September 2008

orlando_convention_center by GreenNetizen.
Orange County Convention Center by Flickr user GreenNetizen  

Curious about how recent economic uncertainty might be affecting exhibit space rental, I decided to compare the 2007 NFDA exhibitor list to this year’s roster of confirmed exhibitors.  Here’s the surprising result:

2007:  387 Exhibiting Companies attended
2008:  387 Exhibiting Companies confirmed

But when I drilled down further, I found that there are 146 that exhibited in 2007 that will not be returning.  That means there will be at least 146 new companies (or ones that skipped last year) at this show.

Imagine all the new stuff to see!  Here are the companies that are new for this year:

69 Dollar 
AARDBalm Limited 
ABM Funding, Inc. 
Adstate AB 
Aegis, Inc. 
Affinity Caskets 
AFP Horizon 
Airflair Makeup 
Air-Flite Containers, Inc. 
American Capital Funding, LLC 
American Cemetery Supplies, Inc. 
Anubis Group Holding 
Argenteria Leonessa SRL 
Art Effects Manufacturing Co. 
Best of The Show Contest 
BP Fleet Solutions 
Buckley Mortuary Service 
C & L Containers, Inc. 
Casa Uriarte Corporation 
Celestis, Inc. 
Charitable Tribute 
Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science 
Continental Airlines Cargo 
Cyrus Molded Products (CMP) 
Denise’s Unlimited, Inc. 
Designer Funeral Programs 
Director OnCall 
DNA 11 
DNA Analysis, Inc. 
Dong Guan Kun Bao Wooden Ltd. 
DQE, Inc. 
Eagle Tree Laser Art 
Eagle’s Wings Air 
e-Partners in Giving 
E-Wishes, LLC 
Executor Services 
Final Reflections 
Florida Funeral Directors Association 
Florida Mortuary Services 
Flowers for Cemeteries, Inc. 
Frazer Consultants 
Funeral Data Manager 
Funeral Financial, LLC 
Fuzhou Boyan Stone Co., Ltd. 
Glitz & Glamour 
Granite Memorial Plaque 
Hafenbrack Marketing 
Haooh Shing Industrial Co., Ltd. 
Holy Land Stone Co., LLC 
Hong Kong Tourism Board 
Hot Rod Caskets 
Implant Recycling, LLC 
Independent Funeral Directors of Florida 
InterContinental Insurance Brokers, LLC 
Jackman Financial 
Jet Blue Airways 
JMR Sculptures, LLC/Loving Memories 
Kates-Boylston Publications 
Keepsake Floral, Inc. 
KMI Columbaria 
Lasper Imperial Urns 
Lex Classics 
Liberte Art Wares, Inc. 
LifeLegacy Foundation 
Lifelong Memories 
Living Care Caskets, Inc. 
Loving Dedications 
Marketing Memories, LLC 
Memorial International 
Memory Lane Montages 
Memory Vault (The) 
Metis Design & Culture, Inc. 
Michael’s Custom Clothing 
Military Pride Group 
Monarch Resources 
Mortuary Response Solutions 
National Urns, LLC 
Nat’l Foundation for Asset Protection 
Natural Burial Company 
New Directions Cafe’ 
NewBridge Group 
NFDA Oasis 
One Stop China Source, Ltd. 
Otis Spunkmeyer 
Pet Passages 
Price Chopper Medical Wristbands 
Print-A-Plate/Joe Carney Funeral Supplies, LLC 
Professional Car Society Classic Funeral Car’s 
PSM-The Picture Specialist For Memorial 
Reflections Commemorative Portraits 
Reflections The American Funeral 
Release Urns 
Remembrance Objects 
Resomation, LTD 
Right Remains 
RK Productions, Inc. 
Rock & Water Creations, Inc. 
Salem Neckwear Corporation 
Salisbury, Inc. 
Scarf King 
Semco Mfg. Co. 
Seminole Delivery Eqpt. 
Sich Casket Company, Ltd. 
Silver Urns/Maalouf & Maalouf 
Sloan Transfer Service, Inc. 
Sound Hill Technologies 
Sounds Creative 
Sportsman’s Urn Company 
St Jude Children’s Research Hospital 
Sterling Design 
Suellen Collections, Inc. 
Summit Industries, Inc. 
Summit Sounds 
The Auld Sod Official Irish Dirt Company 
The Chestnut Law Firm, LLC 
The Rose Garden 
The Rosemary Company, Inc. 
Thomas-Pierce & Company 
Threads Apparel/The Sewell Companies 
Topaz Systems/Computime 
Treasure Line Urns 
Trees Instead 
Trust 100 
U.S. Dept. of Commerce 
United Memorial Prod./Shanghai Sanxiang Mtl. Prod 
United States Navy Military Funeral Honors 
US Airways 
Veterans & Family Memorial Care 
Wings of Light, Inc. 
Yulecraft Advertising Company 
Zoey Ltd. 
Zoll Medical Corporation 


