• Randy Ballard

Birth of a Business

I just ran across some old notes and realized it was one year ago this month that the idea was conceived for selling our urns online.  I was working as a sales rep for a casket business.  We offered handmade wooden caskets and urns to funeral homes, and my territory extended about two hours in any direction out from the city.  Ninety percent of the businesses I called on were in small towns and locally owned.  In November 2016, one of my customers asked me to create something rustic.  We built a beautiful display for his showroom, and I spent quite a bit of time and money developing some pretty unique offerings!  We tried decorating caskets with rope and barbed wire, rusty metal roses, cast iron stars, etc.  I built a couple of sample urns also, and he was pleased.  After that we offered the urns to a few other funeral homes, and they’ve become a popular item.

Now fast forward to May 15, 2018.  That morning I had breakfast with the owner of the casket company.  He suggested I try selling my customized urns online.  We knew we could sell them at a much lower cost than the funeral homes, and we also knew we could reach a lot more people.  It was a great idea, and I’ll always be grateful to him for suggesting it, but I had no idea how much work and time would be involved in getting it off the ground!

I had to decide on a name, and make sure no one else had thought of it first.  We needed a professional logo and a website, neither of which I knew how to create.  If you’re going to have a website you have to buy a domain name, again, making sure no one else has already registered it.  And then you need a taxpayer ID number, and there are reports to file.  We did packaging research.  We added a few items that we had never offered to our wholesale customers.  The website needed to accept credit cards, so that was another issue.  None of that was fun.

But now we’re in business!  Friday, I received a beautiful, hand written thank you note in the mail.  It was from a lady who had ordered one of our urns.  She had looked for more than a year to find just the right thing, and she was glad to have at last found the perfect one.  That’s fairly common.  I get a lot of really nice notes.  But every one of them is special to me.  Many bring a little tear to my eye.  It’s great to have a business that can produce an income, but to know that what you do makes a difference in the lives of people is worth more than all the money in the world.  It is humbling to be a part of something so deeply personal, and our goal is always to bring whatever comfort and peace we can to a grieving family. 

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