Williams River Services has come to it’s “pivot point“. “Although some discount “The Pivot” as an overused buzzword, for a startup, pivoting can mean the difference between becoming the next success story and joining the deadpool.” So says Nicholas Thomas the Director of Business Development at Docudesk Corporation.
Two years in and we are continuing to think of the future. In the business’s beginning, we identified our customer and offered services they needed. They needed an ally to help them though the first meeting. We assisted in making arrangements and explaining pricing and options. Our business is driven by helping the customer get what they need at a fair price.
In the last year, WRS helped families all over the state of Vermont. We provided cremation and burial services as well as brokerage and estate sale services. Our presentations at conventions and group workshops have helped to educate the public on everything end of life. Our Death Cafes have made the conversations approachable and relaxed. We have published a Green Burial Guide and are currently working on our first book “Do you want fries with that?” The Dumbing Down of the American Funeral Industry; I am hoping to have this released by the end of the year.
Most often, Williams River Services has advised families making arrangements for the first time and that are unfamiliar with the process. Many folks have come to us who have an idea of what they want but are not sure how to get it at a fair price. They didn’t want to be sold a lot of costly options they don’t need. We have been proud to help — providing what you want, where you want it, at a price that is affordable.
Regretfully, we have decided to end our cremation and burial services. As we move forward, our resources will be redirected toward our green services, estate and brokerage services. With this focus, it is our intention to continue to assist families in the ways they most need. After 20 years as a funeral director, I have a huge amount of information about the funeral industry. In fact, I have been on both sides of the table. I will continue to use this information and my experiences to help the consumer. Like any other broker, I am only interested in you getting what you want at a fair price.
I will work on this new focus and you will begin to see blog posts reflecting new pricing and services. If I have served your family here in Vermont, I will provide advice and guidance free of charge. New families should not be hesitant to contact us; prices are negotiable. Consider Williams River Services your advocate. Having someone on your side who knows the business only makes sense. Contact us with questions.
Category Archives: Cremations
Broker. I think I love that term. Broker.
Wikipedia says ” A broker is an individual or party (brokerage firm) that arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller, and gets a commission when the deal is executed.”
After some thought, I realized that most major transactions we make in life involve a broker: buying a home – Real Estate Broker; purchasing stock for retirement – Investment Broker. Need Insurance for your car? Your local insurance company is your broker who will go out and shop for the coverage that is perfect for you. Joint Venture Broker, Information Broker, Energy Broker, Marriage Broker …the list goes on. If you can buy it, there is a broker that can help you.With the price of funeral services being so high, (US average $6, 000 – $10,000) wouldn’t it be nice to have someone helping you navigate all the options and decisions? Someone who has been in the business for 20 years. Someone who has served 1000′s of families.
- Do I need a vault? What do you mean by vault?
- What is a sealed casket? What IS a sealed casket?
- Do I have to pay for embalming? What the heck is used in embalming?
- How much does a casket cost? Where can I get a loan to pay for all of this?
Williams River Services is offering Funeral Broker services. Let us answer your questions. Let us help you find the best services, at the best prices, for this major expense for your family. We would love to help your family now or at the time of death. We are here and helping families.
Call anytime at 802 353-0021.
Something interesting that I found this weekend. It was in the New York Times so it must be good, right?
After I watched A Good Death by Joshua Bright all I can say is “WOW”. This is the scene at many a home which I have visited over the years. The hospital bed set up in a bedroom or in the living room where everyone can gather. A lot of nursing homes and hospitals have single rooms just for this reason.
Williams River Services is proud to offer Urns by Jay Peebles.
Williams River Services is proud to introduce local craftsman, Jay Peebles of Chester, Vt. Jay crafts beautiful urns from a variety of woods: oak, pine, cedar, poplar, cherry and more.
