Branding 28
topThe Insider
News for Death Care Professionals
Vol. III
 Issue VII

WCCFA board, member meeting minutes

Welcome new directors! 


The WCCFA Board of Directors met twice during the annual Death Care Professionals convention at the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Wash. and the annual membership meeting was also held. Two new directors and one new Supplier director were elected. We are pleased that all three are first-time directors, and all are new or newly-engaged members of the WSFDA. 


We will introduce the new directors to you in more detail, but for now:


Elected to three-year directorship terms:

Holley Sowards, Einans Funeral Home, Richland Wash.

Jeremiah Sandstrom, Mountain View Memorial Park and Funeral Home, Tacoma Wash.


Elected to two-year Supplier directorship:

Jeff Privat, Batesville Casket Co.


You can link here for minutes of the board and member meetings.

Link here for an updated contact list for the board of directors. 

Convention Survey Results prove it:

This year's convention was a huge success  


If you missed this year's convention, shame on you. We have compiled the results of the convention surveys and find that all the speakers received a preponderance of "Excellent" ratings on the following questions:

  • Was the speaker well-prepared for his or her presentation?
  • How did the speaker respond to Q & A, if applicable?
  • Was the pace of the presentation appropriate?
  • Was the amount of time allotted appropriate?
  • Did the speaker maintain your interest?
  • Was it a good topic?
  • Did you learn anything that applies to your personal or professional life?

Regarding speaker Ed Hvrinak, who spoke on Returning Combat Veterans: Their Challenges Returning to Civilian Life and the Importance of Military Honors for Our Deceased Veterans, one particularly heartfelt comment stands out: As a veteran he made me aware of things I was not aware of. Even though I was a member of the military. Very inspirational yet grounded. I never spoke to anyone of my Vietnam era as a Combat Medic. His words were cathartic to me and I had to control the tears. PTSD has been buried in my psyche. Thank you for easing the buried pain. It was moving - very moving! I salute you, Captain. Thank you for your sacrifices. I suffered silently with PTSD - this helped.


Regarding speaker Nectar Ramirez, who addressed Bridging the Profitability Gap in Cremation: An Action Plan, several positive comments included these: I always enjoy hearing Nectar speak. Great info and delivery. Humanized the cremation sale - sold up! Make great assumptions for your benefit and negative assumptions to move them into your arena.


premier 2013-2014 for web Regarding speaker G.K. Mangelson, whose topic was How Funeral Directors and Cemetery Owners Can Become Invincible to Lawsuits and Save Thousands in Taxes: Fantastic info. Need more speakers like this. Great! Great! Great! and: I have law background. He was current and on point. Started out very basic - E-Z for all to understand. A bit too fast paced - very powerful information.

Regarding speaker Sheldon Goldner, who spoke on A Cremation Overview for Now and the Future, and then The Solution and Guidelines for Maximizing Untapped Revenue Streams and to Minimize Environmental Liability: Glad to know! Valuable info & future things to be on the lookout for. Very interesting information.


Regarding speaker Darin Drabing, whose topic was Investing in Human Capital: Building a Better Organization One Employee at a Time, Would have loved a handout with his training schedule! Aimed at management but gives the employee an idea what to expect from management. And: Beyond excellent! He should take this show on the road. Best, most succinct presentation on common-sense employment strategy I've see. I would like his powerpoint [presentation]! Editor: and here it is!


Regarding speaker Robert Moore, who addressed Achieve More with NFDA: Interesting new campaign. Access to NFDA web page good info. Very professional!


And regarding wrap-up speaker Neily Bissettee, who spoke on Relationships=Success!: I often use the Nordstrom Way standards in my everyday life without really knowing what it was. I was happy to learn more about it and look forward to sharing it with other that I work with. Excellent speaker, great useful info.


Overall most commenters felt the Suncadia Resort was a nice place, but too expensive. The food drew mediocre commentary, but the social events (golf, supplier-hosted barbecue and Friday-night banquet and dance) were quite popular.


We are actively seeking a site for next year's convention. Stay tuned for an announcement soon.


Meet the director: Holley Sowards


Today we are getting to know new director Holley Sowards, Service and Operations Manager at Einan's Funeral Home at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland.


How did you get into the death care profession, and when?


It was being in the right place at the right time. Back in February 2013, I led a fundraiser for the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition. All I remember was running around making sure the night ran smoothly, that our entertainment was flawless and that our crowd was happy. Later I was approached by a board member of the Richland Cemetery Association who said he was impressed with the way I handled the event and that I should talk to the General Manager at Einan's if I was interested in a unique job opportunity. He thought I would offer a unique perspective to the profession. It was all downhill from there. I became the Service and Operations Manager at Einan's at Sunset May 2013.


What was your first position? What is it now?


My very first position ever was a waitress at Round Table Pizza. I like to think I have come a long way! Like I said, I began my journey with Einan's in May 2013 as the Service and Operations Manager. Today I carry the same position while also working as a Funeral Director Intern from time to time.


What keeps you in the profession?


I am still very much new to the profession but feel as though I have found my place to make a difference. Building lasting relationships is important to me and to be able to help a family through one of the toughest times in their life... well it's just an amazing thing to be able to do. It's an honor actually. What we do really does MAKE A DIFFERENCE in our community. At Einan's we work really hard INTERNALLY to stay true to our values, one being humor. Sounds crazy but WE feel that in order to serve grieving families every day, we ourselves have to figure out a way to "keep it light". So, behind the scenes we create laughter among the team to lighten spirits and try to make the hard work we do a little fun.


Any particular experiences that stand out in your mind?


A seven year old girl passed away recently from cancer. We knew the little girl really liked giraffes and cupcakes. Her parents told us her favorite color was pink but that she was "transitioning into teal". The day of her service, our directors wore her favorite colors, the cemetery painted her vault teal with a hand painted giraffe on it and we handed out pink and teal cupcakes at her graveside. This was all done as a surprise to the family. To see the look on their faces was absolutely worth all the details we worked out to make that day happen. It's the little memory take-aways that we do for our families that stand out each and every day.


