News Column

Serenity Consolidates Funeral Business with Angel Valley Buy

Oct. 18, 2012

Chuck Slothower, The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.

Serenity & Co. Memorial Services completed the purchase of Angel Valley Funeral Home on Monday, giving the Phoenix-based company a monopoly on funeral services in the Farmington area.

Serenity & Co. also owns Cope Memorial funeral homes in Farmington, Aztec, Gallup and Kirtland, Brewer Lee & Larkin Funeral Home and Alternative Choice Funeral & Cremation in Farmington, and Tse Bonito Mortuary.

The company also owns Memory Gardens, a Farmington cemetery.

Serenity owners Jerry Guttman and Steve McDonald said they will not raise prices at Angel Valley and will honor previously purchased goods and services.

"We have not changed prices or anything," said McDonald, a managing member at Serenity & Co. "We've actually added staff, added equipment."

Serenity entered the Farmington market in November 2011, when the company bought several funeral homes owned by Daniels Family Funeral Services of Albuquerque.

Kenny Kendrick, who opened Angel Valley in April 2011 with Greg Hamilton and other partners, said they sold in part because the funeral home didn't fit well with their other business interests. Both Kendrick and Hamilton are part of the ownership group of SunRay Park & Casino.

"It needed to go to the next level," Kendrick said. "We felt Serenity could take it to the next level."

Kendrick said he was comfortable selling to Guttman and McDonald and is not concerned about market consolidation. "I think they're going to do a fine job," he said.

Serenity's operations in Farmington have about 50 employees. Guttman and McDonald have been visiting hospices and the hospital to introduce themselves to the community.

"We're both very community-driven," Guttman said. Serenity is working on a clothing drive for the poor and other community initiatives.

The company offers a wide range of funeral services for different faith traditions and cultural backgrounds, including Native Americans. Serenity is considering building another crematory in Farmington.

Funeral homes are reacting to changing consumer preferences. Nearly half of families now choose cremation, a less expensive option than embalming and burial, McDonald said.

"Twenty years ago, it was nothing near that," he said.

Families who do want funerals are spending less on them. Funeral homes bring in less revenue now than in years past, McDonald said.

"The business is evolving and continues to evolve," he said.

"We provide services to the community, and we try to take care of every family," McDonald said.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.)

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