The Wilbert Group Continues to Double Down and Raise the Stakes Through Expansion, Innovation, and Acquisition
Since its founding in 1880 as the first company to manufacture concrete burial vaults in the United States, the name Wilbert has remained one of the most respected in deathcare. Now known as The Wilbert Group, the company has flourished throughout the last 142 years, growing through expansion, innovation, and acquisition while retaining and enhancing their reputation as a trusted and preferred provider of exceptional products and services. Today, The Wilbert Group includes a comprehensive offering in funeral service and continues to invest in each brand’s success.
Next week at the 2022 NFDA International Convention & Expo, The Wilbert Group will celebrate and honor its growing family by bringing four of its brands together in an incredible new booth, making it easier than ever to meet and mingle with Wilbert professionals and check out each brand’s latest and greatest innovations. Can’t wait until next week? Here’s a preview of why you’ll want to add Booth 422 to your NFDA Show Planner so you don’t miss out on what The Wilbert Group, Memorial Monuments, Astral, and Pierce Chemical will have to offer!
Wilbert: The Original Concrete Vault Manufacturer, Now So Much More
The basic concept of the lidded burial vault hasn’t changed much since Wilbert produced the first concrete version back in the 1880s; essentially, a burial vault is still a two-piece outer receptacle that houses the casket. Throughout its history, though, Wilbert has continually improved its vault selections with groundbreaking construction upgrades and options, setting a high standard for other vault manufacturers. In 1930, for example, Wilbert invented the asphalt-lined concrete burial vault, and in 1936 introduced decorative insignias for personalization. The cremation vault appeared in 1937, followed by copper-lined vaults in 1949, and the industry’s first plastic-lined vaults in 1967. They even invented and patented several vault handling devices.
Today, vaults and lowering mechanisms are still an indispensable part of The Wilbert Group’s core product line. However, they are now complemented by a huge line of urns as well as tools to help deathcare professionals educate the families they serve.
“We’re introducing our latest innovation idea with a brand new video presentation that will debut in our booth at NFDA,” explains Mark Evans, Senior Vice President of Sales at Wilbert Funeral Services, Inc. “It’s a quick, direct video that will assist directors in educating families on why burial vaults are preferable to cemetery grave boxes.”
The Wilbert section of The Wilbert Group booth will display some of the 80 new urns being introduced to the market in Volume 10 of Wilbert’s Cremation Choices catalog, a few of which were previewed at the CANA Cremation Innovation Convention in Atlanta and subsequently highlighted in Connecting Directors.
Memorial Monuments: The Perfect New Addition to The Wilbert Group Family
Although Memorial Monuments is a new brand under The Wilbert Group umbrella, having joined the family in December 2021, the brand’s values, dedication to customer service and quality, and even its history perfectly complement those of Wilbert.
Back in 1918, a worldwide influenza pandemic caught many deathcare providers unprepared for a devastating number of deaths. Only The Wilbert Group, then known as L.G. Haase Manufacturing, had sufficient inventory and manufacturing capacity to meet the demand for burial vaults in its service area.
Fast-forward to the pandemic that swept our country in 2019, accelerating excess deaths and straining supply chains. Like its soon-to-be parent company, Memorial Monuments, which was founded in 1979 and was a long-time Wilbert licensee prior to being acquired, was prepared to meet the growing demand for monuments. While some providers are still operating on up to a two-year timeline, Memorial Monuments has been able to deliver many monuments for installation in as little as 8 to 10 weeks.
“Wilbert has put an emphasis on keeping the inventory needed to be able to get our products to people quickly,” explains Danny Porter, Sales Manager at Memorial Monuments. “We’ve doubled down, and together have increased the inventories to continue to serve our families while planning further out in advance to have products on hand.”
This phenomenal turnaround time is enhanced by a 50-strong team of talented artisans who provide hundreds of unique monument sketches every single day.
“We take pride in getting families proofs or sketches back quickly,” says Porter. “We understand that choosing a monument is part of the closure process, so we feel like it’s important to get a full-color sketch or drawing back to a family within 24 hours.”