Any special traditions at your funeral home or cemetery (holiday memorial services, Memorial Day, Veterans' Day, etc.)?


We have several traditions that we do here throughout the year and plan to add a few more over the next couple of years. We currently offer an outstanding and breathtaking Memorial Day program, sponsor a local annual event called Hogs and Dogs where we reach out to over 8,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and educate about the power of pre-planning, recognize bikers in our community during our annual Salute to Scoots event and thank them for all their support over the year through various fundraising efforts to help kids, adults andSightlife 6-2013 families in our area, recognizing all the "little angels" who have passed throughout the years with our annual World-Wide Candle Lighting ceremony and Little Lambs Services and lastly our annual Santa's Village at Sunset Gardens event where we raise money for a select local charity by offering kids a safe place to buy small gifts for their parents or family members and take pictures with Santa.


Professional goals?

  1. Learn more about the profession. Knowledge is power!
  2. Become a licensed Funeral Director.
  3. To make every families experience as easy and painless as possible while also giving them the tools and resources to get through the loss of a loved one.

How do you reach out to the community?


This is huge to us and we believe that we should be reaching out to the community at the ground level... it's really for us a grassroots effort. We are at community events, luncheons, and clubs while volunteering as much as possible. Community outreach is building lasting relationships with everyone we come into contact with. We believe in word of mouth. People call people they can trust. We want them to know and trust us, before they need us!


What would you tell someone who was thinking about joining death care?


That it takes hard work, thick skin, creativity, people skills, communication, and the ability to adapt to change... the list goes on and on. If they could handle all that I would tell them it might just be the best decision they ever made!




I am married to a man that often gets mistaken as "Willie" from Duck Dynasty so you might say I'm kind of famous. His real name is Darrell and he puts up with me day in and day out. I love him so much for that! We have two pretty cool kids, Brody, 11 and Brinley, 9. They keep us on our toes and there is never a dull moment around our household.


Hobbies-personal interests?


I am very into watching our kids play sports (which are pretty much year round), hanging out with friends and family, camping, BBQing and I can't forget the date nights... Those are fun and most times much needed!


Anything else?


I think I have said enough!


To Whom It May Concern,


Hello, I am contacting you on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), National Cemetery Administration (NCA).  NCA recently acquired the ability to send electronic updates regarding important memorial benefits for Veterans through GovDelivery, an electronic e-mail distribution system.


Either you self-selected to receive updates from NCA, or you were chosen to receive this e-mail based on your position, and the potential for you to obtain memorial benefits and coordinate the inurnment or burial of deceased Veterans. We hope you will be able to help us honor our Nation's Veterans by using the information in these updates to ensure deceased Veterans are treated with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion, and obtain the benefits they earned through service to our Nation.


Polyguard 7-12 There are a wide variety of VA memorial benefits available for Veterans, their loved ones and those taking care of their final arrangements. It is our goal to ensure you and your customers are aware of these benefits and understand how to obtain them in the future. Whether it is determining a Veteran's eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery, scheduling of a burial or inurnment in a VA national cemetery, or ordering a grave marker for use in a private cemetery, we are here to help.


Please look for our future e-mails on memorial benefits available for Veterans. Also, please encourage your colleagues to sign-up for future e-mail updates and information regarding VA memorial benefits through GovDelivery at



Michael Nacincik
Chief, Communications & Outreach Support Division  

National Cemetery Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs     

Can John handle funeral arrangements for Bill?


Same-sex couples and changing right of disposition rules


Author Poul Lemasters, Esq.

The legal status of same-sex marriage is changing quickly, but is still in flux. So what do you, as a funeral professional, tell same-sex couples who want to be able to handle each other's funeral arrangements? It all depends...


As of this writing [August 2014] 19 states recognize same-sex marriage, leaving 31 states that do not. While the legal treatment of same-sex unions varies from state to state, this complicates matters when there are issues that cross state borders, and that includes issues that affect the funeral service profession.


If you are in a state that allows same-sex marriage, your approach to handling funeral arrangements for same-sex couples {Washington state recognizes same-sex marriage and allows appointment of an agent] might be simple, but that's not the case if you are in a state that does not allow it.


What happens in the case of a same-sex spouse who was legally married in another state, but now wants to handle funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse in a state that doesn't recognize the marriage? As a funeral provider, is there anything you can do to help the spouse who finds herself or himself in this situation?


The answer is a resounding "maybe." Actually, there is always something you can do, but what that is will depend on the laws in your state.


There are two possibilities to consider when addressing the matter of same-sex spouses and the right of disposition for funeral arrangements: a state's recognition of same-sex marriage and a state's law covering the appointment of an agent to handle funeral arrangements. (See "Same-sex couples and appointment of agent" chart in this article.)


Of course, state recognition of same-sex marriage provides the most direct and clear solution. If your state recognizes same-sex marriage, the process is straightforward. When making any arrangements, the right of disposition hierarchy will control who is to be in charge of arrangements, and in most state, the spouse is at the top of the list. Therefore, a same-sex spouse will have the right to control disposition, including cremation.


The second possibility, that of appointing an agent who has the right to make disposition decisions, offers a great solution in states that do not allow same-sex marriage, but it can be difficult and sometimes unavailable for various reasons.


The difficulty is usually that many people - especially the general public, but also many funeral providers - are unaware of or unclear about this process.


Even if a funeral provider is aware of the availability, it is up to the individual - in this case, the same-sex spouses - to complete the paperwork on a preneed basis. If people don't know about this option and that they need to take care of it ahead of time, or if they go to a funeral provider who doesn't know about this option, it becomes effectively unavailable at time of need.


When the assignment is available, it is important to understand a few critical points. While every state has its own requirements, there are a few common elements and best practices that all providers should make sure they educate their staffs and families about.



While it may seem like common sense, it is crucial to stress that any appointment of agent must occur while the parties are living. At the time of death, an appointment of agent cannot be completed.


