Page 1

THE

CONC

QUALITY

0

. VI MI! I I III I II MN II I 11•1 II II I= 'el 114 II En IV II !MOE •L" OM

11).

WI II_

SERVICE OrlS SV_#

BULLETIN Vol. 13

Li

No. 6

December 1998

To Stay Competitive, Know Your Costs BY BOB DONATELLI

NCBVA Director, District 3 "How do you charge for vault delivery," asked the prospective new customer. "If you buy from us, your delivery is absolutely free," replied the vault company owner proudly. Have you ever been asked such a question? How would you answer it? Whether you separately itemize delivery charges on your invoices, or include the charge in the price of the vault is up to you. The point is that delivery is certainly not free, and it be-

hooves all of us to know just how much delivery, and the other services we provide, do cost. The Federal Trade Commission forced funeral homes to begin itemizing their charges several years ago. Although many complained about the requirement, the FTC actually did many owners a huge favor by making them analyze their costs, possibly for the first time ever. While that requirement has not yet been legislated upon our industry (and there is no current indication that it will be), it makes good business sense for us to analyze our operations and find out just what activities drive our costs. Our industry is changing before our very eyes. The big changes aren't in the way vaults are made, they are in the way vaults are merchandised. Cemeteries are heavily

challenging the traditional role of the funeral director as the primary merchandiser of vaults to the consumer. Add the increase in cremation and entombments to the mix, and you can easily see that this change in the market will steadily erode our traditional business base. If you're inclined to adapt to these changes, then you will need to know your costs. You can only know your costs if you have a cost accounting system, and it doesn't have to be elaborate or complicated. Analyze your operation. If your's is a traditional vault business that manufactures vaults in your plant and services them in the cemetery, you really have two distinct operations, even though you may be using many of the same employees to perform both. Your accountant see ACCOUNTING, page 7

were presented to Southern Vault Services, Inc. and Doric Concrete Vaults, Inc., Lydian Sales Awards were presented to Simerly Vaults and Hairfield Vault Co. The Athenian Sales Awards went to Willman Precast and Doric Concrete Vaults. Doric Vault of

Southern Illinois and Doric Concrete Vaults, Inc. received Phoenix Sales Awards. Patrician Sales Awards went to Doody Burial Vaults, Inc. and Doric Concrete Vaults, Inc. Dardanelle Vault and Monument received the Most Improved Sales Award.

Doric Elects Board, Presents Awards At Annual Meeting At its 43rd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Doric Board of Directors and Shareholders elected the following to serve on the Doric Board: (Standing, from left) Warren Chandler, Master Grave Service; Mike Crummitt, Crummitt and Son Vault Corp; Charlie Foskey, Wilcomico Vault Co; Ace Brewster, Brewster, Inc.; Steve Vincent, Vincent and Sons. (Seated, from left) Jim Wiens, Doric Concrete Vaults; Adair Payment, Atlas Concrete Products, Inc.; Hugh McQuestion, Lake Shore Burial Vault Co., and Gerald Hardy, Hardy Doric, Inc. At the Awards Banquet following the meeting, Sales Awards were presented to Doric dealers: Sales Leader Award to Doric Concrete Vaults, Inc.; Bronze Sales Awards


2

NCBVA BULLETIN

December 1998

IEE MAY BE THE WORD'S LEADING MANUFACTURER OF CREMATION E !RENT.. BUT WE'LL NEVER BE FIRST

Ken Robinson Paul Rabin.

The Reason We'll Never Be First Is Because, We Pride Ourselves In Putting Our Clients First By focusing on our clients needs, we've built an organization based on customer satisfaction. From an extensive array of services to manufacturing the most durable, cost-efficient equipment on the market, we put our clients first.

Investment Analysis This free analysis will indicate if a Crematory is a profitable venture for you. We consider your individual circumstances and evaluate vital information on costs, depreciation, tax savings and estimated profits. We also offer a space and placement evaluation for the possible installation of a cremator within your new or existing facility.

Client First Dedication With all the technologically advanced products we offer, we wouldn't consider a sale successful without total service to our clients. That's why we believe our responsibilities begin by supplying potential clients complete information prior to their making a decision, and continue far beyond the sale of our cremation equipment.

