I have been on social media for a number of years and was recently told by experts that my posts are too professional and that I should be more personable. It seems that in order to create a following of your “brand” you should open up your “personal” life so that people can get to know the real you. So allow me to reintroduce myself and share some of my life story with you. I will try to not make it sound like an obituary! (Even though that is what I am used to writing)
I grew up in the suburbs of New York in Oyster Bay Long Island and graduated OBHS class of 1982. We were all pretty spoiled to grow up on the bay and with all that the affluent burbs had to offer. Fishing, boating, clams, oysters, and just about anything money could buy was right nearby. We had big venues like the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden at our fingertips and all of the other things that Long Island and New York City had to offer. Oyster Bay had a strong music culture and so began my lifelong live music habit! While still in high school I attended too many funerals for unfortunate friends and began to take notice of the funeral business. I could see the value of funerals and knew it would be rewarding to help people though one of life’s toughest times. My mom encouraged me to look into becoming a funeral director. I was able to major in mortuary science and graduated from S.U.N.Y Farmingdale with the class of 1984.
I began my career as an apprentice for Frederick Funeral Home in Flushing New York where I was fired! (the only time in my life) for not being intimidated by my manager “Asshole”. It was a good thing because I then finished my apprenticeship and worked a few more years at the excellent James Funeral Home in Massapequa and Brooklyn New York. Working at these high volume mostly Catholic funeral homes in the “Rat Race” of NY, it soon began to take it’s toll on mellow me and I began to burn and fizzle like many young funeral directors. The pay was never worth the dedication I had and the suburbs could only lead to trouble for an adventurer like me.
So I headed up to Vermont to get out of the rat race and into nature. I had spent Summer and Winter vacations in Vermont. So I became a full time ski bum/instructor at Killington Mountain. It was the ultimate cure for a burnt funeral director. Those were some great six or seven years of skiing, odd jobs and house painting in the warmer months. But you can’t be a ski bum forever, trouble for renegade Jeff! I stayed in Vermont but went back to work as a funeral director for fifteen more years. It was much more mellow than NY and the families weren’t as high strung. I was used to working Italian Catholic funerals in Brooklyn, where people often cried, wailed, fought, and tried to get in the casket before fainting. I remember the first time I used the smelling salts to revive an old widow. The senior funeral director told me how to break the capsule, I just assumed that I would shove them into her nostrils, well to say the least “she woke up rapidly”. Vermonters had a more realistic approach to death and keep most of the drama in the closet. The hours and pay still sucked and I never felt “The Calling” that dedicated lifelong directors must have. Like many funeral directors my back became injured from lifting, my cheap ass boss wouldn’t purchase a hydraulic lift to get them in “the box” and the worn out stretchers malfunctioned. In fact every boss I ever had in the funeral biz was a cheap prick! I have a theory that the formaldehyde causes this condition! Having myself embalmed about 3,000 people I was concerned about my health. The fumes are cancerous and I never saw a preparation room with proper ventilation, too cheap to put in an adequate exhaust fan! I recently read they might make formaldehyde illegal; the old time cancer riddled funeral directors will be so upset! They just love this stuff and shun the new greener chemical alternatives.
Exit Working As A Funeral Director
One day while making funeral arrangements with a family, they were explaining how they were going to scatter Dad’s ashes in a wood lot behind their home where Dad enjoyed watching the birds. I was telling them about a new type of wooden urn called a scattering urn. They liked the idea of using it but wouldn’t buy an urn that would be used only once and then go to waste. The family was explaining their concern and just then my light bulb went on and I told them that after you scatter the ashes, you can screw it to a tree and drill a hole in it, creating a home for the birds that your dad loved so much. They said we will take it. I began using this sales pitch and was soon selling more scattering urns then ever. This is how I got the idea to make scattering urns that were actually made to convert into a birdhouse after the ashes are scattered. I started designing and working with local woodworkers. I got a patent for “Birdhouse Memorial Urns”. This would be my exit from a job that was taking its toll on me and my health and turn me into a supplier to the funeral industry.
