Solimine Landergan and Richardson Funeral Homes is one of the largest family-owned funeral homes in the state. Founded by David Solimine in 1965, the firm moved to a newly constructed main location at 426 Broadway in 1982. It also operates a second funeral home at 67 Ocean Street.
During an interview this week, Michael W. Phelps, funeral director at Solimine Landergan and Richardson Funeral Homes and apprentice funeral director Joel Solimine, grandson of founder David Solimine and son of funeral director David Solimine Jr., talked about some of the latest trends in the funeral industry.
The funeral planning process has become more elaborate as clients make specific requests about funeral services being a truly special final tribute.
“We try to offer something that is special to each individual,” said Phelps. “We want to tailor the service to the individual person whether it be with photos or videos. We’ve had wakes and funerals where there have been barber chairs in the room and motorcycles parked outside – just things that identify you with that person.”
More people are meeting with funeral directors and pre-planning their funeral, according to Phelps.
“Individuals are coming in and saying, ‘this is what I think I want for my funeral – I want to buried, I want to be cremated, I want my ashes scattered, I want to be buried in the same cemetery with my parent,’’’ said Phelps. “A lot of people are doing it as part of their estate planning when they retire. They’re not only meeting with financial planners but they’re setting up their funeral plans.”
Phelps said like any other business or industry Solimine Landergan and Richardson is “changing with the times.” He noted that some clients are now requesting videos of the funeral services and memorial observances.
“You have one opportunity to do it [videotape the service] so it has to be done correctly,” said Phelps. “We’re moving into videos slowly, but very shortly we’ll be very proficient at doing it.”
Phelps said the use of Web sites is now essential in the funeral industry.
“We have an excellent Web site that lists everything from our prices to information about frequently asked questions,” said Phelps. “We post an obituary for every family that we serve. People are able to go on the Web site and leave messages on the guest book.”
Phelps said casket manufacturers offer more choices today. “Whether it be the color of the interior of the casket or engraving a person’s name or having a symbol engraved on the casket, there are more choices yet the price of caskets is less today than it was 10-15 years ago.”
Phelps said more people today are planning cremation services. The firm offers a highly regarded “Cremation with Confidence” guarantee with its 10-step cremation process.
Another trend in the industry is that more women are pursuing careers as funeral directors. At Solimine Landergan and Richardson, two women, Mary Aveni and Lisa Smith, serve as funeral directors. Another woman, Katie Abernathy, is an apprentice funeral director.
Joel Solimine joined his father David Jr. and his grandfather David Sr. in the funeral business in 2009 following his graduation from Bentley University. He also attended Mount Ida College for his degree in Funeral Service. He is close to becoming a fully licensed funeral director. An aunt, Diane Edgett, works in the bookkeeping office at the funeral home.
“My father and grandfather have done a lot of things around the city that I’m proud of – such as being involved with the Item Santa Fund, the Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive, and other charities,” said Solimine.
Forty-six years after David Solimine Sr. founded the business and opened two funeral home locations in the city, the Solimine family is staying on top of the trends in an ever-changing industry.