Funeral Industry News Funeral Industry Press Releases NFDA

Salt Lake Success

October 29, 2018

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Salt Lake Success

NFDA Convention offers incomparable education and networking and the biggest funeral expo in a stunning setting

Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) 2018 International Convention & Expo, held October 14-17 in Salt Lake City, Utah, drew 4,029 total attendees (2,464 attendees and 1,565 exhibitor representatives). A total of 315 international attendees, representing 29 countries and territories, participated in the 2018 NFDA Convention. The Expo Hall featured 329 exhibiting companies which filled 82,800 square feet of space (828 10’ x 10’ booth spaces).

The NFDA convention proved to be an exceptional experience for all who were able to attend. The convention featured an outstanding slate of workshops, many of which were at or near capacity, that challenged attendees to think about funeral service in new ways while offering practical strategies to help them understand the evolving needs and desires of the bereaved families. Topics included embalming and restorative art, the opioid crisis, helping families who are grieving a death due to tragic circumstances, marketing, compliance and more.

The Expo Hall was a highlight for many attendees because, in addition to connecting with their valued supplier partners, they also discovered new products and services they can offer to families in their communities.

From the rousing red-carpet themed Welcome Party to the heights of the Wasatch Mountains for an Oktoberfest-themed closing party, attendees had many opportunities to network and have fun while experiencing everything that makes Salt Lake City one of the country’s hidden gems.

NFDA Highlights Consumer Outreach Initiatives

During the Monday General Session, NFDA CEO Christine Pepper highlighted the significant strides NFDA has made during the past year to educate consumers about the value of funerals and the important role that funeral directors play in helping families heal after the death of a loved one.

“The association committed to finding more and better ways to tell your story,” Pepper said. “Our most significant initiatives focused on helping consumers understand the value of funerals and funeral directors. From a new consumer website to expanded public relations, we are putting funeral service in front of consumers like we have never done before.” is a new NFDA initiative that educates and empowers consumers to make informed decisions about funerals and memorialization. also highlights the unique expertise of funeral directors in planning a meaningful service. It is a multi-faceted approach that includes, not only the website, but also printed materials, social media and a comprehensive public relations strategy.

“In March, we launched, a website packed with useful resources for consumers,” Pepper explained. “It’s a place where they can find valuable information, whether they just experienced the death of a loved one or are preplanning a funeral. For many years, you’ve asked us to help educate the public about what you do and the value of a meaningful funeral. This website does that and more. The site provides information that encourages people to remember and honor their loved ones in ways that will help them reflect, mourn and begin to grieve. And when a consumer searches for a funeral home, the site’s directory connects them directly with an NFDA-member.”

The association also debuted the first in a series of public service announcements to help families that have experienced a tragic death.

When a loved one dies in a tragic way such as by drug overdose or violence, family members may think a funeral is not appropriate. They may not understand how important it is to have the support of friends and family or how a funeral can help them during this difficult time.

NFDA hopes to help families that have experienced a tragic death to understand that a funeral is appropriate and how it can benefit them.

The new public service announcements, along with a consumer brochure, convey that regardless of how someone died, they should be remembered by having a funeral. More information about these resources will be available soon.

NFDA also introduced the winners of the Film Contest. The winning films, along with several honorable mentions, made their debut during the NFDA Convention and were available for viewing in the Area in the Convention Center.

Earlier this year, NFDA invited amateur and professional filmmakers from around the world to create films that help convey the importance and power of memorializing lives. Three winning films were selected for their ability to inspire others to remember the lives of their loved ones.

“As funeral directors, you see the wide variety of ways people share the story of a person’s life through their funeral,” said Pepper. “It’s important to remember. It’s important to pay tribute. These short films give you a glimpse into three lives.”

The first-place winning film, A Brief & Concise History of Things and Other Things, was inspired by Sidney Butler’s family and illustrates how she sees us all connected to society in a bigger way. The second-place film, Tio Lino, was created by Adrian Burrell. It follows the life of an elderly gentleman who chose to devote his time and talents to serving his community and the disadvantaged youth in his neighborhood. The third-place film, Art Can Save You – The Story of Shari Kadar and 1,000 Colored Eggs was made by Austin Meyer. It tells the story of a World War II refugee from Hungary who came to America and discovered her passion for art.

NFDA has arranged for its members to use the films selected as winners or honorable mentions to promote the value of funerals and memorialization, such as by posting films on their firm’s website or social media sites or using them in community presentations. More information about how members can use the films is available online, (member login required).

Giving Hearts

On Saturday, October 13, 19 volunteers shared their time and talents with Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity.

This year, volunteers worked a side-by-side duplex. One of the future residents of this home is Kinsella, a single mother of three children, ages 23, 15, and 8, who has always wanted to own her own home. She has already completed her 250 hours of sweat equity but continues to work on the duplex because she wants to keep an eye on its progress and enjoys learning about home building concepts and maintenance.

Thanks, in part, to the generosity of NFDA volunteers, the Kinsella and her family will realize their American dream of home ownership in her beloved community of Salt Lake City.

The Power of Music

A highlight of the 2018 NFDA Convention was the Service of Remembrance. The power of music is undeniable. It can invoke the deepest feelings or instantly whisk you away to the fondest moments of the past preserved in sweet memories of the people and places that mean the most. The service explored the importance and healing power of music at funerals.

