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Summer 2013 I www.ogr.org

The Rising Cost of Funeral Service

Profits Up, Spending Down

INSIDE

Conference Wrap-Up

Increasing Your Profits

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org 速

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Table of Contents

Inside OGR President’s Message

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21

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The Rising Cost of Funeral Service

Annual Conference Re-Cap 6

Daniel Isard of The Foresight Companies reports profits are on the rise while consumer spending peaks.

GSG Spotlight

By Daniel Isard

Increase Your Profits By Christopher Kuhnen

Small everyday changes can increase your end of year bottom line.

2013 NFDA Advocacy Summit

By David Fry President David Fry reports on his impressions of D.C. Summit

CALENDAR [ July 25 ]

Webinar: Using Telecommunications to Manage & Grow Your Funeral Home

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ÂŽ

Newsworthy 19 New Members 24 In Memoriam 26 Immediate Past President, 27 Proud to Have Served Exemplary Service

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Milestone Anniversaries

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OF EVENTS

[ Sept. 26 ]

Webinar: Thinking Outside the Box: Providing Nontraditional Funeral Services

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[ Oct. 18-19 ] OGR Fall Forum, Austin, TX

[ Nov. 26] Webinar: Innovative Technology in Funeral Homes: Challenges & Victories

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The Independent® is a benefit of membership in the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a not-for-profit organization tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, Federal ID No. 43-1828432. Published quarterly, The Independent® is mailed the first full week of each new quarter. Send address changes to OGR, Attn: Mailing List, 3520 Executive Center Dr., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78731. © 2011 International Order of the Golden Rule. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Non-member subscriptions (USD): One year: $40; two years: $60; single copy: $11.50. Founded in 1928, OGR is composed of independently owned and operated funeral homes located throughout North America and overseas. Editorial material and letters of opinion are invited. Published articles reflect the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the association. OGR reserves the right to edit all submitted materials and does not assume responsibility for unsolicited materials. For author guidelines, contact the editor, (800) 637-8030, or visit www.ogr.org.

ADVERTISER’S INDEX Access Financial Group......................... 7, 9 Chris Chigas, (800) 487-8220, ext. 8233 www.afinancial.com

BOAR D OF D IR EC TOR S President President-Elect Secretary-Treasurer Immediate Past President Directors

David Fry Wayne “Bud” Wieting William Brock, Jr. CFSP Michael S. Lewis Roger Beyers Charles Castiglia Adam Miles Martin Peter “Skip” Urban

Executive Director Communications &

Marketing Director Staff

Answering Service for Directors ............. 25

Mark Allen Scott F. McClure Maureen Hayes

Connie Haymes

Kevin Czachor, (800) 868-9950 sales@myasd.com www.myasd.com

Pamela Hutchinson

Aurora...................................................... 32

Denise Rodriguez

Gael Murdoch

Denise Gomez

Chip Ray, (800) 457-1111 jamiem@securitynational.com www.assignmentfunding.com/ogr

C& J Financial ........................................ 31 Jamie Meredith, (800) 785-0003 jamiem@securitynational.com www.assignmentfunding.com/ogr

FrontRunner Professional........................20 Mike Hepburn (866) 748-3625 mike@frontrunnerpro.com www.frontrunnerpro.com

Meadow Hill Corporation............................11 Bob Vokum (847-) 381-9000 bob@meadowhill.com www.meadowhill.com

The Red Book, National Directory of Morticians .......... 27 (440) 247-3561 redbook@funeral-dir.com

Debbie J. Smith

Jessica A. Smith Advertising is accepted at the discretion of the publisher. The advertisement of any product or service in The Independent® does not represent an endorsement of such product or service by OGR. Classified Advertising: line ads: $1.10 per word; display classified ads: $30 per col. inch. Call the communications department to reserve space or to request a rate card and mechanical specifications. OGR does not accept ads that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability or any other federally protected class.

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The Independent® |

Summer 2013 | Volume 16 | Issue 3

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

President’s Message

BE A PART OF OGR by David Fry

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s OGR begins a new year, I would like to reflect just a bit and acknowledge the many in positions of leadership as well as those who work each day to keep this great organization operating. As I stated in my acceptance speech, I want to thank God first, for without His divine leadership we would be like a ship at sea, lost without any hope. I cannot look forward without thanking our Immediate Past President, Michael Lewis, for his leadership during this past year. He reminds me of Cool Hand Luke – always steady under fire. Thanks Michael. I also want to give a shout out to our current Board of Directors and those who have served and stepped out of the inner circle. All of us who serve you are so thankful to have Mark Allen and every member of his staff caring for the good of the Order. As I stated in Memphis, we are so fortunate to have Mark back with us. If you have not met him, please do yourself a favor and call the home office to visit and learn. Let me start by first saying that I love this organization. Ladies and gentleman, you are members of the best funeral service organization. It is the people that make OGR different. We have a chemistry that other organizations only wish they could obtain. That being said, we still have the challenges of membership that beleaguer every funeral service organization today. In my home state of Iowa, I have heard funeral directors questioning their membership in the state association as well as other associations. My brothers and sisters in funeral service, if you don’t attend the conferences, the meetings and the conventions, you are missing out. I attend with the attitude that I will learn something, and I always come home with a renewed energy and passion to serve. I have never regretted spending that time away from the office.

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Debbie and I are operators of a small funeral home and I am currently the only licensed funeral director. I know how hard it is to get away and I know the financial commitment it takes to attend. I called one funeral director before the Memphis conference to see if their firm would be in attendance and was told that they hadn’t been anywhere for nearly three years and that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable trusting their funeral home to anyone. God love you for the dedication but like someone once told me, “The cemetery is full of people who can’t be replaced.” From time to time we all get stale, but by attending our conferences you will learn new insights from peer-to-peer relationships that you cannot get on your own. That’s the cold, hard truth. We are not the OGR of the past and by all rights we shouldn’t be either. The world all around us is changing, and OGR must change to be relevant to our current members and attract new and progressive funeral firms. Those who want the latest and most up-to-date speakers will receive them. We need to attract, innovate and reinvent. Let us help you do that. We invite you to join us so we can learn from you as well. As your president, I ask that you call me with any concerns or ideas that you may be willing to share. You may call my office at (563) 886-6336 or e-mail me at david@fryfuneralhome.com. Thanks for listening.

