August 2007

Attendees at the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) International Convention & Expo, October 7-10 in Las Vegas, will find there is more to do during their free time than simply visiting the many casinos that line “the strip.”  NFDA has tours that will help them explore all that Las Vegas has to offer.

“Our convention provides many opportunities for learning and networking, but we also want to make sure our guests have fun,” said NFDA CEO Christine Pepper, CAE.  “Our tours and specially planned social events not only allow attendees to discover the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, but also give them a chance have to socialize with their funeral service colleagues outside of the convention hours.”


– Red Rock Canyon Tours on October 6 & 7.
– Hoover Dam tour and Chocolate factory tour on October 6 & 7.
– Behind-the-scenes tour of the famous Jubilee Show at Bally’s on October 7.


– President-Elect’s party with remote control racecar competition, racetrack food (hot dogs, french fries, popcorn) and other exciting activities.
– Funeral Directors Under 40 Pub Crawl on October 9.  Participants will travel from pub/restaurant to pub sampling food and drinks with a DJ spinning music at the final stop, the Ghost Bar atop the Palms Casino.
– NFDA All-Star Reception on October 9.  They’ll be honoring Pursuit of Excellence Award winners and the winner of the 2007 NFDA Initiative Award.   

Up-to-the minute information on the 2007 NFDA International Convention & Expo, including the full workshop schedule, tour information, convention registration forms and the hotel reservation system, can be found at


I received this letter from Nancy Thorpe and Mary Ellen Triola of The Irish Wake.  This is #9 in our series 45 Exhibitors in 45 Days.



Thank you for your emails and for considering our company, The Irish Wake, for one of your profiles. We enjoyed reading the discussion topics on your website and would be honored to be included there.

Like you, we are a small company, established five years ago to fill un unmet need in the funeral industry — the need for beautiful, authentic funeral items (especially cremation urns) that celebrate Irish and Celtic heritage.

On our website (, we tell the story of how our company began… it was born of our own frustration trying to find an Irish cremation urn for our beloved mother/mother-in-law Eileen. Every funeral director we asked had the same reply:  “We don’t have anything, but if you do find something, would you let us know?  We get these kinds of inquiries all the time.”

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The fact is, the Irish are fiercely (and justifyably) proud of their heritage… it’s a major defining characteristic of who they are. When the time comes to pay tribute and say a fond farewell, loved ones want to surround themselves with symbols of the beloved homeland.And so, we began putting together a line of items to help families all across America say a proper Irish farewell.  It began with urns, but quickly expanded based on customer requests.  The line now includes register books, prayer cards and acknowledgment cards, casket drapes, casket pillows, candles, rosaries, Celtic crosses, keepsake urns, and copper wall sculptures that can be used as cap panel inserts.

What’s most special about us is that we feature the finest Ireland has to offer: genuine Irish Connemara marble urns, rosaries and crosses … Galway crystal … Ferguson’s linen … Belleek porcelain … Mullingar pewter.  We have hand-cast stone replicas of historic monolithic crosses that dot the Irish landscape in counties coast to coast. Our goods feature cherished Irish symbols like the ringed Celtic cross, braided knotwork and triskels, shamrocks, and the claddagh, whose heart, hands and crown represent love, loyalty and friendship.

This will be our second national convention; we attended Philadelphia last year. We love the opportunity to meet our existing customers face-to-face and also show our line to funeral directors who may not yet know we’re out there.  In honor of being in Las Vegas, we are featuring a Wheel of Irish Luck in our booth… every customer who places an order gets a spin to win prizes ranging from an Irish flag or Galway Crystal gift to 20% off the order.

We are based in New Jersey and keep all our items in stock at all times; urgent needs and overnight shipping are not a problem. Our entire product line can be viewed at our website,, and we will happily send a full color catalog and samples of our prayer cards and acknowledgment cards to funeral directors who call us toll-free at 1-866-IRISH-86 (1-866-474-7486).

I’m slightly oblivious to my surroundings, mostly because my brain is working so fast on the stuff I really care about that I don’t have time to worry about not bumping into things.

In fact, for the first fifteen years of my life, I think I spilled, dropped, broke or smashed at least one item or body part a day.  And while my clumsy days leveled off as I became slightly more agile (I was down to three crashes a week by the time I hit 21!) the most common thing I hear is “You’re like a bull in a china shop!”

But after watching this Mythbusters segment, I’m kinda flattered.

This interview with Debbie Sainz, Sr. VP of Marketing and Sales for Polyguard and Co., is #8 in our series 45 Exhibitors in 45 Days.


