Funeral Business Advisor sat down with Kristin Tips, funeral director and owner of Mission Park Funeral Chapels & Cemeteries in San Antonio, Texas to learn more about her career, experience in the funeral industry, and what makes Mission Park so unique.

What drew you to the industry? Did you always want to be a funeral director?
The possibility of becoming a funeral director truly inspired me when my father passed away. The opportunity to personally impact people’s lives during a difficult time was my motive to pursue a career in funeral service. Historically, funeral directing has been a family business passed through generations. However, I’ve learned that many directors appreciate the value of their jobs from childhood experiences. They witness firsthand the benefit of an effective and caring funeral director when they experience a loss of a loved one themselves.

What is your favorite part about working in this industry?
The people that I work with. It’s as simple as that. Our extended family at Mission Park is made up of wonderful people who bring an incredible amount of professionalism and dedication to the work of assisting and serving families when they need it most. Working with them and learning from them has been a real pleasure and honor for me.

What makes your firm unique and stand out from others?
Many things are unique about us! We are vertically integrated with multiple funeral homes, crematories, Cemeteries, vault shop and granite memorial company, hotel and a preneed insurance company. All to better serve families in their time of need with one call.

Even our boutique hotel is something that makes us unique. It helps our families immensely when they have out of town friends and family attending a service at Mission Park. Since we own the hotel, we make sure to always have rooms reserved for the Mission Park families we serve as a spare bedroom. The Fairmount Hotel is in beautiful downtown San Antonio and it is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest structure ever moved on wheels. Hotels and funeral homes have so much in common from service to being open 24/7/365. Everything that we do and every acquisition we consider helps us fulfill our core mission – which is all about serving our community.

How are you involved in the community?
My husband, Robert D. “Dick” Tips and I are both very involved in our community because we feel so connected to our city, to our neighbors and to the families who are touched by Mission Park. I’m honored to be appointed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as Commissioner and confirmed by the Texas State Senate in spring of 2019 for a six-year term to oversee statewide activities of the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

This is a real honor and the position gives me an opportunity to help shape the future of funeral service in Texas. I also serve as Trustee for the Texas Biomedical Research to help find cures for infectious diseases. I serve as Trustee for the World Affairs Council of San Antonio. I am on the board of directors for the Ecumenical Center for Mental Health, which offers free mental health care and grief counseling for our community. The center also does a great deal of work with our veterans to make sure they get the help they need upon returning from their tour of duty. This is particularly important in San Antonio where we have so many members of the armed forces living in our community.

Outside of that, we are very involved with numerous children’s charities of San Antonio, the local Police, Sheriff and Fire Departments, the Future Farmers of America and actively supporting scholarship efforts for the youth of our community.

With everything you are involved in what are you most proud of in your career? What has brought you the most pride?
The opportunity to build an organization and serve our community. I’d say what I’m doing right now as commissioner of the Texas Funeral Service Commission and a Funeral Director. Funeral Service touches the life of everyone. That’s really the greatest opportunity for service that I’ve ever had in my life.

Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?
Beyond being a multi-generational family owned funeral company founded in 1907, Mission Park is poised and has a vision for the future of the company that includes the construction of all new “Life Centers” to serve the needs of the San Antonio Community. These “Life Centers” take the concept of funeral homes to all new heights. They integrate multiple funeral chapels, expansive visitation suites with private restrooms and kitchens, including fully outfitted reception facilities.

They also have a complete selection room with more than 25 full size caskets on display, comfortable arrangement offices with large windows and natural lighting and a team of funeral directors and family service counselors all under one roof. We are creating the same atmosphere and support you would get in a luxury hotel experience when it comes to concierge service. We are reinventing the concept of what a funeral home should be. So, for that reason we are not even calling them funeral homes, we are calling them Life Centers – because we “celebrate life”.

How would you define excellent customer service?
I believe excellent customer service means going above and beyond, treating our families with compassion and care. It entails having a thorough knowledge of the services we provide in order to assist our families in making the best decision for them. I have worked with many families over the years who appreciate and find true value with the advice and guidance they that we provide and by answering their questions efficiently and following up with all requests.

Do you have any advice for other funeral directors, especially those who are just now entering the funeral profession?
Yes, never lose sight of why we choose this occupation. Remind yourself of this often. Never give up, even if times get though and always do what is right. Someone once told me, “We are sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree a long time ago.” FBA