There are countless stories about a same-sex spouse going to make at-need funeral arrangements and being shocked at not being able to appoint themselves as agent for their partner who has died. As is so often true, timing is everything, and the time to appoint an agent to handle your funeral arrangements for you is before need.



Signing the form to appoint an agent is the first step. The next step is to make sure the signed form will be available when it's needed.


Many individuals have no idea where an appointment of agent form should be kept. The average person believes that this type of form is best kept with or as part of a will, which is actually the worst place to keep such a form. In fact, many states do not recognize the form if it is included in a will.


The best place to keep this form is with the funeral provider. Keep a copy at a funeral home, crematory and/or cemetery, depending on the arrangements that were made.


Again, there are countless stories of individuals who have written in their wills - drawn up by an attorney - that the executor of their will is also in charge of funeral arrangements. This is rarely a good or legal option.



There is a range of elements that can be included in an appointment of agent form. State laws require some elements, while others are just considered best practice. Keep in mind that even in states that set forth requirements, those requirements are the minimum. As a provider, it may be a good idea to add additional details in order to protect yourself and keep the process as smooth as possible.


One element that an appointment of agent form should have is reference to the specific state law/code. This is important to make sure there is no confusion, or question about the intent of the person appointing the agent.


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Wilbert Precast PNG 

Progressive Environmental Services Parent Corp. Named Third Time to the Inc. 5000 List


WCCFA Supplier Member Precious Metal Refining Services Listed among 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America


Barrington, IL, September 15, 2014 - Inc. Magazine has gain ranked Precious Metal Refining Services, Inc., parent corporation of post-cremation metal recycler Progressive Environmental Services, in its annual Inc. 5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy - America's independent entrepreneurs. Companies such as Microsoft, Zappos, Intuit, Jamba Juice, Zipcar, Clif Bar, Vizio, Oracle, and many other well-known names gained early exposure as members of this prestigious list.
Sheldon Goldner was a guest speaker at the 2014 WCCFA/WSFDA Death Care Professionals Convention


This is the third time that Precious Metal Refining Services has been ranked among the Inc 5000, having posted an impressive sales growth rate for three years running. Founded in 1980 by Sheldon Goldner, Precious Metal Refining Services has emerged as a leading refiner of precious metals, serving gold buyers, dental labs, film processors, crematories and other generators of precious metal scrap in an environmentally-responsible and EPA-compliant manner.


"We are thrilled and honored to again be named to the Inc. 5000 list and be among such distinguished company," said Mr. Goldner. "We have a remarkable team, a great facility, and an earnest desire to support our clients at the extremes of customer service. I honestly believe that it's this combination that continues to attract business to us and accounts for our continued growth."


The companies named in the 33rd annual Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2010 to 2013. Precious Metal Refining Services also made the list in 2012 and 2013.


To qualify, companies must be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent-not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies. They represent the top tier of American enterprise. The full list can be found at


About Precious Metal Refining Services/Progressive Environmental Services

Barrington, Il-based Precious Metal Refining Services, Inc. began operations in 1980 as an industrial refiner specializing in silver recovery from film. It quickly evolved into a full-service precious metal refinery specializing in high-volume customers, fire assay and fast settlements. In August, 2012, PMRS was awarded a rank of #211 in the prestigious Inc. 500. That same year, already serving the cremation/funeral industry through third-party recyclers, the company officially launched Progressive Environmental Services as a direct and environmentally-responsible refining service for crematories. For more information on Progressive Environmental Services, visit 


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Grounds Maintenance Roundtable


Grounds maintenance is a major component of any cemetery operation. Without well-maintained lawns, trees, plant life, walkways and water features, cemeteries will surely lose business to their competitors who make grounds maintenance more of a priority. Industry experts Gino Merendino, chief gardener, Merendino Cemetery Care; K eith Hoverstad, business manager, government sales, John Deere Agriculture and Turf Division; and Tim Zastrow, arboriat representative, Bartlett Tree Experts, offer their thoughts on good grounds maintenance practices, as well as tips and suggestions for keeping cemeteries safe and beautiful.


Why is having good grounds maintenance practices imperative?


Merendino: Good grounds maintenance practices are imperative to a cemetery because they affect sales and customer service. Based on the results from our focus groups of people who recently purchased cemetery property, we have learned that a large percentage of them base their purchase decision on a cemetery inspection of the grunds. So from a financial perspective, manicured grounds equals more sales. When families see immaculate grounds at a place of rest for their loved ones, it helps them focus on the grieving process rather than be distracted by maintenance issues. Many cemeteries have taken on a religious, cultural and natural sanctuary role in the community. It is important for those landmarks to look pristine and follow smart sustainability practices.


Hoverstad: Cemeteries are judged as much by their appearance as by the quality of the interment services they offer. Loved ones are brought to cemeteries for eternal rest, whether a traditional burial or for keeping cremated remains in a columbarium. Visitors expect lush green grass, colorful flower arrangements, trimmed markers, clean paths and drives. It makes a lasting impression on visitors and future customers.


Zastrow: Good maintenance practices reduce risk and improve the user's experience of the cemetery, including visitors, outside contactors and cemetery staff.


What are some of the big challenges cemeterians face when it comes to grounds maintenance?


Hoverstad: Weather is always a significant challenge. Wet weather can delay mowing, perhaps forcing compromise on cut quality as crews work longer hours at a faster pace. It may also create a debris problem requiring blowing or removal, adding time to the process. A late start to the spring season burdens cemeteries in northern states as they prepare for Easter and Memorial Day rembrances. Daily interments or other life-honoring events can restrict a crew from operating near that area (maintaining quiet for a dignified ceremony). Proper planning and crew coordination can help minimize lost time while maintaining the quality of the work done. Pre- and post-day meetings with the maintenance staff will aid in planning optimal use of labor and machine resources.


Another challenge to grounds maintenance is space recovery strategies. It's an effort to develop every possible space in te cemetery for burial use. Digital measurements of plot sizes are made for precise marking of lot lines. It opens areas for reclamation. Good for revenue, but it could mean that smaller, more maneuverable mowers have to be used, which can add maintenance time and labor cost.


