H&R Block relocates to Oxford Street
WORTHINGTON -- After a five-year stint in a strip mall on North McMillan Street, H&R Block has found a new -- and permanent -- home in the former Voss Glass building on Oxford Street.
"I have a long-term lease," explained owner Carolee Anderson. "We'll never move again."
When Anderson bought the local franchise five years ago, the business moved from an obscure building on Second Avenue to the more visible retail space in the city's outlying business district.
"We filled up the space, but we've grown since then," she said. "And a lot of areas were not private for appointments. I knew it wasn't going to look for the long-term. So my goal was to find a building or build a building.
"This location really suited our needs," she said about the structure that formerly housed the glass business. "I knew a complete remodel was going to need to take place, but it was in a great location, right where I wanted to be on Oxford, because of the high visibility. The size of the building cemented the deal."
In addition to providing ample space for her staff and private offices for consultations for clients, Anderson also wanted to build in a secure file storage area.
"Based on the layout of the old office, I had a plan in my head for what would be the best use of space," she said.
The building's brick exterior was structurally sound, but Anderson wanted a newer look for the outside her business, so the brick was covered over with Dryvit -- an exterior insulated cladding -- and stone in gray tones.
Inside, the look is also modern, with whites and grays and splashes of the H&R block signature green. There are seven private offices, plus two additional work stations for overflow during the busy tax season.
"Those will get used during February," Anderson said. "I think the clients will appreciate having an office where they can walk in and shut the door. Confidentiality in the tax business is the No. 1 priority."
There's also a generous reception area, and the secure file storage room -- another major asset in the tax preparation business.
"The door locks every time it shuts," explained Anderson. "Our computer system is completely encrypted, so that was never an issue, but we wanted to have the file cabinets out of view."
Tax season doesn't get into full swing until after the new year rolls around, but Anderson's goal was to get situated in the new space well in advance of the holiday season.
"We're operational now," she said. "Our goal was to get in by the end of October so we can get everything ready, and we're already starting with pre-tax appointments. We're here, we're functional, and we're helping people."
During tax season, H&R Block will be bustling with nine tax preparers and four office staff.
"We're open year-round," Anderson noted, "but after tax season, we shrink down to a staff of three, because we're not so busy during the off-season. But I did just add a year-round person because we're increasing our offerings for bookkeeping and accounting. We do that year-round.
"We have two preparers with over 30 years of experience, and one with 20, and that's our CPA, focusing on business returns," she continued. "We have a wide variety of experience levels. (Former owner) Larry Iten is one of the best farm tax experts in the state. We have people calling from all over to ask him farm tax questions. How about that for a mentor for me?"
While they're not quite ready to get back to work yet, all the local H&R preparers have been in to check out the new location and have given their approval to the project.
"They really like the colors, the space," Anderson said. "Everybody seems really excited about it."
H&R Block, now located at 1039 Oxford St., opens for business at 9 a.m. every Monday through Friday. For more information or to make an appointment, phone 376-4108.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.