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NFDA Convention Workshops Feature All-star Presenters Michael Schoedinger, Caleb Wilde, Brad Speaks and William McReavy

April 13, 2014
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NFDA Convention Workshops Feature All-star Presenters Michael Schoedinger, Caleb Wilde, Brad Speaks and William McReavy

The line-up of workshop presenters for the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) 2014 International Convention reads like a who’s who of funeral service. Recognized experts, leaders and innovators in funeral service will present strategies and ideas on topics that matter most, such as technical skills, business management, cremation, profitability, marketing and social media, and community relations. The workshops were selected by NFDA-member funeral directors to help convention attendees grow their businesses and better serve families.

The interactive and informative workshops planned for the NFDA Convention, which will take place October 12-15 at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., will deliver practical ideas to help funeral directors manage their everyday challenges. The 2014 NFDA Convention workshop schedule includes:


Sunday, October 12

·         Alternatives to Traditional Embalming for Viewing presented by Robert G. Mayer Jr., FBIE, Pittsburgh, Penn. When a family wants their loved one’s funeral to include a viewing but does not want embalming, there are several alternative means to present the body of the deceased person. Mayer will illustrate a variety of techniques for stabilizing and presenting a body without standard embalming.

·         Transparency and Social Media: Creating an Ethical Edge for Your Firm presented by Caleb Wilde, Wilde Funeral Home, Parkesburg, Penn. Learn how the transparency of social media offers funeral directors an opportunity to connect with current and future client families and distinguish their firms from the competition. Wilde is a sixth-generation funeral director and author of the popular blog, Confessions of a Funeral Director.

·         Breathing Life into Funeral Home Marketing with Facebook, TV … and a Sense of Humor presented by Brad Speaks, Speaks Family Legacy Chapels, Inc., Independence, Mo. If traditional marketing approaches aren’t working, it may be time to consider using nontraditional marketing to reach new families, build market share and generate loyalty. Speaks will discuss his successful use of social media, television commercials – and humor – to educate modern consumers about funerals and his funeral home.

Monday, October 13

·         Protecting Your Personal Assets and Your Business presented by William B. McQueen, LFD, JD, CPA, LLM, McQueen & Siddall, LLP, St. Petersburg, Fla. In an increasingly onerous landscape of regulation, taxes and liability, attendees will learn the vital steps they must take to protect their business and other assets now and in the future.

·         The Challenges and Benefits of Diversity for Your Business, a panel presentation featuring John C. Carmon, CFSP, Carmon Community Funeral Homes, Avon, Conn.; Stephen R. Kemp, CFSP, Haley Funeral Directors, Southfield, Mich.; Steve Trevino, Ponderosa Valley Funeral Services, Parker, Colo.; Erin C. Whitaker, CFSP, CPC, Whitaker Funeral Home Inc., Newberry, S.C.; and moderated by Edward Defort, NFDA. The world is changing, evolving and diversifying, presenting a business challenge of the first order. Join a panel of funeral directors from around the U.S. who will discuss ways to acknowledge, understand, value and celebrate differences and use diversity as a growth opportunity.

Tuesday, October 14

·         Choosing Growth Strategies that Work for Your Business presented by Douglas R. Gober, Live Oak Bank, Wilmington, N.C. Small operators are facing tougher times: margins are thinner, competition is stronger and state regulatory protections are under attack. Gober will discuss top growth strategies and share techniques for identifying the ones that will do the most for your funeral business.

 ·         Transforming Your Business –  One Funeral at a Time! presented by Michael Schoedinger, CFSP, CPC, Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service, Columbus, Ohio. Schoedinger will share his firm’s journey of self-discovery and the difficult steps taken to define a new value paradigm and shift a 150-year-old culture. Attendees will discover real solutions for getting “unstuck” in order to become  a viable business for the next generation.

 Wednesday, October 15

·         Evaluating Third-Party Cremation Providers to Protect Your Firm & Cremation Families presented by Michael Nicodemus, NFDA. If a funeral home has not diligently evaluated its third-party cremation provider, it may open the door to potential liability. Attendees will gain an understanding of their obligations for evaluating how a third-party crematory conducts business, handles decedents and cremated remains, maintains its facilities, trains staff, and meets state and local laws and regulations.

 ·         Helping Families See the True Value of Funeral Service presented by William W. McReavy, Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapels, Minneapolis, Minn. One of the profession’s most critical challenges is educating the public about what funeral directors do and the value of funerals. Discover strategies for helping families understand why a visitation, open casket and final viewing are important – and how to explain the importance of professional staffing at memorial services.

NFDA will offer three preconvention seminars on Saturday, October 11 (additional registration fees apply):

  • NFDA Certified Crematory Operator (CCO) Program, presented by Michael Nicodemus, NFDA; and Michael Watkins, CFSP, NFDA. As the standard-setter for excellence, ethics and integrity in funeral service, NFDA has set the bar high with a new, highly-regarded certification program that reinforces the central role ethics plays in serving families that choose cremation. Every funeral professional who offers cremation services – including those who use a third-party crematory, operate a crematory or are thinking of opening one – should plan to attend. Attendees must complete a take-home test to earn their CCO designation.

·         Back to Basics: Best Embalming Techniques & Everyday Practices presented by Vernie Fountain, CFSP, Embalmer, Postmortem Reconstructive Specialist, Fountain National Academy, Springfield, Mo. Attendees will refresh their embalming skills and learn a wide variety of general embalming techniques, including tips and techniques about arterial injections, fluid dilutions, leakage prevention, restoration, long-term preservation, cavity treatments and much more. 

·         NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) Seminar & Exam, presented by Colleen Murphy Klein, NFDA. Promote exceptional funeral preplanning and preneed standards by earning the internationally recognized NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant designation. Attendees will review preplanning ethics, FTC compliance, basic contract law, customer service, funding options, communication skills, marketing principles, consultative sales, the value of the funeral, and more. Following Saturday’s seminar, attendees will take the certification exam on Sunday, October 12.

The complete workshop and preconvention seminar schedule is on the NFDA Convention website, (click on the “Education” tab). Attendees should note that they must register in advance for preconvention seminars; workshops do not require advance registration. Preconvention seminars and workshops have been approved for CE by APFSP and licensing boards in most states and provinces; consult the NFDA Convention website for more information about approved CE hours.

The NFDA International Convention & Expo is the world’s largest gathering of funeral directors and helps attendees achieve more in their businesses, communities and lives. The latest information, including details on how to register for the Convention and reserve hotel rooms, can be found by visiting or call 800-228-6332. Those who wish to attend convention can save up to $100 on the registration fee when they register on or before September 5.

NFDA thanks its 2014 International Convention & Expo sponsors:

·         Platinum Sponsor: Federated Insurance

·         Gold Sponsors:  Frazer Consultants, NGL Insurance Group

·         Silver Sponsors: Aurora, Bass-Mollett Publishers, Batesville, Facultatieve Technologies, The HELPCard, Jefferson Gardens, Madelyn Company, Messenger, Nomis Publications Inc.

·         Bronze Sponsor: Doric Products Inc.

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and 39 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit