Finance

Schoedinger and their 10,000 calls soon to be controlled by SCI

Foundation Partners why I partnered

News broke late last week that the Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service, based in Columbus, Ohio, has entered into a sale agreement with Service Corporation International (SCI) of Houston, Texas.  According to this article from the Columbus Dispatch, SCI’s closing on the ownership interest will happen this week.

Schoedinger, founded in 1855 and in its 6th generation of family service is known to handle about 10,000 calls per year when combining their businesses for both humans and pets.  They operate out of 12 funeral homes and employ about 180 people.

Here’s what President Michael Schoedinger said of the expected transaction, “”We have mixed emotions because we love our company, we love what we’ve done to help central Ohio families through really tough times.” 

According to the Columbus Dispatch article, Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation is the oldest family owned business at this time in Columbus.  It was started in 1855 when German immigrant Philip Schoedinger started making caskets.  A decade later he opened Schoedinger & Brown Funeral Services on West State Street.

The Schoedinger’s and their long run in the history of the American death care movement have at times been pioneers.  They were the first company in Ohio to use a motorized hearse, the first to air condition their funeral chapels, and one of the first to guarantee advance funeral arrangements.  In more modern times, they have been on the forefront of pet cremations and video services.

About Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI):  Headquartered in Houston, Texas, SCI is North America’s leading provider of funeral, cemetery and cremation services, as well as final-arrangement planning in advance. They offer families services in planning life celebrations and personalized remembrances. Their Dignity Memorial brand serves approximately 500,000 families each year.  At June 30, 2021, SCI owned and operated 1,458 funeral service locations and 485 cemeteries (of which 297 are combination locations) in 44 states, eight Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation website

Schoedinger Pets Memorials website

Funeral Director Daily take:  Any way you look at it, this is a big acquisition in our profession.  Schoedinger’s purported 10,000 cases represents an approximate 2% increase in volume for SCI. . . already the largest purveyor of death care in North America.  E-Trade estimates that SCI’s 2020 revenues were $3.512 billion for the approximately 500,000 families they serve.  Using the same math and the articles estimation that Schoedinger’s does about 10,000 calls per year. . . . you would assume that the revenue being brought to SCI by this transaction to be in the $70 million annual range or higher, especially if they do less cremation percentage than SCI does nationally.

To me it is also a little of a personal issue as I got to know 5th generation owner Dave Schoedinger on an salmon fishing related industry trip in 1990.  While he owned a large funeral home and I owned a small funeral home we had a lot in common as members of a generational tree of funeral directors. . . I was the 4th generation funeral director in my family operating a funeral home with roots back to 1872.  We’ve continued to connect from time to time at an annual death care related golf outing since that time.

Over the years I’ve also got to know Dave’s son, and current company President Michael Schoedinger, from the same golf event.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know him and when I traveled to Columbus in 2015 for a Minnesota Gopher – Ohio State football game, he was the first person I called to let know I’d be in town.

Not a shock to me:  A lot of people in our profession will look at this sale and be shocked that a company as strong and as historic as Schoedinger’s sold to one of the large public death care companies.  Not me. . . . this is the evolution of our profession. . and it will continue to happen.

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

I faced it.  There comes a time when you just know it is right to let someone else take the reins.  In my case I entered the business as a 19-year old upon the sudden death of my father.  I loved it. . . and I always have figured that the Lord put me in the right place during my working life.  I have two sons.  They both helped me out in the business growing up and were exposed to it.  However, they had no desire to operate a mortuary.  Both are successful –one is a pilot and one has a marketing major and works in the automotive industry.  I never wanted either to end up in the lawyer’s office like I did after the death of my father – and feel that they had an obligation to carry on a family name.  I choose to sell at age 55.

One of my father’s contemporary friends in the business always counseled me, “Let the ownership of the funeral home be a blessing to you.  But, if it ever becomes a burden, it’s time to get out.”  

For over 30 years the funeral home was a real blessing and I enjoyed the work every single day.  However, as I got into my 50’s I still loved the environment, but the regulations and newer trends, such as increased cremation, and what seemed to me to be changing clientele expectations, made the work not as enjoyable as it once was.

It’s kind of interesting, when I was younger I had a beloved dog.  The dog had cancer and we knew that his time with us would soon be ending.  I asked the veterinarian when would be the time to bring him in to have him euthanized.  He told me, “You will just know“.   Eventually, I did know that time. . . . . . in a funny sort of way. . . .I also knew the time to let go of the funeral home.  I’m guessing that the Schoedinger family, and anybody else who sells a generational funeral home also “knows the time”.

So, from this funeral director. . . .here’s a round of applause and a big thank you to the Schoedinger family for taking care of their friends and neighbors in Columbus for the past 166 years.  Taking care of our friends and neighbors can be an incredible responsibility at times. . . and you’ve done it with dignity and grace for over a century and a half.  Well done!

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One Comment

  1. We sold all our 4 th Generation funeral homes
    A non- sectarian home,A Jewish Funeral Home,
    A cremation low budget burial funeral home,
    A Monument business, A Funeral flower business
    A livery business… to a neighbor 4 miles away
    We did extremely well and financially Fantastic
    But my wife & I can’t take it with us
    And like many owners our children are both
    Financially secure in their lives with their families
    UNLESS WE All LOSE
    We were a “ ONE STOP SHOP “
    We learned from the Big Dogs… more rods in the water … more fish are caught

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