When such consolidations are launched merely to increase profit margin of one company over another — without regard to long-term impact — they can be detrimental.
When such consolidations are driven by a desire to meet community need, they can be as customer friendly as they are business savvy.
Obviously, the fiscal bottom line must always play a significant role in the decision to merge existing businesses, but a transaction announced last week by our newspaper goes far beyond dollars and cents — in our opinion — because it takes into account what is supposed to be a longstanding priority ... customer service.
We refer to the purchase of Serenity Funeral Home from West Tennessee Funeral Associates by Mark Grissom, owner of Grissom Funeral Home, an established member of Cleveland’s widely respected collection of bereavement and funeral operations.
The net result of the buy is a single business now professionally licensed as Grissom-Serenity Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Before continuing, let us be clear. This is not an endorsement of one Cleveland-based funeral home over another. Truth be told, our community — and specifically our families — are blessed to be served by several excellent, and dependable, bereavement services. To rank one above the rest would be a disservice to the collective group.
Most have served the Cleveland community for decades. All enjoy a positive image throughout Bradley County and well beyond our borders.
Our purpose is this. We wish to recognize the importance of local business and the downhome services that are provided to our downhome residents.
A local funeral home (Grissom), with long-established roots in Cleveland, has acquired another (Serenity) whose base operates from the other end of our proud state. In our way of thinking, local is good. Local means Bradley Countians providing professional services to Bradley Countians.
Serenity was already a quality operation.
Grissom was already a quality operation.
Marry the two and they give birth to a professional service that accents a growing trend in bereavement services; that is, the ability to provide quality customer care with options that are both family-sensitive and budget-friendly.
In the words of Mark Grissom himself, who announced the business transaction in last Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, “I’ve been in the funeral business for over 30 years and I have seen the industry change dramatically over the last five years. Families are looking for a better value, especially in the area of better cost, and families want to keep expenses down.”
Because of funeral costs, cremation rates in Tennessee reportedly are on the rise. This points to the significance of the Grissom and Serenity transaction. Serenity offered low-cost options. Grissom provided more than 25 years of quality service. The tandem, now operating under a new and single name, will offer a broader array of services.
Much the same could be said should other existing bereavement professionals in Cleveland find ways to leverage natural synergies — whether in service, cost, options ... or, a combination of all.
Truly, as Grissom suggested, the funeral industry is changing. It must change because families are finding themselves more and more stretched financially. And it is Cleveland area families who are keeping local bereavement services afloat.
We cannot overemphasize this point. Residents of our community have options when planning for the inevitability of family loss: Fike Funeral Home, Ralph Buckner Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Jim Rush Funeral Homes, Companion Funeral and Cremation Service, Dotson and Sons Funeral Home and Patton Funeral Home.
And now, add Grissom-Serenity Funeral Home and Cremation Services to the list.
Cleveland is a growing community. Bradley County is becoming more and more a destination of choice ... by retirees, by new workers and by anyone wishing a fresh start and a wholesome life.
This points to the ever-increasing need for quality bereavement services. We believe our community ranks among the best in delivering such professionalism.
We congratulate Grissom-Serenity for embracing the future; we thank Cleveland’s full gamut of caregivers for giving us peace of mind and warmth of heart.
Such expectation comes with being a part of “The City With Spirit.”