Below is the remainder of the Q & A I did with American Cemetery & Cremation magazine. Thanks for reading!
Ensure-A-Seal is a family-owned and operated business. What does this offer your customers?
The cemetery business is all about relationships and values - being a family business really allows us to keep in mind not only the families that cemeteries are serving but also how important these close relationships are to what we all do. We are not family-owned as an accident; it is a priority of our company and we have made conscious decisions to keep it that way. It is one of our core values. Dave has mentored all of us, and always emphasized that though we deal with cemeteries, the service we provide is ultimately one to the family. I would hope that our customers see it as a bonus, an added layer of trust and accountability, and an insight into how we operate.
What were some of the problems cemeterians were facing before Ensure-A-Seal came on the scene?
There are four primary mausoleum-related concerns: fluid, decomposition odor, infestation and casket deterioration. Not only are they interconnected - casket deterioration lets out fluid, fluid creates odor, odor and fluid attracts flies - any one of these on its own can dramatically impact conditions inside the mausoleum. Mausoleum owners found themselves with a huge investment in a building that was difficult for anyone to be inside, let alone to sell as memorialization to families.
Where did the idea for the casket protector come from? How long was the product in development?
The idea came from Dave, who recognized a need for some kind of above-ground enclosure that could provide a controlled environment for the final disposition of the remains. Again, drawing from his time in the burial vault business, he had seen firsthand the kinds of issues mausoleums were experiencing with re-entombed caskets. He also had the vision to see that a flexible and lightweight enclosure (the opposite of a burial vault) would bea much more viable product for cemetery professionals.
What was the reaction from cemeterians when founder David Yearsley began visiting them with the casket protector?
The initial reaction was of skepticism - why do I need more casket protection. At the time, metal caskets had warranties upward of 50 years, which offered cemeteries some security should any issue arise. Today, you might be lucky to have a 10-year casket warranty, and none on wood caskets. The fact is that 50% of mausoleums have noticeable issues. Decomposition, however, happens 100% of the time. Perhaps with some luck, properly working vents or drains, and a moderate climate, issues might not be noticeable. But the fact remains that biological changes occur inside every casket. In the 1970s and 1980s, mausoleums were just emerging as an option for families - and with a low-occupancy rate, mausoleum-related issues had not begun to make an impact on the conditions of the buildings. The question cemeterians face is something goes wrong - what kind of plan to you have in place?
Ensure-A-Seal is one of the only organizations in the death-care industry that will go on-site to perform correction and cleanup work for problem caskets and mausoleums. Can you speak about why the company has made this commitment?
Early on, the main question was, "How do we know your product will work?" Dave knew it worked and was eager to prove it, especially to cemeteries that were having severe problems in their mausoleums. Being able to go into a building, identify the source(s) of the issues, correct them and then implement our product, he positioned Ensure-A-Seal as a full-service business with customers coming on board as a part of a completely program and partnership. They could see the improvement over time. We've seen and learned so much onsite, servicing cemeteries and families. We have the experience to find the problem, the skill to address it immediately, and the product to fix it long term.
Why is it important that cemeteries have best practices in place, especially for mausoleum management?
It is like any emergency plan - you don't want to need it, but you will be happy you have it if you ever do. With your polices and procedures in order, once a situation is recognized, it can be addressed immediately and above-board, with proper documentation and approval, to a successful resolution with no adverse impact on your business (litigation, protracted maintenance, employee disputes, etc). Ensure-A-Seal often serves as a key part of many of our customers' pans, because they know that we can take the lead if necessary.
In 2015, Ensure-A-Seal hired its first national sales director. Why was this a next logical step for the company?
As Dave transitions into a different role, we wanted to be more visible as an organization. With Jordan now as President and me taking over much of the marketing operations, we thought it was time to add a dedicated sales director. We are so lucky to have Bill Matro, who comes from Bosch with so much sales knowledge and experience. We want cemeterians to feel empowered and informed about their options and choices. We want to be out there visiting our current customers and educating potential ones. Bill is an essential part of that.
What does Ensure-A-Seal attribute its success to?
I would attribute it to Dave - the company is an extension of himself, his principles, and his vision. He invented a product that didn't exist to address a need that no one else had been thinking about before. He built the business on his own around a high-quality product that worked and an emphasis on customer service. He is a trusted leader in the industry, and we are extremely proud that whether someone uses or product or not, they know they can come to Ensure-A-Seal for honest advice and insight.