Zastrow: Having an adequate budget for tree maintenance, and an understanding of how to best prioritize tree care are the biggest challenges the cemetery managers whom I have worked with face. The best starting point is to find out what trees you have, what they are worth, and what must be done to preserve their value while appropriately managing risk. A detailed tree inventory is usually the best way to gain this information. The next step is to use the inventory data to develop a prioritized three- to four-year management plan. The management plan is an excellent tool that empowers cemetery managers to establish appropriate budgets and make informed tree care decisions.


Merendino: Some of the big challenges that cemeterians face regarding grounds maintenance are recruiting labor and sustainability. It is hard to attract people to do the physical and demanding jobs in the cemetery profession. We found veterans to be successful since they ate accustomed to working outdoors and display a sensitivity and respect for the committal ceremony.


Another challenge is sustainability. Our managers have developed great relationships with their local cooperative extension agencies, which helped us implement our integrated pest management system. Integrated pest management is the best way of eliminating or minimizing pesticide use. Regarding a long-term perpective of sustainability, our organization used lean management to make innovative changes that reduce waste while simultaneously helping the environment. For instance, our supervisors and management staff have switched to hybrid vehicles and smaller trucks to save fuel. Those initiatives have saved money for the trust funds of the cemetery, and they have also reduced the negative environmental effects.


What are some small things cemeterians can do to make their grounds look their best?


Zastrow: It's hard to do small things on plants as large as trees, but if cemetery managers make sure to remove dead and dying trees this will go a long way toward improving the appearance of their grounds.


Hoverstad: Keeping grass clippings off of paths, drives, markers and monument perimeters is a daily chore. Many cemeteries are either using or considering the use of mulching mower decks to minimize grass clippings grass clipping size and dispersal (the John Deere Mulch On Demand TM deck can be adjusted for mulch or side discharge on the go; a great time saver). Picking up fallen sticks or tree limbs, litter or blown flower arrangements is a low-skill task that really impacts appearance; use trainees or part-time help. Vacuum collection systems also work. Keep grass trimmed nicely around buildings, monuments and fences. First impressions are lasting.


Matthews 7-1-13 Merendino: Cemeterians can make their grounds look their best by performing the trimming and mowing on the same day. Also, the grass should not be mowed too low. When cut at the right height, less fertilizer and pesticides are needed. Lawn mower blades should be sharpened frequently so the turf is cut rather than ripped. Areas of mud can be masked with hay or PennMulch. Every staff member of the cemetery should be responsible for picking up litter and lifting flags throughout the day. when the CEO of the cemetery will stoop down to pick up trash, it sends a huge message to all employees.


How can a cemetery on a limited budget stretch the dollars in its grounds maintenance budget?


Merendino: Cemeterians can make their ground maintenance dollars stretch by evaluating labor versus the purchase of time saving equipment. One of the oldest examples is purchasing a zero turn mower. Some other ideas are using smart cultural practice used is the diversification of plant material. This is important because if a shrub bed only has one cultivar, it could be at risk of having a disease outbreak eliminating that entire shrub bed.


Hoverstad: Use financing or leasing to acquire capital goods like mowers and tractors. Doing so can help stretch the payments out to better fit a cemetery's stream of revenue. Today, managing cash flow is as important as managing a capital budget. Save capital budgeting for truly large acquisitions. Use financing/leasing for depreciating assets like machinery. Have experienced service technicians properly maintain machinery, using schedules provided by manufacturers. Work with your dealer if you need help.


Article by Lauren Moore sourced from American Cemetery magazine for September 2014 in its entirety with permission

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Are you online?

Cemetery marketing for the 21st century


Online marketing continues to change how people shop and buy, and those that refuse to acknowledge this - even cemeteries - do so at their own risk.


Jack Welch, former CEO and chairman of General Electric, in referring to e-marketing, told The Sunday Times of London, "Any company, old or new, that does not see this technology as important as breathing could be on its last breath."


Taking Welch's prediction to heart, it's time to recognize the importance of online marketing. But many cemeteries don't know where to start.


One of the easiest ways for cemeteries to engage in online marketing is through display advertising or dealer program advertising. Display advertising usually involves purchasing a banner advertisement on the website of an online publication. Dealer program advertising involves selling the products or services of another, associated, company. With a dealer program, a cemetery can sit back and collect money while the parent company does all the order processing.


A cemetery website could have affiliate banners or links to crematoriums, mortuaries, monument companies, florists, churches, ministers and even party rooms where wakes may be held. Offering links to these other businesses or services on your website will generate additional revenue and provide valuable services to your families.


But buying display advertising and identifying partners to work with is just the first step in bringing your cemetery into the 21st century. You also need to learn about search engine optimization and social media marketing.


Search engine optimization techniques improve the visibility of a website via unpaid (usually organic or algorithmic search results. If you have a small budget, you can still boost website traffic by focusing on SEO, which focuses on the words someone might plug into a search engine such as Google or Bing. If someone is searching for a cemetery in Fargo, N.D., he or she might type "cemetery Fargo N.D." in a search engine. This search of specific keywords constitutes SEO.


Fred Miller, founder of Memorial Business Systems in Franklin, Tenn., said, "Everyone is bad at SEO. If I could give advice on it, I'd be rich. I'd recommend that cemeteries outsource online advertising and websites. The sites will look more professional, and the results will be greater."


Milne 2013 Mayra Ruiz, founder of Ruiz McPherson Communications in Herndon, Va., who provides marketing advice to death-care professionals at, said she sees various problems with cemetery websites. "Typical cemetery websites often suffer from one of the following ailments: stale, dated content; over-heavy focus on highlighting obituaries; lack of social media sharing; few (if any) calls to action; lack of analytics; and, the ailment that leads to all of these other ailments, usage of rudimentary website templates which do not portray a professional high-end or aesthetic presentation," she said. "These ailments are symptoms of a much bigger issue: The cemetery's marketing investment in digital, social and Web is minimal. Experienced online marketing professionals can offer much better guidance in defining how to better optimize online marketing on behalf of the cemetery."


