All funeral directors have experienced “the call.” One presumption might define it as a specific experience that attracted an individual to serve in our sacred profession. However, another interpretation of the call, which is germane to this story, stems from the proverbial price shopper.
In the past, funeral directors generally made concessions, even to their detriment, in an effort to aid the occasional family hindered by monetary constraints. Unfortunately, intense loyalties to firms serving generations of the same family have become less important because contemporary consumers often seek the best value, even if they are able to pay more. As a direct result, an increase in new funeral providers designed to offer services and merchandise at significantly lower costs has transformed countless local markets. Today, price inquiries are, at a minimum, a daily occurrence. Funeral directors have been forced to embrace the trend, often educating potential clients over the phone about services that only their firms provide in an effort to distinguish themselves from the competition.
“I dislike the term ‘low-cost,’” explained Patrick Campbell, founder, owner and operator of The Standard Cremation & Funeral Center in Anderson, South Carolina. “We are simply modestly priced but without diminished quality. There is nothing low-quality about what we do.”
Campbell said any stigma associated with those who offer modest prices does not bother him.
“In house, I am currently serving a family of a 92-year-old man who is embalmed and in a maple casket. It is about a $14,000 funeral. We still handle a variety of services because, ultimately, it is about what the family wants, not what the funeral director wants,” he said.
A native and lifelong resident of Anderson County, Campbell credits his tenure as Director of Advanced Planning at another local funeral home for developing a keen awareness of the shift in funeral customs and traditions. From an early age, he was inherently motivated, disciplined and observant. Raised in Starr, a small rural community, Campbell grew up very close to his mother, Modina, and grandmother, Dolores, known affectionately as “Mimi.” His first exposure to funeral service was through his mother’s work as a nurse.
“When I was 9 or 10 years old, Mom worked in a nursing home. I remember seeing these guys in suits who stood out because everyone else was in pajamas. They looked very important, but it didn’t take me long to realize how so much of that importance and respect was centered around the deceased. From that point, I wanted to be a part of that solemnness and dignity that is associated with our sacred profession. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, people thought I must not have understood since I had committed at such a young age, but the desire never left me,” Campbell remembered.
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