David Fry, President

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Annual Conference Attendees Proclaim

2013 “BEST YEAR EVER”

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ith more built-in opportunities for interaction this year, attendees participated in themed breakout sessions as well as idea exchanges where they brainstormed with colleagues about ways to increase the benefits of memorialization. The new setup for the Supplier Showcase also gave attendees the chance to browse products and services and conduct business with 32 exhibitors while in the same room as the general session. Attendees picked up information and tips relating to their profession throughout the event. Early in the conference, Scott Newton of Graystone Associates Inc., gave one of the most practical and popular presentations when he spoke on proper telephone etiquette and how to present a full range of options to price sensitive families. Scott encouraged attendees to extensively train their staff and to “view price shopper calls as an opportunity not a nuisance.” Other sessions included interior designer Martha O’Hara who gave attendees helpful tips on how to make families more comfortable by updating their funeral home facilities’ décor and furnishings while Larry Oxenham shared how

funeral professionals can reduce liabilities that can result in higher costs for families. Technology experts, Jason Truesdell and Matt Dugas, offered innovative technologies that enable families to participate in memorialization in more ways than ever, and funeral directors George and Gregory Darte shared how participating in study groups can lead to better service and connection with families.

Michael Kulbacki & J.D. Slack take time to chat during the Supplier Showcase.

The educational sessions ended with an experts’ panel comprised of David Nixon, Michael Quinn, and Mike Nicodemus who explored how funeral professionals can accommodate a new generation of funeral service trends. They agreed that a lack of staff training will impact the funeral service profession in the future.

Clifford Green reviews the education schedule during the break.

The conference ended on a celebratory note with a rooftop reception and banquet which included the board installation, dinner, dancing, and a photo booth. On Sunday, members continued the fun by touring Memphis in a bus with a singing, guitar-playing guide. It was an appropriate conclusion to OGR’s stay in the Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock ’n’ Roll™.

Loren Congdon, Charles Rader & Bud Wieting reminisce at the Service of Remembrance.

The conference opened with a lively introduction to Memphis culture and music by Memphis Jones. Memphis, a professional musician and entertainer in Memphis for the last 20 years, showcased his extensive knowledge of music history by playing excerpts of songs from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash and had everyone singing along by the end of his performance.

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Golden Rule Community Service Award Michael Gardinier is presented with the Golden Rule Community Service Award

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ongratulations to Gardinier Funeral Home of Franklin, PA, the winner of this year’s Golden Rule Community Service Award. The Golden Rule Community Service Award, now in its fifth year, was introduced to highlight the important community service work done by OGR member firms during a single calendar year. Michael Gardinier accepted the award on behalf of his funeral home. For the past few years, Gardinier Funeral Home, Inc., along with their families, friends, and members of their community, has collected donations for a charity of its choice while representing the funeral home during the annual 5k race, “Race for any Pace.” The race takes place during Franklin’s October festival, Applefest, which is organized by the Chamber of Commerce and is one of the largest annual events in the community. In 2011, the Gardinier team collected donations

for Life Building Ministries, a local nonprofit group that empowers and rehabilitates young men from addictions. Through donations, the team was able to raise $700 to support Life Building Ministries’ ongoing work and ministry. In 2012, the Gardinier team raised $1000 to support the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh, a group of parents and professionals dedicated to enriching the lives of people with Down Syndrome. This year, Gardinier Funeral Home hopes to raise even more money for the Venango Area Riding for the Handicapped Association, an organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding for physically and emotionally disabled children, adolescents, and adults in the northwest Pennsylvania counties. Gardinier Funeral Home is a fine example of how a funeral home can go beyond what is expected of them and impact their community with generosity and humility. We look forward to hearing how this year’s 5K race goes!

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

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EXEMPLARY SERVICE AWARDS

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t this year’s Awards Luncheon, three member firms were recognized for their superior professionalism and exemplary service, which was determined from comments made by grateful client families responding to Family Contact Program surveys. The Gold Exemplary Service Award was given to Osborne Funeral Home, PA in Williamsport, Md. Before President Mike Lewis presented the award to owner Craig Osborne, he shared an excerpt from an appreciative family who used their services stating, “Our high school daughter was tragically killed in a car accident as she was coming home from prom.The entire community suffered from the tragedy and the Osbornes were a pillar upon which others relied, especially us. From first contact with Scott to my last visit with Brandi, all the services that the Osbornes provided were professional, sympathetic, well-coordinated and quite simply excellent. Our daughter’s funeral services were exactly what we wanted for her. We are very grateful for everything that Osbornes did and cannot thank them enough.”

The final award, the Bronze Exemplary Service Award, was given to E. E. Pickle Funeral Home, Inc. in Amory, Miss. Bobby Cleveland was present to accept the honor. The family response that stood out Craig Osborne of Osborne Funeral Home is the most described the funeral presented with the Gold Exemplary Service home’s attention to detail and Award positive treatment stating, “I have attended many funerals in my lifetime, and I can honestly say that none of them have had the atmosphere that Pickle Funeral Home does. From the director, to the staff, to the facility, to how the ceremony was conducted, Pickle Funeral Home communicated professionalism and care and ensured everything was personalized. Pickle Funeral Home is a great Bobby Cleveland accepts the Bronze example for any funeral home, no Exemplary Service award on behalf of matter what city, state, or counE.E. Pickle Funeral Home try.”

The Silver Exemplary Service Award was given to Thomas Funeral Home, PA in Cambridge, Md. One family they served commented on the great service they received in the midst of Hurricane Sandy complications saying, “We unintentionally planned our mother’s funeral for the day Hurricane Sandy was scheduled to hit. We

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panicked and the funeral home quickly arranged a private family service for us the night before. For such quick arrangements, it turned out to be a beautiful service for Mom. We left the service feeling very comforted and peaceful. It is obvious their kindness and understanding is not just ‘an act.’ They truly care.”

Congratulations to all of these firms for being spotlighted for their truly exceptional care to the families in their communities! For more information about participating in the Family Contact Program, call the home office to find out how to take advantage of this valuable member benefit.

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Auction Raises $10,275 for Awards of Excellence Scholarship

Michael Lewis shows off the guitar he donated to the auction.

Each year, the Annual Conference Auction raises money for the Awards of Excellence Scholarship fund, which benefits mortuary science students in their last year of school. This year’s auction items included luxury jewelry, gift baskets, baseball game tickets, a Yamaha guitar, and various pieces of artwork. The “hottest” ticket item was Bill Brock’s bowtie. Bidding was competitive and the prized tie was taken home for $300. Thank you to everyone donated and bid on items for this year’s auction! Thank you to the following for their contributions to the scholarship auction. Aurora

Federated Insurance

Bud Wieting

Judith Roth

Bill & Linda Brock Curt & Barb Lind

JD Slack

Martha Beyers

Deaton-Kennedy

David & Debra Fry

Dee2West Seaglass Diamond Brokers Skip & Dolores Urban

Maureen Julian Meadow Hill

Memories by Design Mike Lewis

Mortuary Response

Ed & Beverly Pearce Funeral Home gifts

Sinosource

Jeff & Susan Wages

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

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AWARD OF EXCELLENCE SCHOLARSHIPS

