Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Springtime is growing time

By Donna Darby-Walthall, Trigard Burial Vaults Chief Financial Officer

When Spring arrives, I think of farmers getting in the field and planting their crops. I am kind of envious of them. Why? Each year, they get to start fresh. If last year’s crops didn’t grow as well as expected, they farmers get a chance to replant and try again this year. 

Yes, I realize that it isn’t that easy and there is a lot more to farming than just replanting, but I hope you get my point. We as burial and urn vault manufacturers don’t get to plant a fresh crop and start over every year. We must keep what we have, while growing new business. Our success must be continual.  

What is your definition of success? How are you maintaining? When I think of success, a few words and phrase come to mind. 
  • New ideas
  • Don’t be afraid
  • Believe in what you do
  • Be professional
  • You must spend money to make money
  • Communicate
  • Set and work towards goals
These are just a few things that I associate with success.  As we begin as new Spring, join us as we look for ways to stay successful. Now is the time to regenerate! 

At Trigard, we offer a wonderful opportunity for growth - Trigard University. It includes an agenda and tools to help vault dealers and funeral home customers grow business. Now is a great time to reserve your spot for Trigard University. It is one of the most unique and talked-about activities that we do at Trigard. I promise; it is a trip well spent. 

So as we begin Spring 2017, my wish for you is continued success! I know that we all must work on maintaining and growing. Let’s make it a priority. Let’s so it together! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cassandra Meek receives Trigard scholarship

Trigard Burial and Cremation Vaults proudly awarded a scholarship to Cassandra Meek, a student at Carl Sandburg College’s Mortuary Science Program in Galesburg, IL.

Meek received the scholarship because she demonstrates a strong academic performance and a commitment to helping grieving families remember, celebrate and heal.

“We are happy to invest in Cassandra’s education,” said Trigard Project Manager Blake Swinford. “We are confident that she will be a caring leader in the next generation of funeral directors.”

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

Meek was received her scholarship while her class toured Trigard Vaults, Trigard Memorials and Sunset Funeral Home in Danville, IL. They also heard Trigard Chief Executive Officer Linda Darby talk about the changing face of the death care profession.

Team Trigard: Meet Ross Darby

Ross Darby is the Director of Business Development at Trigard Burial and Cremation Vaults. He is part of the 4th generation of the Darby family. Get to know Ross with these fun facts!

Team Trigard: Meet Stuart McDaniels

Stuart McDaniels has been with Trigard Burial and Cremation Vaults for almost nine years, but you may have not heard much from him. He worked behind the scenes, creating a strong supply chain. You'll hear more from Stuart now, though.  Recently, he changed positions and joined our sales team.

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 generation 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 age 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 purchased a 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 a dealer who used 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 operationhonorguard.us.

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.