Funeral Business Advisor sat down with Kyle Struempf, funeral director and COO of Davis-Struempf Funeral Home & Crematory in Austell, Georgia to learn more about his career, experience in the funeral industry, and what he’s looking forward to in the future.
Did you always want to be a funeral director? How did you get into the industry?
No. When I was 10, I wanted to play in the NBA. By 16, I realized that it was a long shot and I should probably focus on something else as a career. My grandfather, Roy O. Davis, was in the funeral business for over 60 years beginning in 1930 and until he died in 1992. I was his shadow whenever I was around him, as I truly adored and admired him. I learned from the best how to serve the community with compassion, humility, and even humor, when appropriate. He was the most generous and giving person that I have ever known and I hope that I can continue his huge legacy. My mother, Debbie, and uncle, Jim, also received their compassion from him and followed in his footsteps to the funeral business. So, you could say that I grew up in the industry.
What is your favorite part about working in this industry?
My favorite part about the industry is helping people through one of the toughest times in their lives. It is not always easy, but it makes it well worth it when their family members or friends let us know how much it meant to them.
Tell us a little bit about your funeral home. What makes it stand apart from others?
Davis-Struempf Funeral Home & Crematory, being family-owned, is very family-oriented. We have many years of experience, vast knowledge, but most importantly, we have compassion. We truly care for the families that we serve. We try to go above and beyond to make our families transition as smooth as possible. We realize that everyone grieves differently so we do our best to accommodate each individual’s needs.
What does excellent customer service mean to you?
Excellent customer service to me means to listen to the family’s needs and make every effort to meet or exceed those expectations.
What are some of the ways that you and your firm handled the Covid-19 crisis as if effected the funeral industry?
We have tried to adapt our services to keep everyone, our staff and our families & friends included, safe as well as honor and celebrate their loved ones. Some of the adjustments that we have made are to implement a “Message of Comfort” service for those in our community who are not able to attend a funeral. When they email us a message of support, our team will handwrite their words onto a heart to display in the chapel so the family can read those heartfelt messages and know that many others are supporting them in spirit. My wife, Kortney, is also making hundreds of masks for our funeral home and many healthcare professionals that need them. We have a free mask display in the entrance for anyone that needs one. And of course, we are live streaming/recording the services in our chapel and at the gravesite. We are offering complimentary livestreaming and the option of a future memorial service when the shelter in place/10-person gathering restrictions are lifted. We understand that it is an especially tough time for families to lose a loved one and have their support system limited by the virus, so we are doing our best to make them feel as loved as possible.
Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about? Do you have any concerns?
In the future, I am most excited about technology. Friends and family that are unable to attend are now able to be a part of the service through webcasting. As technology continues to improve, it will create new ways to honor loved ones and make the process more convenient and accessible.
The concern I have is that convenience may begin to outweigh the importance of a funeral service. I believe that a service is important to the survivor’s grieving process and helps greatly with closure.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job or what have you personally gained by being a funeral director?
The most rewarding part of being a funeral director is when families tell us how much we helped them through such a difficult time. It is very gratifying knowing the difference you made in someone’s life.
Do you have any advice you would share with other funeral directors, especially the younger ones who are just now entering the profession?
My advice would be to strive to be as empathetic and compassionate as possible. Realize that everyone grieves differently, so you have to personalize care to every family you serve. And never be judgmental, because you do not know everyone’s circumstances.
When you are not at the funeral home, what are some things you like to do in your free time?
My favorite thing to do in my spare time is to spend time with family. I enjoy doing so many things, but it is always better when you are with the people you love most. Golf would be my next favorite thing to do. There is something about being in nature as you try to hit that pesky ball into the hole that really relaxes me. FBA