Funeral Industry Consolidation

blog post 19 nov

The funeral industry continues to evolve and reflect that survival and growth are contingent on consolidation or strategic alliances.  Just recently, Pierce Mortuary Colleges  announced the merger with Worsham College of Mortuary Science.  Interestingly, the announcement was made after a provocative interview on Episode 5 Funeral Nation TV about the need for change in the funeral service education system. Coincidence?

Vandor Corporation and C.J. Boots Casket Company, Inc. announced a strategic merger agreement this week which will strengthen their collective positions in the funeral marketplace for manufactured and fine hardwood products.

Earlier this year Matthews purchased Aurora Casket creating a funeral service/product manufacturing giant.  The new company is the only of its kind offering caskets, cremation solutions/equipment, memorialization products, cemetery products as well as funeral home management solutions.  Interestingly, their primary competition in this sector has been woefully left behind scrambling around the cornfield seeking headlines of significance.  Of course the acquisition of Stewart by SCI sent a message exemplifying the necessity to consolidate for growth and survival of funeral homes.

What I have found most interesting is the reactions by funeral professionals to merger/acquisitions mentioned along with others that have been occurring as of late.  I can best categorize the majority of reactions as emotional rather than a business perspective.  When I say emotional, I mean like a street corner argument between the Sharks and the Jets in West Side Story.  “I’ll never use so and so; I’m glad I went to school here because blah, blah; these guys are taking over the world” and so on.


The decisions of merger, consolidation and acquisition are for strategic and financial stability long term.  The due diligence ( defined as a comprehensive appraisal of a business undertaken by a prospective buyer, especially to establish its assets and liabilities and evaluate its commercial potential for those Dancing with the Stars readers) is conducted with expertise probably not taught in most mortuary school accounting classes.

Most that bitch and complain about the business of consolidation and merger rarely have done anything other than receive a check for their employment.  So little contributed yet so much said.  Few business owners or those that have developed businesses engage in the junior high cafeteria rhetoric because they have a true sense of the difficulty operating in our current market environment.

In a nutshell; in order to survive and thrive in the funeral industry whether a learning institution, funeral home, manufacturer or service provider, consolidation is key.  The decisions are made for the overall good of the brand and enterprise, not because of which colors look the best in the logo or the proverbial “we have always done it that way.”  Get used to the headlines and I can assure you there are many more such alliances ahead.  These are exciting times; either jump on board, do something yourself, create disruption or just stand there waiting for the good ole days to return.

From the Command Post and through a heavy fog of cigar smoke, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander



  1. Mr. Funeral Commander,

    I give you a heart-felt civilian salute. You are always on top of the key issues and exposing the very truths most others afraid to acknowledge themselves much less via a blog. You are an incredible spokesperson for my profession.



  2. Jeff Harbeson said:


    I’m blushing…(maybe it’s the early morning rum). Seriously, thank you. We have a fantastic profession and tremendous people that make a difference in the lives of others every day. My obligation is only to initiate thoughts for discussion and challenge all for their voice whether they agree or disagree. I am grateful for your kind words and I’m a huge fan of your team @ Distinctive Life! Jeff


  3. Jeff,

    The moniker ‘Commander’ for yourself is most appropriate for your writings ‘command’ the readers fullest attention.

    Your latest missive with references to West Side Story and ‘junior high rhetoric’ are spot on. Sad but true that so many in our profession try to continue living in the halcyon days of the 60’s and 70’s without recognizing those times are gone forever.

    Keep up the writings and on camera work but for the sake of your health (and your media followers) take your Dr.’s advice about cutting back to 3 stogies per day.



  4. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Thank you for your thoughts Bill…we have tremendous opportunity for the future only if we can let go of what once was and focus on what can be. As for the cigars, one a day is more than sufficient to stay healthy. Let’s connect soon!


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