Jay grew up in Proctorsville, Vermont and attended Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, where first learned his passion for woodworking. He was taught by a local teacher, Lee Decatur. After graduating, Jay proudly entered The United States Army and recently served in Desert Shield/Storm. Currently, he working on his degree in Internet Technology. Throughout, woodworking has been a significant part of his life. He prides himself with respect for his work.
Jay can create custom vessels for a meaningful urn. If Dad loved to sugar, use some wood from the old sugar house up on the hill to have Jay create a custom urn. Jay can make a one of a kind, hand-crafted urns with materials you provide or request. He can create urns from recycled materials or fulfill other special requests. Subtle adjustments in size and style are also possible.
We are proud to offer Urns by Jay Peebles. This allows WRCS to bring our families custom, personal urns for their loved one. It continues our mission of providing personal and local services at affordable prices. Contact Williams River Services for more information.
Lots of folks who choose cremation are a little confused when they receive there loved one’s cremains. All of my customers receive there cremains in a brown cardboard box. The box is sealed with clear tape and has a label from the crematory. Inside the box the cremains are in a plastic bag to prevent spillage. The cremains are always accompanied with a permit which is given to the sexton if they are to be interred in a local cemetery.
I have found that a large amount of families are choosing to scatter the cremains. What a perfect idea. Mom enjoyed the lake. She spent summers there with her family and later with her own family. This is a perfect place for mom’s scattering.
This blog is not about the perfect place for a scattering or whether you should choose scattering at all. This is about that little brown box that holds your loved one until the scattering is done. Don’t get me wrong, that box is more than adequate to hold the cremains. Scattering tubes have been around for a while. They were introduced to make it easier on families who do the scattering themselves. These containers are just what a family needs for a seamless scattering.
The problem is always with the plastic bag. It is there for good reason. It prevent the cremains from spilling out. It also is incredibly hard to open. They use plastic pull ties to secure the bag. Great for selling them, not so good to get undone. The scattering tube holds the cremains without the bag. This makes it easy and prevents the possibility of an uncomfortable mishap at the service.
Unlike other urns, these scattering tubes are incredibly affordable. There are at least 50 different pre-made designs or, you can submit a picture which we can print on the outside of the tube. The cost of a basic scattering urn is $95.00. While working at the corporate funeral home, I had to sell them for $200.00. Through Williams River Services, I am happy to offer these at affordable pricing. Some families have purchased these urns so they don’t have to deal with the cardboard box sitting on the shelf.
As always, contact me with any questions.
I have been asked a lot lately about urns. Not just urns but the urns and containers for cremains.
Alot of cremation families want to know what is available for cremains that still shows their commitment to the environment. I came across this unique urn with a dual purpose.
At first when you look at it, it looks like a gigantic drink cup from Cumberland Farms. The urn is made of biodegradable materials and can more than accommodate all of the cremains in a typical cremation.
The urn will hold the cremains for burial while also nourishing the tree seed which is already in the urn.
This changes everything. What a great idea. A permanent tribute to your loved one anywhere you want. Wouldn’t it be nice to plant the tree in the backyard. The tree can be enjoyed for generations. When mom is doing the dishes she can look out and see the tree and remember her husband. The rest of the family will climb on it and maybe put up a swing or tree house. For a family that might be more transient the tree might be planted in a public place. A favorite church or school that was attended. Organizations might start to offer spaces where these trees can be planted. Of course before any planting can be done a ok by the owner of the property should be consulted.
Scattering urns are also a new popular item. In the coming weeks I will blog about some of the other options that folks have.
Let’s clear the air. I have been writing this blog for more than a year, often talking about how the funeral industry is falling apart and people are finding value in other services. I want it to be a clear that when I say “funeral industry” I mean the corporate conglomerates that took over the funeral world back in the 60s and 70s.
There is a huge difference between the local and corporate operations. My experience in the “industry” started after a few years in a family business. While I was doing my schooling, I worked part-time at a family business in Lowell, MA. In the family business, I saw a funeral director who cared about serving his neighbor and friends. He went to church with them; he served in rotary and was on the local school board. When I took my first job with a corporate funeral home, things were quite different.