Environmental Permits And Zoning Made Easy We guarantee that our equipment will comply with your State environmental regulations. We'll even assist with local zoning approvals and complete the paperwork for you. If your existing C remators aren't in compliance, we can help there too. We'll design and propose upgrades to modernize them to meet compliance standards.

Polar-Pak

3 Body Cooler

technician to inspect each unit and train your personnel how to operate and care for it, You'll receive a complete owner's manual, and we'll assign you a customer service representative who will remain your personal link to IEE: We also offer a toll-free service hotline, should you need assistance with problems on our cremation equipment or any other make or model. Quality equipment, unsurpassed service before and after the sale, and our "client first" policy— IEE keeps working for you.

Complete Follow Through Ener-Mk Leith Auto-Loader

After your crematory is installed, we'll send a

INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT & ENGINEERING CO.


December 1998

NCBVA BULLETIN

National Concrete Burial Vault Association, Inc.

900 Fox Valley Drive, Suite 204 Longwood, Florida 32779-2552 http://www.ncbva.org (800) 538-1423 Fax: (407) 774-6751

3

Share Knowledge With Employees And Company Will Reap Benefits BY HOLLY BRIDGERS

President

Hugh McQuestion Lakeshore Burial Vault Co., Inc. Brookfield, WI President-Elect and District 5 Director

Warren Chandler Master Grave Services, Inc. Bogart, GA Secretary/Treasurer

Timothy Brutsche Brutsche Concrete Products Battle Creek, MI Immediate Past President

Jim Wiens Doric Concrete Vaults, Inc. Newton, KS Directors, District 1

Paul E. Cooper Cooper Wilbert Vault Co., Inc. Barrington, NJ Robert Hardy Hardy Doric, Inc. Chelmsford, MA Directors, District 2

Warren Chandler Master Grave Services, Inc. Bogart, GA Dan Hicks Carlton Wilbert Vault, Inc. Miami, FL Directors, District 3

Bob DonateIli Baumgardner Products Co. Akron, OH Holly Baxter Bridgers Baxter Burial Vault Service Cincinnati, OH Directors, District 4

Timothy Brutsche Brutsche Concrete Products Battle Creek, MI Jack Swiliart Saginaw Wilbert Vault Corp Siginaw, MI Director, District 5

Richard Cooper Central Burial Vaults, Inc. Tulsa, OK J. C. Clifton Quality Burial Vault Co. Houston, TX

Director, District 3 I know I'm as guilty of this as anyone ...I travel to many conventions; skim all the trade journals; speak with funeral directors, cemeterians, casket salespeople and fellow vault manufacturers, etc; and stay as up-to-date on the funeral industry as possible, yet forget to share the knowledge with my fellow employees. I need to remember that it's our drivers who speak to our funeral director and cemetery customers (and sometimes even the family members) on a daily basis. It's our production employees who talk with their friends and family at their clubs, churches or other social events about what they do and what they know about the products they make. It's our bookkeepers and secretaries who talk on the phone every day to our customers and the public. To excel in service and to really work as a team, we must let our employees see the big picture of what's going on in the funeral service industry and how it affects our company. Here are a few suggestions of ways to "share the knowledge" with your employees: Send a copy of any newsletters that you send to your customers to your employees' homes, so the whole family can read it too. Mention any interesting or relevant trade articles you read to your managers and office personnel. Inform your employees of continuing education programs or plant tours hosted by your company, so they can "talk it up" with the customer. You could even give your employees the educational program prior to giving it to your customers. It will inform your employees and give you practice. Hold quarterly manager, driver and/or production employee meetings to discuss the company's latest projects from a manufacturing and/or sales & marketing perspective. These meetings could be just 10 minutes on the loading dock before the day starts or ends. Inform your employees of any promotions and give them one of the "give-away" items too. For example, our company gave away coolers with our logo on them for quality vault sales in the month of July. Each of our employees received a cooler, so guess what they talked about in the cemetery to our customers — our promotion! Always follow up with your managers on the content of any conventions you attend. Put trade publications on bulletin boards and in locker rooms or break areas. Always have an open door (and ear) policy for any news your employees have from the cemeteries or other sources. Keeping your employees "in the know" will motivate them with fresh ideas ultimately benefiting your business!

