Tennessee Company Intends to Buy 3 Family-Owned Funeral Businesses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Three Mahoning Valley funeral service providers intend to sell their operations to Heritage Family Funeral Services, a Tennessee company that is increasing its presence in Ohio.

The sale should close by the end of the year, according to a statement drafted by the principals of Lane Family Funeral Homes, Baumgardner Funeral Homes and Becker Funeral Homes.

Lane, founded in 1855, operates funeral services in eight locations in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.  Becker, founded in 1896, has locations in Lowellville, Struthers, Poland and Boardman.  Baumgardner, established in 1944, operates two funeral homes in Kinsman and Andover.

“For us, this was the result of succession planning more than anything,” said Pamela Baumgardner Toth, who along with her cousin, Jodi Baumgardner Poole, represent the third generation of family to own the funeral business.

“We looked at 12 companies that had the potential for buying our group,” she said. Heritage, based in Elizabethton, Tenn., proved the best fit since it has a broad range of services for employees, such as a 401(k) plan and health insurance that includes dental and vision.

Kelly Becker of Becker Funeral Homes said it was important to find a reputable buyer that would preserve the integrity of all of these longstanding businesses.

“Heritage Family Funeral Services, founded over 70 years ago, has been a chosen successor to many family funeral homes, continuing the service traditions these fine firms have provided to their families for generations,” Becker said in a statement. “Heritage Family can provide a broader range of resources for the three county-wide funeral businesses. Each firm will continue to thrive and maintain the level of standards their families are accustomed to, as well as offer more quality-of-life benefits to their employees.”

Baumgardner Toth said that Heritage recently expanded into Ohio through acquisitions in Stark and Cuyahoga counties. 

Bodnar-Mahoney Funeral Homes & Cremation Service in Cleveland, for example, was acquired by Heritage a year and a half ago, Baumgardner Toth said. She consulted with the operation before deciding on Heritage.

“They had great things to say,” she said.

Baumgardner will retain its name under Heritage’s new ownership, she said.  The two other funeral companies will also continue to operate under the Lane and Becker names, she said.

According to the joint statement, the principals of the three funeral homes met with employees on Oct. 10 to announce their intention. The staff and owners will continue with the new company, either through employment or providing consulting services.

“It was a decision that was truly heartfelt,” said Lane’s owner, Joseph Lane. “At some point, we do have to take a really sincere look at what the future looks like.”

Lane added there is no member of his family is involved in the business, and he wanted to make sure that the company’s employees were treated well.

“That’s what really drove everything,” he said. “Finding the right people who could do that, who valued us for who we were.”

Lane’s management and employees will remain, and Lane said that he would still be somehow involved. “I’ll still be around. I’m not going away, nor are any of our employees. That’s important.”

Pictured at top: Davis-Becker Funeral Home on Market Street in Boardman.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.