1. How many years have you worked in the funeral industry?
2. How did you get started in the funeral industry?
I grew up around the funeral industry. My grandmother started Wise Products in 1968 and my dad has managed the business for as long as I can remember. The highlight of my childhood summers was going to the TFDA convention with my grandmother.
Growing up, I never imagined working at Wise Products. Life however has a way of working things out. While I was deployed in Iraq, I was trying to decide what I would do for a career when I returned home. The pressure was on as I was newly married, and our son was born while I was deployed.
I wrote to my dad and ask him if there was a position that matched my skill set at Wise Products. He said he had a position in the welding shop that would be a good start and very helpful as a foundation to begin learning the business. After ending my active duty, I started welding full time at Wise Products while finishing up my college degree.
3. What is the most rewarding part of your occupation?
Personally, the most rewarding part of my job is continuing my family’s legacy by growing our business. Professionally, it’s playing a role for our customers in helping their families through one of life’s most trying times.
4. Is there a specific moment or experience in your career that encapsulates your passion for what you do?
If I had to pick, I would have to say that it’s been taking the passion that our company has for helping funeral directors in rural northeast Texas and expanding our company to where it is today – operating seven warehouses in Oklahoma and Texas.
5. Who or what inspires you?
Very simply, my family inspires me. My grandmother started the business and, with my dad’s help, she was able to expand and grow the business. And now I am here to help my dad grow and expand the business. I hope to continue my family’s legacy well into the future.
6. How has being a CFSA member impacted your experience in the funeral supply industry?
For many years we were members of the CFSA just so we could use the credit guide, not understanding the real value of CFSA. About ten years ago, I attended my first fall conference. Every conference or meeting since has been very beneficial. These gatherings allow the sharing of ideas and best practices with your peers. Throughout the year, I reach out to my network of distributors/friends regularly to discuss what the competition is doing in our markets or if they are having some of the similar issues that I am experiencing.
When I started attending the CFSA we had three warehouses but now nine years later we are up to seven warehouses and we are enjoying double-digit growth each year. I am not saying if you attend CFSA meetings it will automatically grow your business but if you take full advantage of everything that the CFSA organization brings to the table, it can have a big impact on your business and provide you with an invaluable network of friends.
7. What’s your favorite moment with CFSA?
I make great memories at every single CFSA event, so it is hard to narrow it down to just one. But I would say that an important time or milestone with CFSA was attending my first fall trade show. As I mentioned, I attended my first fall conference in 2011 and the experience completely changed my perspective of CFSA. The connections I have made while attending the fall conference has helped me grow my business substantially over the years.
Some of these vendors and distributors I would never have met if it wasn’t for the fall trade show. And some of my biggest vendor negotiations have happened at the CFSA because we were able to discuss in person for a full three days. Also, the trade show helped me understand what options are being offered by other vendors, and if there are any new products out on the market to help me stay competitive. The trade show has helped me tremendously to expand my friend network of other independent distributors (like myself) from all around the nation.
8. How do you spend your time outside of work? Is there anything in particular that you enjoy doing?
When I am not working, I am spending time with my wife, Rebeka, and my children, Levi and Macy. However, if it is hunting season, you may find me chasing a critter somewhere.
9. What are some important/notable trends you have noticed in the funeral supply industry?
Within the independent distributor market, those companies that are aggressive and engaged in their businesses are growing at a rapid pace. But the distributors that are sitting back and doing the same old thing because that is how they have always done it are losing market share more and more every year.
With the growing cremation rates, you have to continue to bring on more and more accounts each year to make up for the sales you lose to cremation. And we live in an economy that features a global supply chain, so it’s important to explore opportunities from companies outside the U.S. so you can continue to bring value to your customers.
I fully believe it is prime time in our industry for distributors to grow rapidly.