March 2023

Page A16 march 2023 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Section A • Who are the best people to help you realize that vision? • What programs can you put in place to attract the right team members? • What systems can you create that will make it easier to train and evaluate performance? • How can you create growth opportunities within your firm? • What things can you do to recognize and reward great work? • How can you pay a competitive wage and still be profitable? These are just a few questions that get to the core of addressing your firms’ culture. With a strong culture in place your team will readily embrace it drawing the right families to your firm and the benefits will snowball from there. George Paul III is a brand strategist and award-winning designer. Throughout a 20year career he’s leveraged the power of branding to transform businesses into sustainable brands. He’s the founder of Cherished Keepsakes and Cherished Creative. For the last 12 years Cherished Keepsakes has provided personalized funeral keepsakes to families and firms across the country. Cherished Creative delivers agency-level branding, marketing and design services to busy firm owners serving minority communities. His mission is to leverage branding and design to build and honor the legacies of the living and departed. By doing so firms become an integral part of families lives. He can be reached at gpaul@ and Funeral Culture — An Overlooked Part of Your Brand Continued from Page A14 ORTONVILLE,MI— Roy Langolf, owner of Village Funeral Home & Village Funeral Home & Cremation Service Owner Elected President of Michigan FDA Roy Langolf Cremation Service in Ortonville was elected president of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association (MFDA), according to a press release. Langolf started his career in the funeral service industry in 1978, serving as an apprentice at the Pollock-Randall Funeral Home in Port Huron. He graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Mortuary Science in 1981. “I’m honored to take the reins in leading an organization that has done so much good work advocating for funeral directors and the families they serve,” Langolf said. Langolf has been active in the MFDA and previously served as the district director and president of I consider it a privilege to be asked to lecture around the country and author articles on technical topics in this publication as well as several state association newsletters. To be sure, I certainly do not consider myself an expert nor an educator. I probably have made most of the mistakes known to embalmers, from which I have learned valuable lessons. I hope that by sharing my shortcomings I will prevent many of you from making the same mistakes. One of the important lessons I repeat in lectures and articles is not to simply “throw in the towel” when the going gets tough. Often in these situations, more work will remain post embalming than would have been in the difficult embalming procedure itself. It is overcoming these experiences that can mature us as practitioners, by keeping us humble and allowing us to grow professionally. I am contacted nearly daily by embalmers who find themselves in a difficult spot. When these colleagues reach out, asking for advice or consultation, there is never a charge and they know I won’t be attempting to sell them anything. So many of my own colleagues were there for me, supporting me, and always made time for me and my questions. They were willing to share their knowledge and experience with me and they never asked for any type of compensation. They only wanted the best for me and the families I was serving – that is the badge worn by a true professional! Remember the adage, “iron sharpens iron!” There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence when talking about one’s skill level. Many people can “talk the talk,” but can they, do they, actually “walk the walk?” Remember, confidence comes from not always succeeding, but being brave enough to be wrong or fail. We definitely learn from our mistakes…or we should! It has been suggested I’m a little rough and outspoken when I discuss embalming and body prep. In my estimation, we are fighting for our own legitimacy and future. I’m not a sales rep, nor do I represent any supply company, so I’m not concerned about stepping on anyone’s toes, losing a sale, or losing a speaking engagement. By Wally Hooker, CFSP, MBIE Only a few of us are willing to talk so openly and honestly about the dreadful work being done out there. Folks, facts are facts and if the shoe fits, it’s yours to wear! The buck stops with you. Be a part of the solution and don’t remain a part of the problem with poorly presented bodies. You should hear the horror stories that are shared with me…perhaps some are about your funeral home (I will be doing a series on these in the future). Never fail to remember that we have only one opportunity to do it right – to give the disfigured, the traumatically injured, the emaciated, the jaundiced, or the edematous dead back to their families for a proper goodbye. Will all our efforts be perfect? Probably not. But as we strive for perfection, we may just arrive at excellence, or at least acceptable results, allowing open casket viewing. The families and funeral homes we serve as embalmers deserve the best we have to offer. Anything less is unacceptable! John Deere is credited with saying, “I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me.” We should feel the same as funeral service practitioners. We must become the vocal advocates for body-present services – no one else is doing so! The big funeral service organizations that should be taking the lead and have our backs seldom mention things like embalming, body preparation or RA in their in their publications. These are things that should be mentioned, and training should be offered to educate families that cremation is simply a form of disposition. Many things can happen between death and cremation, including a body-present service. I was disgusted and dismayed not long ago to hear of funeral homes instructing their employees not to use the word “embalming” with families. Come on people, what are you thinking? We have seen the enemy and it is us! Fear…incompetence…irresponsibility…poorly stocked prep rooms…are all factors relating to poor embalming and restorative outcomes. What’s holding you back? Are you afraid of failure? Are you not fully educated, trained, mentored, or just don’t feel up Embalming 101 to the task? Have you been placed in a situation where you are not qualified to be? Is the prep room so poorly stocked that you don’t have the necessary items to be successful? We’ll look at these in depth, step by step next month. My dire prediction is that the large opulent cemeteries and funeral homes will struggle to maintain relevance and financial stability as body-present services continue to decline, direct cremation continues to rise and low-cost direct disposers move into new communities, challenging the long-established firms. The things funeral service offers that can’t be found and purchased online are focused on the dead human body: removal, embalming, and restorative efforts that require those of us with a license. Everything else is cheapened and readily available to the public – caskets, urns, cremation jewelry, paper products, even burial vaults and cemetery monuments are available online. It’s no longer business as usual. We are portrayed more often as ruthless, heartless, selfish, greedy, and taking advantage of grieving families, which is ludicrous! The public has little to no idea how invested we are in our profession. It’s time we take a stand and protect what many of us hold sacred, and what we have worked very hard and professionally for! We will continue this discussion next month with Part 2. Until then, be well and do it better than the others! Wallace P. (Wally) Hooker CFSP, MBIE, is the owner, funeral director and embalmer of Family & Friends Funeral Home of Wingate, IN. He and his wife, Janet designed, established and built their funeral home in 2004. Wally is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science, where he serves on the Advisory Board. He is Past President of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association and board member of North American Division of the British Institute of Embalmers. In addition, he has served as chief deputy coroner/investigator of Fountain County, IN for the last 24 years. FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Monthly Columnsonline at What’s Holding You Back? (Part 1) District #6, representing members from Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair Counties. In his community, Langolf serves as a member of the Ortonville Lions Club and is past president of the Waterford Breakfast Optimist Club. Langolf also serves on the Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Board and on the board of directors of On A Dragonfly’s Wings, a support group for survivors of suicide. For more information about the MFDA, visit SEND US YOUR NEWS! PO Box 5159, Youngstown, Oh 44514 1-800-321-7479