According to this article from the Haywood County Mountaineer, the Wells Funeral Homes and Cremation Services of Canton and Waynesville, North Carolina, have been acquired by Park Lawn Corporation.
The article states that Wells Greeley, President and owner of the funeral business, has announced a succession plan that includes partnering with Toronto based Park Lawn Corporation. Greeley goes on to say that there will be no staff changes and business will go on as usual and his son-in-law, Ryan Jacobson, will co-manage the business.
Greeley has served the 130 year old business for the past 43 years.
News of this agreement has not yet been posted to the Park Lawn corporate web-site.
Here is an additional story about Park Lawn Corporation expanding their cemetery property in New Jersey.
Funeral Director Daily take: Acquisitions happen in our business all the time. . however, to me, this announcement is special. Greeley actually says in the article, “It was my preference to transition our business to my daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Ryan Jacobson. However, it was their decision not to assume ownership of our business.”
That is so special and meaningful to me because that is the same position that I, as a 4th generation funeral home owner, found myself in with our 141 year old business prior to selling the majority in 2013 – our family has records of servicing a funeral in our community five years prior to Custer’s Last Stand! My two boys are now 24 and 20 years old and at that time, and it continues today, had no desire to work in the funeral home business. They had the chance to help dad as they grew up, but at the end of the day they had other ambitions for themselves and their future that did not include funeral service.
The decision was not very difficult to comprehend that if I wanted to turn the assets of what I had helped nurture into something more diverse, I would have to turn the funeral home and its operations over to a third party. It was imperative to me that that 3rd party had values that matched mine. I visited my father’s, and my grandfather’s, and my great-grandfather’s grave sites to “talk” it over with them. I also had hundreds of talks with my wife about what life would be like without going to the funeral home every day. For 35 years, starting at age 19 when my father died, – seven days a week – I got up, sometimes after already being up at night, and went to the funeral home to help families. It was all I knew. Life without that routine would be different.
At the end of the day, we turned to national experts in the business to help lead us through the process. They helped identify national, regional, and local potential acquirers. They walked us through the process and did all of the negotiating while keeping us up to date.
It is now five years later and I tell lots of people. . .”There is life after funeral service.” I have been able to diversify the assets that I have and don’t really worry on a daily basis about the business ramifications of earth burial versus direct cremation. I’ve been able to do things I never would have had the time for otherwise, like serving my state as a director on the land grant university board or have the time to research and write articles for Funeral Director Daily — I don’t want to be a “know it all”, but I’ve got experiences that I believe this forum gives me a chance to share with other funeral directors that are good for funeral service. I have investments in, and to varying degrees, help mentor four young people with their business aspirations. And finally, I’ve played golf almost 50 times this summer whereas the most rounds I ever played when working was about 8 or 10.
Closing out this article, which has gotten to be too long, I think it is important that if you are a maturing funeral director who owns his or her business, take some time and talk to your children about their goals and ambitions — they may not be the same as what you think they are. The world is big, opportunities are endless. Is it your child’s desire to follow you. . . or do they have other dreams?