Why Using Domestically Sourced Casket Products Makes Sense

By: Kathy Shirley, Thacker Casket Company
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

With the rise of the internet, access to materials from all over the world and far less expensive labor rates, utilizing overseas markets may seem like an appealing option as it is often assumed the cost is lower. Overseas sourcing may have some advantages, but there are often overlooked benefits in using domestically sourced products. The benefits of domestically sourcing far outweigh those of international sourcing, and companies stand to gain a lot from domestic sourcing of their caskets. From providing families with exactly what they want while maintaining prices they are comfortable with, to having more control over their products by working directly with the manufacturing company, to precise quality control and environmental impacts, utilizing companies with domestically sourced casket products simply makes sense. If a funeral home can maintain its casket pricing to a family, but source the product from North American sources, then it becomes a win-win for the family: they get a product for the same price, but with the pride of a “Made in the USA” tag that comes along with it.

When families begin the process of planning a service, they generally have a theme or idea in mind for the viewing and funeral service based on the interests of their loved one. This is particularly true when they are selecting a casket that will represent their loved one appropriately and respectfully while staying within their price range. The casket becomes the largest focal point and prop that supports the overall theme of the service. Understanding what families want is a significant part of the funeral director’s job and therefore it is important to work with companies that can create the products needed to support the service the family is trying to create. Some domestic manufacturers have a wholesale division of their company that has sales representation in the field directly hearing and listening to the feedback of funeral directors. They listen to the feedback funeral directors are getting from families in terms of financial constraints in purchasing caskets, visual preferences of families today and other thoughts and considerations that families have when selecting a casket to be an overall part of the service. Then, they develop products that are based on that feedback. Having people in the field calling on funeral directors gives some domestic manufacturers a “leg up” in terms of having a direct source of feedback and this translates to a strong advantage in developing new products that resonate with today’s consumers.

Domestic manufacturers tend to be strongest in the range from a non-gasketed casket up and through a square end 18 gauge casket, while the Chinese manufacturers tend to be most competitive at the higher end 18 gauge round end caskets through stainless steel, copper and upper-end wood caskets. The upper-end casket segment where Chinese manufacturers are the strongest tend to be the more expensive caskets in a selection room and generally speaking, they tend to be over and above the average price point that families are selecting in today’s environment. As families today look to control the overall cost of a funeral, they are looking for an appropriately priced casket and are less concerned with specifics such as round ends and gauges. Consumers are continually moving towards a segment of products where domestic manufacturers are the strongest – high eye appeal products at an affordable price. It becomes more about providing a casket within the family’s budget and less about providing a casket with features a family does not find value in, such as gauge and round ends. The ultimate goal should be to provide a product that families are happy with while ensuring that they feel the value of what they paid. Domestically sourced companies fit nicely into the category of what families prefer to purchase and are trending towards. Furthermore, funeral directors have more control over the products they are purchasing if they utilize a domestically sourced company. They have access to the full line of available products either through the manufacturer’s wholesale operation or through an independent distributor, and these are fostered by face to face sales representation – something some of the larger manufacturers are moving away from. When a strong relationship and bond is formed between the in-the-field sales representation and the funeral director, products are purchased with confidence that they are right for that funeral home’s overall strategy. This creates ongoing loyalty between the manufacturer, wholesaler and funeral director. When the supplier is domestic it also gives the funeral home the ability to have control oversight, ensuring that suppliers are meeting your deadlines and quality expectations. When funeral homes decide to work with suppliers that use domestically sourced products, they are closer to the supply chain, which leads to less damage and more efficient quality control. Along these same lines, domestic sourcing allows your supplier to be more responsive when issues may arise or when there is a concern regarding the product.

Working with companies that choose domestically sourced materials will also guarantee a quick turnaround time. If a distributor who uses Chinese caskets run out of stock on a particular model, it could potentially take a long time to get the casket back in stock as the distributor has to wait on the product to come overseas in the container. Those issues do not arise when the product is already in the United States. Distributors who source with domestic companies have a much shorter lead time on replenishing stock outages. By using a casket company that utilizes domestic manufacturers, a funeral home’s supply chain is less prone to having issues and is much more stable. Another point to consider is additional costs that may be tied to the overall wholesale price to funeral homes. Independent distributors that choose to use products sourced overseas must consider tariffs and other miscellaneous charges associated with importing. If the independent distributor is being charged additional taxes, funeral homes can bet those costs are considered into their wholesale cost as well. Also, the cost of imported caskets can fluctuate based on the current political environment and that can create inconsistent costs to the funeral home. Companies utilizing domestically sourced products can keep their prices more consistent based upon the quality of their product and materials without having the added stress of import taxes to be considered into the wholesale price to funeral homes. They also do not have to worry about any risk associated with currency exchange rates.

It should not be overlooked that a significant number of individuals want products that are made in the United States. In recent years, there has been a push to keep as many jobs as possible right here at home. By utilizing companies that choose domestic sourcing, it allows local citizens to keep their jobs, while simultaneously giving the economy a boost. It also creates room for growth amongst several different industries. The Economic Policy Institute calls it “indirect employment multiplier” and estimates that every manufacturing job in the U.S. supports an additional 1.4 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Finally, when situations beyond our control happen, such as a global pandemic, domestically sourced casket companies do not have the stress of wondering when they will receive their products because they don’t have to rely on overseas shipping and transportation. Additionally, the environmental benefits of utilizing domestically sourced products include less packaging, lower emissions, lower energy usage, and a reduction in carbon. There is a push for everyone to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint and domestically sourcing is a great way for businesses to do their part. Overall, the benefits of domestically sourced casket products far outweigh those of international sourcing for several reasons. From having a better understanding of industry trends and being able to provide what families want, to better quality control and environmental impacts, the benefits are clear. Funeral homes stand to gain a lot when they choose to use a casket supplier that takes advantage of domestically sourcing and they are in better hands when they do so. When funeral directors can keep their wholesale costs low, they can keep their prices for families at a comfortable level. When families are satisfied with the quality of the casket, funeral homes do well, and funeral directors can maintain their well-deserved, excellent reputation within their community.

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