Once the family has approved the design and placed their order, funeral directors can follow the order using Memorial Monuments’ tracking technology.
“Our website and tracking technology creates accountability for us and the funeral home, and transparency so directors know where the order stands and what’s going on at any time, any hour,” adds Porter.
Be sure to stop by The Wilbert Group booth at NFDA next week to visit with Danny Porter and learn more about Memorial Monuments!
Astral: Celebrating 50 Years With New Products and Complementary Companies
If you happen to see some champagne toasts happening in The Wilbert Group booth, head that way! It will probably be the Wilbert team celebrating the 50th anniversary of Astral, the respected casket company that joined The Wilbert Group of brands in 2019. Astral may be half a century old, but one thing’s for sure: They’ve spent most of those 50 years — and definitely the last three — continually improving by innovating their products and streamlining their processes.
“We’re not your granddaddy’s Astral,” says Mark Evans. “At one time, we only offered metal caskets. Today, we have a full range of products from every price point. I encourage everyone to visit our website, www.astralindustries.com, and look at all we offer.”
Since acquiring Astral in 2019, Wilbert has made significant investments in the business, acquiring Hoffman Burial Supplies in 2020, Continental Casket Company in 2021, and Carrera Manufacturing (now Astral Molding & Finishing, or AMF) earlier this year. These additions have greatly expanded Astral’s customer base, and Evans is eager to introduce — or re-introduce — the brand to NFDA attendees.
Another reason to visit Booth 422 is the opportunity for a hands-on demonstration of Astral’s newest enhancement.
“We introduced a new bed concept design last year at NFDA in Nashville,” explains Evans, “and we decided to bring it to market. The new bed is simpler, smoother, and tremendously quiet, and we think it’s an industry-leading product innovation. We’ll have it on display in the Astral section of The Wilbert Group booth, and we encourage everyone to stop by and give it a try.”
The Astral area will also have products from Dedication Decals on display. After discovering Dedication Decals at NFDA in 2021, The Wilbert Group signed up as the company’s exclusive distributor of replaceable and removable decals.
“We’re rolling out Dedication Decals across North America,” says Evans. “It’s a simple, extremely affordable way for families to personalize their service, whether it’s on a vault, a casket, or other surfaces.”
Pierce Chemical: A Long-Trusted Brand Dedicated to the U.S. Funeral Service
When The Wilbert Group added Pierce Chemical to its family in 2012, most of its longtime customers didn’t even notice. And that’s a great thing.
“Pierce Chemical has been meeting our customers’ inventory needs since well before the acquisition,” explains Lance Ray, Pierce Chemical’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Of Operations. “We still maintain the same high quality in our products, and we even have a lot of the same employees — our longest-tenured employee has been with us for 42 years. A lot of times companies come in and want to flip everything around and change everything, but that didn’t happen with Wilbert. Nothing changed, and in a positive sense.”
Another thing that hasn’t changed over the past 10 years is Pierce’s incredible history, which began in 1933, of retaining loyal customers — and gaining new ones. That’s partly because of Pierce’s tried-and-true products and trusted innovations like its new Royal 33, which was introduced in March of this year to coincide with the 33-year anniversary of Pierce’s purchase of the Royal Bond Company originally in St. Louis, MO.
“This modern-day chemical cavity fluid truly honors the rich heritage of both the former Royal Bond Company and Pierce Chemical,” Ray said in March. “With the development of this product, we are advancing the preservation of two extraordinarily rich legacies.”
Royal 33 provides for a firm, dry cavity with tissue gas control, and has no additional additives. It complements Pierce’s existing line of fast-firming and oil-based controlled-firming fluids, and ancillary products such as X-Hale, a three-part odor eliminating system that can be used for walk-in coolers, as an air disinfectant, or in a new HVAC filter to help with odors and the spread of the COVID-19 virus. To view Pierce’s full line of products, visit www.piercedirect.com, or better yet, stop by Booth 422.
“We’d love to add to our growing family of Pierce customers,” adds Ray. “Come visit and spend some time with us in the booth!”