Etzweiler Funeral Home was founded in 1911. With roots that run deep in the community and a family that goes above and beyond for the families they serve, the Etzweiler’s have been running a successful family owned and operated funeral home for well over 100 years. It began when Edward Etzweiler purchased a furniture store and mortuary in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, in 1928, his son Marlyn, expanded the family business and opened a funeral home in York.
The York community response to the firm’s caring attention grew steadily. The York and Wrightsville funeral homes were owned and operated by Marlyn Etzweiler until his death in 1976. At that time, his son, M. Robert (Bob) Etzweiler assumed the ownership and operational management of the firm. As the firm passes 105 years of service, the fourth generation of the Etzweiler family is currently involved in the family business. Bob’s three children; Ashlee, Shannon, and Rob are an integral part of the firm’s service to families and proudly carry on the tradition of remaining locally owned and family operated.
For Shannon, the calling to get involved in the family business really hit her when she was home one summer from grad school. “I came home and worked over the summer at the funeral home and I realized how truly rewarding it was to help people of my community. At that time I knew I wanted to continue and be more involved in the family business. So soon after I decided to get my funeral directors license,” explains Shannon. “When I was growing up, I was always very emotional, so I never thought I could go into this business. But at the end of the day, it’s about helping people and that’s what I love more than anything,” she continued.
Their success is also attributed to their community involvement. Forming relationships in and out of the funeral home solidifies ties with local families and creates everlasting relationships that go beyond the firm. Staff members are active in many local civic groups and organizations on both state and national levels. The firm is proud to be a member, by invitation, of Selected Independent Funeral Homes since 1934.
“I am very involved in our community because it is important to me to carry on what others have started. Our local city school district is unfortunately one of the most underachieving in the state of Pennsylvania due to a lack of resources and overabundance of social issues. I volunteer there through Junior Achievement and a local program called Bridging the Gap. I work with kindergarten through 5th grade. All of the teachers I work with are good and committed educators with little outside help from parent volunteers, so I fill in the gaps. Being in the city schools is my most rewarding volunteer position. My students love to hear stories about my daughter and my dogs and we share the similarities and differences of our lives together,” explains Ashlee.
The United Way, the Rotary Club of York, and the Dallastown Field Hockey Booster Club are other organizations that Ashlee is involved in. She loves being involved with the Rotary Club because it allows her to think globally but to act locally. “We often take for granted something as simple as clean drinking water in most parts of the United States. Rotary has opened my eyes to so many humanitarian and human rights issues around the world that we don’t have to worry about in the United States,” she continues.
Ashlee has found that the Dallastown Field Hockey Booster Club is also one of her favorite community service projects not only because her daughter plays for the team, but also because the girls have a strong female role model as their head coach.
“Research has proven that girls involved in sports have stronger self-esteem and tend to be less affected by social issues such as drug and alcohol problems and teen pregnancy. It is very important to me that my community raises strong and independent young women who will go on to higher education and be the change that is needed to be in the future. Our funeral business has an equal ratio of men and women licensed funeral directors and key employees. For a town our size, this is very unusual. It is one of the things that makes our firm unique in our community and an aspect of our firm that I am most proud of. I am proud that my dad is forward thinking and recognizes that women in funeral service are vital to the industry’s success and survival,” explains Ashlee.
In addition to the relationships with local families and the community as a whole, the Etzweiler family is proud of their professional relationships in the industry as well. One company they have had a great experience with is Memory Glass. “Memory Glass is one of the easiest companies that I work with. If I have any questions to help better serve my families, they are always quick to respond and get back to me. I love that they are willing to think outside of the box to help our families create a meaningful keepsake of their loved one. Every one of our families who opt for cremation receive a complimentary Memory Glass pendent or touchstone. We believe in the product that much. It also helps us to get our families to start thinking about personalization of their loved one’s services. We often have families who will call us after the arrangement conference and add several more pieces to their complimentary order. They have added a unique component to the cremation product market. I will be using Memory Glass indefinitely at our firm. It is really awesome to see how my dad as an “old school” funeral director has also embraced the Memory Glass product and how he recognizes the importance of giving our families that complimentary keepsake. The Memory Glass keepsake symbolizes so many things to our grieving families,” explains Ashlee.
Another component of their success is that they welcome the use of technology with open arms. In a world where flexibility is essential to any business in any industry; in the funeral industry it is beyond pivotal. Technology has sped up the planning process significantly. Families want to know how quickly everything can be done and can now plan things before a death takes place.
“There are many times where the first time we meet the family face-to-face is at the funeral. Sometimes the families are from out of town and we have to be flexible enough to get everything together over the phone and over email. This is a big challenge that every funeral home faces in today’s industry. You have to remember to pay attention to detail and this gets increasingly difficult as the planning process is sped up,” explains Shannon.
When it comes down to it, the funeral home would not be successful without the staff. Having excellent staff members is what holds it all together. In an industry where relationship building and personal touch is everything, remarkable staff members are everything.
“We are a family run funeral home and every single person on our staff, is considered family here. We would not be successful without every single person on our team. In this industry you need staff members and people around you that you can trust and feel comfortable with. We have that here,” says Shannon.
From the beginning, the family run firm has had a continued desire to serve families with the same compassion and professionalism that has become a hallmark of Etzweiler Funeral Home and Cremation Service. It’s not surprising that the funeral home has been operating for over 100 years when there is a family like the Etzweiler’s behind all operations. With deep roots in Pennsylvania, the Etzweiler family will continue to be successful for many more years to come. FBA