Executive Director

Thomas A. Monahan, CAE Certified Association Management Company Longwood, FL Legal Counsel J. Scott Calkins

Calkins & Campbell Harrisburg, PA

Holly Bridgers is Vice President of Baxter Burial Vault Service in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a Director, District 3, of NCBVA and is also the Coordinator for "The Bulletin."


4

NCBVA BULLETIN

Chandler Will Head Council of Industry Leaders

December 1998

The Funeral and Memorialization Council (FAMIC), a coalition of organizations representing nearly every segment in death care, will have its first president from the vault industry starting in 1999. Warren Chandler, president of Master Grave Service, Inc., Bogart, Georgia was unanimously elected FAMIC president-elect at its meeting held last month in Chicago. Chandler, who also serves as president of Doric, Inc., will hold the FAMIC position during his tenure as president of the National Concrete Burial Vault Association in 1999-2000. FAMIC is a membership organization comprising organizations in nearly all areas of the death care industry. FAMIC's mission is: 1.) To be a catalyst in developing and sustaining cooperative relationships throughout the funeral and memorial service associations; 2.) to encourage the interchange of ritualization and memorialization ideas, resources and information, using the highest ethical and legal standards with the public interest our primary consideration; and 3.) to pursue, when feasible cooperative efforts to provide educational programming to members of FAMIC-related industries. In addition to NCBVA other members of FAMIC include the National Funeral Directors Association; American Monument Association, Cremation Association of North America, International Cemetery and Funeral Association, International Order of the Golden Rule, International Monument Supply Association, National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Monument Builders of North America, and National Selected Morticians Association.

EDGMONT for

Excellence in Metallics Copper, Gold, Silver Powders Bronzing Vehicles Matching Spray Cans-Six Colors

•Water Base Coatings • Quality Glitters

1-888-EDGMONT EDGMONT METALLIC PIGMENT COMPANY, INC. Plant 203 Garfield Avenue West Chester, PA 19380

Post Office Box 405 Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

rs.-

imiwi

plirVk

f%

,

AI

• •All411/

glappy Ho fidays et lok

1 of lit


December 1998

NCBVA BULLETIN

It's Back to Basics On Proper Mixes

NCBVA PROUDLY RECOGNIZES THE FOLLOWING COMPANIES WHICH HAVE A CURRENT

BY EARL BRUTSCHE

STANDING IN THE PLANT CERTIFICATION

Still too much water and not enough reinforcement, that's what

I find in my travels. What is the problem? It can't be that people haven't been told, because many others, not just me, have preached the message for months and yes, even years. I have heard every excuse in the books but no one ever said more water made concrete better. It is the same with reinforcement. Has anybody ever said concrete is better without reinforcement. The answer is no. What can we do about the problems some of our members seem to be experiencing in these areas? Let's go back to the basics. NCBVA has continued to emphasize the need for 700 pounds or more of cement to the yard to produce high quality concrete. We also want our members to watch the amount of water and use common sense. You can't pour or cast vaults with one or two inch slump very easy. But let's not get carried away with ten-inch slump either. Five to six inch is very workable and the water-to-cement ratio would be in the mid forties. Water-to-cement ratio simply is the weight of the water divided by the weight of the cement. It is a given fact that smaller aggregates, three-eighth inch for example, require more cement than larger aggregates of three-fourth inch. Aggregates of larger than one inch are not used in the burial vaults. The best size has been proven to be three-fourth inch. Now to reinforcements: Mesh was used for years and still is, but we also have fibers and rebars and some manufacturers use all three in their covers. Is this overkill? Maybe, but those places that reinforce that way have no problems. What is suggested for the covers is two one-fourth-inch or three-eighth-inch rebars set in chairs near the seal strip long ways, plus a 30-inch-by-60-inch piece of six by six 10-gage wire mesh. The box can be reinforced with either fibers or 16-gage mesh. We are not done yet; proper curing has to take place for concrete to harden properly. Curing should begin as soon as possible after finishing. Concrete should be protected from rapid drying, from extreme changes in temperature if continued hydration and strength gain is to occur. This is a very brief overview. I suggest you read the reference book titled, "Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures."

