“Get to Know Them”: Nicki Mikolai

Today’s Funeral Director Daily “Get to Know Them” feature introduces our readers to Nicki Mikolai.  Nicki graduated from my alma mater – the University of Minnesota – and has performed an extensive array of work in the death care profession.  She is a licensed funeral director and had worked for the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank training funeral directors to help with restoring to others the gift of sight.

I got to know Nicki when she became a sales representative for Batesville Casket Company.  She has moved on to a new and exciting career in the death care community. . . . a part of the profession where I personally see much growth potential. . . we’ll let Nicki tell her story. . .

 

Q1.  What is your position and company in the Death Care profession/industry at this time?

A1. I am the sales manager for Resomation America, which serves North and South America. Resomation-Natural Water Cremation is the new, greener alternative to flame cremation. This natural approach uses water instead of flame to return the body to ashes and offers people the choice of a gentler, more environmentally-friendly end of life solution. I am based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our parent company, Resomation Ltd., is based out of Leeds, England.

 

Q2.  Is this your first employment experience in the Death Care profession/industry?  If so, how did you acquire this position and what do you believe are some of your previous work life experiences that may have qualified you for this position?

If it is not your first employment experience in the Death Care profession/industry, what other, if any positions have you held in the profession/industry?

A2.  I have been a licensed funeral director for almost 25 years. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, I worked as a funeral director with SCI in the Twin Cities. I then went on to the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank where I trained funeral directors on eye enucleation. For almost 7 years, I was a sales consultant with Batesville. This was one of my favorite jobs as I got to work with many small and large funeral homes throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

One of my Batesville customers was Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services. They were installing the first alkaline hydrolysis (AH) system in Minnesota and the second in the US.  I was able to learn firsthand what AH was all about and I was instantly intrigued. I became such a fan of the gentle nature of the process that when my grandpa died in 2015 I chose it for him. When Resomation Ltd. began to look for a US sales manager back in 2018, Jason Bradshaw recommended me. The rest is history.

 

Q3.  How would you describe what you do in your present position?

A3.  Since alkaline hydrolysis is still such a new technology, I spend a lot of time educating people. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this process and it is so important that people truly understand how it works. Under “normal” circumstances, I would be attending conventions throughout the year but now my days are now filled with zoom meetings and virtual visits. In addition to answering calls and emails from future customers, I also receive many inquiries from consumers. As the public begins to learn about AH they call me wondering “where can I get this?”

 

Q4.  Do you belong to any professional organizations or associations?  If so, which ones?

A4.  As a company, we belong to Cremation Association of North America, International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, and Ontario Association of Cemetery and Funeral Professionals.

 

Q5.  What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the Death Care community in the next decade?

A5.  For many funeral directors, it’ll be the idea that alkaline hydrolysis is a viable option that people will want. Every time I talk to someone about AH their response is something along the lines of “Why isn’t that available everywhere? Why wouldn’t everyone want that? How come I’ve never heard of this?” People deserve to have this option and I believe that as an industry we need to do what we can to offer it. Families should have the choice between burial, cremation, and alkaline hydrolysis.

 

Q6.  What are the best words of advice you received about working in the Death Care community?

A6.  Take good care of people. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

 

Q7.  What would you advise those thinking about entering the Death Care profession/industry?

A7.  I’d advise them to spend some time shadowing different individuals in the industry. Make sure they really understand what it is they are getting into. I think death care is a wonderful industry and there are many different aspects to it, but as we all know it certainly isn’t for everybody.

 

Q8.  Tell us a little about yourself and what you enjoy doing when away from work.

A8.  I have two teenagers at home and a Jack Russell I adore. I love working out in my yard as much as I can. I belong to an amazing church and I volunteer there quite a bit. I like to read, go for walks, and spend time with my family and friends. I really love to travel, so I’d like this pandemic to be over so I can get back to it!

Funeral Director Daily is always looking for new people to introduce to the death care community. . . If you are interested in being part of our “Get to Know Them” series please contact us using the “Contact Us’ link at the bottom of the page.

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