How did you get started in the funeral industry?
The funeral business has always been part of my life. My father started the company 40 years ago about one year before I was born. Back then he kept his office in a bedroom in our house, so it was almost like the company was our other roommate. When I was little, sometimes I would ride with him to make deliveries and when I was old enough, I would help unload trucks. After I graduated college, I went to work for a bank in Charleston, South Carolina, where my then girlfriend, now wife went to college. I had dreams of climbing straight to the top and playing golf all day. After about 18 months of counting other people’s money, I realized that banking was not for me. When I was home for Christmas in 2007 my father offered me a job at Service Casket and I took it. I moved home about one month later and never looked back.
What is the most rewarding part of your occupation?
The most rewarding part of my job is being part of a business that my father built from the ground up. This business has provided me my entire life and now I get to be a part of keeping it going.
Is there a specific moment or experience in your career that encapsulates your passion for what you do?
I couldn’t name one specific moment or experience, but I would say that my main passion in this business is the service aspect of what we do. It feels very rewarding when we can exceed a customer’s expectations regarding price, product and service. We have been blessed with some understanding and loyal customers, and it feels good when we are able to help them and return the favor.
Who or what inspires you?
The hardworking Americans from the generations before mine constantly inspire me. The people who started with nothing, but worked tirelessly to make it into something. Hardworking people inspire me. My father and people like him inspire me.
How long have you been a member of CFSA?
Service Casket has been a member for 27 years.
How has being a CFSA member impacted your experience in the funeral supply industry?
Being a member of CFSA has definitely been a valuable resource for our business. We have made lifelong friends through CFSA and as a member, we get valuable industry knowledge.
Favorite moment with CFSA?
I don’t think that I could name one particular favorite moment with CFSA, but I always have a good time catching up with friends in the bar at the JW Marriott during the conference.
How do you spend your time outside of work? Is there anything in particular that you enjoy doing?
When I’m not working, I am usually spending time with my wife Leslie Anne and our two kids Rosie and Scott. I enjoy doing yard work and projects around my house. I love to cook and I like to go hunting whenever I have the time to do it.
What are some important/notable trends that you have noticed in the funeral supply industry?
The notable trends that I see are the same ones that everyone in our industry has seen. The cremation rate continues to go up and seems to have fast-tracked upward as a result of the pandemic. During this time both casket sales and cremations seemed to have been up. For the better part of a year in our territory, families were only allowed to have graveside services with a limit of 10 attendees. In many cases, families were not meeting face-to-face with a funeral director and opting for cremation over a traditional burial. Often times, at least in our area, families that opted for cremation didn’t even have a memorial service for their loved ones. Of the families that opted for cremation, a good number have chosen to have the celebration of life at a later date without involving the services of the funeral home. So, while many funeral homes’ call volume was up, they have missed out on the sales of their other services. It has made me wonder if the generations that come after the Baby Boomers will place as much value in a traditional burial or memorial service and instead opt to keep the funeral homes’ services to a minimum. It seems like things are starting to level back out, but it has truly been a strange time for both the funeral director and the supplier.