PROGRAM

c-W American Concrete Industries Bangor, ME American Wilbert Vault Corp. Forest Park, IL Arnold Wilbert Corp. Goldsboro, NC Automatic Wilbert Vault Tacoma, WA Babylon Vault Co., Inc. New Windsor, MD Baumgardner Products Co. Akron, OH Baxter Burial Vault Cincinnati, OH Binghamton Burial Vault Binghamton, NY Brown — Wilbert, Inc. Fargo, ND Brown Wilbert Vault, Inc. St. Paul, MN Brutsche Concrete Products Battle Creek, MI Chandler Wilbert Vault, Inc. LaCrosse, WI Childs Eagle Vault Co. Anderson, SC Clinton Wilbert Vaults, Inc. Clinton, IA Cooper Wilbert Vault Co. Barrington, NJ Crummitt & Son Vault Corp. Martins Ferry, OH Doody Burial Vaults, Inc. Winchendon, MA Doric Concrete Vaults, Inc. Newton, KS Eagle Burial Vaults Peny, GA Esterly Burial Vault Co. West Reading, PA Florida Wilbert, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Fond Du Lac Wilbert Vault Fond Du Lac, WI Forsyth Bros. Concrete Prod. Terre Haute, IN Hardy Doric, Inc. Chelmsford, MA Heilman — Wirtz, Inc. Cedar Hill, TX

For information on NCB VA's exclusive Plant Inspection and Certification Program, please contact NCB VA Headquarters:

1-800-538-1423

5

Jefferson Concrete Corp. Watertown, NY Lakeshore Burial Vault Co. Brookfield, WI Master Grave Service Athens, GA Milan Burial Vault, Inc. Milan, MI Milwaukee Wilbert Vault Co. Milwaukee, WI Omaha Wilbert Vault, Inc. Omaha, NE Ostwalt Vault Co. Concord, NC Peoria Vault Co. Peoria, IL Pioneer Vault, Inc. Doylestown, PA Quality Burial Vault Co. Houston, TX Rex Vault & Mausoleum Svc. Newton, IL Riefler Concrete Products Hamburg, NY Ringtown Wilbert Vault Works Ringtown, PA Roland — Wilbert Vault Co. Marion, IA Saginaw Wilbert Vault Corp. Saginaw, MI Scranton Wilbert Vault Jessup, PA Sterling Unlimited Inc. Woodsboro, MD Suhor Industries, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Superior Burial Vaults, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT Swan's Concrete Products Westbrook, ME Wayne Burial Vault Co., Inc. Indianapolis, IN Wieser Precast/Doric Vault Co. La Crescent, MN Wilbert Burial Vault Co. Atlanta, GA Winchester Building Supply Winchester, VA Zeiser Wilbert Vault Elmira, NY

C\,s,


6

NCBVA BULLETIN

December 1998

Danger Ahead: Retread Tires Are Hazardous

Top Ten Ways to Improve The Safety of your Trucks From the home office in Longwood, Florida, NCBVA brings you the top 10 ways you can increase the safety of your trucks to their drivers and others on the road. In no particular order, the top ten... 10. Antilock Brakes—Antilock brakes have been proven to be very effective in preventing wheel lock up and loss of control, particularly on wet roads as well as giving the driver added control of a vehicle in a skid. Antilock brakes may help prevent a vehicle from going off the road, a key factor in rollover crashes. 9. Cab Safety—There currently are no safety standards for trucks, as there are for passenger vehicles, including occupant protection standards requiring the threepoint belts and airbags. These features increase the crashworthiness of trucks and help protect the driver. 8. Commercial Drivers License—Until the implementation of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, commercial truck drivers were able to obtain multiple drivers licenses from different states to avoid license suspension or other penalties as a result of numerous violations. The act limits commercial drivers to no more than one license (from their home state, increases uniformity among licensing agencies, and created a national network allowing states to check on a driver's history. Companies with truck fleets should support the Commercial Drivers License program and oppose efforts to allow exemptions from the program other than those allowed under the original legislation. 7. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations—Recent rule-making proposals from the Federal Highway Administration will weaken the stringency of motor carrier safety requirements for hours of service and driver qualifications. Some proposals also weaken federal oversight of trucks and drivers by eliminating certain reporting requirements. Any weakening of federal rules creates an opportunity for disaster with lesser trained drivers and weaker safety measures for trucks. see TOP TEN, page 7

