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Vandor/Starmark announces retirement of president

RICHMOND, Ind. (Feb. 9, 2021) – Vandor Corporation / Starmark Cremation Products announced Tuesday the planned March 31, 2021 retirement of Gerald Davis as its president.

Davis will continue his role as a shareholding board member, according to Chairman & CEO Alan Elder. Upon his retirement, the board will also expand to include two of Davis’ children, Adrienne Cowen and Justin Davis.

With more than 50 career utility patents so far, Davis will continue to serve as a consultant focused on new products, research and design, and special projects.

Davis’ innovations and improvements in both the funeral and reel & cable industries are just part of his story. He started his career in the funeral industry as a part-time assembly line employee for Spartan Casket Shell in Lynn, Indiana in the summer of 1977. He was quickly promoted to purchasing manager and later plant superintendent.

In the mid-1980s, Davis took a position with America’s oldest casket company JM Hutton in Richmond, Indiana followed by an opportunity to work closely with an innovative funeral home buying cooperative focused on Texas and Michigan. In 1989, starting with the Elderlite Corrugated Fiberboard Casket and working closely with the Elder family, he helped found Elder Davis, Inc. which quickly grew to become the largest cloth covered burial and cremation casket manufacturer in North America. Davis continued with its new owner when Elder Davis was sold in 1997. These experiences prepared him for leading Vandor, and he was named the company’s president in 2000. Under his leadership, Starmark Cremation Products was created under the Vandor banner in 2004 to meet North America’s yearning for ever-better cremation products.

Davis enjoys being an outlier and leading the Vandor R&D team to constantly develop new and useful high-eye-appeal products at reduced costs that can be sold in very high volumes and meet if not exceed customers’ expectations. Several recent examples stand out as noteworthy. When Starmark launched the Transporter Cremation Container in the mid-2000s, it was at first ignored by many in the funeral industry as unneeded and unwanted. Davis’ consistent reply was “that funeral professionals just don’t know they need them yet and once they try them they will see how good they are.” Vindicated, the Transporter has become the highest volume cremation container sold in the U.S. that includes an interior.

When his R&D team created the patented injection molded plastic Sure~Lock Cremation Urn, it soon grew to be the highest volume urn sold in North America. They also created ceremonial rental caskets that are wider, longer, deeper, and include a crank-adjustable bed and easily replaced interior head panels. This team also created compact designed ceremonial rental casket inserts that require less space, lowest shipping costs, and high functionality for all North American funeral homes.

Today, Starmark is the largest volume producer of ceremonial rental inserts for all brands in the U.S. Most recently, Davis and the Starmark team launched the Artisan Series Cremation Container products and all signs lead to sustained record breaking annual sales growth.

Davis comes from a family of casket builders as his father Forrest Davis founded Goliath Casket in the mid-80s, which continued for nearly four decades under the ownership of Davis’ brother, Keith. Among his many talents, Davis is a one-time professional musician who majored in alto saxophone at Ball State University and Fort Wayne Bible College (now Taylor University). Davis met his wife Annette while serving in the US Army as a music director/arranger in Germany.

In retirement, Davis plans to catch up on music skills and spend more time at home with his wife of nearly 47 years. With their four married children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild, there is plenty to keep them busy. His newest toy, a John Deere tractor, will transport him back to his younger farmer roots.

All of the Vandor team wish Gerald and Annette the greatest joy and know he will never stop contributing to the ongoing success of its customers.