Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trigard Dealer Spotlight: Greg Tilley of Ideal Burial Vault

“I have never made funeral arrangements, but people I know ask me about arrangements… like I know what goes on.”

Greg Tilley is being modest when he talks about funerals. He has never arranged a service, but as owner and operator of Ideal Burial Vault in Corfu, NY, Greg understands loss. 

“I tell this to our new hires: Think of every vault or setup you do is for somebody’s mother or somebody’s father. This is nothing new, but that’s how you have to think about this. You need to be of that mindset constantly.

“I want the families we serve to know, that’s how we view what we do. Yes, we are a stepped removed, but we still cry with them. Suicides are unbearably wrenching. We’ll lower a casket while a father is just screaming crying. We feel their pain, and I want them to know that.”
Greg also knows a graveside service can help the healing begin.  

“We’re here to help heal their loss. We want them to feel some comfort that we care. This isn’t just a waste of money. You probably hear this from people all the time - just throw me in the ground! I get mad when people say that. It’s such a slippery slope. Where are we offering protection?”  

Greg learned this caring by watching his family. 
“It’s a family business. It chose us, we didn’t necessarily choose it. It’s part of who we are. We see our Dads eating it, breathing it, sleeping it. It’s more than just a job. It’s what our family does.”

Original plant was built in 1953
Tilley’s grandfather started the business in 1953. When Greg compares his generations to his grandfather’s generation, Greg says, “Man we are just so lazy and spoiled!”

But we would disagree with Greg. He started working for the business when he was just five years old, helping with set ups. Greg became an official employee at 15 years old, when he worked summers and school vacations. He started delivering vaults at 18. 

Greg is still a proud family man. He is married to Amy and is father to Nate (12) and Neve (10.) He is head coach for Neve’s hockey team and was an assistant coach for both kids’ team last year. 

Greg recently sold the plant his grandfather built and bought new one. Greg dug down and looked at the numbers to make sure this was a good decision. He factored in travel distances, wear and tear on vehicles, over-handling of product and equipment maintenance. 

“It was a very complex calculation. The numbers weren’t really screaming this is a no-brainer.”  
He is confident he made the right decision, though. The new building is more spacious, in a better location and a new facility. 
New plant for Ideal Burial Vault 
“It’s hard to pick out that one thing that you do that’s different. It’s important to talk to your peers. Go visit them to see how they do things to see if there’s something you can find that works. How are you spraying paint? What size tip are you using? That sort of thing.

“We get told a lot that we have the best-looking product and best-looking concrete. I’m not sure what we are doing to cause that. The unknown secret may be the release agent we use that eliminates bubbles. I try to avoid being corporate, but as you grow you need to adopt some of that.”

Greg is implementing Customer Relation Management (CRM) software to help manage his paper work, contacts and more. He is hoping to completely convert to this software by April.

“I’ve lived with paper for 30 plus years, so the thought of getting away from that is exciting to me. It’s amazing how something that used to take so many pen strokes and pieces of paper can be done in one click. It used to be 10 services in a day would be a hard day. Now hard days are the norm, and truly hard days are more like 20 services in one day. I need this program to stay organized. We tried to go through websites for orders and organization, but that hasn’t worked. I have a buddy that is an IT guy, and we decided to go with custom software. We’ll have a TV monitor out in our plant that shows our inventory levels.”

“The appliqués have changed our burial vault industry forever. I don’t know that anything, whether it be the Aegean or Healing Tree lined vaults, that has had the impact that a custom applique has had. Nobody has stood around a vault painted copper and silver and said, ‘Oh wow, look at this, they put his name plaque on it!

“People stand around crying and looking at an appliqué. It’s the last thing. They’ve been through the procession lines, they went through the video montages, but this is it. This is their final goodbye. It is a very impactful moment.”

At first, Greg considered Trigard because of financial reasons, but then he discovered something more. 

“It was purely a dollars and cents thing. We were an Eagle dealer who uses a 3rd part liner manufacturer in Auburn, NY. It’s what I learned at Trigard University that really sold it, though. Trigard does everything all out, and that’s what we wanted to be associated with. This is a relationship business. It’s not always about a dollar here and a dollar there.”

Thank you Greg! We appreciate the time and insights you
shared with Trigard Burial and Cremation Urn Vaults

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Movement supporting military funerals becomes nationwide organization

Operation Honor Guard (OHG), a movement started by Trigard Chief Operating Officer Rich Darby, has become a nationally-recognized charitable organization, recently receiving non-profit status and a federal trademark.

In 2013, Darby attended a graveside service in Danville, IL and saw the worn and mismatched uniforms of the volunteer Honor Guard, a ceremonial unit who performs military honors at funerals for veterans and service members. He knew he wanted to help, so Darby created Operation Honor Guard.

Over the last three years, this organization raised funds for 30 Honor Guard units in Central Illinois. Darby believed this success could be repeated nationwide and applied for 501 (C)(3) status and a registered service mark. Operation Honor Guard recently received both, allowing the organization to make a coast-to-coast impact. During Operation Honor Guard’s recent Day of Giving, OHG raised $180,000 nationally.

You can join the movement and help support Honor Guard units. Visit

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New funeral keepsake for families

Adding family photographs, symbols and words of endearment to a Trigard burial vault or a cremation urn vault can be a touching celebration of a life. That’s why many families want a matching memento.