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wo scholarships were awarded this year through OGR’s Awards of Excellence Scholarship Program, which provides assistance to students about to graduate from mortuary school and enter the funeral profession. Mike Lewis presents Angela Carter In order to qualify, with the Silver Award of Excellence applicants must be enrolled in an accredited mortuary degree program, be scheduled to graduate in the current calendar year, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. This year’s recipients were excited and honored to be chosen. Angela Carter, the recipient of the 2013 Silver Award of Excellence, attended the conference and accepted her award in person commenting, "I am still over the moon about being selected as an OGR scholarship recipient. My instructors, family and friends were absolutely thrilled by the news. As a matter of fact, Mr. Koosmann, Program Director of the

Funeral Service Education program, said I was his first student to be awarded an OGR scholarship in his 34 year tenure at my college.” She received $2,000 to help complete her studies at St. Louis Community College. The recipient of the 2013 Gold Award of Excellence, Michelle Wade, attends Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and received a $3,500 scholarship. She was unable to attend the conference, but was very grateful for the opportunity and award stating, “I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for selecting me as one of the 2013 Awards of Excellence Scholarship winners. As a single parent working and going to school, there are many challenges to overcome along with facing financial difficulty. With the assistance of your organization, I will be able to complete my mortuary science program and begin a new career in a much earlier time than expected. Being associated with such an outstanding organization not only sets a higher standard of achievement for myself and funeral providers, but also promotes a professional example of the industry to the public. I am proud to say I am your newest student member!”

OGR 2013-2014 Board of Directors Back row: Adam Miles Martin, Roger Beyers, Immediate Past President Michael Lewis, Charles A. Castiglia, Skip Urban; Front row: Secretary-Treasurer Bill Brock, President David Fry and President-Elect Bud Wieting

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

OGR-Spring2013_Layout 1 1/31/13 3:26 PM Page 1

David Fry

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avid Fry, a fifth-generation funeral director, has been licensed as a funeral director in Iowa since 1975 and is also licensed in Indiana and North Carolina in the same capacity. After purchasing the funeral home from Robert and Pat Sheets in 1991, he continued the hometown tradition of personal service. Having lost his own father at an early age, he has a firsthand appreciation of personal loss. Fry is also active with other funeral associations, beginning his seventh year as the District 2 Governor for the Iowa Funeral Directors Association; he is also a member of the National Funeral Directors Association. Locally, Fry is a member of the Tipton Lions Club, the Tipton Chamber of Commerce, the Tipton Economic Development Corporation and he serves on the Board for the Volunteer Services of Cedar County. He also serves his community as an elected Council Person for the City of Tipton.

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2013 Conference Pics

Fun Food Friends

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org 速

GOLDEN LIGHT AWARD ing his degree in mortuary science, he joined his father’s funeral home where he continued the traditions of the family business including giving back to the profession and community. (Wages’ father was instrumental in founding the Golden Light Award and is also a former recipient.)

OGR President, David Fry presents past president Jeffrey Wages with the 2013 Golden Light Award.

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he International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) is proud to announce Jeffrey S. Wages of Wages & Sons-Gwinnett Chapel, Lawrenceville, GA as the winner of the 2013 Golden Light Award. The Golden Light Award is the association’s highest honor, and it recognizes an individual who has made specific, meritorious contributions to society through his or her profession, community or field of voluntary service as lifetime achievements. At the age of 13, Wages’ father introduced him to their family’s funeral service business where Jeffrey began working holidays and weekends. After obtain-

Wages is a member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice, Academy of Graduate Embalmers of Georgia, the Independent Funeral Directors of Georgia, National Funeral Directors Association and Cremation Association of North America. He has also served on numerous OGR committees and was on the board of directors for seven years, including a term as president. He took a hands-on approach with managing OGR during its transition between executive directors, and he led the search for the current executive director. He also facilitated a casket discount program with Aurora Casket Company and has served as OGR’s liaison for Funeral and Memorial Information Council for the past several years. OGR President David Fry announced Wages as the award winner during the association’s Annual Conference and Supplier Showcase in Memphis, TN. on April 27, 2013. We could not be happier for him and more pleased by the support he has continuously given OGR, his fellow members, and community.

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

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The Rising Cost of Funeral Service D

aniel M. Isard, president of The Foresight Companies, LLC, announced the updated figures for the rate of indigenous inflation within the funeral profession for the year 2012. “The analysis shows profits have increased each of the past three years which is a solid trend of behavior,” Isard said. “But it appears that consumer spending is starting to reach an apex,” he added cautiously. Profit margins actually increased. “Profit percentage increased from 5.91% of revenue in 2011 to 6.12% of revenue in 2012”, said Isard. This is the 11th increase in Profit Percentage over the previous year since we measured this beginning in 1980”, Isard said. While the profit percentage increased over the previous year in 2011, compared to the 13.73% profit percentage of 1980 profits are severely impacted historically for this profession. 14

Average revenue per call is the total operating revenue of the funeral home including all professional fees and sale of merchandise. This amount is greater usually in funerals that result in burial of a deceased rather than those that result in cremation. In 2011 this amount was $6,552.71 and went up to $6,631.94 in 2012. This was a modest increase of 1.21% (see Chart 1). This increase in consumer spending is for all funerals and demonstrates that consumers are spending less and less each year. Consumer spending includes the purchase for service fees, rental of facility, labor and purchase of funeral Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

merchandise. Isard said, “We like the trend of increasing profit; however, the trend of decreasing spending is a difficult omen for the future.” He added, “Some of the reasons that consumer spending might be on the decline include preneed, cremation and a lesser emphasis on caskets in burial services.” The market has changed. As an example, consumer spending for a six year period in the early 1980’s, fluctuated but was above 4% per year (See Chart 1a). This is in sharp contrast to the current statistics. “The cremation rate of the early 1980’s was much lower than today. Preneed accounts made up a much lower rate of annual services, and there was still much emphasis on casket purchases,” Dan explained. The casket costs as a percentage of the total spending increased for the first time since 2006. It was 16.35% in 2012 as opposed to 16.31% the previous year (see Chart 2). “While this is an increase, it is a nominal increase for one year out of the past seven. We do not believe statistically that one year makes a trend or breaks a trend. We do believe very strongly that this decline is going to be consistent into the future. The increase of 4 basis points over 2011 is far less than the increase of the price of caskets,” Isard commented. We have tried to confirm with the casket manufacturing association as to the mix of caskets manufactured and sold last year. In previous years we have seen an increase in 20 gage metal and lower cost wood caskets becoming more widely accepted. The 2012 overhead also fell when compared to the previous year. This is the second decline in a row. Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Overhead is the fixed and variable costs of operation, other than merchandise. The largest cost in overhead is staffing including salaries, benefits and employment taxes. “With the anticipation of increasing costs of health insurance in 2013 and 2014, we believe that the future is going to see a continued increase in overhead,” Isard said. “Overhead continues to be almost 78% of all revenue, which is near the highest it has been since we have been analyzing this, so any decrease is good. Overhead is still too high,” he added. The rate of Funeral Service Inflation (“FSI”) is computed two ways (See Chart 3). First, Foresight computes FSI for non-casketed funeral services (“FSI-1”). A second method of computing this rate is for those casketed calls (“FSI-2”). Currently about 80% of all funerals in the United States use a casket of some form or fashion regardless of whether the body is cremated or buried, so FSI-2 covers most of the specific cases a funeral home serves. FSI-1 was estimated to be 0.93% as computed by Foresight in 2012 compared to the rate of 1.02% the previous year. “The non-casketed inflation rate is encouraging for funeral homes that price their services correctly with only a nominal increasing inflationary cost,” Isard said. “With very low interest rates affecting trusts and insurance preneed funded accounts, funeral homes will not lose much money on these advance funded accounts when the time comes for them to be serviced,” he commented. Ironically, the increasing choice of cremation rather than burial may actually be a blessing in disguise for the well-run funeral home. Today, cremation is the choice of about four out of every ten families. “More than 90% of the funeral homes we studied are not yet pricing their cremation services equal to those of burial for identical services rendered (on a service by service basis). The elimination of the cost of the casket in about 50% of all cremations actually allows funeral homes to better manage their costs to provide for these services on an at need and preneed basis,” Isard hypothesizes. This explains why the FSI-1 is at a much lower rate than FSI-2, as FSI-1 does not take the increasing cost of a casket into consideration (see Chart 3a). Isard 15

explained, “Many cremation services still involve a casket, many of which are cremation caskets or rental caskets. These options are usually not available to burial oriented families.” Foresight is proud to announce it concludes FSI-2 was estimated to be 3.42% in 2012 whereas it was 4.87% in 2011. Isard declared, “The decline in FSI-2 is almost (see Chart 3a) totally due to the low interest rate environment we are operating within. The decline in measured CPI has dropped almost 55% in 2012 from 2011, and it was very low in 2011” Dan explained. Foresight has been actively watching Funeral Service Inflation (“FSI”) for more han three decades and pioneered the very concept of a specific inflation rate for this industry. “We have studied the effect of inflation and the operation of a funeral home going back to 1940. We do this to help funeral home managers make decisions about preneed, pricing, and staff costs in a proactive fashion. Our goal is to help funeral home owners and managers operate as prosperously as possible,” Isard said. The computation of Foresight begins with an analysis of the national average figures compiled from Federated Funeral Directors of America, Inc., the Springfield, IL accounting firm which serves more than 10% of all funeral homes in the United States. Federated and Foresight are not related in any way. They provide their summary data to Foresight and others as a courtesy. “I must thank John and Ken Rodenburg, the Executive Officers of FFDA for some of their guidance and support through the years,” Isard was quick to point out. “Without the data of Federated the computation would be much more cumbersome to produce and possibly less accurate, as the Federated data is consistently applied.” Dan said. “Inflation in this profession is as important to compute as it is in any industry, since business owners need to assess the effect of their pricing increases and management of their overhead to produce a profit 16

which is fair and reasonable,” Isard stated. “This industry also has the burden of having made commitments to serve families in the future via prearranged and pre-funded funerals, the bulk of which are guaranteed for the future. Therefore, the growth of this money versus the amount of inflation could represent a problem for the industry as a whole and each individual funeral home,” Isard advised. The concept of the computation assumes a level profit margin and a level merchandise commitment, coupled by consumer spending and the overhead of the industry as a whole. While the death rate might increase or decrease on a national or regional basis, funeral homes mainly have a fixed cost of operation. While one year changes must be watched and observed, looking over the longer period is very important. For example, profit on the average funeral in 2012 was $405.69, which was less than the profit of any year from 1997 to 2002. Profit margins continue to decline from 2002 when they were 7.63% and 1992 when they were 8.70% and even 1982 when they were 12.91%. When viewed over a 30 year period, profits today are only 47% of what they were in 1982 (as measured by percentage of revenue). Daniel M. Isard, MSFS is the president of The Foresight Companies, LLC. A member of the association and a GSG Supplier, Foresight is the preeminent financial and management consulting serving the funeral and cemetery profession. Dan can be reached at his office in Phoenix AZ at (800) 426-0165 or danisard@f4sight.com.

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GSG Spotlight

PARTNERSHIPFORMEMBERSHIP

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GR is proud to announce a relationship renewed and a partnership gained. In order to serve our members better, we are happy to share a 27 year relationship with Aurora Casket as a Golden Services Supplier. This relationship reflects our mutual commitment to funeral service and the families that benefit from the highest standards of care provided by OGR members. In addition, OGR welcomes its new partnership with Matthews International as an endorsed supplier of the International Order of the Golden Rule. Matthews joins long-time association partner Aurora Casket as a Golden Services Supplier. This new relationship provides members with two of the most prestigious industry leaders of burial, cremation and memorialization products and services.

At the request of the OGR Board, Aurora will be enhancing and changing the OGR Golden Services programs for 2013. Rather than an exclusive OGRonly sales program, Aurora will consult with each of our members to determine the best purchasing program to meet their specific needs. This will assure that regardless of needs, purchasing levels or individual requirements, each OGR member can select the right program for their firm. Many members will choose to remain on their current Aurora/OGR program which provides very attractive terms and rebates -- others may choose to explore alternative Aurora sales programs that offer even greater savings for a higher level of purchase commitment. Whichever program members choose, Aurora will continue to provide support to all OGR members nationwide. We encourage you to meet with your Aurora representative to review the available sales programs and how Aurora can best benefit your firm. You can also call the Aurora Answers team at 800-457-1111. OGR would like to thank all of its members, their customers and friends for allowing Aurora to continue to work to earn your trust and support as we work to help you grow your business! Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Dedicated to helping its customers grow their businesses and to helping families “Move from Grieving to Remembrance,” Matthews is a leading supplier of programs, products and services to funeral homes and cemeteries across the United States. Its premier programs include I’ll Remember You, a new cremation marketing program for funeral homes. Matthews is known industry-wide for its strong product quality, excellent customer service and consultative sales force. SM

Matthews supplies programs, products and services to OGR member funeral homes including caskets & alternative containers, urns, keepsakes and cremation jewelry. To request the best purchasing program and pricing available in your area, contact OGR@matw.com or call (800) 223-4964 to be directly connected with the Matthews Funeral Sales Consultant in your area and to learn more about what Matthews can offer you. Matthews is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, with distribution centers serving all 50 states. In addition to its geographically-based direct sales force, Matthews partners with exclusive distributors Artco Casket Company, Inc., and Warfield-Rohr Casket Co., Inc. 17

We’ve got afresh new look. At the funeral home or on the go, the new OGR website helps you stay connected to the profession and your colleagues. es r u

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ea F w Ne

Access exclusive members-only resources

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Register and pay for events with a few clicks of your mouse Voice your opinion in monthly funeral service polls

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ÂŽ

Newsworthy

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Bad Beer For the gluten intolerant, the world of craft beer is a foreign place. Up until now, it might as well have been on the moon. Brian Kulbacki, Brunswick Memorial Home, N.J. and his upstart, Departed Soles, is on the glide path to bringing that world a whole lot closer. His gluten free IPA placed 3rd overall in the NYC Brewers Guild home brew contest. Not that there’s a gluten free category. It’s just a damn good beer.