FINAL EMBRACE:  Debbie, what kind of company is Polyguard?

DEBBIE:  We have been manufacturing burial vaults for 25 years.  The Owner, Lee Schwab is a Licensed Funeral Director so we know what it takes to offer quality products along with trusted service for the families that we serve. 

FE:  How are your vaults different than say, a concrete vault made by my local vault company?

DEBBIE:  We manufacture a complete line of Thermoplastic burial vaults used as an alternative to traditional concrete products.  We offer topseal, airseal and oversize adult vaults.  Topseal and airseal infant vaults, Youth vaults and 2 styles of urn vaults.  We also offer casket vault combinations.

 FE:  What makes a Polyguard Vault unique?

DEBBIE:  Our new line of Adult vaults, have been 2 years in the engineering process.  They have been reverse engineered from concrete test results so that they will meet or beat any concrete product for structural strength, yet they are lightweight and require no special equipment to handle and set.  Any one with a standard lowering device can lower these units. 

FE:  That’s exciting!  What service or feature do you offer that set’s Polyguard apart from the competition?

DEBBIE:  Besides having a quality product to offer the families served by the funeral homes and cemeteries, we offer the service of Company owned delivery trucks.  We have established routes that service our customers every 4 – 6 weeks.  This helps control inventory costs.

FE:  Why is Polyguard attending the NFDA Convention this year?

DEBBIE:  We want to renew friendships with current customers and introduct other members of the association to our new products.

FE:  Will you be offering any special discounts or prizes for convention attendees?

DEBBIE:  We will be offering discounts on orders placed at the convention.  We will have a drawing for a prize (propably 100.00 bill).  People always like cash in Vegas.

FE:  Where is your booth?

DEBBIE:  We are located at booth 1000 by the entrance doors.

FE:  It’s been great hearing about your fascinating products.  How can Final Embrace readers contact you?

DEBBIE:  They can call us at 1-800-654-1067, e-mail us at or call me on my cell phone at 307-884-8383.


As detailed in the post, NFDA Exhibitor Spotlight Details, our 45 Exhibitors in 45 Days feature is going strong.

So far, we’ve brought you profiles of these great companies:

Final Embrace, booth #669
Memorial Frames, booth #1662
Beyond Indigo, booth #664
24 Karat Rose, booth #993
When We Remember, booth #300
Keepsake maker, Trifac, booth #1210
Publisher Family Learn, booth #1308

Our upcoming schedule of profiles includes:

August 30:  Polyguard Vaults (booth #1000)
August 31:  Irish-themed funeral products by The Irish Wake (booth #905)
September 1:  Family contact web developer, At Peace (booth #319)
September 2:  Answering Service Funeral Call (booth #301)
September 3:  Ties for You (booth #940)
September 4:  Crystal Sensations (booth #1371)
September 5:  Custom Website Developer, Universal Technologies (booth #1567)
September 6:  Info on Hold (booth #1474)

Robin HeppellRobin Heppell, funeral director, Funeral Futurist and all-around guru has parlayed his expertise into a new website, The Funeral Gurus.

The Funeral Gurus site brings together the strongest minds in the funeral industry, providing a place for learning and sharing the latest trends, techniques and knowledge about the ever-changing funeral industry.

We’ll be bringing you an in-depth interview with Robin next week.  Until then, check out the great information already available at The Funeral Gurus!

This interview with Neal Harmon of NFDA Exhibitor Family Learn is #7 in our series 45 Exhibitors in 45 Days.


FINAL EMBRACE:  Neal, tell us a little bit about the product your company makes for the funeral industry.

NEAL:  FamilyLearn helps funeral homes turn the memories, photos, online guestbook and obituary of their families into a beautiful hardbound book.

FE:  What would you say makes your hardbound book unique?

NEAL:  It is designed to be very easy for all family to participate and for funeral homes not to have extra work.

FE:  What is the book’s best feature?

NEAL:  Collaboration. Any family member can add photos and memories to the book from anywhere in the world.

FE:  Why is Family Learn exhibiting at the national convention?

NEAL:  Because funeral homes have embraced FamilyLearn’s heirloom books and that’s where funeral homes are.

FE:  Where are you located and how long have you been in business?

NEAL:  We’re in Provo, Utah.  We’ve been in business for 4 years. 

FE:  A lot of companies offer convention specials to encourage sales.  Will you be offering a special?

NEAL:  Yes, we’ll be giving at least $200 off getting started.

FE:  Sounds like a great time to get started with Family Learn.  How can Final Embrace readers contact you?

NEAL:  Our website,, is a great place to start.  They can also email us at

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