KAHL, JACK (September 20, 1940 - December 30, 2018) was a philanthropist and business entrepreneur who founded Manco, manufacturer of the Duck Brand Tapes. The oldest of six, he was born in the LAKEVIEW TERRACE Projects of Cleveland’s near west side to John and Margaret (Wallenhorst) Kahl. After attending the school at ST. PATRICK'S PARISH on Bridge Avenue as a child, he went to St. Edward High School and graduated in 1958. Kahl graduated from JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY in 1962 with a degree in business management.
Kahl turned his first job - selling insurance - into a business networking opportunity. One of his clients, Melvin Anderson, was so impressed with Kahl that he hired the young man as the first employee for the Melvin A. Anderson Co. in 1963. Kahl’s salesmanship helped the tape manufacturing company’s revenues grow tenfold. By 1971, he was able to buy the company - which cleared $800,000 that year - with $10,000 cash and a $182,000 loan. Under Kahl’s leadership, the company, which was renamed Manco in 1971, launched “Duck Tape” as a national brand in 1980. Within a few years of the rebranding, Manco was able to corner nearly 40% of all duct tape sales. Kahl’s company became the first to receive three Walmart “Vendor of the Year” awards. Winning accolades for his visionary leadership, Kahl was named one of “America’s Most Admired CEOs” by Industry Week Magazine in 1993 and “Best Boss in Town” by CLEVELAND MAGAZINE in both 1996 and 2000. In 1998, Kahl sold his business to Henkel Corporation in Dusseldorf, Germany, for $116 million, giving 30 percent to his employees. When he handed the reins of the company to his son John in 2000, company sales topped $300 million.
After retiring, Kahl continued to provide leadership advice and expertise to a variety of companies and nonprofit groups. He served for eight years years as chairman of the Fundraising Development Committee of CLEVELAND CLINIC, helping to raise nearly $1 billion. He was integral to the Clinic’s first major campaign called “Securing the 21st Century,” raising more than $240 million. He was also a member of the Clinic’s board from 2000 to 2005. Kahl served as chairman of Students in Free Enterprise, an organization that reaches more than 800,000 college students, whose world headquarters includes the “Jack Kahl Entrepreneurship Center.” Kahl served on the Boards of Trustees of St. Edward High School and John Carroll University, establishing the “Jack Kahl Student Life & Leadership Center” at St. Edward High School and the “Kahl Chair in Entrepreneurship” in the Boler College of Business at John Carroll University. Kahl wrote a book promoting community service, entitled Leading from the Heart: Choosing to be a Servant Leader in 2004.
Kahl celebrated his Irish heritage, providing key support for the renovation of the Irish CULTURAL GARDEN. He was awarded the WALKS OF LIFE AWARD from Cleveland’s Irish American Archives Society in 2014, after helping to spearhead fundraising for the creation of “Fighting Heart,” a sculpture group by Dublin artist Rowan Gillespie that commemorates world champion boxer Johnny Kilbane and was erected in Cleveland’s West Side Battery Park neighborhood.
Kahl was the recipient of the School Home Office Products Association’s “Lifetime Achievement Award,” Beta Gamma Sigma’s “National Medal for Entrepreneurship,” and Cleveland’s “Philanthropist of the Year Award.” He was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in 2016.
He was married to Margaret (Lynch), with whom he had five children: John, Bill, Annemarie, Julie Kahl Weaver, and Lisa. He later married Sherry (Campbell) Kahl. He passed away on December 30, 2018, at the age of 78 and is buried in Avon’s St. Joseph Cemetery.
Daniel Brennan and David Patrick Ryan