Training to Save A Life In addition to being a full-time funeral director and OGR board member, Skip Urban, Ashton B. Urban Funeral Home, Penn. volunteers with his local fire department. His team, the Wissahickon Fire Company Swiftwater Team, spent 3 days training to do in line-system rescues with WhiteCap Water Rescue Training, LLC. We're impressed, Skip, and glad to have you as one of us!

Comfort Dog Helps Ease Grief Gregory and George Darte, George Dart Funeral Chapel, Ontario are pictured to the right with their comfort dog Winston. Winston joined the George Darte team in 2009 as the funeral home's first Comfort Dog. He enjoys meeting new people as they come into the funeral home and spending time with kids that may be visiting. Winston is a Boston Terrier who is smart, energetic and friendly.

OGR Member Named Woman of the Year Crisma Ramirez Henriquez, from El Senorial Funeral Home, Curacao, was given the 2013 Outstanding Woman Award during the annual Celebration of Women on May 24, 2013. The award was given based on the decision of the international judges’ team that consist of experts in Brussels, Washington and Bonaire. Share your stories of community involvement, dedication to the calling or recognition in projects for the greater good. E-mail to Scott McClure at smcclure@ogr.org Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

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Continental Computers and FrontRunner Professional have teamed together to bring you the profession’s most advanced all-encompassing, single data entry system on the market. With the Total Business Solution, you can customize the system that’s right for you through the App Shop, putting you at a whole new level of control. Even if you’re happy with your current software, give us a few minutes and we’ll show you how the Total Business solution can help increase efficiency and increase profitability, leaving you more time to serve families and less time serving technology.

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

t

en Your Be t h g l Ti

Increase your profits

A

By: Christopher Kuhnen

merican funeral home owners are troubled these days, and for good reason. Funeral home profit margins have been steadily declining. The reasons are many and too involved to get into in this article. Federated Funeral Directors of America in Springfield, Illinois, which is owned by Fiducial, reported that in 2012, its clients saw average funeral profits for “regular adult funerals” stand at 6.1%. Do not get too excited because the long term profitability trend is not so good. It was not all that long ago (1992) Federated clients reported profits of 8.7% and higher. Are you aware that there are some funeral homes across the country that in 2012 achieved a 13%+ profit margin? Suffice it to say, increased profit margins are not only attained by how much you sell, but by how much you keep. Are you keeping your fair share? You can begin to turn your declining profit margin around by following these common sense suggestions. Here are just a few to get you started today: Through comprehensive, reduced-cost energy assessments and energy improvements, funeral home owners typically can save 20% or more on monthly energy bills. Proper insulation is probably the single most important step you can take to conserve energy, especially in funeral homes that are in buildings over 30 years old. Most funeral homes need a free ventilating opening equal to 1 square foot for

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

every 150 square feet of attic floor area. Adequate ventilation is necessary to keep insulation, paint, and roofing materials free from trapped moisture and heat. According to the Department of Energy, 38% of a business’s energy loss is because of underinsulated attics, as opposed to only 16% loss on the part of doors and windows. Proper insulation can provide average annual savings over $400 every winter, leading to a payback period of three to five years. Heat Recovery Ventilators: This mechanical ventilation system allows a continuous supply of fresh air to get into the funeral home and improves climate control in the whole building. HRV’s are typically tied into existing duct work, and installation costs vary, depending on the size of the HRV. Over their 15-20 year lifespan, their standard efficiency is approximately 70% recovery. Tankless Water Heaters: Why should the water that you use in your funeral home be heated all the time rather than only when you need it to be heated? That is the concept behind tankless water heaters, that is, heating water only on demand. These heaters can be installed in the same place as your traditional water heater and they are typically smaller in size, resulting in a space savings. The highest rated tankless systems are 98% efficient as compared to 67% efficient for new, traditional storage hot water heaters. Like other mechanical systems, they do tend to wear out in 10-15 years.

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Five Ways to Save On Heating:

For each degree you turn down your thermostat, you will save about $16 a year. Adjusting it consistently and efficiently with a properly set programmable thermostat can earn you $180 a year. Installing weather-stripping or caulking leaky doors and windows can earn you $55 a year. To save even more, insulate hot-water pipes, the hot water heater and duct work. Open the funeral home curtains on south-facing windows during the day to let in sunlight.

In winter, reverse a ceiling fan’s direction so it disperses hot air.

Replace an old or worn-out furnace with a new Energy Star model furnace. They can be 16% more efficient (saving you $94). Keeping the furnace filters clean can net you $27.

Slash your utility costs with the right power strip. Pick up a “smart strip” surge protector for around $25 at Wal-Mart and plug your office computers, printers and fax machine into it. It is supposed to switch off electronics when they are not in use to prevent silent energy drains during the day and at night. The savings on your monthly utility bill will more than cover the cost of the strip and put more profit back in your pocket. Slap on a fresh coat of paint. You can freshen up an old look and increase the overall value of your funeral home. In fact, in a study conducted by American Funeral Director magazine, 65% of respondents said they have not updated their funeral home décor in the past year. In the same study, nine out of ten funeral home owners stated that updating their décor was important to business. Do not throw away your old electronics. Cash them in and make some money. You probably have plenty of old electronic gizmos and gadgets tucked away in drawers and cabinets in your funeral home. It is easy to convert those cell phones, computers, iPods and mobile DVDs into quick cash. A number of big-name shopping sites, includ22

ing Amazon, Best Buy, eBay and Gazelle, will offer cash or store credit for your gear. Always compare prices at several sites before you accept an offer. The process is quick and painless, and you will not even have to pay shipping costs – even if the buyer rejects your stuff and returns it. Are you still using postage stamps or a meter machine? Be a smart saver. Neither of these options is economical. Many companies today offer paperless billing and you will save a lot more than just postage. Cell phone providers, banks and other businesses give discounts on either interest rates or fees if you pay your bills automatically online. AT&T gives you a $10 reward card if you sign up for auto pay. Car insurance discounts for auto pay abound. Allstate lowers premiums 2% if you sign up, plus 10% more if you get statements via e-mail. Your potential savings is over $365 a year, which goes right back into the profit earned category. Stop paying for long distance phone calls. Thanks to your smartphone or computer, free phone and video calls are the new normal. Granted, you have to pay for phone service or a Web connection, but long distance should not cost a cent. Sign up for free Web based calls with a service like Skype (skype.com). Calls from one Skype account to another are free (you can also video chat, if you like). Just create a username and password and add the Skype user you want to talk to. Pay less for gasoline. Gas prices can be anywhere from six cents to twenty cents more per gallon at many gas stations if you pay with plastic. Therefore, only fill’er up when you have cash on hand. Make sure and add the Gas Buddy app (Android, iOS) to find the lowest prices nearby. Christopher Kuhnen is the Founder, CEO & President of Funeral Profit Protectors, LLC, that provides profit counseling, leadership & group coaching, video production and social media services, as well as marketing & public relations programs. CHris can be reached at (859) -307-7223 or funeralprofitprotectors@gmail.com.