Social media marketing is the process of attracting attention t through social media websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. You can harness the power of most social networking websites for free, and most of them offer paid options to help you boost your exposure to targeted markets.


Ruiz believes that all cemeteries should consider advertising on social media sites such as Facebook. "Facebook can provide cemetery marketers with unique, targeted demographics," she said. "Cemetery owners can target specific market segments, such as males 55-65 years of age with elderly parents living in zip code 20190. Facebook makes this kind of ad targeting possible."


Cemeteries throughout the country are recognizing the power of online marketing, including Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. "Sleepy Hollow has had a website for about 10 years, and it has changed the way we provide information to the public," said Jim Logan, president of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery board. "We actually have two websites. One,, focuses on the tourist aspect of visiting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and the other site,, serves as an informational website about events in the cemetery as well as our sales website."


One interesting sales tool on Sleepy Hollow's website is its Riverview Natural Burial Grounds. Selecting this link takes families to the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds Web page where prospective family buyers read, "Sleepy Hollow Cemetery has become part of a very small and elite group of burial places in the country, which afford the deceased a 'natural' or 'green' burial option. In simple terms, traditional burial would usually involve the use of chemical embalming, treated wood or metal caskets, metal or concrete casket liners, and a host of other manmade materials. In contrast, the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds is a sustainable space. No inorganic fertilizers or pesticides are used on this land. There is no embalming. Only untreated biodegradable, natural materials may be used in the construction of the casket or shroud. Even cremation urns must be fabricated of organic materials such as corn starch, salt, or untreated woods."


Logan sees Sleepy Hollow's online marketing as a "significant way to reach out to the community and build active discussions about the cemetery and its future. We are a great depository of local history, and the Internet has helped us disperse this knowledge."


The proof is in the numbers: The number of unique website hits for Sleepy Hollow's website was about 45,000 in October 2012. And, even in a slow, winter month, there were 2,578 unique hits on the cemetery's website for December 2012. "It is difficult to track additional plot sales to website advertising," Logan said. "The death of a family member is a difficult time for people, and we don't want to be any more invasive than we already are by asking 'tracking' questions about how they heard about our cemetery. However, there is no question that 3-marketing has increased Sleepy Hollow's presence in both the community and the country."


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CMC doubles down on cremation 


Q & A with Louis-Philippe Carrier


Some opportunities are simply too good to pass up - a scenario that happened recently when Carrier Mausoleums Construction Inc. acquired Pyrox Energies Inc., a Quebec-based cremation equipment manufacturer. With the purchase, CMC will now be able to offer state-of-the-art cremation equipment, refractory, service and repair, as well as crematory accessories, in addition to industry-leading mausoleum construction, glass-front niches, columbaria, bronze accessories and more. Louis-Philippe Carrier, president and CEO of CMC, talks about the acquisition, how CMC Cremation Division will compete in the marketplace and more.


Louis-Philipe Carrier

Earlier this year, CMC announced that it had acquired Pyrox Energies. How did this acquisition come about?


CMC has always maintained an interest in growing our product and service portfolio - both organically and through acquisition. When we look at potential acquisitions, we look for diversification and synergy. In this case, acquiring Pyrox allowed us to combine business activities, while leveraging CMC's expertise to make product and process enhancements, as well as scale what was a tremendous business.


Had CMC been looking to get into the cremation market?


As a design-build general contractor, CMC is specialized in more than just mausoleums and columbaria - we're also a leading builder of funeral homes and crematories. The Pyrox brand is a superior line of cremation equipment, and we are proud to welcome them to our family and offer our customers a premium, Canadian-made product backed by CMC's legendary quality and service.


What was it about Pyrox Energies that seemed like a natural fit for CMC?


The Pyrox brand, albeit small, achieved a terrific product, backed by a 30-plus year history of innovation, and a track record of success throughout many of Quebec's premium funeral organizations. After learning that Pyrox's people, product and process complemented CMC, we realized there was opportunity to grow and scale the business across Canada and into the United States. That, and a cremation equipment manufacturing division is a natural addition to our turnkey funeral industry supplier business.


Tell us a little bit about Pyrox.


Pyrox cremation retorts have led the Quebec cremation industry for more than 30 years. They are developed from extensive experience in crematorium manufacturing, service and repair, which is why we believe Pyrox is such a good complement to CMC. What's more, environmental compliance is paramount to CMC, so each Pyrox cremator is certified to the highest standards. From floor plan design, installation and equipment start-up to after-care service, calibration and refractory service and repair, CMC Cremation Equipment (Pyrox) is your trusted partner.


For more than 30 years, CMC has been known for its high-quality mausoleums and design-build construction. Why expand into a completely different industry?


Quite the contrary actually, the design, manufacturing, installation and repair of cremation equipment is a highly complementary product and service for CMC. Combined, we are the only human and animal cremator manufacturer in the United States and Canada that blends construction expertise and engineering insights with the high quality cremation retorts for a complete turnkey solution for our clients.


You have said that Pyrox never really achieved critical mass (before you purchased the company). Why do you think that was and what can CMC do to help grow the business?


Scaling a business is a difficult challenge. As for Pyrox, they've always had a keen focus on product development and advancing cremation retort and incinerator technologies, especially respective to environmental compliance. At CMC, our specialization in engineering, construction and manufacturing, combined with our highly talented work force and sales teams is the perfect mixture of ingredients to make Pyrox, now CMC Cremation Equipment, an industry-leading brand. We have the team and processes in place to scale this business beyond Quebec, eventually offering premium cremation equipment and repair services to our customers throughout Canada and the United States.


How does this acquisition fit into CMC's overall company mission?