If you are a vault manufacturer or supplier with commercial delivery trucks, beware. Your trucks may be dangerous to your drivers and everyone else on the road. Specifically, it's the tires that may be putting lives at stake. In a recent Detroit News report, Gerald Donaldson, senior research analyst for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said that trucks with retread tires are more likely to explode, even during normal driving conditions, than are new tires. Exploded tires also leave rubber shrapnel all over the road that is a hazard to other vehicles traveling along the same route. Flying debris causes an immediate danger to drivers behind the vehicle and tire carcasses, in addition to littering roads, can severely damage the underbody of a vehicle. Retreads save companies the expense of purchasing new tires by capping old ones. The problem is there is no way to verify the quality of a retread job. Although there are many plusses of using retread tires such as savings of $150 or more per tire and environmental friendliness in preserving landfill space and conserving oil, safety groups argue a danger exists. President Clinton mandated use of retread tires for the federal government's vehicle fleet in 1993. Donaldson said traffic safety groups have not formally petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to regulate truck retreads because no empirical data has been collected. He said the group has collected anecdotal evidence, but no data has been collected. "Why wait for someone to die first before making a decision we know will save lives?" said Jennifer Mooney Tierney, board member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, in the Detroit News story.


December 1998

NCBVA BULLETIN

TOP TEN. continued from page 6 6. Hazardous Materials Transportation— the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report that more than 500,000 tons of hazardous materials are shipped daily across roads in the United States. 5. Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program—Since the inception of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program in 1982, the number of trucks inspected for conformance with federal motor carrier safety regulations has increased 10-fold. However, the percentage of carriers and drivers receiving out-of-service citations has not decreased. Nearly one third of inspections result in citations for vehicle equipment or hours-of-service violations. Carriers should comply with all federal safety programs that apply to equipment maintenance. 4. Radar Detectors—Radar detectors encourage drivers to drive faster than posted speeds by giving them a sense of security against law enforcement. Fast-moving trucks are not only more difficult to control, but increase the damage to both person and property if an accident should occur.

7 ACCOUNTING. continued from page 1 can help you set up two separate overhead cost pools to identify the activities that go along with each operation. What you'll find out may amaze you. For one thing, you'll find out just how much you have to recover for every hour of direct labor. Not just the hourly rate plus fringes, but all of the costs that are included—things like utilities, depreciation on buildings and manufacturing equipment, and maintenance. You'll also find out what it really costs for every mile that you operate your trucks. (Just wait until you find out the cost per mile

3. Truck Conspicuity and Lighting Display—Regulations governing truck lighting

requirements have not changed since the 1940s. Many drivers, especially the elderly with lower contrast sensitivity and poorer night vision, do not detect trucks in enough time to avoid crashes. Improvements to lighting will increase truck visibility and prevent crashes by increasing recognition of trucks by motorists. 2. Truck Size and Weight Limits—Increased reliance on the trucking industry to move

industrial and consumer goods led to Congressional approval for larger, longer and heavier vehicles on the nation's highways. At the same time, the average weight and size of passenger vehicles has declined, creating a dangerous mix. Overweight trucks also inflict enormous damage to roads and bridges. 1. Truck Underride/Override Protection—In 1989, approximately 700 passenger car and light truck fatalities were due to side and rear impacts with large trucks. Small vehicles have a much greater frequency of serious physical injuries in collisions with large vehicles. The front ends of passenger vehicles often slide underneath the cargo units of large trucks. Passenger vehicles also are subject to front and rear underride by large trucks. To prevent this, trucks should be equipped with energyabsorbing rear underride guards that are adequate for preventing passenger vehicles from underriding large trucks. Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

• Ntie° a. *0 -46

Please Note the Change o Address for the Headquarters of the National Concrete Burial Vault Association 900 Fox Valley Drive, Suite 204 Longwood, FL 32779-2552 Phone and fax numbers have not changed.

of routine oil changes, especially if you use larger trucks.) And you may find out that the cost of direct materials is rivaled, and maybe even eclipsed, by the total cost of insurance. This information is invaluable to those firms that distribute items like metal vaults. Is the markup that the manufacturer "allows" you really covering your total costs? When you know what your costs are, and what drives them, you are in a much better position to establish your prices, for both traditional and emerging markets. And when customers challenge your prices, you'll have the information you need to justify them. Delivery isn't free—it never was. Neither is any other service you provide, like set and seal. How do you structure your prices is a business decision that must take into consideration many factors, not the least being what your competitor does. The point is that in order to remain competitive; you need to know your costs. The price list that you publish needs to be backed up by a detailed worksheet—one that shows the true cost of "free delivery." Bob Donatelli is president of Baumgardner Products Co. in Akron, Ohio. He is a District 3 Director of NCB VA.


