The history of specialty vehicles in the funeral industry is long and rich. Throughout the centuries, funeral professionals have played an important role in our society, and the cars they use are a big part of their day to day activities and services.
At the end of the 1800s, automobiles were so new that many considered them to be a fad or a short lived trend. However, some forward-thinking funeral directors worked with coach builders to transfer the basic hearse design onto an automobile chassis. These hearses were often noisy and unreliable, and the trend did not catch on. Nonetheless, in 1909 technology had advanced to the point that an automobile hearse was a practical solution. The first commercially available automobile funeral cars went on the market in 1909.1
Since then, the industry has seen significant innovation, growth, and development. As a result, the automotive companies of today are offering differentiated and upscale product lines of hearses and limousines with industry leading quality, style and functionality that enhance the image of funeral directors and allow for maximum return on investment.
2018 brings a refresh to the Cadillac line up and updates in design and features across the board.
“The technology and sophisticated electronics being offered in Cadillac and Lincoln chassis create additional conversion challenges for coachbuilders. Converting these vehicles into high quality and stylish coaches and limousines will become increasingly difficult year after year. Being part of the industry’s largest coach builder group, with the industry’s largest and most knowable workforce, S&S and Superior are ready for this opportunity,” explains Mike McKiernan, Sr. VP of Sales, Marketing & Product Planning for SS and Superior Coach.
Likewise, Eagle & Federal Coach Company have taken major steps to create original equipment manufacturer looks and features in their products in recent months as well.
“Our emphasis has been on developing a hearse and limousine that are similar in style to match OEM look. We have also implemented rigid protection points in our funeral coaches to increase durability,” expresses Courtney Wagers, Marketing Manager of Eagle & Federal Coach Company.
Even with a rise in the popularity of cremation, specialty vehicle companies are still seeing steady growth as the industry continues to change year after year. As trends shift and new technology enters the industry, companies are constantly evaluating these trends so they can make changes accordingly.
Just like in any business, paying attention to detail and closely monitoring how the industry evolves year after year is what separates the good from the great. Additionally, placing a heavy importance on producing safe and quality products is what customers are looking for.
“We want our customers to TRUST us AND the vehicles we sell and service. We are not looking to sell a customer just once, we want a relationship with our customers and want to be able to service them for many cars to come,” states Michael Parks, President of Parks Superior Sales.
Likewise, at Lehmann-Peterson they know that quality is the future. “I think pride and quality craftsmanship are important factors in our success, as well as strong leadership and safety,” adds Earle Moloney, Owner of Lehmann-Peterson. He attributes their long history to these characteristics of his company. FBA
Learn more about S&S and Superior, Eagle & Federal Coach, Lehmann-Peterson, and Parks Superior Sales in this feature editorial.
1 M, Kelly, “Funeral Cars – A Brief History,” Heritage Coach Company Blog, November 21, 2016, http://blog.heritagecoach.com/funeral-cars/funeral-cars-a-brief-history/.
S&S and Superior
For 2018, S&S and Superior will continue to offer funeral professionals a differentiated and upscale product line of hearses and limousines with industry leading quality, style and functionality that will enhance a funeral director’s image and will return maximum value on their investment.
“Very simply, S&S and Superior chooses to build the finest funeral cars available for today’s leading funeral professional,” says Mike McKiernan, Sr. VP of Sales, Marketing & Product Planning for SS and Superior Coach.
Each model in the S&S and Superior 2018 line-up is entirely new or significantly enhanced over the previous 2017 models. For Superior Coaches, the Statesman, Sovereign and Crown Sovereign models are all new. For S&S brand, the Victoria and Medalist are all new, the Park Hill has a completely redesigned interior, and there are exciting plans in the works for the S&S Masterpiece too.
“S&S has 3 models that were released at NFDA in Boston; the Victoria, Park Hill and Medalist. The Masterpiece will be release at the end of 2017.Superior has 3 coach models for 2018; the top of the line, Crown Sovereign, followed by the Sovereign and then the Statesman,” states Mike.
Both S&S and Superior will have 3 limousine models that meet the unique needs of individual funeral and livery professionals.
“Customers may select a 70” or 52” stretch with a 7” extended rear door and a raised roof, or a 47” stretch with a standard or raised roof – each of these selections provide unsurpassed comfort and maximum versatility,” he continues.
This year, S&S and Superior have two flagship products for 2018 – one per brand:
1. S&S Masterpiece…A Fresh Approach to Perfection
In every profession, there are those who rise above the rest; who strive for perfection in every detail of their service; for whom only the best is good enough. For individuals of this caliber, the new Masterpiece by S&S eloquently proclaims professional and community standing. Embodying all of the unmistakable hallmarks of styling leadership inside and out and with coachwork that matches its meticulous engineering, the S&S Masterpiece will retain its style and appeal long after ordinary cars have lost their value. The Masterpiece – for those that demand nothing less than the finest.
