2nd generation family members make their mark

Today we will bring you a couple of stories we recently saw in the news pertaining to some things that are happening with a couple of 2nd generation New York state family funeral home operators.

The first story deals with 27-year old Ryan Frary and his purchase of the Stuart-Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Tupper Lake, New York.  Frary purchased the funeral home at the end of the summer and is re-naming it the Frary-Stuart Funeral Home.  Former owner Shawn Stuart is still involved in the business part-time but expects  to “move on to new ventures” according to this article from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Frary has also hired Jade Kenyon, a recent graduate of SUNY Canton’s Funeral Services Administration program to begin work at the funeral home.

According to the article, Frary grew up in nearby Ogdensburg where his father owned a funeral home.  In addition to owning that funeral home since 2018, Frary also owns a funeral home in Harrisville, which will make the Tupper Lake funeral business his 3rd location.

Frary says that he enjoys the business and is prepared to give the job of funeral directing the same 24/7 work ethic that Stuart gave to his families in Tupper Lake.

You can visit the Frary Funeral Homes web-site here.

The second story about a 2nd generation funeral director we bring you today is about the Revels-Gibson Funeral Home in Utica, New York.  According to this article from the Utica Observer-Dispatch, Thomas Revels purchased the Gibson Funeral Home in Utica in 1988.  The article continues, “after his death in 2014, his daughter Monica Revels didn’t want his legacy to die with him”.

Again, according to the article, Monica Revels is quoted, “This is something he wanted.  After he put so much of his effort into it, I wasn’t going to let it go for naught.”

Today, the funeral business is operated by Monica Revels and Jeff Yeomans.  In the article, Yeomans is described as Revels “romantic partner”.

Yeomans earned a mortuary degree and eventually gave up his job in technology sales to join the firm.  Monica Revels said of that, “I give him credit. . . there’s not many men who would have done what he did.”

The two operate the funeral business, and like many family businesses, sometimes their ideals collide.  Revels says, “Everything is done with love.  This is a family.  This is a funeral home, not a funeral business.”  However, that philosophy sometimes can collide with Yeoman’s more businesslike approach to funeral care.

You can see the Revels-Gibson web-site here.

Funeral Director Daily take:  It is interesting to see how the “next” generation gets involved in the business of their parents.  And, over time, the tale will be told if the decision was a good one or not.  I was a 4th generation funeral director who originally went into the business as a family commitment when my father died.  It was not my first choice of occupation, but once in the business, I enjoyed both the nurturing of helping families through tough times and the business operations puzzle of pulling profits with fair prices.

Generally, a business was successful because the founder was able to be single-minded in turning challenges of the business into opportunities.  They typically exhibit the attributes of entrepreneurs.  The next generation needs to build on those attributes and learn management, public relations, and promotions to move ahead.

It is my opinion that we are seeing less generational continuity in funeral businesses today.  I’m okay with seeing that because I think it comes from three things.  First and foremost is that young people see the hours their parents work in the funeral profession and for differing reasons believe that type of schedule is not for them.  Secondly, I believe that young people have access to see all kinds of future occupations available to them, and while not necessarily negative on a funeral services career, they see opportunities in other occupations where they never saw them before.  Finally, I believe that young people and their funeral director parents realize that not all people have the “skill set” for owning and operating a business in this day and age and mutually agree that by selling the business the family can set themselves up for something that the next generation would rather do than funeral service.

I would also add that it also takes a very perceptive set of parents to understand where their children may be on this spectrum at any time and also that interest may change over time.  That is why it is so important to have this discussion – at different times – with each other.

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