I don’t have time to write a huge post right now, but I’ve just found a great article about the upcoming cremation services for Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana of Thailand, who died January 2, 2008.  Here’s an excerpt of the funeral arrangements: 

The funeral of the late princess will take place between November 14th and 19th at Sanam Luang Park in Bangkok, with a budget of Bt300 million (about $US8.8 million) being set aside for the ceremony.

The first four days of the ceremony are associated with the cremation, while the latter two with the collection and entombment of the ashes and royal relics.

There will be six grand processions for the four days of the cremation (November 15, 16, 18, and 19) ceremony involving 3,294 soldiers and the three royal chariots.

And we have trouble convincing our clients that there are more memorial options than just direct cremation?

Read the full article here.

Read the official release from the Thai Government Public Relations Department.

Good news, blog readers!  I’ve expanded the size of our booth at the NFDA Convention!

Why?  Because the booth behind us was available and I’m already saving money not flying to the show, not shipping my product across the country and not staying in a fancy hotel.

So my original booth, a 10’x10′ penninsula (3 open sides) was going to look like this:

Final Embrace Booth Placement #1 by you.

But now I need to figure out how to layout a 10’x20′ booth with all four sides open.  So far, I’ve got two ideas.

10x20 Booth Design 1 by you.

This idea basically turns my original idea into two booths with room for twice as many salespeople.  The display we’ll use is the same one that did so well for us in Kentucky.  For the KFDA Convention, it looked like this:

Display 3 by you.

The wire frame shelving can be open on both sides, if I take the fabric off the back, so it would work well.

But I’ve also considered this design:

10x20 Booth Design 2 by you.

I like this one, because it creates a focal point for the larger space and lets us put lots of people in the booth while showing off our investment in square footage, but I’m worried that turning our back to the general session (which would be ‘behind’ the booth) might not be a good idea.

If I choose idea #2, I’ll probably get some big graphics printed to put on the back of our shelving to draw the attention of general session attendees over to our booth.

Anyone have a better idea for layout?

To understand this story, you should first know that Twitter is an online service that lets users post small comments (140 characters max) for their “subscribers” to read.

A Final Embrace Twitter (which I don’t have) might update you on events at the NFDA Convention this October, or the progress of my book.

Conceived as a way for friends to keep track of each other’s events and plans, the service has also been used by various news to give minute-by-minute accounts of breaking news stories and other newsworthy events.

Twitter feeds are subscribable, which means you can choose a bunch of Twitter users to follow and receive their Tweets (individual Twitter posts) on your cellphone, computer or other device.

Okay, you now have the background you’ll need to understand THE STORY:

A toddler, killed by a vehicle driven by an illegal immigrant, was laid to rest in Aurora, Colorado and the events, both the collision and the funeral, were covered by the Rocky Mountain Times.

Some critics, however, have objected to the RMN’s use of Twitter to give up-to-the-minute reports of the funeral and the procession.

Here’s a sample of the Tweets they posted:

RMN_Berny: procession begins
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:01 a.m.

RMN_Berny: people gathering at graveside
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:14 a.m.

RMN_Berny: coffin lowered into ground
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:18 a.m.

RMN_Berny: rabbi zucker praying
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:18 a.m.

RMN_Berny: rabbi recites the main hebrew prayer of death
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:20 a.m.

RMN_Berny: earth being placed on coffin.
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:22 a.m.

RMN_Berny: rabbi chanting final prayer in hebrew
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:27 a.m.

