Honoring an “Uncommon” Hero

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UMKC Celebrating Ewing Kauffman as Honorary International Entrepreneur of the Year

Kansas City native Ewing Marion Kauffman was known for his successful businesses and his philanthropy. During 2016, the Kauffman Foundation is commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth on Sept. 21, 1921 – EMK 100 – by celebrating his legacy that guides the foundation and inspires others to ‘Be Uncommon.’

The University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management are joining in the commemoration by recognizing Kauffman as its Honorary International Entrepreneur of the Yearat the UMKC Entrepreneur of the Year Banquet on Nov. 10. The theme of this year’s banquet is “Fearless City: Celebrating Those Who Fearlessly Create.”

According to the Foundation, “Ewing Kauffman’s life took him on an unconventional path that allowed him to enrich the lives of others along the way. He saw himself as a common man who did uncommon things, and he challenged everyone he knew to be uncommon.”

“The Bloch School of Management at UMKC is pleased to honor and celebrate Mr. K’s 100 year legacy of giving back to Kansas City,” said Jeff Hornsby, professor and director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “He like our namesake, Henry Bloch, have a legacy of generosity and entrepreneurship support that serve as a model for all of our Entrepreneur of the Year Awardees.”

The Kauffman Foundation shared the following highlights about Mr. Kauffman.

An Uncommon Company

Rooted in hard work and steadfast principles, Marion Labs becomes a productive force

  • Ewing Kauffman opened Marion Laboratories for business on June 1, 1950. The 33-year-old entrepreneur worked from the basement of his modest Kansas City home and used his middle name for the company so customers wouldn’t know they were dealing with a one-man operation.
  • Kauffman held steadfast to two principles to guide the philosophy and culture of Marion Labs: (1) Share the rewards with those who produce and (2) Treat others as you wish to be treated.
  • In 1956, Kauffman introduced a generous profit-sharing plan to all associates, a major departure from standard practice in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Ewing Kauffman’s Marion Labs goes public in 1965. Associates who believed in Kauffman in the early years and bought shares of the company reap the financial benefits.
  • Marion Laboratories merged with Merrell Dow in 1989 to form Marion Merrell Dow. The company that began in 1950 with a $5,000 investment and Mr. K as the only associate, reported a net profit of $227 million and provides jobs for 3,400 associates.
  • The merger makes 300 Marion Labs associates instant millionaires and the deal creates the fifth largest drug company in the United States in terms of sales.

Baseball Royalty

Ewing Kauffman delivers on his promise to bring a winning team to Kansas City

  • Kauffman stepped up to the plate to bring Major League Baseball back to his hometown by establishing the Kansas City Royals in 1968. “Kansas City has been good to me, and I want to show I can return the favor,” he said after the American League club owners unanimously approved his bid for the team.
  • During his years as the team’s owner, Royals fans filled the stadium and topped the magic two-million season-attendance mark seven seasons in a row, and eleven times in all. The Royals single-season attendance record has stood for 27 years.
  • He promised Royals fans a winning team and he delivered. Under his ownership, the Royals won six division titles, two American League pennants, and the 1985 World Series Championship.
  • Kauffman developed innovative measures to ensure the Royals would stay in Kansas City after his death. His intricate and groundbreaking plan dictated that the new owner would agree to keep the Royals in Kansas City, sell the team for a fair price, and have proceeds from the sale go to local charities.

A Lasting Legacy

The reward for doing good is the opportunity to do more

  • Kauffman examined the role and potential impact of charitable giving to help people on a path to self-sufficiency. He set the framework for the Kauffman Foundation’s pragmatic and research-based approach to philanthropy that concentrates on the root cause of society’s problems and finding novel solutions to those problems.
  • He considered the education he received and the chance to operate his own business to be the pivotal opportunities of his life.
  • He took an unconventional approach, directing the Kauffman Foundation to focus on advancing education and entrepreneurship in meaningful ways that unleash the human potential and fundamentally changes people’s lives.
  • Kauffman directed his Foundation leaders to identify several opportunities where the Foundation might direct its resources to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
  • In reflecting on his philanthropy, Mr. Kauffman noted, “All of the money in the world cannot solve problems unless we work together. And, if we work together, there is no problem in the world that can stop us, as we seek to develop people to their highest and best potential.”

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