Heritage Funeral Home

Second-generation funeral home expands business

Overview:

 

Milestones:

  • Family-owned business
  • Overall revenue growth
  • Expand business by adding grief counseling, suicide prevention and staff training services

With a degree in Mortuary Sciences and Embalming, Chester Demko started the Heritage Funeral Home in 1976. Since then, the business has been providing comprehensive support to families in times of grief, right from the initial notification of death to the offering of final graveside prayers and more.

Following her father’s footsteps, Cheryl Demko Morello joined the business as a second generation funeral director and embalmer in 2006 after having obtained her degree in Mortuary Sciences, Business Management and Occupational Studies. When she contacted the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), she was looking for advice on succession planning. Her goals were to buy out the business, remain independent in an increasingly competitive world, and secure capital to keep her business afloat, and to sustain it long-term. CTSBDC’s Denise Whitford provided suggestions, guidance, and research support during the various stages of the succession and acquisition process.

“Working with the Demko family was a pleasure from the start. Both Chet and Gayle successfully ran the funeral home for 22 years and were dedicated to the ideals that community and family would remain priorities as the business grew. Families in the Suffield area have also grown to trust in these values and in the Demkos as pillars of their community. So, when Cheryl expressed an interest in joining the funeral home team, they automatically offered their support to help her grow into her role as CEO and 2nd generation owner of this family business. Cheryl has demonstrated that she is the backbone of the business and an integral part of the community – a true leader in a predominantly male-oriented and largely syndicated industry. I am proud to have served the family and continue to work with Cheryl on her long term goals, “ says Denise.

Following her work with Denise, Cheryl says her business grew significantly, with the number of funerals increasing from 35 to approximately 50 a year. This led to the creation of more jobs and an overall revenue growth for Heritage Funeral Home. Cheryl is also in the process of upgrading both the interiors and exteriors of her facilities.

Part of her vision for expanding her business, Cheryl will add ancillary services such as grief counseling, suicide prevention and staff training services. Cheryl plans to stay engaged with the CTSBDC and says,

“It has been a truly wonderful growing experience and I’m glad we still get to obtain CTSBDC services even after the sale completed to continue to grow and improve to become the very best.”

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