the cards from "Hall Brothers Company" to "A Hallmark Card". All that Hall encountered were against his idea, partly because change of this magnitude was frowned upon. The next idea that was disliked by fellow workers was the concept of advertising, most said it was a waste of money. Regardless, Hall did as he believed was best and built Hallmark to the most recognizable name in the industry.
In a short time, Joyce followed suit and made another impact on society despite the cold shoulder of employees. Hall wanted to sponsor a television show and had his heart set on the classics. The company was in favor of targeting the mass audience, but Hall replied with "I'd rather make eight million good impressions than twenty-eight million bad ones". On this note he created the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" and brought Ibsen, Shakespeare, Shaw and countless others to television for nearly 50 years.
Joyce finally turned the company over to his son Donald J. Hall in 1966, but up until that point, "Mr. J.C." didn't let any card reach the marketplace without his "O.K.J.C." imprimatur. Even when he was no longer the man at the steering-wheel, Joyce remained as chairman of the board never let his business out of his sight. He lived by the saying, "I'm hell-bent on quality" and of this there was no denying. There were no exceptions to this outlook - it was expected of every product that Hallmark produced. Not a day went by (with the exception of a part of his summers in Malibu) that Hall didn't put in a full days work, just as he had done since the age of 9.
Joyce Hall was married to his wife Elizabeth in 1921 and raised 3 children: Elizabeth Ann Reid, Barbra Louise Marshall and Donald Joyce Hall. His grandson Donald J. Hall Jr. is now president and CEO. Mr. Joyce Hall died on October 29, 1982 at the age of 91. He is interred with his wife at Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, MO.
- Personal Knowledge