Monday, September 19, 2011

LET ME TELL YOU WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE A YEAR OLD...

A simple dream

About two years ago I lost my job as a dragline operator. I had decided to move into heavy equipment after I made a conscious decision to leave the funeral industry due to my observation of what I felt was a very greedy and corrupt industry. I really did not want much to do with it. I found myself really disliking people who worked in the industry, not because of what they did, but because of who and how they did it to people. I care a great deal for people and want to help as much as I could, but I also found myself working for people and corporations whose main concern was how much can you bring to the table when you make arrangements with a family. It was all about the numbers.

I spoke with my Mom in depth about what I could do, she said that I should do what I was good at, helping people to bury and grieve over their loved one. I sat down and wrote up a business plan, for one year I spent time putting together a small business that I felt could do better than those around me and be humble enough to not make a family uncomfortable with what I was trying to do for them. I knew a few people in the industry and one suggested I go talk to a man by the name of Tony Cerillo, Tony is the owner of "Serenity Mortuary Services". Serenity is the facility I use to do my family's cremations. Tony has been in the industry for 40+ years, and he was voted the number one funeral director in Arizona in 2009. I could not think of a better man to seek guidance from, and that's all I wanted, I really wanted to do this on my own. 

We found two or three locations at first, one always seemed to give way to the next until finally I found myself in the west valley. Goodyear then Avondale, I went through the motions of petitioning the city  of Avondale to open in the "old town" district. I hat to go through a 4 month process before I could open. The location I found was the old "Western Avenue Baptist Church" on Western Avenue. It needed a bit of work, ok, allot of work. But we did it. I remember when I was out and about picking furniture for the funeral home people would ask what I was doing with it, I would tell them, "I'm opening a funeral home". They thought I was crazy. I had so much furniture and equipment stored in my garage at home that I had to rent out a storage unit.

All the re-modeling we did by ourselves. We didn't want to go "over the top". We were on a tight budget and we wanted the place to be like as if you were at your own home. I think we succeeded. People always say that when they come in.

Opening

On September 21st,  2010 we opened our doors. I made it a very good point to have a very good relationship with any merchandise providers that sold retail to the community. It was not my intent to burn any bridges before  I crossed it. I tried to reach out to other local funeral establishments in the area, but before I was afforded the opportunity, they were already doing what they could to interrupt my business. From contacting funeral merchandise providers and telling them if they chose to provide services to Avenidas, then their services were no longer needed by them. Some service providers stayed with me, some left. That's ok.

I developed a very good working relationship with some very loyal merchants to include Serenity Mortuary Services, PBF Caskets and Urns, Desert Oasis Flower Shop, Ken Wyman, John Moreno, Eddies Caskets, West Valley View Newspaper, Sunflower Flowershop and Gifts, and many, many  local and national providers. I have also tried very hard to create and maintain good working relationships with other funeral homes such as South Mountain Mortuary, Harper Funeral Home, Ganley's Buckeye Funeral Home and many other funeral locations throughout Arizona and southern California and all my Brothers and Sisters at American Legion Post 61 in Avondale.. I enjoy a very good working relationship with The Mexican Consulate of Phoenix, Maricopa County Coroners Office and Office of Vital Records.

I have made it a point to reach out to some of the local worship facilities in the area, again some have been receptive, some have not. My thanks goes out to clergy and staff of many local churches that have opened their doors to us,  and afforded me the opportunity to provide services to their church and congregation. My gratitude also goes out to many of the local hospices, hospitals, and charity groups, that have been instrumental in getting our message and mission out to the community. 

To serve the community

Since we opened our doors we have been privileged to be called on to serve approximately 145 families. We do not take this calling lightly. It has all ways been our intent to reach out to the community anyway we could. We have done this through Facebook, our Blog, which you are reading now (thank you for reading) called "Lets Talk About It", and good ol' fashioned word of mouth. My intent is to keep the community informed, be it through comical presentation of the industry and heartfelt disturbing events that others have had the misfortune of happening to them. As comical or sad as it may seem at times, it has always been my intent to inform you anyway I could and help ensure that YOU are not the next story or nightmare someone else is reading about.

Pricing, Pricing has always been a big argument of mine, I feel very, very, VERY responsible to let the community know that it just does not cost that much. I have been told that I would not survive on what I charge, that we could not make it on our prices. Well, I beg to differ, In the year we have been open we have not incurred any debt, we have held our own and their is no "Big Bill" hanging over our head or "personal account" that we have had to dip into to save us. Because of you, the community we have survived the dreaded first year.

Now, how did we do this? We did it by treating you, the community as much more than a "case number". We did this by dressing and behaving a little more humble. We did this by not trying to pretend we are anymore than we are. There is a saying in the military, "We put our pants on just like you, one leg at a time". We pride ourselves in that we don't need to charge an arm and a leg so we can enjoy those luxuries in life that others can not. One of the requirements to work with us is that if you have an ego or arrogance about you, there is no room in our business for you.

My Veterans

It has been also my intention to serve the Military Veterans Community.  To provide them with the most affordable dignified services taking into consideration their service to country first and ensuring we have done everything we can so the veteran will be rewarded with all he/she deserves. Veteran services are not just a "job" to us, they are the special recognition that so many have been denied, and so many deserve on their way to rest.
  
No one has been turned away

Just like it says....... I honestly do think that everyone sees that all things are worth something, and all understand that things cost money, this is inclusive of a funeral service, BUT I fail to understand how anyone can charge the same amount of money for a casket than you would pay for a small car.

I can tell you in the year we have been open that no one has departed without service. We have done and will do everything we can to insure that a family is afforded a dignified service, be it direct cremation or burial. We have done all we can to assist.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 21st 2011 is our one year anniversary. I kept telling my employees that all we have to do is get through that first year, get through that first year. Well we did. We did not open to be a flash in the pan, to raise our prices over the year to make more money, To gain the communities trust then sell out to a corporate giant. We opened to serve you, and without you, we would have never done this. We owe it all to you. WE are here for YOU!

We have been told we would not make it, we would be shut down and we would be run out of town. We were told we would not last due to our competitors "superior" service and "luxury" facilities. We were much to humble. Unfortunately, those that felt this way were unable to comprehend that "luxury, superiority and elegance" are the last thing on a families mind when they are grieving. The family knows it, some businesses do not, they are out of touch, they have wandered from the path. It is not about them, this is about you and your family.

At times like this, the family is in search of "comfort, dignity and respect". All the rest is just glitter. Glitter is not a emotion or feeling one expresses when they lose a family member or friend. Glitter is something you put on for a night on the town or to show another how important we are, most of the time this is done in fun. I have learned in the industry that granduer is not of great importance to a family when a person dies, not to those that are grieving anyways. Some may prefer it, and if they do its good to know that there are those locations out there.

Ours is just not one of them.

We are proud of that, you, the family's are the important ones.................., not us.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for allowing me to help you, serve you, guide you. I promise I will not let you down and we will always be here.

With much heartfelt respect,

Miguel A. Legaspi,
Owner, Avenidas Funeral Chapel

Oh!  Semper Fi (Always Faithful)


1 comment:

  1. Go on Brother! Your doing fine........

    ReplyDelete