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

David Fry

T

he NFDA Advocacy Summit was an education for me. I have been to D.C. several times but I had never been at the Summit. It was a real eyeopening experience, one which I am looking forward to attending next year as well. We were met at Reagan (DCA) by Bill and Linda Brock and drove to the Mayflower Hotel where the Summit was being held. OGR President Mike, Bill and I were all graciously received and welcomed by the NFDA Officers and Staff. We are continuing to develop a stronger working relationship with NFDA. The first day of the Summit for us was a gathering in the Grand Ballroom. President Mike introduced the first speaker, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL). Steve had a funeral service background in Florida and was well aware of the challenges that face funeral service today. He was very passionate about preserving the value of the funeral and the relationships that we all share in Florida as well as throughout the rest of our country. I joined the delegation from Iowa mid-morning and traveled to the Congress’ Offices to meet our Representatives from Iowa. I was able to meet with Rep. Steve King, United States Congress, 4th District of Iowa. Rep. King was very kind and gracious to all of us. He had other meetings scheduled immediately following our meeting but spent an unusually long amount of time with our group. We particularly addressed the issue of the SSI Exclusion for Irrevocable Funeral and Burial Trusts.

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ÂŽ

Represents OGR at NFDA Summit

Having been through a funeral service for a family member, Rep. King understood our explanation of why we felt it would be in the best interest of the government to continue to allow the SSI exclusion so individuals could pay for their own funeral service by establishing a burial trust, thereby using their own funds and not relying on the subsidy of government funded funeral funds to cover the cost. This was a very unusual day in Washington, D. C. because of the predicted snow storm. The Federal Government declared a snow emergency and closed for the day that we were scheduled for our visits. The good news was two-fold; the snow by-passed Washington, D. C. and most of the Congressmen and their staffers made it in to work so we were able to keep our appointments. What I found to be very unusual was Arlington Cemetery was also closed and the wreath laying ceremony for the Iowa Delegation was cancelled. Mother Nature still plays a large role in all our lives, even the federal government. The last day of the conference was highlighted by the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association telling those in attendance how CFDA was involved in assisting the Honan Funeral Home and the families that lost loved ones in the horrible shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was very impressed by the numbers of funeral directors who came to assist and donate their time in Newtown. I am very proud to call myself a funeral director and I am very proud of our colleagues who gave so much to those families who lost their little angels at the hand of a madman.

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New Members

Welcome New Members Business Members: ABM Funding, Inc Martinsville, VA www.abm-funding.com Scott Baker, Vice President Phone: (800) 423-7817 scott@abm-funding.com Independently owned, ABM Funding works with funeral directors to provide immediate cash and take the burden out of filing life insurance claims. By verifying and filing life insurance claims, ABM frees up time that can be spent serving families; not to mention providing your money within 24 hours of verifying the policy. When time is money, you can count on ABM! Member benefit: 3 percent individual policies, 3.95 percent group and NPS policies Hought Wahl-Woodturner Marietta, GA www.wahl-turned-wood.com Hought Wahl, Owner (770) 329-2458 houghtsurns@gmail.com These unique turned wood urns are crafted from domestic fallen trees and finished to gallery standards. Sizes range from large companion, through standard (190 – 250 cu in), medium and smaller urns and keepsakes for children, pets, or scattering. Custom designs as well as custom painting are available. Urns are completely guaranteed -- fix, replace, or refund. Member benefit: 5 percent discount plus FREE shipping

J&D Recovery Bohemia, NY www.jd-recovery.com Jim Dorsa, President Phone: (621)256-5840 jdrecoveryinc@yahoo.com Over twenty years of collection experience servicing the funeral home industry. J&D Recovery uses a proven combination of letter and phone communications designed to pursue your debtor to pay your past due receivables. Their collection efforts are always in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. No collection, no fee. Clients are paid weekly. Member Benefit: 22 percent collection rate

Matthews International Pittsburgh, PA 15212 www.matw.com Phone: (800) 223-4964 Thomas Pontone ogr@matw.com Matthews supplies programs, products and services to OGR member funeral homes including caskets & alternative containers, urns, keepsakes and cremation jewelry. To request the best purchasing program and pricing available in your area, contact OGR@matw. com or call (800) 223-4964 to be directly connected with the Matthews Funeral Sales Consultant in your area. PinDot Media Roswell, GA www.pindotmedia.com Ruth Gravely Phone: (678) 775-7646 rgravely@pindotmedia.com Since 1992, PinDot Media has specialized in local search marketing (Print, Internet & Mobile). Ruth Gravely, who will be your first point of contact, has

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Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ÂŽ

worked directly with independent funeral homes and hundreds of other businesses in North & South Carolina, and Georgia for over 26 years. To find out more about their services, visit www.pindotmedia. com or contact Ruth at 678-775-7646 or rgravely@ pindotmedia.com. They will also be contacting each member individually with the pricing and ad options available. Member benefit: members will have the ability in their local markets to benefit by branding their local funeral homes under the OGR logo, at National Group savings that can exceed 50%.

Student Members: Angela M.Carter Saint Louis, MO Attending: St. Louis Community College acarter16@my.stlcc.edu Michelle Wade York , PA Attending: Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science wadeqa@yahoo.com

u o y n a h s! t a e x r e o t m n i t e r G fo d e n ai g r a b

A

Summer 2013 |the The Independent | www.ogr.org ttend Fall Forum for educational

sessions, networking and access to NFDA events, while experiencing the music, history, and food that make up Austin, TX. 速