NCBVA BULLETIN

Crescent Bronze Powder Co., Inc. QUALITY • SERVICE SELECTION • SINCE 1922

December 1998

CENTER-RITE VAULT MESH 2 X 212 x 16 ga. GALV. 28" X 300' ROLL

Featuring

VAULT MASTER New Improved Water Base Formula METALLICS WHITE AND BLACK WE OFFER SAME-DAY SERVICE • ALSO • Glitter Metallic Powders and Pastes Bronzing Liquids - Spray Cans Non-Bleeding Black Sealer CALL OR WRITE TODAY FOR OUR NEW METALLIC VAULT COLOR CARD SAMPLES FURNISHED UPON REQUEST Crescent Bronze Powder Co. Inc. 1-800-445-6810 2400 N. Avondale Chicago, II 60618-5433 Fax: (773) 539-1131

12 ga. TANK MESH many other sizes and gauges also available

1/4" DEFORMED PENCIL ROD for VAULT LIDS SYNTHETIC FIBER STEEL FIBER All available from

D & C Supply Company, Inc. 335 Washington Ave. Bridgeville, PA 15017 Phone: 1-800-234-5781 or 412-221-1191 Fax: 412-221-9206

Your Source For Concrete Reinforcements

Lease-Purchase Plan Now Available

The VAULT-MASTER has variable speed hydraulic drive, hydraulicly raised and lowered front steering axle, roll-back CraneWay beam with adjustable support legs, and an 9,000 lb. hydraulic vault lifting hoist. Will handle straight or cross grave settings. The Crane-Way beam is a 5" I-Beam and is 14' long with heavy-duty, adjustable support legs. The beam is carried on large flat rollers with heavy duty bearings. There is a hand crank system to roll beam back and forth. The vault lifting winch is swivel-mounted to the beam trolley. This prevents trolley wheel binding due to sideways shifts of the load. Hand operated back winch at the rear of the Crane-Way beam allows safe loading of a vault from a truck or trailer bed onto the Vault Handling Trailer. Rear hydraulic leveling jacks enable easy leveling of the whole machine on almost any terrain They make off-loading a vault from a truck bed easier and safer. We have a long list of options and will do custom options. For more information contact: Don Long Long Machine Co. 519 N. Main Ave. Maiden, NC 28650 (Ph) 704-428-2648 (Fax) 704-428-8606


December 1998

NCBVA BULLETIN

Legal Case Prompts Us to Review Safety BY

J.

SCOTT CALKINS, ESQ.

NCBVA Legal Counsel An interesting litigation is occurring in New York state between a vault manufacturer's employee who was injured in a fall into an open grave, a cemetery, and the funeral home. According to the facts as stated in the recent April 1998 decision by the Supreme Court of New York (671 N.Y. S. 2d 466), the plaintiff is employed as a burial vault installer by third-party defendant West Chester Vault Company. In the course of lowering the lid onto a burial vault that he had installed at Woodlawn Cemetery, the plaintiff fell from the 6-inch-wide plank on which he was standing after one of the hundreds of mourners in attendance at the funeral came into contact with him. The plaintiff fell into an open grave, sustaining unspecified injuries. The plaintiff's complaint seeks to impose liability upon the defendant, Woodlawn, as owner of the cemetery, under various labor law provisions in New York state. Liability against the funeral home is predicated on its failure to undertake measures to control the large number of mourners.