I worked about 60-80 hours a week. I saw 3-4 families a day and embalmed at least that many later the same day. I never came to know any of those families. I was working for Lowen; the company had come to the Cape in the late 80s. They bought a group of 11 funeral homes, which was more than half of all the funeral business on Cape Cod at the time. Everything was about the money. On the days I didn’t make arrangements with families, I was conducting services for families someone else had met days before.
When I came to Vermont things were much different. I joined the company Keystone; work was enjoyable again. Money was a factor but was not the be-all and end-all. We needed to get paid but we would not turn anyone away. As time went on Keystone, whose owners has previously worked for SCI, started to change. They were now being traded on the Toronto stock exchange. Keystone now had stock holders. Money and spending were of ought most importance. Rumors within the company said that Keystone was getting ready to sell to SCI. This had happened while I worked at Lowen. We were squeezed at the end, trying to make the company as attractive as possible to SCI. Lowen and Keystone had been quietly consumed by SCI.
Business is business. SCI is governed by stockholders. Stockholders only care about the bottom line. SCI continues to show record profits and grow by buying small clusters of family owned businesses.
There are many local funeral homes who still believe in doing the right thing. Here in Vermont and across the country there are family-owned businesses who are not interested in huge profits. They are interested in serving their neighbors and friends. We all need to get paid for what we do, but the continued price gouging by corporate entities makes all funeral businesses look like thieves.
Shop local. Know your options. Know who you are doing business with and be an educated consumer. Corporate funeral companies want you to know nothing when you walk in their door. That is why I started Williams River services.
Call me if you have any questions. 802-353-0021.
I think I forgot how to do this…..
It has been a few weeks since I have blogged here. I have spent the last week in Fluville. You remember Fluville. Located between the Muscle Ache Mountains and Dry Heave Lake. It was a tuff one this year but I’m still here. I hope that you don’t have to take the trip, but if you do, rest and push the fluids.
Back to business. From what I am reading this will be must see TV…..
CNBC’s “Death: It’s a Living” Premieres on Thursday, January 31st at 9pm ET/PT and from the many clips promoting the show on Youtube it appears that the funeral profession is going to be portrayed as a group of greedy money grabbers…again.
If you get a chance give it a look.
As I continue to do research for my book, I find mind-boggling facts. I also am finding that there are some incredible stories of how people get to the point of thinking about their final arrangements.
This is a six-minute trailer about a man who is planning his death due to cancer. As the time draws near he weighs his options and chooses a natural earth burial. He points out that cremation is not an option for him due to the fact that it causes pollution and is not 100% natural. His plans are natural, green, and extremely well planned out. He likes the idea he has control over what is going to happen in the end. He calls it the ultimate gift, which he can give back to the earth.
He has a friend build a casket from a recycled chicken coop. He even goes so far as to try it out to make sure he fits. He will be laid to rest in a burial preserve intentionally designed to be sustainable. As you can see in the video, the preserve is breathtaking.
The video points out that there are two kinds of burial services going on in America today. The first is the traditional funeral home burial with embalming, visitation, etc., etc. The second is a green burial, chosen by the folks who are willing to do what ever it takes to honor the dead without any of the trappings of conventional funerals. “Ninety-seven percent of the world has found a way to have natural burials without embalming.” He points out “and nobody is dropping dead from attending visitations or helping care for the dead.”
I feel it is a well-crafted myth (the need for embalming and conventional visitation hours etc., etc.) that the funeral industry has brain washed consumers to think. In the movie, it is refreshing to see someone embrace their mortality and exercise their choices. These folks have been planning this over a period of months. Much time and research have gone into their end of life decisions.
If this is something that interests you, please start planning now. Remember: natural, green funerals are easy, inexpensive and can be more meaningful to families.