RMN_Berny: rabbi calls end to ceremony
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 11:28 a.m.

Some have called this objectionable, presumably because the reporter’s tweets, restricted in length by the platform being used, are short and unemotional.

In fact, many of the reports about the use of Twitter in this instance show contempt for the Rocky Mountain News and call for people to be fired over this.

Fired for reporting the facts of a story?  Really?

I’ve got two problems with this entire story and neither of them have been addressed by the stories I can find on the Internet.

1.  Reporters are not commentators.  Those who argue that this reporting was invasive or that the reporter should have provided commentary (opinion) rather than straight facts is missing the point of reporting.  Too often, our news sources think we’re too busy, stupid or both to figure out what a story means, so they decide to provide it for us.  But by becoming commentators, reporters lose their objectivity and begin to craft the story to fit their preconceived notions of how we should see the news.

2.  Aren’t these the same people who watched a white Bronco drive down the freeway?  I watched that slow-speed chase when O.J. Simpson tried to flee the country after the murder of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman.  Doesn’t it seem a bit hypocritical to give 45 minutes of play-by-play on a boring joyride (“Did he just swerve?  I think Al Cowlings, the driver of the White Bronco, just attempted to change lanes!”) and then critize a reporter for sharing accurate, minute-by-minute facts about a funeral?

Now, I can understand outrage over the perceived insensitivity of the Rocky Mountain News and, frankly, I’m impressed that people are still careful about how they discuss death and how we grieve as a community.  It makes me think that maybe the funeral is not really “dying” and that, no matter how our own industry changes, people will still feel the need to gather, share memories and commemorate the dead.

Unfortunately, the journalistic hypocrites have not voiced objections to stories like Little victim of ice cream store tragedy tucked in one last time and others that not only describe the funeral in florid details, but contain video of the event as well.

A new facility, Pet Heaven Funeral Home, just opened in Orchard Park, New York and it reassures me that traditional human funerals aren’t going away, even though cremation keeps rising.

I know what you’re thinking:  “How can a PET funeral home tell you anything about human funeral homes?”

For starters, Americans often treat their pets the same as or better than they treat the human members of the family. 

Secondly, there is no industry prejudice against pet cremation like there is in the human memorialization market so there is little pressure on consumers to make a forced choice for burial and traditional services.

And still, people choose to bury their pets and more folks are beginning to choose services for their animals.

Yes, there are still low-cost pet cremation providers and they will continue to thrive, just like low-cost human cremation providers.

But the pet funeral industry, which used to be 95% communal cremation arranged through your veterinarian, is growing up and the lack of artificial industry pressure means the result is a more natural reflection of what Americans really want for their loved ones.

So how does this help traditional, human funeral homes?

It tells us that, at some point, the prejudice against cremation needs to fall away, as we embrace cremation and burial as simply disposition options, while we learn that the real work of funeral homes is to provide context for grief and a venue to share and process emotions.

If all you provide your human clients is a disposition, there’s no reason for them to choose you over a less-expensive option.

 Wave Organ by Dawn Endico.

Photo by Flickr user Dawn Endico

Built on a peninsula at the eastern edge of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, the Wave Organ uses the sounds and force of the waves and rising tide to articulate pipes and concrete and make a kind of music.

From Road Trip America:

The Wave Organ is a work of environmental art created by Peter Richards and George Gonzales in 1986. Peter is Artist-In-Residence at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s hands-on science museum. He agreed to meet us at the Wave Organ and introduce us to its mysteries.

You should read the entire article to understand exactly how it works, but my favorite part describes how the majority of the organ was recycled from an old cemetery!

Here’s the explanation:

“The whole thing is constructed from stones that came from an old Gold Rush-era cemetery north of the city,” explained Peter. “It was moved to make way for a housing development, and the stones were brought here.”

The Art Honors Life, Funeria Gallery is opening their 4th International Funerary Arts Exhibition with an installation titled “Ashes to Art | Scattered”.  The gallery is located in Graton, California.

Funeria is a group dedicated to bringing art to funeral services, with urns and other items created by an internatioal group of artists.

Included in the exhibit are short films and other installations dealing with cremation and scattering.

Visit the Funeria website to RSVP for the opening.

Read an in-depth article on the West County Gazette blog.

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