Third party action dismissed -

Woodlawn Cemetery brought a third-party action against the plaintiff's employer, West Chester Vault Company, seeking indemnification The New York Supreme Court denied the respective defense motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and third-party complaint, finding that triable issues of fact exist with regard to both the allegations of statutory violations of the Labor Law and of common-law negligence for failure to undertake crowd control measures. Woodlawn and West Chester Vault Company both appealed the Supreme Court denial of such motions and

upon appeal, the Appellant Division of the New York State Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the court's action denying the defendant and third-party plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment, etc. This type of injury-related litigation is not uncommon in the industry. What attracted my attention was the finding by the court, under the Labor Law of New York, that a

This is the first instance, to my knowledge, of a court finding that a vault constitutes a "structure," and that the plank constitutes "scaffolding." grave vault is encompassed within the liberal definition accorded to the term "structure" and the plank placed across the grave opening comes within the general scope of "scaffolding." Also, the excavation provides the necessary height differential to constitute an elevation risk against which the statute affords protection. The court found that based upon such

findings that the complaint states a viable cause of action under New York state Labor Law which imposes a nondelegable duty upon property owners and general contractors to furnish suitable devices to ensure the safety of workers exposed to elevation related risks while engaged in the performance of work upon a "structure." This is the first instance, to my knowledge, of court finding that a vault constitutes a "structure," and that the plank constitutes "scaffolding." Another claim by the plaintiff was that the cemetery, as the property owner, did not comply with certain rules and regulations which require that a grave is an "excavation" and thus, requires adequate safety measures be implemented. This finding by the court of its interpretation of the New York state Labor Law is consistent with some other cases throughout the country that determine that graves are "excavations."

Awaiting final decision Finally, the court did not forget about the vault company. In a cursory finding, the court indicated that as to the third-party complaint (Cemetery v. Vault Company) it is settled law in New York that a party subjected to absolute vicarious liability pursuant to New York Labor Law may seek contribution from a party whose culpable conduct caused the injury. Now that final appeals have been exhausted, it will be interesting to review the court's final decision on this case and I will pass along that information when it becomes available. In the meantime, I recommend that you review the laws in your state regarding your duty as a vault manufacturer and installer to insure that the graveside opening and installation process is safe for your employee installers. Scott Calkins, Esq. is a partner in the law firm of Calkins and Campbell in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He serves as the legal counsel for NCR VA.


10

NCBVA BULLETIN

December 1998

Countdown 2000 See the Future From Here! Plan now to join NCB VA at the

1999 Annual Conference June 17-19 Hyatt Regency Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio

Photo courtesy of Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau

Cincinnati U.S.A., where riverfront activities abound on and around the beautiful Ohio River


December 1998

NCBVA BULLETIN

11

How do you rate?

It's Time to Brush Up on Presentation Skills BY BILL FORSBERG

In preparing and researching for an upcoming address to a group of death care professionals, many suspicions I have held over the years regarding education and the people in our profession were confirmed. A priority for education in how to present services and products to consumer client families seems to be missing. In addition, this absence is reflected higher in at-need personnel than pre-need personnel. For the majority of individuals there just seems to be a lack of importance placed upon this most basic and needed asset. So it is with mortuary schools and the low emphasis in their course curriculum on the proper ways of explanation to the consumer client family about what will be offered to them. I have come to believe there are many reasons for this attitude and un-willingness to teach and learn these skills for application during the arrangement conference.

Highly empathetic

find that the consumer client family is : More satisfied with their purchase, Purchases higher value services and merchandise, More likely to recommend the business to their friends and associates as a knowledgeable funeral home, cemetery or crematoria to call when the need arises.

Functional Pricing

service, how will I know what the characteristics and benefits are unless someone takes the time and uses a good skill set of abilities to explain these items to me. This process is crucial in all areas but especially the area of personal care and preparation of the decedent. Using words like embalming still have ghoulish connotations to the layperson. The skill set used must involve tools other than just descriptive words, as less than 47 percent of the information received during an at-need death arrangement conference is retained by the consumer client family. Explanation assistance items such as presentation books, consumer information videotapes and high quality photographs with reference points are all excellent mediums with which to assist the arranger. Most are readily available at little or no cost from industry suppliers and vendors. However, in too many cases, these items lay dormant on office shelves and credenzas gathering dust. An unfortunate circumstance for all parties concerned—the client families, employee and the employer.