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In Memoriam

IN MEMORIAM Johnnie Maurice Stewart June 29, 1932 - December 4, 2012 Johnnie went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Tuesday, December 4th, surrounded by his loving family. Johnnie was born June 29, 1932 in Tyler to John Alexander and Ada Augusta Biggs Stewart. He was a graduate of Tyler High School class of 1949 serving as co-chairman for his class reunions. He married the love of his life and his high school sweetheart, Martha L. Foshee in 1954. Johnnie attended Tyler Junior College and Landig College of Mortuary Science in Houston in 1952 starting his life long career in the funeral business. He received his license as a funeral director in 1954. Johnnie retired in 2001 after 52 years as coowner of Lloyd James Funeral Home. He helped direct and assist many families during his life long career as a funeral director including heads of state and dignitaries. However, retirement did not suit Johnnie. His compassion for people and a desire to help those in need, led him back into the funeral business. Johnnie was a Christian gentleman and a man of great integrity. No one was better suited or more talented at his profession than Johnnie. He truly loved people and considered the funeral business a ministry. “We’re in a great position to help others, if we do our jobs well.” he once said. In October 2004, Johnnie with his son Chris Stewart opened Stewart Family Funeral Home. They had a vision of being able to give up close and personal service of a family owned business. In 2006, Johnnie received his 50 year recognition as a funeral director from Texas Funeral Directors Association. In 2010, he received the East Texas Funeral Director of the Year Award. When asked 26

in an interview, “What’s been the best advice you’ve been given?” Johnnie replied, “A scripture: Matthew 6:33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.’” Johnnie was a member of Green Acres Baptist Church, the Rotary Club of Tyler, and Hollytree Country Club. He served as past president of the Tyler Parks Board as well as a distinguished past president of the Optimist Club of Tyler. The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation to the entire staff of Meadow Lake Rehabilitation Center. Memorials in honor of Johnnie M. Stewart may be made to Green Acres Baptist Church, 1607 Troup Hwy, Tyler, 75701 or Marvin United Methodist Church, 300 West Erwin St., Tyler, 75702.

Edmond F. Fahey, III Edmond F. Fahey, III of Bay St. Louis, MS passed away Monday, March 4, 2013 in Bay St. Louis after a brief illness. Edmond was a lifelong resident of Bay St. Louis, a devoted Catholic and a graduate of St. Stanislaus and Tulane University. After school, he worked at D.H. Holmes Travel Agency in New Orleans, LA. After moving back to the coast, he became a partner in Travel Affiliates Travel Agency. Travel was one of his passions and he was a world traveler. He then fulfilled his life long dream of continuing the Edmond Fahey Funeral Home that had served the Mississippi Gulf Coast by the Fahey Family for 3 generations. He was a member of Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, OGR, NSM, NFDA, Bay-Waveland Yacht Club, Great Southern Club, Waveland Civic Association, Lions Club and St. Stanislaus Alumni. In honor of Edmonds love for children, the family request donations to St. Jude's Children Research, 332 North Lauderdale, Memphis, TN 38105 in his name. Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

It has been my honor. by Michael Lewis

PRE-NEED

of Care

Guide TO FuneRal PlanninG inCludinG CReMaTiOn

§ §

PeRSOnal PROFile WHY CHOOSe a GOlden Rule FuneRal HOMe

AT-NEED

§

SuRViVOR’S Guide

AFTERCARE

§

FRiendSHiP ReCORd

§

CleRGY ReCORd

§

hank you OGR for letting me serve as your president this past year. It seems it was only weeks ago I became your president at our conference in Arlington, Virginia. What a privilege it has been to serve along with David Fry, Bud Wieting, Bill Brock, Ed Pearce, Skip Urban, Roger Beyers and Jeffrey Wages. It was the hard work of this board and the leadership that preceded it that allowed me to enjoy the fruits of their labor this year. The return of Mark Allen to our association as our Executive Director also helped make this a great year for me. Mark’s management style has allowed our staff to blossom and become even more effective for this association. I hope you have had a great experience if you have had to interact with our staff at our office in Austin.

§

T

Your families deserve the best of care. The Golden Rule®

Exclusive

WRiTinG YOuR SYMPaTHY aCknOWledGeMenTS

The OGR Golden Rule® of Care series is a completely revised and updated set of booklets and pamphlets written in clear, straightforward language with sensitivity and compassion to answer most questions and concerns families will have when confronting the death of a loved one. The series, organized into three sets - Pre-need, At-need and Aftercare - features individual booklets and pamphlets with each focused on a specific aspect of death care. The booklets are uniquely branded for maximum appeal, they include the Golden Rule logo, and they will make an attractive addition to any lobby, reception area, conference room, and on and on. Booklets and pamphlets can be imprinted to include your funeral home’s logo and contact information which also affords the perfect take-away pieces to help meet your marketing needs throughout the community.

Let me encourage all of you that read this; come to a function that this association puts on or is a part of. To those that have been comFor pricing and a list of available materials, visit www.ogr.org/GoldenRuleofCare.php. Visit each month for ing, keep coming. Those who haven’t been in a an updated list of available materials. To request a sample or place an order, while, come on back. Those who never come, contact OGR Service Consultant, Maureen Hayes at (800) 637-8030 YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING! You will never find a greater group of people who share in what you do. Again, thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve OGR. Immediate Past President Michael S. Lewis

Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

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Exemplary Service

Above THE GOLDEN RULE & Beyond

These members have been cited for providing exemplary service, going beyond expected service levels, and are now eligible for the Gold, Silver or Bronze Exemplary Service Awards. Winners will be honored at the 2014 Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase. Comments submitted by families responding to Family Contact Surveys.

Miller-Ward Funeral Home | Seymour, CT Mr. Carl Miller is a caring and compassionate man. He guided us gently from the first phone call, the basket of fruit, to the letter of thank you and appreciation. When time came to select a casket, he took us to the showroom and told us to take our time. He then left the room to give us privacy. His assistant, Gina, was always there to care for us. When she saw I needed comfort, she took and held my hand. The fine quality of his staff from Gina to the courteous parking attendant, to the doorman was demonstrated by how kind they were to my family and friends. Roses were placed in all the rooms. A framed notice of my brother’s service was displayed. Enclosed in the vigil candle next to his casket were a picture, date of birth and death, and a statement of a celebration of life. Mereness-Putnam Funeral Home, Inc. | Cobleskill, NY Calling hours were held at the funeral home. The service was held at church. Richard, Janet, Matthew and the entire staff made sure all went smoothly before, during and after the service. Keep up the good work! All of them have kept in touch with us to offer assistance if needed and just to chat. It means a lot. They are not only great funeral directors; they are great friends to all. Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home | Decatur, IN Superb! Mark John lived up to the expectations established by the other funeral directors (from this funeral home) with whom I have worked with in the past. The entire staff makes you feel as if you are entrusting your loved one to another member of your family. It was what we had envisioned for my father-in-law, a veteran, but we had no clue where to 28

even begin on our own. Mark earned our confidence and respect by ensuring that every detail was attended to. They set the standard for the funeral home industry! They have earned the confidence, respect and appreciation of our entire family. Stewart Family Funeral Home | Tyler, TX Mr. Tim Zumwalt was the funeral director who attended to us, and we feel fortunate to have met him. From the very moment we stepped into the Stewart establishment, we were gently guided and compassionately assisted through many decisions that need to be made. He was kind, professional, attentive and compassionate. He took a personal interest in our case and was available for questions and guidance whenever we needed. The damage done to the body of our Jason was considerable and attending to him cosmetically took skill. They restored our Jason so naturally and were sensitive to our requests. My precious son-in-law was presented as if he was respected and cared for. Freitag Funeral Home | Bridgeton, NJ When my mother passed away on January 20, 2013, we were initially contacted by Funeral Director, Chris LaBree, who met with us and reviewed Mom’s pre-arrangements in a most compassionate and accommodating manner. During our interview, Ken Freitag (owner/manager), who had been away, came directly from the airport to offer his condolences and support to our family. The services rendered by Freitag Funeral Home were first class: in particular, their preparation of Mom’s appearance, their attention to detail concerning the prayer cards, the video tribute, transportation, the personal attention that was given to our family, etc. The entire staff was commendable. Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

