The funeral home known today as Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services has been serving North Central Florida since 1885. Throughout the years, the name on the outside of the building may have changed, but the legacy remains. The funeral home’s commitment to serving and actively connecting with their Florida communities means that decisions are made locally, based upon local needs, customs, and traditions. It means that they focus on a truly personal and meaningful approach, rather than a cookie-cutter way of doing things.
In 1885, the funeral home first opened its doors and was run by the McIver and MacKay families. In 1923, Mr. Hiers purchased the funeral home and it became known as Hiers Funeral Home. It wasn’t until 1990 that Dennis Baxley entered into a partnership with Mr. Hiers and the funeral home received the name it has today: Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services. In recent years, HBFS joined forces with Foundation Partners Group.
“This funeral home is the longest continuously run business in Marion County, Florida. As technology grew and funeral service changed, Hiers-Baxley made the decision to join forces with Foundation Partners Group. FPG was the perfect partner because they brought a modern point of view to the Florida funeral home with such a long and rich history. They were a great fit and were able to help Hiers-Baxley incorporate technology that was not yet being used in funeral service,” explains Michael Holland, Director of Operations for Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services.
Michael is a Eustis native. A graduate of Eustis High School, he attended Lake Sumter State College and Graduated from Gupton-Jones College with a degree in Mortuary Science. He is the 3rd generation of his family to call Eustis home. While in high school, he worked in his grandparent’s furniture store where he learned the importance of hard work and personal responsibility. Michael has served grieving families as a funeral director for 25 years. He is currently the Director of Operations for Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services where he is responsible for the day to day operations of 5 funeral homes and 1 cemetery from The Villages to Ocala.
“When Hiers-Baxley joined forces with Foundation Partners in 2012, there were four locations. In 2017, we added an additional location in The Villages, Hiers-Baxley Funeral Cremations and Life Event Center. The Life Event Center is a facility large enough for us to have all kinds of life celebrations. From weddings to anniversary parties and of course funeral services – the space can handle it all. It is a space we are lucky to have,” Michael states proudly.
The Life Event Center is a modern space. It is bright and cheery, home to an amazing staff, and offers the ShareLife experience – a multi-sensory program that can be customized to include video, scent, music, and photos to create many different themes and experiences. By touching on multiple senses, Hiers-Baxley tells vivid stories that are cherished by families and remembered for years to come. With so many different aspects that can be customized, each service is as unique as the life of the loved one being celebrated.
“All of our locations offer the ShareLife experience, but in the newest location, it really takes it to the next level. When we were designing the space, we got to design each room with ShareLife in mind and it really shows. For example, the walls we project images and video on are curved, so it really gives great depth you don’t get with a flat surface. Little details like that make the space a home run,” he adds.
With such a long history in the North Central Florida area, it’s no surprise that Hiers-Baxley’s roots run deep with the community. From sponsoring local little league teams to supporting Veterans groups and Hospice facilities the long-standing funeral home takes community involvement very seriously.
As made clear on their website, “Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services team-members live where you live. Their children go to school with yours. We shop where you shop. Maybe we even attend the same church. Our community is your community. You know us… and we know you.”
“We just recently had a team come back from volunteering at our local Methodist Church a few blocks away with the homeless ministry; we are always looking for ways to connect. We truthfully feel that anybody can buy an ad in a newspaper to get their name out there, but we are actually putting feet on the ground and actively participating in our community and lending a helping hand wherever we can. We love helping our community and building relationships outside of day to day operations,” Michael expounds.
Looking forward to the future, Hiers-Baxley is hoping to expand in the rapidly growing Villages area near their Life Event Center as well as in Ocala.
“At Hiers-Baxley, we are excited to continue to work in our community and serve our families with the upmost respect and attention to detail. I am also looking forward to answering any questions they may have about the death care industry. We want to be the experts that our families turn to when they have questions about the process before, during, or after a service,” explains Michael.
The Florida firm takes customer service very seriously. Providing the best service possible for each and every family has been their highest priority for over a century.
“When a family thanks you at the end of a service and you can assure them that your care for them will not end, that’s the true definition of excellent customer service. That is what we strive for every day. We want the relationships we form with our families to go beyond the service – and that is what makes us who we are. That’s what makes us unique,” states Michael.
The success that Hiers-Baxley has maintained over the years in their community is both impressive and yet not surprising. As a team, they take dedication to the next level and pour everything into helping the families in their community. The long-standing funeral home is the definition of quality and sincerity. It is true that actions speak louder than words, and Hiers-Baxley is a testament to that statement. They work hard to create a trusting environment for their clients and their whole community. Their success is a product of hard work, community involvement, and dedication to the families they serve and because of that, they will continue to be successful for years to come. FBA