2. Superior Crown Sovereign…Years Ahead in Prestige-Building Style.
Ownership of Superior’s finest, the all-new Crown Sovereign reflects your fine taste, discriminating judgement and the sensitive consideration you render with your thoughtful professional services. Every detail of this superb offering is fashioned to create an air of distinction and quality. From the stylized landau bows to the gleaming over-the-roof crown molding and the luxurious interior appointments the Crown Sovereign elegantly reflects your professional leadership.
www.sscoachcompany.com | www.superiorcoaches.com
Eagle & Federal Coach
Eagle & Federal Coach are focused on making the highest quality vehicles as well as introducing diversification between the two lines to match the needs of the industry.
“2018 brings a refresh to the Cadillac Line-Up which we offer. We have taken major steps to create OEM looks and features in our products. Our emphasis has been on developing a hearse and limousine that are similar in style to match OEM look. We have also implemented rigid protection points in our funeral coaches to increase durability,” says Courtney Wagers, Marketing Manager of Eagle & Federal Coach Company.
The 2018 line-up will remain the same, with exception of the addition of the Cadillac XTS Kensington. The Cadillac XTS Kensington creates optimal functionality at an exceptional price, which is on track to have a very successful 2018 Model Year.
Likewise, the Limousine line-up remains similar with exception of the refreshed Cadillac exterior design and additional standard features that only Eagle & Federal Coach offer; including: Standard Navigation, Safety Belt for 3-Passengers, Full Trunk Storage Space and Power Centered Windows.
“We feel that we provide a line-up covering all facets of the funeral vehicle industry. While the Cadillac XTS Renaissance and Cadillac XTS Echelon remain the flagship products of Eagle and Federal Coach we also carry product offerings for the budget-minded funeral home owner, truly covering all customers,” she adds.
Eagle and Federal Coach take pride in the CMC and QVM certifications they’ve obtained. While they focus on the quality of their products, their number one concern is the safety for all involved with use of every Eagle and Federal Coach vehicle.
With more than five decades of automotive coach building experience as a Cadillac Master Coachbuilder, Lehmann-Peterson has set the standard in the manufacturing of specialty extended vehicles.
Moloney and Lehmann-Peterson have made their mark in the coach building industry. Moloney is a hands-on owner and grandfathered the limousine industry having built over 14,000 vehicles that bear the Moloney name.
“This has always set Lehmann-Peterson apart from our competitors. You do not have many people in the industry with that kind of longevity,” states explains Earle Moloney, Owner of Lehmann-Peterson.
Lehmann-Peterson’s most valuable investment comes from within the company. “It is all about our employees and it starts from the top down,” Moloney says, noting that many of Lehmann-Peterson’s employees are skilled craftsmen that have been employed with the company for more than 35 years. “We concentrate strongly on building a safe and quality product while providing a good warranty,” he continues.
“My philosophy has always been to never compromise safety,” says Moloney. That philosophy for quality started years ago when Moloney directed the crash test of a Cadillac limousine in 1979 to illustrate the safety of the company’s manufacturing methods. “We crash tested a corporate limousine into a steel barrier at 31 miles per hour,” he says. “The vehicle safety score was 100 percent and it exceeded the safety standard at that time, even surprising the Cadillac engineer.”
As a privately owned company, Lehmann-Peterson prides itself on setting its own guidelines for growth. “We have had a steady growth pattern over the years and follow industry changes, but we evaluate how we fit into those changes,” Moloney says.
Moloney notes that growth strategy is important because of today’s economic climate. “Our current economic condition and how we look at our strategy can be summed up in three words: Made in America. Our 100,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility emphasizes our commitment to manufacturing leadership and serves as a testimonial to our trademark ‘quality is our future,”’ he adds.
Parks Superior Sales
For nearly 70 years, Parks Superior Sales has been selling and servicing the Funeral Car industry. Like most family businesses, it was a struggle in the beginning working out of a small building and a home office. Being on the road everyday going from Funeral Home to Funeral Home showing vehicles and building relationships and most importantly TRUST with customers has been the foundation of their business since day one.
Parks Superior Sales started off very small with a desire to make their business a success. In the beginning, Wilbur Parks, the founder was a one man band handling sales & service. A few years later, Bob Parks came into the business to help his father get the business on its’ feet. They were a father & son team on the road every day, traveling to Funeral Homes up and down the East Coast, building relationships and selling & servicing their vehicles, one customer at a time.
Today, nearly 70 years later and still family run, Parks Superior Sales has evolved into one of the largest volume Funeral Car Dealerships in the country. The dealership sits on nearly 7 acres, and is 100% dedicated to just the Funeral Car industry. You can see and feel their passion when you speak with Michael Parks, who now runs the business.
“Funeral Cars are not a side line business for us, funeral cars are our business and our passion. To this day our foundation still remains. We want our customers to TRUST us AND the vehicles we sell & service! We are not looking to sell a customer just once, we want a relationship with our customers and want to be able to service them for many cars to come,” Michael states.
Michael invites you to come to Parks Superior Sales and see first-hand, the massive selection of New & Pre-Owned vehicles for sale, and to see their state of the art service department and body shop. More importantly, he wants you to meet his TEAM at Parks Superior Sales, they are the people who set Parks Superior apart from other dealers. Please visit them on-line at www.parkssuperior.com, or call them at 800-229-5008 if you cannot stop by.