Matthews International. . . its history and its business

A recent article in Smart Business Pittsburgh magazine featured the Death Care conglomerate Matthews International.  Matthews is known in Death Care from Matthews Memorialization which includes the ability to supply to funeral homes and cemeteries products such as caskets, cremation equipment, and cemetery markers among a host of products.


The article, which you can read here, gives the history of the company which was founded over 170 years ago as a “branding iron business stamping wooden crates”.  Quite frankly the company has evolved as CEO Joseph Bartolacci says in the article, “Everything we do today is an extension, an evolution, or a pivot of what we did back then”.


The evolution into the memorial business came back in 1927 when “The original stamping business likewise evolved into bronze when Matthews produced the first-ever flush bronze memorial in 1927″.   According to the article, “This division, now known as Matthews Memorialization, has continued expanding to serve cemeteries, funeral homes and sign shops across the country. Through several strategic acquisitions, this business grew beyond bronze markers to offer caskets, cremation equipment and other types of cemetery markers, including granite. Matthews Memorialization generated $840 million in sales last year, making up 48 percent of Matthews’ overall business. . . “


While Matthews International continues to be a major supplier to the Death Care profession Bartolacci says the most exciting part of the company today is the Industrial Technologies Division.  The article points out,  “This energy solutions business showcases Matthews’ innovative transformation from old-fashioned printing to cutting-edge production of hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries”.


It’s also very interesting to learn that this new cutting-edge production breeds itself from Matthews inception in stamping and printing. . . . the technology to work with hydrogen and lithium-ion originally came from the age-old printing and stamping processes.


Here’s what the article says about that, “Matthews pivoted into energy solutions by leveraging its expertise in rotary processing, which traditionally used a rotating metal cylinder to imprint images on fine paper or foil, such as chewing gum wrappers. With assistance from a research institute and the German government, Matthews’ German engineers launched a project about 10 years ago using similar techniques “to process dry powdered lithium-rich material into a solid sheet without the use of any resins,” Bartolacci says.

This innovative process creates a dry battery electrode, presenting an alternative to the wet battery electrode used in most electric vehicles (EVs) on the road today. Whereas wet battery electrode processing uses chemical solvents and lots of energy to turn lithium-rich material into battery cells, Matthews’ process unlocks cost savings and other benefits for customers.

“As a result of our technology and our know-how, for which we have multiple patents, we’re able to reduce the cost of the battery significantly,” Bartolacci says. “There’s far less energy used, far less manpower needed and no environmental concerns, which is a very important factor today.”

This technology is poised to revolutionize the EV market, Bartolacci says, all thanks to “a great idea and a lot of know-how in an old-fashioned printing industry.”


Funeral Director Daily take:  We’ve written articles about the interesting history of funeral homes in this forum. . . . . Today’s article points out another interesting history. . . . . it just happens to be a supplier, not a funeral home.


The Matthews story is one of innovation and acquisition.  The Smart Business Pittsburgh article is a good one. . .take my advice and read it!!!!


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