Angelo Rea and Clyde Gordon have unique careers, Angelo as a Market Manager and Clyde as a Sales Manager with Dignity Memorial. With almost 50 years combined in the Funeral and Cemetery field they have learned some skills necessary to work in such a sensitive occupation. They both say that it is the passion, the need even, to help families through such a difficult time that has kept them in this field. Let’s talk a bit about Dignity Memorial, the history behind it and where it comes from. Service Corporation International (SCI) is North America’s largest provider of funeral and cemetery services. It was founded in 1962 by Robert L. Waltrip, a licensed funeral director who grew up in his family’s funeral business and who still serves as Chairman Emeritus or the company’s board of directors.
MARCO POLO Can you list FIVE reasons why families should choose your company over the competition?
ANGELO&CLYDE 1. Service Excellence 100% guaranteed; 2. Extensive staff training and development. 3. Value of products and services we provide; 4. Our North America wide network allowing total transferability of arrangements across North America; 5 Community support, we are dedicated to giving back to the communities we have the privilege to serve in many different ways.
MARCO POLO What are your future plans for the company?
ANGELO&CLYDE We are committed to building our brand through service excellence. We strive to hire best in class employees in every area of our business. To grow our presence through the acquisition of existing funeral homes and selective construction of new funeral homes and cemeteries. We want to be on the cutting edge of our industry in the personalization of services to create meaningful memories for every family we serve. We try to help each family celebrate the life of their loved one rather than mourning the death, helping the healing process. We our constantly searching for products, services and technologies that will improve the experience for those we serve and integrating them into our businesses.
MARCO POLO Angelo, could you tell us about Dignity Memorial and your role as Market Manager?
ANGELO REA I have the honour of serving families through the largest provider provider of our services in the world. My role is to lead, encourage and support the staff of 19 Funeral Homes in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, I large Cemetery and 2 Cremation Gardens in both operations and sales.
MARCO POLO What led you to this career Clyde?
CLYDE GORDON I have an older brother in the funeral industry and some of my earliest memories are of visiting him at work. He was always comfortable in this field and I saw the satisfaction he received from helping families through such a difficult time and that opened me up to the possibility of a career in this area.
MARCO POLO What are some misconceptions about working in the funeral business?
ANGELO&CLYDE There are many, that we are all old men for instance. That we take advantage of the bereaved, that we are morbid and depressed people and that we subject families to high pressure sales tactics.
MARCO POLO What do you most enjoy about your job?
ANGELO&CLYDE Serving and helping families deal with loss, making a difference in people’s lives and the opportunities it provides to give back to our communities.
MARCO POLO What do you least enjoy about your job?
ANGELO&CLYDE Long hours, the stress of working with grieving families and the sadness we see.
MARCO POLO Are there specific approaches you’ve adopted for navigating this unique work environment?
ANGELO&CLYDE Yes, Compassion and Empathy help us put the needs of others first, we remember that however bad our day is theirs is worse and we need to put them first. It also teaches us to take care of ourselves and to perhaps hug the people we love a little more often.
MARCO POLO What does your work routine consist of?
ANGELO&CLYDE Every day is different for us, every family is different, and as leaders we need to focus on building our business, developing our staff and providing seamless service to our families. We also spend a lot of our time helping families prepare for loss ahead of time through pre-arrangements.
MARCO POLO What are some interesting things/experiences you are exposed to during the workday?
ANGELO&CLYDE Every day we see people at their worst, and people at their best.
MARCO POLO What are some of your memorable moments from entering this field?
ANGELO&CLYDE Between us we have 45 years in this field and we have made many friends over the years through it. We know we make a difference for our staff, for the families we serve and in our communities. The greatest reward for us both though are the gestures of gratitude our families give us.
MARCO POLO Angelo, what are some of the challenges you see as a Market Manager?
ANGELO REA Finding the best in class staff for so many locations.
MARCO POLO Have either of you encountered anything unexpected in your roles?
ANGELO&CLYDE Yes, both of us, almost weekly something comes up from a family or from staff that we didn’t expect.
MARCO POLO Looking back what do you wish you were better prepared for?
ANGELO&CLYDE We are always evolving as leaders and some of the changes in funeral service itself came faster than we expected.
MARCO POLO What advice would you give to anyone from the community when choosing a funeral home?
ANGELO&CLYDE Look at it’s history in your community, ensure that you are receiving value for the products and services you require, get to know some of the staff, ask what they do for the community through sponsorships for instance, and perhaps best of all pre-arrange those services and products so that you and your family are comfortable with the people, the facilities and the costs before too much emotion clouds judgement.