A collaboration between two Tiffin funeral homes is intended to benefit area families.
Tiffin funeral directors Rich Traunero of Traunero Funeral Home and Robb Mack of Hoffman-Gottfried-Mack Funeral Home have formed Seneca County Crematory LLC, which can provide cremation as an option for families who use either funeral home.
"Basically, it's an investment," Traunero said. "Even though the crematory rate is increasing each year, there still isn't enough to justify an individual putting one in the area. It made sense to do this, from the point of sharing the expense and the investment, and then being able to offer the service to homes outside the area."
They said the community would be better served, and they could control costs, which could be reflected in prices.
"It came down to numbers," Traunero said. "The number of cremations performed. And the fact that Robb and I got along, sure, we're competitors, but we are also colleagues. We felt it was a good thing to do for the community and our business."
Although they had not originally meant for the crematory to be available for other funeral homes in the county to use, there was a demand, Mack said.
In this area, the cremation rate is 20 to 30 percent, while in metropolitan areas, the rate is higher, Traunero said.
"There can be a full viewing, with a funeral, or an immediate cremation," Traunero said. "Most people have some sort of service, whether the body is present, or there is a memorial service following cremation. The majority of cremated remains are buried in a cemetery with the headstone. Some are released to the family, a small number scatter over a favorite location."
Operational for a week now, Mack said the building housing it is discreetly located away from regular funeral home operations. The property, next to Mack's funeral home, was purchased in January. Afterward, a 50/50 partnership was formed, and other crematories were visited to decide what would work best for the community and their respective businesses.
"There is an advantage for us individually in that the operation of the crematory does not interfere with funeral home operations," Mack said.
Employees from both funeral homes have been trained by the crematory manufacturer, and if one home is busy with services, the other can take over.
The Rev. Gary Walters, pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in Tiffin, blessed the crematory last week.
"In 1963, the Vatican approved cremation, with the same burial rites. The one thing the church requests is that the funeral Mass take place first, before the cremation. And the church doesn't approve of scattering the ashes; the cremains should be treated with respect and buried intact," he said.
"We treat cremated remains as if it were the body of the loved one," Traunero said. "Because, in fact, it is. The respect for the body is not minimized."
Remains are given to the family following cremation, and there are a variety of urns available, including those that are bio-degradable.
"We can't control what they do with the ashes once they leave," Traunero said. "When we deliver remains to the family, they receive a receipt and take custody, we can advise or provide counsel."
As families increasingly decide to choose cremation, they now can use the funeral homes they are comfortable with.
"It works for us," Mack said of the partnership. "We both provide the same (funeral home) services, with a different approach. People choose their funeral home for personal reasons."