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Life is filled with opportunity. At every turn of events, in every circumstance and in every time of need, life is filled with opportunity. But for Marisol Treviso, the opportunity to serve her community doesn’t end when life does. In fact, for her, it just begins. Unlike most in the funeral home business, Marisol came into the industry as an outsider. She’d gone to college, earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and spent 10 years pursuing a path toward a role as a city manager in the Dallas area. “I was very fortunate in that the positions I held were positions that I really liked, that I enjoyed; positions in that I grew and learned a great deal and was very successful,” Marisol said. However, in 2004, Marisol’s life and career path took a turn. She’d recently been introduced to the funeral home business through a personal connection who invited her to help out with some services on weekends. It quickly became clear to Marisol that she had a heart for taking care of the families she was able to work with. She was encouraged to enroll in mortuary school, which she did, but it meant leaving her career in public administration behind and diving head first into largely unfamiliar waters. Near the end of the six-month program, Marisol found herself expecting her first child, without a steady income, and with a recently severed relationship. Though she’d graduated from mortuary school and had the right credentials to begin a new career, being with child, she was unable to find a job right away. After taking a hard look at her circumstances and examining the options, Marisol realized that though things had changed, she could see herself continuing on the path, so that’s what she did. While out of work and awaiting the arrival of her baby girl, Pilar, Marisol developed a plan. “I started researching the demographics in DFW, how many funeral

homes there were, where they were located, and I actually wrote a business plan,” Marisol said. Research, coupled with the limited exposure she’d had previously, led Marisol to discover a distinct void in her community, particularly in the funeral home industry. A lifelong Garland resident, Marisol knew Garland had a high concentration of Hispanics, and yet, there was no funeral home in the area that specifically catered to this demographic group. Living in Garland and having the right tools to address the need, Marisol felt confident that this community would be the perfect place for her to pursue her business venture. Her goal became to create a place within the Garland community that her neighbors could enter into and find compassion, relief and understanding, from someone who knew their circumstance and was eager to guide them through this difficult stage of life. “Making funeral arrangements, it’s obviously not something you do every day,” Marisol said. “You go to the grocery store over and over and over, right? But most people may only have the opportunity to plan a funeral maybe once or twice in their lifetime. And so, it’s a very important moment in someone’s life.” Marisol went on to explain that in a community with such a great population of Hispanic families, there are many who either prefer to speak Spanish or exclusively speak Spanish, meaning that a general-market funeral home may not be able to adequately communicate with these clients, much less make them feel comfortable in their time of need. “Think about being in that position where you’re going through one of the most difficult moments of your life where you’re losing somebody,” Marisol said. “I believe that that person is going to feel more comfortable speaking in their native language, feeling like they’re dealing with somebody that understands


them from a cultural background and a traditional background.” This vision of offering unique, personalized service to a specific niche market of the community is what kept Marisol going through the trials and struggles of entrepreneurship, which included tackling tasks like finding a location that worked for what she wanted to offer. Marisol searched for a building for months, finding great buildings in the wrong zoning districts or perfect locations without enough parking spaces. Eventually, with a little guidance from her bank’s loan officer, she crunched the numbers on what it would take to do new construction. “To me, I was already taking on this huge project, I didn’t think I could build a brand new building,” Marisol said. “I ended up finding a vacant lot, getting bids, finding a contractor and this little project that I was pursuing turned into a huge undertaking.” When the dust settled, in 2008, all her hard work paid off as she opened the doors of Pilar Funeral Home for the very first time. “Someone told me when I first opened, ‘It’s going to be hard,’” Marisol said. “If you can imagine, I started from zero. I had to sit here and wait for that first family to walk through my doors; thinking and wondering wow, is this going to work? It was sort of like a leap of faith.” Marisol credits the encouragement of her family and friends, along with some excellent recommendations from some of her early clients, for kick-starting her business in the first months. She also recalled some of the best advice she’d received at the launch of her business from a close adviser, “If you do a good

The Garland Guide 2016  
The Garland Guide 2016  

The Garland Guide is one of the Chamber’s most highly-requested publications. Full of feature articles highlighting local success stories an...