At CMC, our tagline is "Building Heritage." To us this is more than lip service; this is our mantra - our guiding principle. When we build mausoleums, custom columbaria, funeral homes, or provide our customers with premium, enduring bronze statues and accessories, it's all about respecting, preserving and celebrating heritage. Cremation equipment is no different. We succeed when our products add value, increase productivity and profitability, reduce operating and maintenance costs, and push the envelope through innovation. In all that we do, we promise to be transparent, on time and on budget. This acquisition complements our focus perfectly.


With the acquisition, CMC has created a new division - CMC Cremation Equipment. Tell us a bit about this new division.


Our mission is to perfect human and animal cremation equipment while offering service, repair and products that are second to none. That means with CMC you get the highest quality workmanship, technology and customer service all from the same core company. Consider us your partner for the entire process - from floor plan design, installation and equipment start-up to after-care service, calibration and refractory service and repair. We can evaluate each unique facility to ensure we provide the best options for your business.


How will CMC Cremation Equipment market itself in the industry, especially since there are many established competitors in the marketplace?


CMC is uniquely positioned to offer something that no other cremation equipment manufacturer can offer - turnkey, end-to-end service. To date, none other than CMC can do everything from design-build construction, to general contracting, to custom cremation equipment design, manufacturing and installation, as well as all the maintenance and repair services required to keep operations productive and profitable. We even offer crematory accessories, making CMC a perfect one-stop partner.


What is the future for CMC Cremation Equipment? For CMC-Carrier?


CMC Cremation Equipment is poised for significant growth. First, we are focused on scaling the business beyond Quebec - serving CMC's customers all throughout Canada. From there we will expand into the United States. In addition to these plans, resonating from the very core of CMC, we will continue to focus on innovation and product development. That said, we anticipate many exciting enhancements and future announcements. Please stay tuned. Consider CMC for your next cremation equipment purchase - we will go above and beyond for yur business.


Article by Patti Martin Bartsche sourced from American Cemetery magazine for September 2014 in its entirety with permission.


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News from SCI Seattle Major Market


Providence Hospice of Snohomish County presents "Angel of Hospice" award to funeral directors Allen Ice and Pete Cameron


In an email sent to employees of the SCI Seattle Major Market, funeral director Pete Cameron wrote:


On Sunday, Allen Ice and I attended Providence Hospice of Snohomish Country's 24th Annual Brunch By the Bay Auction. This year the Seattle Market donated $2,500 to this event, as well as 44,500 to Camp Erin - because of our efforts, 15 out of the 74 children at this year's event didn't have to come up with the $300 entrance fee - so THANK YOU!


Just before the event started Allen and I were unexpectedly called up to receive the "Angel of Hospice" award (see photo). It's handmade by and then blessed by the Sisters of Providence. The plaque on it reads "ANGEL OF HOSPICE - Dignity Memorial - For continued generous support of Hospice Carousel Program and Camp Erin - Providence Hospice and Home Care Foundation- September 2014". Foundation Director Angelique Leone presented it to us, and they read the following:


This year, we would like to honor the company Snohomish County Dignity Memorial Providers. Pete Cameron and Allen Ice are here with us this morning. Since the day Foundation Board member Carolyn Johnson knocked on their door to see if they might want to support our mission, Dignity Memorial has been a sponsor of Brunch by the Bay, as well as our other fundraising event, Hospice Hearts Luncheon. In addition, every year they sponsor 15 kids for Camp Erin! And, after you hear from some campers later this morning, you will come to understand how important this sponsorship is.


But, Pete and Allen don't just write checks. They and their colleagues regularly volunteer as well. Rumor has it that Pete actually was hauling Christmas trees around right up to his MRI appointment to check out his bad back! So for their ongoing and continuing financial support, as well as their sweat and hard labor we are happy to bestow on Dignity Memorial of Snohomish County the 2014 Angel of Hospice award.


We received countless hugs, handshakes, smiles and well-wishes from the people in attendance, and got to hear from two little girls who attended Camp Erin after the loss of their father...a moving experience from real people positively impacted by donations from the Seattle Market. I shared this beautiful award this morning at our staff meeting, and let them know how much our efforts are truly appreciated by this group of caregivers, so I thought I'd do the same with you. (And yes, the MRI bit was true - and yes, they still scold me for it.) 


Gary Kemper takes over as

SCI Seattle Market Sales Director December 1


Gary Kemper

We wish to welcome GARY KEMPER as our incoming Seattle Market Sales Director effective December 1ST, 2014. Neily Bissette, our current Market Sales Director will be retiring and we wish him a full and happy future. 


Gary Kemper started his career with SCI in July of 2006 when Neily Bissette hired him to join the newly developed Community Service team at Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Funeral Home. While serving at Sunset he wore many hats: Community Service Counselor, Certified Presenter, Community Service Supervisor, and Family Service Assistant Manager. In May 2010, Gary accepted the position of Sales Manager at Olinger Crown Hill Memorial Park, Funeral Home and Arboretum in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. One of the highlights of his tenure there was in March 2011 the team of both Family and Community Counselors wrote $1,068,673.00 in board volume. This was the first time in the Park's 105+ year history that over a million dollars was written in one month. In October 2012, Gary was transferred to Nashville, Tennessee to create a Market-wide Community Service division. In May of 2013, Gary moved back to Seattle as Sales Manager for Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Funeral Home. The team has met their quota for a consecutive 18 months.


Prior to SCI Gary pastored 3 congregations over a 26 year period. He has been married to Kathy for a long time; has 3 grown children and 3 grandchildren. Gary enjoys reading and traveling.  He looks forward to this enhancement of his career and the new challenges that lie ahead


Please join us in welcoming Gary Kemper to the Seattle Market Leadership Team!    


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Helping after a suicide


Rabbi Earl A. Grollman, DHL, DD


Rabbi Earl Grollman

After a suicide, friends of the survivors are troubled about what to say when they leave the chapel. They ask the funeral director, "What do I do now?"


Let's be frank - clergy and others are often ill at ease in these situations as well.


Our anxiety is understandable. Natural death is a robber. However, self-inflicted death stigmatizes not only the victim but those that remain behind. As the late psychiatrist Dr. Edwin S. Shneidman explained, "The suicidal person places his/her psychological skeleton in the survivor's closet."


So what can we do to offer support to the survivors? One of the most effective actions of care and concern is attendance at the funeral and later visiting them at their convenient times. We bring our best selves - neither prejudiced by taboo or the circumstances of death. Our goal is not to censure or justify the circumstances that contributed to the traumatic ending. Rather we strive to be there, offering empathy, responsiveness, compassion and love.


Conversations should be open and sincere. Never overwhelm by trying too hard to elicit their thoughts. Accept periods of quietness, stillness and speechlessness. Talking is not always necessary. Love understands love; it needs no words.


Appropriate touching is a natural expression of sympathy and comfort. Feelings of anxiety and tension often diminish with a squeeze of the hand. A warm-hearted gesture can do much to assuage loneliness and isolation.


Expressions of sympathy should not turn into banality or the intrusion upon privacy. "How did he kill himself?" "Did she overdose?" Unless volunteered, it's none of our business! Such questions are intrusive and meddling.


"I'm sure it must be a mistake. He would never do this to himself and his family." But how do we know? We weren't there.


"She must have been mentally ill to do such a terrible thing." Who are we to say? Remember, we are there to comfort not to present unknown diagnoses.


When asked, "What to say or do?" recall the old maxim, "I might not be able to stop the downpour, but I can join you for a walk in the rain."


Funeral directors can be of special assistance to survivors of suicide since your lives are so intertwined with critical situations and emotional extremities.


Have a ready list of telephone numbers of needed resources - helplines/hotlines, mental health organizations, psychological/psychiatric services, police, experts who may deal with similar situations, etc.


Know your limitations. Making referrals is not a failure on your part. It may be the best and most responsible decision-making possible.


Your expertise would be invaluable in becoming a trained volunteer for your communities' hot lines. Your years of experience could assist those in distress or even in danger of taking their own lives. Your knowledge would also be so appreciated in helping support groups after the suicide.


Consider having a resource library in your funeral homes for the many agonizing losses of life. Such a library could offer the newly bereaved, and other members of the community, some sources of comfort and consolation with compelling words in books and the actual voices of audio-visual aids. (Contact Joy Johnson, Centering Corporation for any help needed at


There is something that all of us can bring to those souls in extremis bent on self-destruction. It is alluded to most poignantly in Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Recall the bridge collapses and plunges those crossing it to their death. In the attempt to discover what was in each person's mind as the ill-fated bridge collapsed, Wilder enunciated one certain truth: "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love!"


What to do after a suicide? Two words - BRING LOVE!


Rabbi Earl A. Grollman, a pioneer in crisis management, is an acclaimed writer and lecturer. In 2013, the Association for Death Education and Counseling presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award, only the fourth time in three decades it has been given. This award honors "his national and international impact on the improvement of death education, caring for the dying person, and grief counseling." His books on coping with bereavement have sold more than a million copies. For further information, visit

Sourced from Dodge Magazine Spring 2014 in its entirety with permission.

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BillCan John handle Bill's arrangements?


The second important element is naming the appointed agent. Often the person making an appointment will list individuals by relationship, such as "my children" or "my executor," but this can lead to confusion. It is best to name the specific person and also to include a section where the appointed person can sign as accepting this responsibility.


Another element to include is a disposition preference. While some states allow the appointed agent to carry out what he or she deems best, other states require the appointed agent to follow prearranged funeral plans. Either way, it is a best practice to spell out as part of the appointment the exact wishes of the deceased.


This is especially important if the person appointing an agent wants to be cremated. There have been fights (oh, yes, legal ones) over the wording of an appointment when the appointment stated simply "handle the funeral of..." The family fights the appointed agent's choice of cremation because they believe the word "funeral" signals a preference for burial.


If cremation is the option being chosen, say so in the appointment.


Along similar lines, it is a good practice to identify how the funeral arrangements will be paid for. If there is a funded prearrangement, list it. If the cemetery plot is paid for, add that information to the appointment. If there is life insurance...well, I think you get the idea.


Last but not least, consider including the "lawyer clause" in the appointment form. Liability is always an issue. It is good practice to include a simple paragraph that states that anyone acting in reliance of this appointment shall n not be responsible or liable for any damages. It's always a good idea to provide your business, and all others relying on this form, a little protection.


So what should you, as funeral practitioners, do now? As a practical matter, make sure you know what your state law allows, and stay on top of changes as they occur.


An appointment of agent form can be a great tool in a same-sex marriage scenario, but make sure it fits your state law and your business needs. It is up to you as a provider to properly use this option and educate your families about it.


Keep in mind that while an appointment of agent form can be a great tool, you will meet same-sex couples who don't want a form that provides them a way to deal with the drawbacks of not being allowed to marry - they want the law to change.


Restrictions on same-sex marriage are being challenged in many places. The situation has changed dramatically in the past decade, and it's up to you to stay informed, to understand current laws affecting your business and the families you serve.


Make sure you do what you can to stay informed and understand current laws affecting your business and the families you serve.


In this vein, as a benefit to ICCFA members, the "forms" section of the ICCFA website,, will soon have an appointment of agent form specific to each state where it is allowed. [in Washington state, Right to Control Disposition of Remains is addressed here:]


Author Poul Lemasters, Esq. is principal of Lemasters Consulting, Cincinnati. He is an attorney and funeral director, licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in Ohio and West Virginia and admitted to practice law in Ohio and Kentucky. He is ICCFA's special cremation legal counsel, and members in good standing may call him to discuss cremation-related issues for up to 20 minutes at no charge to the member (ICCFA pays for this service via an exclusive retainer). He also provides to  members in good standing free GPL reviews to check for FTC compliance. You can reach Poul at 513-407-8114 or


Sourced from the ICCFA Magazine August/September 2014 in its entirety with permission

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onlineAre you online?


