Danielle Thacker – VP of Sales & Marketing – Thacker Caskets

How did Thacker Caskets get started? Where does the story begin?

Thacker Caskets got started in 1939 under the original name Old Dominion Casket Company. My grandfather, Carl C. Thacker, was the one who started the business and it was located in Washington DC. He was a casket distributor in the area when he first met my grandmother. She lived in a small town near Scranton, Pennsylvania and worked at a casket manufacturer, Casket Shells, Inc. He purchased his products from this manufacturer, and this is how they got to know each other, eventually got married, and that’s where it all began.

What makes Thacker Caskets unique?

What makes us unique is that we are family-owned and operated, just like the funeral homes we serve, but we have all the bells and whistles that large companies offer. We offer many great solutions including our digital presentation web-based software called iArrange™; our interchangeable casket interior program called Tailored Designs™; a loyalty program called Thacker Rewards which allows a funeral home to build up points through purchases and redeem the points for free items; we have also fully embraced cremation patenting the Remembrance Line cremation metal rental casket.

We are the perfect blend of a local, hometown feel where you will talk to a Thacker in working with us, yet we offer many services that keep us on par with the large companies. We bring our funeral homes the best of both worlds.

How do you set personal goals for yourself?

The most important aspect of setting personal goals for myself is to look back at where I have been, then go onto analyzing where I want to be. From there, set smaller, intermediary goals that will get me to my overall objective. The same goes for the company – when we sit down as a team to discuss what is next, we always start by looking back and analyzing the how we got to where we are, what worked and didn’t work and how we can get there quicker by referring back to our previous experiences.

Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?

I think there is tremendous opportunity that lies ahead. The funeral industry is rapidly changing and evolving faster than it ever has in the past. The reason why this is happening is because funeral homes are being forced to change as consumer demands change. This change presents us with wonderful opportunity. In the past, people have kept loyal to their business partners just for the sake of loyalty. However, with all the recent change, people are now making decisions that are good for their business. That is good for us and the industry as a whole. We are seeing more innovation than ever before, and I am overly excited at being a part of the future of the funeral industry.

Whether in your personal life or your career, what brings you the most pride?

I am most proud when I look back at something that has happened in my life, either personally or professionally, and can rest easy that I made the right decision from an honest and ethical standpoint. Then what makes me even more proud, is when you see other people around you making good, ethical decisions too. Whether it is a driver, a manufacturing person, a sales person or a customer service person within our organization making the same type of ethical and honest decisions – you know you are leading by example and your message is getting through.

From a personal standpoint, I have three young girls that I am doing my best to raise them in the same manner. They will need to find the balance between being bold and brazen, but also honest and truthful to survive the times ahead of us. Watching their personalities start to show their brave and courageous sides, but also their caring and nurturing sides is really rewarding.

What is the biggest factor in your success?

Trust is a big factor in the success of where we are at today. We have to understand, recognize and never lose sight of the trust our customers place within me and our company in general. To be successful, I have to appreciate the trust they have. They trust us on everything from a new merchandising program to making sure we get their casket delivered on time. Bottom line is that if they didn’t trust us, they wouldn’t be our customers. Building this trust forms those long-lasting relationships that are easy to maintain and become fun! We truly care about our customers, and we have made many great friends along the way.

When and why did you decide to start your blog, FuneralGal?

I think it was 2015 when I first started by blog. I decided to start it because when I was talking to a funeral director, he mentioned to me that he had only ever walked into seven other funeral homes that weren’t his own. He told me that it was hard for him to discover better ways of doing things because he was just unaware of what others were doing and that he relied on reading articles, heading to a convention, or getting information from his sales reps.

This really got me thinking about how I go to over 1,000 different funeral homes in just one year. At the end of the day, I started to think about a medium in which I could take all the best ideas I had seen and compile them into one place and then easily broadcast themin a way that was easily accessible – and that’s what started the blog.

The goal of FuneralGal is to create a free resource for funeral directors to better their own businesses. Luckily for me, I also really enjoy the process of maintaining the blog. It was something that I started all on my own and I have certainly made so many new connections because of it. The blog has helped me develop a secondary network of people I maybe would not have met if not for the blog.

What are some of your favorite ways to spend your free time?

I have three young girls who are 6, 2, and 6 months, so I am usually chasing them around – which is a lot of fun. Beyond that, I really love water sports including wakesurfing, wakeboarding and waterskiing. In the last couple of years, we have gotten into crabbing using trot lines on the Cheseapeake Bay – like a true Marylander. My husband and I are both pretty high energy and love to be outdoors and staying active. FBA