During the service, attendees enjoyed performances by NFDA member Austin O’Neal of Cochran Funeral Home in Blue Ridge, Ga., who played the piano, and local musical groups the Saltaires and One Clear Voice, both of which included members of the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir.

As is NFDA’s custom, the Service of Remembrance was also a time for attendees to remember and honor the memory of colleagues and family members who died during the last year.

NFDA Honors Funeral Service All Stars

During the All-Star Recognition Ceremony, NFDA recognized funeral professionals who, within the last year, earned their NFDA Cremation Certification (Certified Crematory Operator or Certified Cremation Services Provider designation); NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant designation; or their Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) designation from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.

NFDA also honored recipients of a Foundation ’45 scholarship or award from the Funeral Service Foundation, and the NFDA International Professional Achievement Certificate.

Additionally, NFDA paid tribute to the funeral homes that are Green Funeral Practice Certificate holders and 2018 Pursuit of Excellence Award recipients – including the Best of the Best Award winners, Hall of Excellence inductees and the inaugural recipient of the Richard Myers Pinnacle Award – during the All-Star Recognition Ceremony.

Big Winners

During the Monday General Session, NFDA presented the 2018 NFDA Members’ Choice Award to ASD – Answering Service for Directors. The company was recognized for its Web Form Watchdog. Established in 2009, the NFDA Members’ Choice Award (formerly the Innovation Award) recognizes and promotes creativity, innovation and excellence among funeral service suppliers and vendors.

During the Wednesday General Session, NFDA recognized Envision Strategic Partners as the winner of the Most Memorable Booth Contest, a competition for first-time exhibitors. Attendees voted for the booth that left a lasting impression on them with friendly, knowledgeable staff and a stellar booth design.

NFDA also gave out fabulous prizes to attendees in the Great Big Giveaway, held during the Wednesday General Session. During Expo Hall hours on Wednesday morning, NFDA’s valued sponsors handed out tickets for a chance to win fabulous prizes. The winners were:

  • $25 American Express Gift Card: Alex Anderson, Anderson & Sons Mortuary, American Fork, Utah; Mindy Botbol, Shalom Memorial Funeral Home, Arlington Heights Ill.; Tyler Harris, Wing Mortuary, Lehi, Utah; Charles Hastings, Bishop-Hastings Funeral Home, Shelbyville Del.; Michael Smith, Snyder Funeral Homes, Marion, Ohio; Patricia Cottrell, Legacy Tree Funeral Planning, Kaysville Utah
  • $50 American Express Gift Card: Dolly Gunter, Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, Saint Petersburg, Fla.; Marsha Thomason, Thomason Funeral Home, San Marcos, Texas; John Goobeck, Greenwood Funeral Home, Fort Worth, Texas; Rhonda Riley, Tandy-Eckler-Riley Funeral Home, Carrollton, Ky.
  • $100 American Express Gift Card: Charlotte Hastings, Bishop-Hasting Funeral Home, Shelbyville, Del.
  • Amazon Echo Show: Jenny Tysinger, Stamey-Tysinger Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Fallston, N.C.
  • Apple Watch: Joey Tysinger, Stamey-Tysinger Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Fallston, N.C.; Dolly Gunter, Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, Saint Petersburg, Fla.
  • Grand Prize – 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo Experience (convention registration, travel reimbursement up to $1,000 and a Chicago-inspired gift): Jordan White, John S. Maykuth Jr. Funeral Home, Masontown, Penn.

NFDA Convention Photos Now Available

Professional photographers captured all of the excitement of the 2018 NFDA Convention. All of the photos can be viewed at Attendees may download as many photos as they like at no charge; prints and other keepsake items are available for purchase.

Planning Underway for 2019

The 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo will take place October 27-30, in Chicago, Ill.

Chicago’s great magic lies in its mix: sophisticated yet friendly, bustling city streets adjacent to long stretches of green parks and sparkling blue Lake Michigan, and a stunning year-round array of things to see and do unique in all the world.

Chicago is more walkable than most global cities, and visitors of all ages enjoy the proximity of such attractions as Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago and other treasures.

The city’s explosive performance art scene delivers audience-thrilling theatre, music and dance in historic venues. And, of course, an endless assortment of restaurants, high-end shopping on the famous Magnificent Mile and nightlife are all at visitors’ fingertips, ready to match every taste, budget and mood.

Information about the 2019 NFDA Convention will be available soon on the NFDA website.


NFDA thanks its 2018 International Convention & Expo sponsors for their continued support:

  • Platinum: Federated Insurance
  • Gold: Batesville, Homesteaders Life Company, LendingUSA, Messenger, Security National Life Insurance Company, Tukios
  • Silver: ASD – Answering Service for Directors, Bass-Mollet Publishers, Frontrunner Professional, Implant Recycling, Live Oak Bank, LoveUrns, Madelyn Company, NGL, Nomis Publications Inc., Physicians Mutual, Sich
  • Bronze: DomaniCare, Doric, Funeralocity, Global Atlantic Financial Group, Inman Shipping, Kelco Supply Co, theMemories, Wilbert Funeral Services

About NFDA

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 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


Photo Credit: International Center for Documentary Arts