Another cemetery focusing on online marketing is Riverside Cemetery in Macon, Ga. Cecil Coke, the cemetery's president, said its website has helped sales. "We use our website primarily for informational purposes right now," he said. "Although it is sometimes hard to track, we have seen an increase in plot sales since starting our website, about nine years ago." Coke said people value seeing photos on the website because those help them select plot spaces before actually contacting a sales representative.


One of the things that helps drive traffic to Riverside's website is the domain name.


"There are Riverside cemeteries in nearly every state, meaning there are a lot of them around the country," Coke said. "We were the first Riverside Cemetery to register the domain name '' Having such an easily identified domain name has helped us a great deal. Cemeteries have to think ahead and stay on top of Internet advertising. Right now we are rethinking our website. We want to upgrade it with related links, possibly listing burial prices or at least offer a range of prices, and more aggressively try to use it to boost sales."


Tips from Experts

Promoting your cemetery on your own website and elsewhere online can boost website traffic, your brand and sales. It can also provide you with valuable data about the people interested in your cemetery.


But you need to do it right, Miller emphasized. "When a person is dealing with the death of a loved one, he does not want to know if your cemetery is 700 acres and was founded in 1834," he said. "Instead, he wants to know what your cemetery can offer to help him through a tough, emotional time. He's looking for information on plot opportunities, burial costs, memorials or cremation. Cemetery websites should be interactive, allowing a person to tell the cemetery what he needs. This would greatly help both the family and the salesman during the sales process. Online advertising should readily move people into the memorialization process - deal with love and respect for family, not with death."


"Probably the most important aspect of online cemetery advertising is for a cemetery to show potential families how the cemetery fits into the local community. Cemeteries need to be very specific on this point since most families bury within their communities," Miller added.


Ruiz suggested cemeteries think in terms of what families will search for online rather than what cemeteries want families to seek. "Families want to know how much cemetery plots actually cost," she said. "Families want to cut to the chase and search online using the following keyword strings: cemetery plot prices, cemetery plot sizes, cemetery plot costs, how to buy a cemetery plot, cost of a cemetery plot [sic], etc."


Cemeteries interested in optimizing keyword opportunities should access Google's AdWords Keyword Tool, Ruiz said. "This is a free online tool allowing users to research and evaluate the competitiveness of specific keywords in a given market," she said. "This tool should be one of the first pit stops for most any cemetery wanting to refine their SEO efforts online."


It has been said the Internet represents the greatest revolution in communication since Gutenberg invented movable type. Now is the time for cemeteries to join this revolution and explore how to boost their business via online marketing.


sourced from American Cemetery October 2013 Marketing by Larry Lemasters reproduced in its entirety with permission


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Assorted Useful Links


Washington State Funeral and Cemetery Board


WSFDA: Washington State Funeral Directors Association


 ICCFA: International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association


CANA: Cremation Association of North America


NFDA: National Funeral Directors Association


CAO: Cemetery Association of Oregon


 OFDA: Oregon Funeral Directors Association


MBNA: Monument Builders of North America


PNMBA: Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association 




Do you have a job position to fill?

Cemetery or funeral home equipment to sell?

Are you looking for a job?

Classified ads for WCCFA members are FREE.

Send your information to the WCCFA at 

Associated Catholic Cemeteries

Archdiocese of Seattle


Employment Opportunity - Family Service Team Leader Position 


A rare opening in our Family Service department is your opportunity to step up to what our team calls "the best job ever." Your past success in sales and familiarity with the Catholic Church will give you an advantage in earning the six figure income you have grown accustomed to. If you want the strongest compensation and benefit package in the industry, call me.


Our market has a growing population, a diverse mix of multi-cultural communities and a strong connection with their Catholic Cemeteries. Holyrood Catholic Cemetery in Shoreline, WA is looking for a sales manager with 5 years' experience in presenting and closing, recruiting, training, and motivating Family Service Directors. Your team works day times, Monday through Saturday in the cemetery office. There is no traveling.


If you are a sales professional with a written proven track record who can energize a sales team to be positive minded, understands that sales follow service, can simultaneously size people up and set them at ease, think like an entrepreneur and follow directions at the same time, I want to talk to you. Show me your successful methodology for gaining referrals. This is a referral business. If you always wanted to give back to the Church, this is your time. Sundays and all evenings are your time. You must be willing to work the rest of the time to make your team successful.


If you are motivated by money, if you are motivated by serving others at the most difficult time of their lives, send your resume to All resumes will be handled with strict confidentiality. Associated Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Seattle is a drug-free work place.


Funeral Director/Embalmer wanted 


Evergreen Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Vancouver, WA is a well-established leader in our profession for over 60 years. We are in need of a caring, experienced individual with strong communication skills and works well in a team setting. This person will interact directly with families during their time of need and will be responsible for creating and maintaining a premier level of family satisfaction. Must be licensed as both a Funeral Director and Embalmer in Washington State. Two (2) years experience is preferred. The successful candidate will start work immediately.


  • Full-time career opportunity
  • Competitive Compensation Package
  • Excellent benefits
  • Profit Sharing Plan


For immediate consideration please e-mail your resume to Daniel Serres: or call 360-892-6060



The WCCFA Insider is published ten times per year by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. Portions of the information in this publication are taken from other sources which we believe to be reliable and which are not necessarily complete statements of all the available data. The services of an attorney or an accountant should be sought in connection with any legal or tax matter covered. Conclusions are based solely upon our best judgment and analysis of technical and industry information sources.

MAIL ONLY 16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012

Phone 425-345-6186

News articles, editorials, press releases, commentary are all welcomed.

For information about membership, advertising or editorial policy,

contact Judy Faaberg, Executive Director.




Branding 28


In This Issue
Board, member meeting minutes
Convention survey says: huge successS
Meet the Director: Holley Sowards
New VA Cemetery benefits bulletin
Can John handle Bill's funeral arrangements?
Progressive Environmental scores!
Grounds maintenance roundtable
Are you online? Cemetery marketing for the 21st century
CMC doubles down
News from SCI Seattle Major Market
Helping after a suicide
Bulletin Board