Funeral Industry News

Lifetime As A Vault Man

January 14, 2010

Ryan Thogmartin is the CEO of DISRUPT Media | Follower of Christ | Husband | Father | Entrepreneur | Host of #DISRUPTu! and #FUNERALnationtv | Lover of Skittles DISRUPT Media is a social media content agency that focuses on storytelling for funeral companies. We use real stories to build creative strategies that achieve actual business goals.


Lifetime As A Vault Man

imageThe following is an article I wrote for an employee of my families burial vault business who retired yesterday after 44 years of service. I normally wouldn’t publish something like this but I really think it is astonishing for someone to work one job for 44 years (from the age of 19). This man was very special to our business and will be greatly missed. We also sent this article out to all of our customers and framed a copy for Bill to keep.

I am curious to see if there is anyone else out there who has had an employee work at your business 44 years? Not an owner of the business but a plain everyday worker. Bill saw a lot of different things in his 44 years, but his love for the company, job, and fellow employees, kept him at our plant and apart of our business. I hope his story can be an inspiration to you.

Lifetime As A Vault Man

Some call them ?Vault Men? or ?Vault Guy?, some even call them Customer Service Representatives, regardless of what you call them, Bill Mitchell was among the elite. If there were a Hall of Fame for Vault Guys, Bill would have a corner of the building all to his own.

It is with great sadness and honor that Hupp Stiverson Company announces the retirement of Bill Mitchell. On Wednesday January 13, 2010, we will say good-bye to a man who has graced our presence and yours for 44 years.

Bill began working for Hupp Wilbert Vault Company in September 1965. At only 19 years old Bill worked out of our Cambridge distribution plant where he serviced and painted burial vaults.

Newly married, Bill was hired at a wage of 75 cents and hour. Bill recalls a conversation with his wife where they came to the conclusion that if Bill could get to the point where he was making $2.50 an hour then they would be living ?high on the hog.?

According to Bill, servicing a burial wasn?t always as easy as it is now. ?Vault guys today have it made,? said Bill. ?When I started we didn?t have carts with motors, you used planks and iron dollies to push the vault to the grave, now with power carts guys have it made.?

?Aside from the addition of power carts and switching from an asphalt liner in all of the Wilbert vaults to the Strentex liner used today, there really has been a whole lot of drastic change in the job,? Bill said.

This was the only job Bill had in his adult life, which we found astonishing given the way people today bounce from employer to employer. Bill attributes that accomplishment to steady work, good checks, and a great employer. ?With this job I never had to worry about not having any work,? Bill said with a smile.

We estimated that in 44 years of service Bill buried over 16,060 vaults, and if you ask him I think he can still recall every single one.

As Bill departs to enjoy some much-deserved relaxation, he says besides lunchtime, he enjoyed the interaction with fellow employees and funeral directors the most.

?I will miss all the guys and the conversation the most,? Bill said.

I heard a funeral director once say, ?Bill Mitchell could set a vault on the top of Mt. Everest?,

I am yet to talk to anyone who would disagree.