Posted on Friday November 01, 2019
Business of the Month-Oakcrest Funeral Services
305 Main St Wesley, IA 50483 Phone 515-295-3731
Business of the Month-Oakcrest Funeral Services
VICTOR GARRY, FUNERAL DIRECTOR/OWNER
Vic is a third generation funeral director, licensed for over 25 years. He followed in the footsteps of his father, and became part owner of Oakcrest in 2000.
• What type of schooling did you have to become a funeral director? I grew up in Bancroft and graduated high school in 1987. I then attended NIACC in Mason City and earned an Associates Degree. I went on to Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in 1991. I worked from then until the fall of 2000 at a funeral home in Mason City before moving back to the area and joining my father and partners at Oakcrest Funeral Services.
• How many employees do you have? We have what we consider 7 full time employees consisting of four funeral directors, our office manager, a pre-need counselor, and our graphic designer/marketing director. We also have 3 part-time funeral directors, and several assistants who help with our daily routine. Our staff of funeral directors have proudly been born and raised in these communities which helps with relationships of our client families
• Why do your customers select you over your competitors? We have always had a reputation of being very detailed and professional. That is the best way to keep families placing their trust in us.
• If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? Being a funeral director can be a very rewarding job because people really appreciate the service we provide. It is a time consuming 24 hour a day career. I always tell young people interested in this career to make sure to always work for a professional and reputable firm with good people. If not you can get discouraged and burned out very quickly.
BRIAN SCHAAF, FUNERAL DIRECTOR/OWNER
Brian Schaaf is a second generation funeral director, born and raised in Algona. He and his wife moved back to the area in 2000 to join his father and become a business partner at Oakcrest.
• What made you decide to pursue funeral service and how long have you been doing it? I grew up around funeral service with my father being a funeral director. As I got older I realized what was involved with helping families through a difficult time and it was just something I wanted to do. I am approaching 25 years as a licensed funeral director.
• What did you do before this? I started my schooling at UNI and then continued on to Worsham College of Mortuary Science in the Chicago area. I worked in Sioux City and the Chicago suburbs before moving back to the Wesley area in 2000. I worked at several different funeral homes and appreciate the work experience I gained there. I feel I was able to bring various ideas and practices with me when I moved back to the area.
• What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the job? Our daily responsibilities depend on whether we may have had any deaths the night before. Our day can consist of meeting with a family to plan a funeral, running a funeral or finishing up paperwork from previous services we have had. This is difficult to answer as everyday is totally different and can change quickly.
• What made you choose Wesley as a current location and how long have you been there? The funeral home in Wesley was owned by another individual who also owned other locations. My father and his business partners acquired those funeral homes in the early 1980’s and we have operated that location ever since. I always enjoy working in Wesley and catching up with people when they either come to the funeral or visitation.
JENNIFER WEAVER, FUNERAL DIRECTOR
Jenni was born and raised in Algona and joined Oakcrest Funeral Services in 2016.
• If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? One piece of advice is to pay close attention to other funeral directors. Watch for great things they do and say and incorporate those things into how to do your job. In time, you will develop your own way of doing things. No matter how long you have been in the business, keep your eyes open for new or better ways to do something. Change is inevitable.
• What is your education? I graduated from DMACC in October of 2015 with an Advanced Standing Diploma in Mortuary Science. In October of 2017 I took online classes with Mid America College of Funeral Service, and I obtained my bachelor's degree in Funeral Service Management.
DANIEL GELHAUS, FUNERAL DIRECTOR
Daniel grew up in Algona and joined Oakcrest Funeral Services in 2017.
• What influenced you to become a funeral director? I knew growing up that I wanted to help people. I found that in the funeral services industry I am able to help families in their most difficult times of their lives. I enjoy guiding families and helping them create the most memorable service for their loved one. To be able to care for their deceased loved one is a true privilege that not many people get to have in their lives.
• What is your education? I have a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Mortuary Science from the University of Minnesota.
SHANNON GOCHE, PRE-ARRANGEMENT CONSULTANT
Since 2014, Shannon Goche, our pre-arrangement consultant, has helped countless families with funeral advanced planning. She has a knack for making the process simple and guides families through all the decisions from their choice on disposition to planning the perfect celebration. Families appreciate the peace of mind that comes with planning ahead and knowing the burden is not left for their family.
• What made you decide to pursue this profession? I was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to work one on one with customers while using my relationship building skills and financial background. I enjoy helping people feel secure with their "financial big picture" and having a funded funeral prearrangement is a small but very important piece.
• Describe your customers My customers have ranged in age from 18-100. They come from all walks of life. Some value religious services and some want to take care of the legal aspects surrounding one's death. I have been able to work with everyone in between. Each customer has a very different need and story and we are here to help in any way we can
• What are the different aspects of your job? I enjoy getting to know my clients and learning their life story. I am able to help them not only with prearrangement plans but also cemetery monuments and protecting burial funds from Title 19 and Medicaid.
MARY SCHAAF, MARKETING DIRECTOR/GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Mary Schaaf and her husband and funeral director, Brian Schaaf have been with Oakcrest Funeral Services since 2000 when they moved to Algona to take over the business from Brian’s father. Mary is a graphic designer and manages funeral folder design, website design, advertising, and social media. She also enjoys selecting thoughtful sympathy gifts that are available online for customers to purchase.
• How do you market your business? Since so many people get their news online, our main focus with our marketing and advertising is our website and social media (facebook and instagram). I especially love social media because it can really show people WHO we are, not only our services but a little glimpse into our day to day activities or personal lives. It’s a wonderful way to connect with the community and my goal with each post is to give information that is not only informative, but inspiring, uplifting and thoughtful. I also strive to keep our website simple, yet informational. Many funeral home website are confusing and can be information overload. Our content is mindfully written and useful to our visitors.
• What is unique about your role? I get to wear many hats at Oakcrest but what I enjoy most is helping families. I love designing funeral folders that are personal to them, I often have many requests for special photo retouching or incorporating unique details. I have personally designed over 50 funeral folder selections for families to choose from with various themes. I work with many families after the funeral to help them select memorial jewelry or design a thoughtful monument. Every project I work on I ask myself “If this was my family, how would I want this to turn out?". I aim to take as much of the burden off of families as possible.