This article, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, makes me ask the question, “Will you be ready to create the product or service your funeral home really needs?”

Funeral professionals are so busy biting their fingernails because of the march toward cremation.  When will be figure out that it’s our job to change what we offer?

Take this example:

CINCINNATI, OHIO — In 1962, Lou Groen was desperate to save his floundering hamburger restaurant, the first McDonald’s in the Cincinnati area.

His problem: The clientele was heavily Catholic. Back then, most Catholics abstained from meat every Friday, not just during Lent, a 40-day period of repentance that began with Ash Wednesday.

His solution: He created a sandwich that eventually would be consumed at a rate of 300 million a year – the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.

“Frisch’s (the local Big Boy chain) dominated the market, and they had a very good fish sandwich,” recalled Groen, now 89. “I was struggling. The crew was my wife, myself and a man named George. I did repairs, swept floors, you name it.

“But that area was 87 percent Catholic. On Fridays we only took in about $75 a day,” said Groen, a Catholic himself. “All our customers were going to Frisch’s. “So I invented my fish sandwich, developed a special batter, made the tartar sauce and took it to headquarters.”

That led to a wager between Groen and McDonald’s chief Ray Kroc, who was preparing his own meatless alternative.

“He called his sandwich the Hula Burger,” Groen said. “It was a cold bun and a slice of pineapple and that was it.

“Ray said to me, ‘Well, Lou, I’m going to put your fish sandwich on (a menu) for a Friday. But I’m going to put my special sandwich on, too. Whichever sells the most, that’s the one we’ll go with.’

“Friday came and the word came out. I won hands down. I sold 350 fish sandwiches that day. Ray never did tell me how his sandwich did.”

But the chain compelled Groen to modify the fish recipe.

“I wanted halibut originally,” Groen said. “I was paying $2 a pound for halibut. That sandwich cost me 30 cents apiece to make. They told me it had to sell for 25 cents. I had to fall back on Atlantic cod, a whitefish, and I added a slice of cheese. But my halibut sandwich far outshines that one.”

Groen wasn’t complaining.

“My fish sandwich was the first addition ever to McDonald’s original menu,” he said. “It saved my franchise.”

And fed it. By the time he sold his franchise in 1986, Groen owned 43 McDonald’s restaurants in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, about half the number the region contains today. But his prosperity didn’t include a slice of the Filet-O-Fish’s national sales.

“Not a penny,” he said. “I made my money by selling the product and being the best operator I could.”

Charles Faulks, operations director for McDonald’s Ohio Region, called Groen’s contributions legendary.

“Lou exemplified Ray Kroc’s philosophy that you can succeed if you believe in your brand, treat your people right and give back to your community,” Faulks said.