Like many new suppliers to the funeral world, I spent all my money on inventory and attended the biggest funeral trade show in the world, the NFDA, which was in Chicago that year. This would be my big break, people loved the idea and all my research pointed to the fact that these urns would sell to the public! I was so sure that funeral directors would understand and snatch them up for their showrooms! WRONG. I soon learned that there is no such thing as a hot new funeral industry product. Funeral directors are very slow to try new things and are the worst sales people on the planet. I won design awards and got lots of compliments for my line of scattering urns, but sales were at a trickle! Back to house painting full time while growing my new company, Cremation Solutions on the side. For a couple years I was into home energy performance and along with Ted Taylor started Energy Wise Homes in Manchester, Vermont.
With no budget, the memorial business was slow to grow but I really loved merchandising all of the cool funeral products and began to expand my line of products into keepsakes, urns, and jewelry. And later added monuments that hold ashes. I enjoy working with the artists and craftspeople from all over the world and offer a very expansive line of cremation memorials. I soon realized that funeral professionals had little to no interest in helping those who choose to scatter ashes. It’s just something families usually do on their own. I’ve since become a leading authority on scattering ashes and now Cremation Solutions is the #1 resource for information on scattering ashes. In fact I wrote most of what you’ll read about it on the Internet. I became involved with funeral Celebrants when I was researching the ceremonies for scattering ashes. The only people that seems to know anything about scattering ceremonies were the Celebrants in Australia. I then learned about the Celebrant Foundation and Institute in NJ and became a Certified Funeral Celebrant. Now I help promote the use of Celebrants to the funeral industry. I truly believe that Celebrant ceremonies could save the American funeral! The general public has become disenchanted with the old time traditional funerals and want MORE! Not less as you might hear. Now Cremation Solutions has grown to offer one of the world’s most expensive lines of cremation memorials and is a resource for information on funeral planning and scattering ashes.
I do miss working with the families and planning memorable funerals. It was helping the people through a hard time that made it all worthwhile. As an educator to the death care industry I’ve written for many of the industry publications and enjoy riding the wave of change that the funeral industry is now experiencing. It’s a very interesting time now in the history of funeral service. There has been more change in the last ten years than in the past hundred years! Some of the new trends stem from a basic change with peoples attitude towards death and religion. Plus technology provides access to the information via the Internet. Cremation is NOW the most popular disposition, and of course the challenged economy has driven the more affordable cremation option.
These days I work on my own property and never have a pager go off in the middle of the night to rescue the bodies before they assume room temperature. No more chasing down the doctors to sign death certificates. And I only embalm myself for pleasure now! Hats off to the men and women that do this day in and day out. I’ve been keeping busy and get really excited creating and designing new memorial options for those who choose cremation. And I have some new really cool things to do with cremation ashes. Cremation Solutions has grown and I have also branched out and also operate www.lifetreefarm.com and www.your-touch.com
For more fun I have way too many hobbies including:
- Cooking and competitive BBQ
- Snow skiing
- Fishing – spearfishing and scuba diving
- Traveling (I’ve been to every state but Hawaii)
- Camping and discovering new cultures and art.
- Live music and festivals
- Most of all I enjoy time with my family and friends, adventures in the mountains and on the sea’s
- And that’s just what I can tell ya…
I live in Arlington, Vermont on the Battenkill River surrounded by the beautiful green mountains with my daughters, Jena and Shaana. I have two brothers and two sisters and my dad is still kicking at 90. So here is a taste of what Jeff Staab is all about. I won’t get too personal about my life because you really wouldn’t believe it anyway!
LETS HOOK UP!
Feel free reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep up to date with my Blog: http://www.cremationsolutions.com/blog/
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Link Up on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffstaab
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