The majority of funeral service caregivers have tremendous attending and empathetic abilities. In fact, most would say that is their biggest asset. They know how to deal with grieving people. This is true and the American public really doesn't know how fortunate they are to be beneficiaries of this until they fmd themselves requiring death care services. We need only look at a few European countries to observe how very crude some types of death care attending really can be. However, while this admirable trait exists in these individuals, there is an unfortunate absence of a presentation ability. For many it is not wanting to look like a salesman, especially the stereotypical pushy "salesy" type. How many times have we Better consumers heard the phrase, "At our establishment we What actually happens when practitiodon't sell anything, our families select what ners use these tools as an adjunct to their they desire." skill set is that they make a thorough and This of course begs the question, " If I professional presentation and hence deal am selecting something, be it a product or with better educated consumers. We then

Earl T. Newcomer, founder of the company, Progressive Mortuary Methods, the first funeral consulting, educational and brokerage advisory firm in our nation, said it best in 1938: "Funeral home profits and satisfied client families go hand in hand." He was right then and is right today. Newcomer believed that the more explanation given to people regarding the costs of services and merchandise and also the "why" of these costs would lead to higher satisfaction levels and better quality selection. Few realize that Newcomer invented the funeral functional (itemized) pricing system decades before the Federal Trade Commission made its use mandatory. His firm (now run by his grandson) continues to prove his wisdom to this day.

Educate ourselves Many complaints revolve around price. If we assume a leadership role as professionals and better educate ourselves first, and in turn apply this education in our day-to-day dealings with our consumer client families, the instances of this type of complaint would also decrease dramatically. As the marketplace continues its own type of consumer education about our field it behooves our profession to take the lead on becoming better presenters, and not just defenders, of what we have to offer. Bill Forsberg is Vice President, Marketing & Sales for Wilbert, Inc.


First Class Mail U.S. Postage PAID PERMIT #20 APOPKA, FL

National Concrete Burial Vault Association, Inc. 900 Fox Valley Drive, Suite 204 Longwood, FL 32779-2552

Industry News and Notes When negotiating for benefits, employees may soon add funeral benefits to the list of commonly-asked-for perks. Three Virginiabased companies have signed on with Eulogy International, a company that got its start by helping consumers save money on funeral and cemetery costs, to help their employees deal with the details of funerals and burials. Source: Yahoo! News * * * A federal judge in Georgia ruled that the state could not enforce a law that permits only funeral directors to sell caskets and urns. Peachtree Caskets Direct, of Alpharetta, Ga., was reportedly threatened with prosecution if it sold caskets directly to customers. With the ruling, the company will be able to resume selling its items without obstruction. Source: Yahoo! News * * * Venice on the Bay, a quiet waterfront, town on the Chesapeake Bay, Md., has a bit of a littering problem. According to local residents, people are coming to the hamlet to scatter the ashes of the deceased. Residents say it has happened at least six times in the past few months. What's worse,

they say, is that the remains often don't make it into the bay, but instead, end up blowing back onto residents' patios and back porches and into the faces of unsuspecting swimmers and sunbathers. "Who wants to be cooking hamburgers on the grill and have a breeze come and pepper them with someone's ashes?" asked resident Pam Folderauer in an Associated Press Report. The crematorium and funeral homes in the area have denied involvement. The neighborhood has formed a watch group to look out for urn-bearers and have called for action from police and lawmakers. Police said they could charge the scatterers with littering and trespassing, but they would have to catch them in the act, and that hasn't happened. Source: Associated Press * * * A South Korean company has developed a new technology to transform the ashes of the deceased into decorative ceramic beads. The ashes are heated to 2,000 degrees Centigrade and the drops of lava-like liquid are shaped into little balls. The color of the beads, according to creator Kim Sang-guk, varies from jade to sky blue. Sang-guk

recently obtained a patent and said he was willing to give free service to those who donate their organs after their death. Source: Reuters * * * A Dutch Internet site will join a crematorium in Utrecht to stage the world's first Internet funeral. The Dutch site, www.uitvaart.nl, offers an array of funeral services on the web. Site visitors will be able to follow a complete funeral; from the entry of the casket into the chapel until it is fed into the oven. For privacy reasons, all Internet funerals on the site will be by invitation only, so only friends and relatives of the deceased will be able to log on during the funeral. Webmaster Peter Van Schaik, who came up with the idea of the Internet funeral, said the idea stemmed from laws in the Netherlands that dictate the deceased be buried or cremated within five days. "It often happens that people are not able to attend a funeral because they are living abroad and cannot make it back home in time, he said. "The Internet funeral will end that problem." Source: Wired

Bulletin 1998 December