Funeral Industry News

Pet Funerals And Cemeteries Significant Growth Segment In Funeral Services Industry According To Leading Expert

September 16, 2009

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Pet Funerals And Cemeteries Significant Growth Segment In Funeral Services Industry According To Leading Expert

The Wall Street Transcript has just published its Funeral Services and Tax Preparation Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. This 57 page feature contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs, Equity Analysts and Money Managers. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

Topics covered: Estate Tax Planning — Death and Taxes — Tax Accounting Services — IRS Audit Targets — Cremation Market – Funeral Service Providers – Increasing Competition – Imported Chinese Caskets – Traditional Funeral Service – Membership Retention Rate – Funeral Trends – Potential of the Publicly Traded Companies – Public Funerals – Pet Funerals

Companies include: Intuit (INTU); Jackson Hewitt (JTX); H and R Block, Service (HRB); Gilman Ciocia (GTAX); Corporation International (SCI); Carriage Services (CSV); Keystone North America (KNA:TSX); Stewart Enterprises (STEI); Hillenbrand (HI); StoneMor (STON); Matthews International Corp. (MATW); Aurora Casket Company.

In the following brief excerpt from just one of the 10 interviews in the 57 page report, an industry expert discusses the outlook for the sector and for investors.

Robert M. “Bob” Fells, Esq. has served as General Counsel of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association since 1983 and worked on behalf of the cemetery and funeral services industry since 1975. In 2000, he was appointed as the association’s External COO. In addition to these duties, Mr. Fells serves as President and General Counsel of the ICCFA Service Bureau, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of the association that administers the Credit Exchange Plan. Mr. Fells serves as Executive Director of the recently formed ICCFA Educational Foundation, a tax-exempt charitable organization. He is a graduate of Iona College and holds a Juris Doctor degree from George Mason University School of Law. He is a licensed attorney in Virginia and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

TWST: In addition to cremation, what is another growth area for death care?

Mr. Fells: A new area of growth within the industry is pet funerals and burials. People would contact our members and ask for information on pet funerals and pet burials. Sometimes they want to hold a little service at the funeral home. At first, some in the business said, “Come after hours, come in the back door, and make sure nobody sees you.” That didn’t last very long, and more progressive thinkers in our business said, “Wait a minute, it may only be a dog or cat, but these people are really grieving.” So over the last few years, pet funerals have become more of a norm, and more places are offering them. They want to be careful; you don’t want to walk into a funeral home, and you go to the right and there’s a person, and you go to the left and there’s a dog. You’ve got to maintain proper respect and a proper perspective. More people are saying, “I want to be buried with my dog,” or “I want our cremated remains together,” or things like that. It’s a matter, first of all, of respecting the fact that you have – and I never thought we’d use this term before – a human cemetery. It was never necessary to define it. Some people have said, “I own these two spaces, why can’t I be buried in one and my dog in the other?” The reason is because the people next to you have their mom and dad interred, and maybe they don’t want their mom and dad buried next to a dog. Most cemeteries, because of the way they’re organized, have standard language used for the burial of human remains, so that’s not really a problem. However, pet funerals are a growing market that wants to be served.

TWST: How many pet cemeteries are there?

Mr. Fells: Not that many. We know that a growing number of our members are establishing new sections, either for pets or even pets and humans. In some states, you have to get permission, so there are some legal issues, but with cremated remains it is less of a problem. You can usually bury cremated remains for both humans and pets without legal issues. So the market exists, and we’ve seen many seminars and magazine articles about it. What this does is build a relationship with consumers, because they say that normally a person is involved with a funeral maybe only every 15 to 20 years; that’s a long time between having anything to do with a funeral director or cemetery. Pets don’t live quite as long as that, and the average pet owner will probably be involved in pet funerals, if that’s what they want to do, a lot more frequently than that. If you like the way a funeral home handled your pet funeral or a cemetery handled your pet burial or pet cremation, when you have a human death, as terrible as that is, you’re probably going to say, “Those people were real pros, and this is what they do, so I’m going to go with them for my family needs.”

The Wall Street Transcript is a unique service for investors and industry researchers – providing fresh commentary and insight through verbatim interviews with CEOs and research analysts. This 57 page special issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online .

The Wall Street Transcript does not endorse the views of any interviewees nor does it make stock recommendations.

Source: Yahoo Finance