Today’s business world is as complex as ever. And it’s always changing. Great leadership is the key to keeping your business successful. Great leadership promotes success, growth, and can solidify a business for years to come. The long history of the Davis Funeral Home, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, is a true testament to the principles originally established by Mr. French I. Davis, and that is why when considering a succession plan for Davis Funeral Home, a new leader had to be chosen tactfully and with great care. With much thought and consideration, the family funeral home chose Javoke S. Terrell and his wife, Jennifer as successors of the business to ensure its continuance.
Javoke comes to Davis Funeral Home with over 25 years of funeral service experience. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Texas, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. During his rather extensive career, Javoke has worked for four family owned funeral homes where his leadership and knowledge of the business embodied everything Davis Family Funeral Home was looking for in a successor. Even as a child, Javoke was fascinated by the funeral industry.
“As a kid I went to funeral services with my grandmother (Evelina Lemon), and I became infatuated with the industry by the time I was six. I would bury my soldiers and toys as a kid, so the idea of caring for the dead was just in me from a very, very early age – it’s who I am. I also had a friend growing up whose parents owned a funeral home and I spent a lot of time there as a kid and it became a comfortable environment for me. I soon wanted to know everything I could about the industry,” explained Javoke.
By the time he was in high school, at the age of 16, Javoke began working at Ross Mortuary and continued to do so throughout high school and college. When he was in college, to study aviation, Javoke could not shake the fact that he knew he was destined be in the funeral industry. So when the embalmer, Rayford L. Mitchell of Frazier-Mitchell Funeral Service, at Ross Mortuary told Javoke he was getting ready to retire, Javoke quickly put his college career on hold and wasted no time enrolling in mortuary school in the fall of 1993.
“My mother kept telling me that I was running from what I was intended to do. She knew I was meant for funeral service and made me realize I shouldn’t put it on hold anymore,” said Javoke.
When he finished mortuary school the next year, Javoke went back to finish his undergraduate degree. Once he was done with school, he put everything into his apprenticeship at Ross Mortuary and then continued to work there for almost 15 years. Here, Javoke did all of their embalming and occasionally some arrangements.
After his introduction to funeral service with Ross Mortuary of Houston, Texas under the tutelage Edward and Burnell Ross Loche, Javoke then took a position as the General Manager of Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Services, P.A. in Baltimore, Maryland, followed by an assignment as General Manager of Lea Funeral Home of Raleigh, North Carolina, and his most recent assignment as Manager of Operations for Marcorp, Ltd. which serves over 3,000 families annually (Maryland, D.C., and Virginia) through seven funeral homes, a crematory and a cemetery, Javoke has gained an instrumental amount of knowledge and experience that makes his new role as owner of Davis Funeral Home the perfect fit.
Javoke works alongside his wife, Jennifer. Working alongside Javoke has given Jennifer great experience in the industry, helped her gain valuable knowledge first hand, and made her familiar with everything the funeral service entails. Jennifer came to Davis Funeral Home with over 20 years of community outreach experience. Her most recent assignment was Director of Volunteer Services and Business Outreach for Northwest Hospital, Randallstown, MD. Besides her role as a director, Jennifer has served on several community boards in the Baltimore metropolitan area: President of the Liberty Road Business Association, Vice President of the Randallstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce, an Advisory Board Member for the Windsor Mill Middle School and has served as Chairperson for the Northwest Hospital United Way campaign for seven years.
“My wife has always played an intricate role in helping me in the industry. When we began actively looking for ownership positions a few years ago, and we were in the process of closing on a deal in Florida, we received a call in reference to Davis Funeral Home. We decided to go meet with the owners, and in the end we both decided that it was the best fit for us as a team,” explained Javoke.
After a few months of negotiation, Javoke and Jennifer closed a purchase deal with Davis Funeral Home and became owners in March of 2016. Javoke explains that the process was made easier by Delaware County Bank Small Business Lending.
“Our relationship with them has been exceptional. We were originally working with another company during the purchase, but when Jennifer was working on finding companies that dealt specifically with assisting people with funeral home purchases, we found DCB,” explained Javoke.
Javoke and Jennifer worked with Marie Shelton, managing partner for Funeral Home Financing Associates and Jody Meyers, Business Loan Manager at Funeral Home Financing Associates to find a lender that would be the best fit. That lender turned out to be John Tonjes and the Delaware County Bank team. They provided the financing that made it all happen for the Terrell’s to achieve their dream of owning a funeral home.
“Working with them was just a great experience. They took what was a nightmare with the other company and made everything so much easier. It was like day and night. The level of knowledge that they have made us feel very comfortable. Anytime we were a little confused by a step in the process, they took the time to make sure we fully understood what was taking place. They went out of their way to make sure we fully understood each step,” said Javoke.
Jennifer stressed that working with DCB Small Business Lending meant there were no surprises.
“DCB was open and communicated with us at every step. There were no surprises working with them. There was a lot of documentation and the process was long, but throughout the whole thing, they were very patient and informative and kept us on task,” explained Jennifer.
Javoke and Jennifer say that a big factor in their success is the strong relationship they have with God and their family.
“Our family has always supported us and never let us give up on our dream. There has not been a time in my entire career where I have not felt supported. First it was my parents, Herman (deceased) and Mary Terrell, and then my wife and mother-and-law Peggy A. Hurles. As a couple, we push one another each and every day. Jennifer set aside her career to help me build this lifelong dream of mine and words cannot express my gratitude towards her for that. God and family is the ultimate reason we have been able to get where we are – it’s why we are here,” expressed Javoke.
Javoke and Jennifer are the only husband and wife team in Wilmington and this allows them to provide a unique level of service from a family perspective. Javoke is not only the owner of Davis Funeral Home, but is also the embalmer, which is unlike any other funeral home in the area. Davis Funeral Home is a very modern, state of the art facility, and one of the newest in the Wilmington area.
“I’m really looking to make Davis Funeral Home the type of funeral home that is welcoming to all families of all faiths, nationalities, and backgrounds. We work with that mentality in mind every day and strive to be the go-to, premier funeral service provider in the area. We offer a modern approach with a traditional feel,” said Javoke.
All of these things, in addition to Javoke and Jennifer’s experience and history in the industry make up the perfect recipe for success. With two great leaders at the forefront of the business, Davis Funeral Home will surely be successful for many years to come. FBA