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

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