Corporations Buy out State Funeral Homes

By Wolfe, Lou Anne | THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 8, 1991 | Go to article overview

Corporations Buy out State Funeral Homes


Wolfe, Lou Anne, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Journal Record Staff Reporter Chunks of Oklahoma's funeral business, traditionally dominated by local, family-owned entities, are being bought by corporations based in Canada and Houston _ a fact that concerns some independent funeral directors.

In the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, 10 funeral homes and three cemeteries are corporate owned, and statewide, some 34 funeral homes, or about 10 percent, of the approximately 330 funeral businesses are corporate owned.

The publicly traded companies acquiring them are Service Corporation International in Houston, and The Loewen Group Inc. in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Jay Baines, executive director of the Oklahoma Funeral Directors Association, said corporate ownership has been around for about 10 years.

"The way I look at it is, the funeral industry has been one of the last industries to be owned in a corporate-type manner," he said.

Locally, Service Corp., older of the two, owns Hahn-Cook-Street & Draper Funeral Home, Capitol Hill Funeral Home, Resthaven Mortuary and Hunter Funeral Home, all in Oklahoma City. The company also owns three area

cemeteries: Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Rose Hill Burial Park and Resthaven Memorial Gardens.

Area funeral homes owned by The Loewen Group are Guardian North, Guardian West, and Guardian Mid-Town funeral homes in Oklahoma City; Guardian-Mayes Funeral Directors in Norman; and Gaskill Funeral Chapel and Resthaven Funeral Home, both in Shawnee.

The death of Bill Merritt, a prominent area funeral director, also has fed a strong rumor that negotiations are under way for a corporate purchase of Bill Merritt Funeral Services & Crematory, a group of four homes in Oklahoma City, Mustang and Yukon. An employee at the business said the family still owns the company, and nothing has been done at this point.

Gary Tucker, regional manager for Loewen, said as funeral directors get older, they may not have a family member on board to step in and run the business.

"In the past, a family grew up in the industry," he said. "You're finding, as in other industries, the sons are no longer wanting to stay in the same industry, and they're moving on to something else." Tucker said that basically leaves the owner two opportunities: one, to sell the business to an employee, "which is, quite frankly, a situation where it takes some money down and payments over the next 20 years to get it paid for." Another option is to sell to a corporation at an attractive price, pocketing the cash buyout in a lump sum all at once, Tucker said.

The downside, argue independent owners, is that the number of small, locally owned businesses dwindles. Community involvement and quality of service inevitably will suffer, they believe, and they don't see how out-of-state and foreign corporations can muster the same kind of interest that local residents have.

"This country was built on private enterprise and small business ownership," said Joe C. Kernke Jr., owner of Smith & Kernke Funeral Directors in Oklahoma City.

"I just think it's a better system to have smaller, more personalized, community-involved people." Scott Smith, owner of Vondel L. Smith & Son Mortuaries and Crematoriums, said publicly held companies expect to see a return on the investment, so prices go up and quality of service may be sacrificed.

"They start losing their perspective on providing quality service, because it's a numbers game and they're trying to make a bottom-line profit for people buying shares," he said.

"And the management is so far removed from sitting across a desk from a bereaved family; they don't have any idea of how it is to be sitting in the trenches." A July article in The Wall Street Journal quoted William Heiligbrodt, Service Corp. president, as saying that earnings and revenue gains indicate the company's funeral home operators are producing more money per funeral, and holding expense increases down. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Corporations Buy out State Funeral Homes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.