- The city of Vancouver received a proposal to privatize the management of the City’s only non-profit cemetery. Loewen Group, the second largest consolidator, had offered to take over the management. The groups sent letters out to 500 organizations and individuals decrying this proposal. Newspapers and TV began doing stories and 75 organizations came forward in support of the group’s bid to keep Mountain View ‘not-for-profit’. With the support of the Jewish, Chinese, Japanese. And Russian communities, combined with the United, Anglican, Pentecostal, Salvation Army and Catholic Churches, the group (then called the Civic Cemetery Society) organized and shared the cost of preparing a community proposal to compete with Loewen.
- The FFA discovered that the largest funeral consolidator Service Corporation International (SCI) of Houston Texas, was trying to trademark a name that had the clear potential to deceive the public. The name ‘Family Funeral Care’, used in conjunction with the name of the previous owner (ie: JONES FAMILY Funeral Care), could easily be used to confuse the public, giving an impression the publicly traded funeral conglomerate’s chapels were ‘family owned’.
- B.C. finally passed a law banning direct (telephone or door-to-door) solicitation of the public by funeral and/or cemetery companies.
- The groups began working with a broader cross section of consumer groups, healthcare professionals, and clergy offering in-service seminars and resources both to help improve care for the bereaved and to educate the public and regulators on the need to improve regulations.
- While hiring “find-for-a-fee” commissioned sales people allowed the national funeral chains to greatly increase their sales coverage it placed enormous competitive pressure on small businesses and the non-profit cemetery community, forcing many smaller funeral homes to sell out.
- The national funeral chains began to focus on marketing pre-arranged funerals. This practice became much easier where the chains could gain access to local cemetery records to get the names and addresses of plot owners. Claiming to update plot records access could easily be gained to plot owner’s households where then commissioned sales people could try to sell the survivors pre-paid funerals.
- Sophisticated consolidator funeral chain lobbies were also able to shape much of the ensuing funeral regulations in the 42 states and eight provinces allowing funeral homes in cemeteries.
- The FFA was formed as an ad-hoc group founded to promote consumer advocacy and public education, began working with caregivers to educate the public and build support for opposing bad laws.
Funeral consolidation began to take shape as several aggressive consolidators began
a buying spree of family owned funeral homes in the US and abroad, capturing 20% of the North American market by the late 1990’s.