Cremation Startup By Former Nike Executives, Disaster Mortuary Response, and Burial Economics in New York City

Monday, April 22, 2019

Happy Spring! Thanks to everyone that stopped by at the ICCFA Convention in Charlotte - always a good show. We are also at the New Jersey Cemetery Association in Atlantic City this week, so say hello if you are there. I have been wanting to share a few longer articles with everyone that I thought were quite good!

First, Adweek has an interview with the founders of Solace, a new direct cremation startup from by two former Nike executives. David and Kevin had left Nike to form their own design and branding agency, but entered the death care industry with Solace to bring a digital, consumer focused cremation product to market.

While I am not sure how accurate it is that enough funeral homes "still use typewriters and fax machines," everything from the messaging to the urn design to the website interface are targeted towards a younger demographic. Despite being primarily an online resource, they have a "care team" with 24/7 availability via phone or chat. The team obviously has done a lot of market research, and interestingly enough found "that consumers liked the idea of the more moderate price point, which would allow them to spend more on celebrations and memorials." 

The second article is about the Department of Health and Human Services Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT), a team of 186 people that can be deployed to disaster areas by the federal government. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, for example, required a significant DMORT presence - and these morticians can get caught up in the surprisingly political aspect of the official death toll. The wildfires in Paradise, California saw a DMORT team leader dispatched to assist local officials, in what was likely the first wildfire response for the group. 

Lastly, the New York Times wrote about the economics of burials in New York City, and the ways that different cemeteries in the area have extended the life of their properties. Many cemeteries had thought they might run out of grave space much sooner than they predict today, as they adjust their plans in response to rising cremation rates.

Thanks for reading!