Exemplary Service Cooper Funeral Home | Tecumseh, OK We were stressed out, heartbroken, our nerves were on edge, we were worried to death about dad, and wondering what we were supposed to do next. The whole situation overwhelmed us. Cooper’s did their best to give us as much time as they could for us to make decisions, but we knew there were time constraints. They gave us instructions about what they needed from us, and we told them what we wanted. We had a certain way we wanted our mom to look (holding her bible and such) and things we wanted buried with her. We couldn’t have a military funeral, and we were very upset. Cooper’s told us not to fret and they would take care of things. Cooper’s set out all the things we had brought, and mom’s life was there for everyone to see. My sister and I stumbled through the funeral because my dad had passed away early that same morning. After a short service, my family hummed “Taps” for my mom. It was beautiful. For our father’s funeral, Cooper’s made sure the VFW and dad’s casket was draped with the flag. We would have a military funeral for dad following the service. As the time approached to walk in, I couldn’t move. Jay came and escorted me in, and I appreciated it. There was a 6 gun salute for dad. The serviceman folded, creased and presented the flag to me. Then unexpectedly they had mom’s flag and creased it and presented it to my sister. We cried tears of joy. No one else we have spoken with that used other funeral homes had been given this kind of service. Cooper’s had a Christmas remembrance service that honored all loved ones who passed during the year. Everyone received a memorial ornament for their loved ones. It was a very touching ceremony, and my sister and I appreciated it. Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home, Inc.| Alliance, OH Mr. Christian made this difficult time for us the easiest he could. He was absolutely wonderful. My family and I are still talking about how impressed we are with him. Every staff member was great too. They were all so kind and went out of their way to make everything go smoothly and were so helpful. The ceremony was very nice. Mr. Christian helped us make it personal which meant so much to all of us. I am glad we chose this funeral home. The service received Summer 2013 | The Independent | www.ogr.org ®

many compliments. Also, it was so nice to say goodbye to my dad with him looking better than he had in a long time. Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory | Barrington, IL Peggy was absolutely wonderful! She handled everything so well for us. We could not have received better, more caring service. We are very grateful for her involvement. Peggy arranged a private viewing for my sons and I the evening before the funeral. That meant so much to us all. The gentleman who was there to meet us was very sensitive to our situation. Slack Funeral Home, PA | Ellicott City, MD When my dad passed away, it was in the evening, and John had people there within an hour to get my father. I was so relieved because I didn’t want my father to wait in the morgue till the morning. The people that came were so kind and promised they’d take care of my dad. At the memorial service, John personally brought our dad’s ashes, flag, and other items to the church for us making sure they were placed perfectly as a token of friendship to our dad. John Slack is so professional, kind, sympathetic, and helpful all rolled into one-great guy, who made a tough day much easier. Lewis Funeral Home, Inc. | Milton, FL Sam Lewis was extremely kind and helpful. The whole Lewis family is well known in the community as a good, ethical, Christian business. Everything we wanted was included. Our oldest daughter presented the Eulogy. Some of our great-grandchildren (we have ten) had colored pictures and sent cards toward the end of Bill’s life. He had put them on the bedroom wall with thumbtacks so he could see them every day. They were displayed on the easel. At the end of the service, they were allowed to place them in the casket as they said their good-byes. Sam Lewis and the staff at the Barrancas National Cemetery did a wonderful job of honoring Bill for his 24 years of service to our country.

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Milestone Anniversaries

MEMBERSHIP makes a difference Fewer than 5 percent of funeral homes in North America have earned the right to hang an OGR plaque in their funeral homes. That plaque stands for something: It means you’re an OGR funeral home of prestige; you’re an OGR funeral home that operates with integrity; you’re an OGR funeral home that extends the golden rule of service to your community. Most importantly, it means you’re in the OGR family.

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55 Years | May 1958 Henry Funeral Home, Inc. Staunton, Virginia

45 Years | July 2013 Strode Funeral Home Stillwater, Oklahoma

25 Years | July 1988 H. Merritt Hughes Funeral Home, Inc. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

55 Years | June 1958 Kroeger Funeral Home, Inc. Logansport, Indiana

40 Years | May 1973 Flowers Funeral Home Henderson, North Carolina

25 Years | July 1988 Harrod Brothers Funeral Home, Inc. Frankfort, Kentucky

55 Years | June 1958 Vaughan-Guynn Funeral Home Galax, Virginia

40 Years | July 1973 Rogers Funeral Home, Inc. Cambridge, Massachusetts

15 Years | May 1998 Jimerson-Lipsey Funeral Home Carthage, Texas

55 Years | July 1958 Almon Funeral Home Carrollton, Georgia

30 Years | May 1983 Stygar Family of Funeral Service Florissant, Missouri

15 Years | May 1998 Koehn Bros. Funeral Home Armour, South Dakota

55 Years | July 1958 Flowers-Leedy Funeral Home Peru, Indiana

30 Years | May 1983 Price Funeral Home Kenton, Ohio

15 Years | June 1998 Gasch's Funeral Home, PA Hyattsville, Maryland

50 Years | May 1963 Morrison Funeral Home, Inc. Oil City, Pennsylvania

30 Years | June 1983 Smith & Sons Funeral Homes, Inc. Columbia City, Indiana

15 Years | July 1998 Arnett & Steele Funeral Home, Inc. Pineville, Kentucky

50 Years | June 1963 Porters Funeral Service, Inc. Kensington, Connecticut

30 Years | June 1983 E. E. Pickle Funeral Home, Inc. Amory, Mississippi

10 Years | May 2003 Pearce Funeral Services, Inc. Marshall, Illinois

50 Years | June 1963 Hill and Wood Funeral Service Charlottesville, Virginia

30 Years | July 1983 Warren Meadows Funeral Home Many, Louisiana

10 Years | May 2003 Stockham Family Funeral Home McPherson, Kansas

50 Years | July 1963 Congdon & Company Zion, Illinois

25 Years | May 1988 Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home Westerly, Rhode Island

45 Years | July 1968 M.A. Connell Funeral Home, Inc. Huntington Station, New York

25 Years | June 1988 William McCulla Funeral Home Morgantown, West Virginia

5 Years | June 2008 John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals, Inc. Staten Island, New York

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