History of RK Black: A Few Words From Our Founder...
In the early 1950’s, a copy machine in an office was a rarity. The only copiers available used a photographic process . . . making a copy was a wet, messy, smelly process. It was slow and costly, and the secretaries hated it. In 1950, 3M Company burst upon the scene with a simple, fast, dry copier that would make a copy in 4 seconds at a nickel a copy. In the summer of 1955, they came to Oklahoma City to set up a dealership for their new product.
As it happened, I had quit my job with a farm machinery distributor a few years earlier and opened my own distributorship for a unique, but hard to sell dictating machine. I sold to dealers in a 4-state area. It was truly a shoestring operation . . . my “office” was the one-car garage of our home at 2339 N.W. 30th, and I was the whole company. It was hot and dusty in the summer, cold and drafty in the winter, and the car sat outside.
By good fortune, I was contacted by 3M and became their dealer in October 1955. The product that launched the copying industry was the 3M Thermo-Fax “Secretary”. It weighed 65 pounds, sold for $329, and made a copy in the wink-of-an-eye. The factory rep thought we could sell 100 machines that first year - we sold 300! At first, I was the salesman, bookkeeper, warehouseman . . . you name it. The world had been waiting for something like this. Our slogan was “Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall, carry the machine on every call.” I did, and I’m sure one arm is longer than the other as a result. As I write this, the memories come flooding back of that most exciting time. Our first son, Klee, was 2 and our second son, Chris, appeared on the scene in January of 1956. I remember working in the office getting out invoices until 11PM and then visiting Lorraine and Chris at St. Anthony’s, tip-toeing down the darkened halls of the sleeping hospital. My wife came to work soon after Chris’s birth. I wish you could have known her. She was a buoyant, exciting person who loved the business and made a great contribution.
Our first office was in the basement of the Classen Terrace Building. Nine feet wide, maybe twenty feet long. Soon we moved upstairs to a suite of five offices, and before we knew it they were too small, so we moved to 1634 Linwood Boulevard, taking half the building, and then all of it. In 1967, we took a big step and built our very own building at 2724 N.W. 39th. In 1997, we were on the move again, this time to a 16,000 square foot building in Perimeter Center.
Early on we saw we were in the people business. Over the years, we have focused on building an organization that allowed associates to share in the success. Our Profit Sharing Plan, started in 1959 after only three years in business, is just one example of how you can benefit from the success of your new company.
This is no longer a simple one-man operation . . . we have many products, plenty of competition and a constant need for change and improvement. Welcome to the scene . . . there is a future to be built!
(1914 - 2002)