Bogalusa native Delos Knight III credits success to his upbringing

Published 9:44 am Monday, June 30, 2014

The president of U.S. Retail Operations for H&R Block Inc. attributed his business success to his upbringing with hardworking parents and grandparents.

Bogalusa native Delos “Kip” Knight III has been in his current position since October 2013. Before his present assignment, Knight was president of H&R Block International.

The 57-year-old Knight lives in California and works in Kansas City, Mo. He visited H&R Block’s Bogalusa office on South Columbia Street on Saturday, June 21, after attending his high school reunion in Baton Rouge. Knight and his family moved away from Bogalusa when he was 12. Saturday’s visit was his first to the area in 10 years.

Standing in for Mayor Charles Mizell, city administrator Jerry Bailey presented Knight with a key to the city during a brief ceremony at the local H&R Block office, owned and operated by Randy Lawshe. H&R Block District Manager Shawn Smith also was in attendance.

“Growing up in a town like Bogalusa was a wonderful childhood,” Knight said. “My grandfather had a grocery store here called Delos’ Market. He was a strong influence. He was hard working, had a lot of integrity and was a great storyteller.”

Knight said his grandfather had a keen sense of business.

“He was ahead of his time. He was doing (back then) what is doing now,” Knight said. “He would unload groceries in your kitchen. It took Amazon 50 years to catch up. That was customer service.”

Knight’s parents grew up during the Great Depression.

“My mom is the most optimistic person I know,” Knight said. “I learned from her to keep going. My dad was a radio announcer. I learned the art of communication from him. Put an optimist together with a good communicator, and you’re off to a good start.”

Knight said his parents instilled values in him that he carries over to his business career.

“There are three major keys that helped along the way,” Knight said. “I was lucky to have parents who believed in education and held me to a high moral standard. They’ve been my biggest fans. It’s important to me to be a good father. I’ve been married to Peggy Day for 31 years now.

“I’ve always had an attitude of being a life-long student. I try and learn something new once a year. I’ve worked in 64 countries. And I’ve tried to be a strong leader no matter what the situation is. I want a strong vision for what the future is like.”

Knight said tunnel vision is also key to getting ahead.

“I’m relentless in not stopping until I’ve accomplish my goal,” Knight said. “It’s just sheer persistence, vision and courage. There’s a lot of stuff that when you think about it I probably wouldn’t do. It’s like the Hindu proverb: ‘Leap and the net will appear.’ You’ve got to trust your gut. I believe in living a life with no regrets.”

Knight earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from LSU in 1978. He went on to earn his master’s degree in business administration in 1980 from the University of Cincinnati.

Knight’s professional career began with a two-year stint with Burke Marketing Research in Cincinnati, followed by a 10-year association with Proctor and Gamble. His last position at Proctor and Gamble was associate advertising manager.

Knight moved on to a nine-year association with Pepsico Restaurants International starting in 1990. His last position there was vice president of marketing for Kentucky Fried Chicken International.

After Pepsico Restaurants International, Knight was chief marketing officer for three years for Taco Bell Restaurants.

In March 2002, Knight joined eBay Inc., where he worked for six years. He was vice president of marketing for North America and general manager for eBay Canada his final year at the company.

Before joining H&R Block, Knight started KnightVision Marketing in September 2008. He joined H&R Block in April 2012.

“I’ve just loved marketing since I was president of the student union at LSU,” Knight said. “There would be 100 things that I would be lousy at. I would make a lousy doctor. But I’ve been looking at the world through marketing eyes my whole life, asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

Knight said his current position is a highlight of his career. H&R Block did $2 billion in sales last year and has 10,000 offices.

“I’m proud to lead an organization as big as this one,” Knight said. “It’s exciting at tax season.”

Knight said working with a company the size of H&R Block is possible for anybody who sets their mind to it.

“I don’t think I can get bored with H&R Block,” Knight said. “I’ve never been a pre-planner. Most of these consulting jobs came to me. If you do a good job and focus on what you do, your reputation will be your best asset.”