Trigard has created a Keepsake Plaque that matches the Applique. The 12”x 3” PVC plaque fits on any mantle or desk and looks sleek when mounted on a wall. It can be shipped with the applique so that the family can have the plaque at the time of the funeral or graveside service. 

Funeral directors can call 800-637-1992 to connect with the nearest Trigard dealer.

Introducing new Applique choices for Trigard burial and cremation vaults

To help you better address the growing trend in personalized memorials, Trigard has added new Applique options for burial and cremation urn vaults, making graveside and committal services unique and personal.

NEW IMAGES: We’ve add 3 new photo backgrounds: a basketball court, a sky that is bright blue and a sky with a cloud shaped like a cross. Each one is an ideal backdrop for a portrait photograph.

BLENDED IMAGES: We now offer the blending of two background photos into one. Imagine the duck and deer backgrounds together for a hunter, or the cornfield and flag blended together for a farmer.

EMBLEMS: The possibilities seem limitless with our new emblems, celebrating the hobbies, careers and passions of a loved one. These emblems can be beautifully incorporated into any Applique, ranging from a simple background to a full collage.

To learn more about our personalized Appliques, call the Trigard marketing team at 800-637-1992.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Worsham student wins Trigard scholarship

Trigard Vaults 
proudly awarded a scholarship to Tristan Jardee, a student at Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL. Jardee received the scholarship because he demonstrates a strong academic performance and a commitment to helping grieving families remember, celebrate and heal.

“We believe Tristan will be a caring leader in the next generation of funeral directors,” said Trigard Chief Executive Officer Linda Darby. “We are happy to invest in his education.”

He was awarded a $250 scholarship to help complete his studies. It is one of many scholarships awarded by Trigard each year.

While visiting Worsham College to make the announcement, Darby spoke to students about the changing face of the death care profession. Trigard’s Vice President of Business Development Jeff Miller and Project Manager Blake Swinford also spoke to the class. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

The importance of attending conventions

By Jason Murphy
Director of Family Services, Sunset Funeral Home and Memorial Park

Recently, many of our Trigard Burial Vaults team attend the National Funeral Directors Association(NFDA) convention in Philadelphia. After chatting with a few of them, I hear one thing in common. They all expressed how energized they felt after being around many other people in the industry. 

In my personal experience, I have also found that I get this same sort of refreshed feeling after attending conventions. I am always excited to get back to work and try out the new ideas that I learned about or simply share some of the items that I discussed with my peers. Recharging your battery is great, but I also feel conventions provide other important benefits as well. 

While at conventions, you are able to network with others who may be experiencing some of the same challenges that you face. This allows you to learn what has worked for them… and maybe more importantly, what has not worked. This could possibly save you a ton of time from trying something that is designed to fail. Through networking, you may also have the opportunity to grow your business. Obviously, with Trigard, we are always looking for new opportunities to partner with progressive firms, so these conventions are truly important for us to share our unique burial vaults and urn vaults with the rest of the industry. 

Speaking of networking, I feel that conventions provide a platform for new friendships and connections. I am part of the Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association(ICFHA) Board of Directors. Through this opportunity and the many conventions that I have attended, I have developed strong friendships. These friendships go beyond simply being in the same industry. These friendships help when you need a favor or some good advice. It is always comforting to know that someone is a phone call away and will gladly go out of their way to help you in whatever you need. This is always a better strategy than just “Googling” an answer you that seek. 

My advice would be to attend as many conventions that fit your budget. You never know where a golden nugget is hiding, so allow yourself ample opportunities to find it.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Monday, September 26, 2016

How to Stay Positive in Negative Situations

By Sheryl Baumeister, Trigard Human Resources

Are you tired? Boy, I am!  With all the negativity about who to vote into the White House, standing up or taking a knee during the National Anthem, copy and paste if you love Jesus, “Like” and “Share” to win!

It’s exhausting!  By the end of the day, we find ourselves emotionally drained by all of the negativity around us.  All these negative comments and situations can make us feel frustrated, angry or even tempted to take on a negative attitude.  Instead of doing that, let’s try to rise above it by using a few simple tactics.

1. Focus on you 
Regardless of what others do or say, we can control our own attitude.  Ask yourself why are you reacting this way?

2. Reverse your reaction
When someone is acting in a negative way – yelling, pouting, arguing, being passive aggressive, negative body language – try acting the opposite way.  When you choose a more positive reaction, you’ll feel more positive.

3. Don’t take it personally 
More often than not, another’s negativity isn’t about you.  Maybe the person has had a really bad day and is dealing with a lot of stress you are unaware of.  It’s difficult to know what’s going on in someone else’s head.

4. Stay in the moment
When you focus on what is happening now (not what has happened or could happen), it’s more difficult to feel negative.  Don’t let your negative thoughts and feelings take control.

5. Practice gratitude
When dealing with someone who is being negative, remind yourself of the positive experiences you’ve shared and be thankful for those.

If you are dealing with a completely negative person or situation, be grateful for the opportunity you’ve been given to strengthen your own inner positivity.  It’s an opportunity to practice positive thinking.

Staying positive around negative people is always challenging, but making use of these tactics will make even the most negative interaction easier to face.  Regardless of the situation, it’s up to you to choose a positive attitude.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at