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Highlights from the 2014 NFDA Convention

Oct 16, 2014

“These funeral people are so nice,” says a doorman for the Omni Hotel to his co-worker while waving off a taxicab full of NFDA Convention attendees. A variation of this statement has probably been uttered many times this past week in Nashville as funeral directors from across the country traveled to the city “music calls home” for the 2014 NFDA Convention.

A joyful energy flowed out from Music City Center throughout this year’s convention. You couldn’t turn your head without seeing old friends reuniting for hugs in the street, swapping stories in the hotel lobby or sharing giveaways while walking the expo floor. It was truly a special week for everyone in attendance.

Below are some of our highlights and photos from this year’s largest gathering of funeral professionals in the world.

ASD Mobile 3 Released During Convention

One of the most common questions we heard from funeral professionals who visited our booth on Monday was, “When will the new app become available?” For the ASD team, this question was on our mind as well as we had been anxiously awaiting word from Apple that they had approved our ASD Mobile 3 submission. Then, during our dinner with friends and clients, Debra Fry, Skip and Delores Urban, we were thrilled to receive confirmation that Apple had released the app to iTunes.

Later that evening, Funeral Director, Matthew Fiorillo of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services became the first ASD client to use our patented MobileFH® app feature.

Matt Fiorillo with ASD Vice President, Kevin Czachor, moments after making history.

The release of our app could not have come at a better time, as our Technical Analyst, Kristine Soderland, was onsite to help answer questions and provide app tutorials to our clients. During the Expo, Kristy held a Live Demo of ASD Mobile 3 every hour at our booth. Funeral Directors in attendance were shown how to use the app’s new advanced features and could see these tools in action on ASD’s projection screen.

Dog Lovers Flock to Meet Debra and Gurt

This year, ASD had the pleasure of sharing our booth with our client and friend, Debra Fry of Fry Funeral Home in Tipton, IA and her Bermese Mountain Dog, Gurt. Debra was a guest on the ASD-sponsored podcast, Funeral Pro Chat where she spoke openly about her organization, Compassionate Paws Grief Therapy and training dogs to provide comfort and support to others. When you listen to Debra talk about the work she has done with her dogs, it is clear she has a true passion for helping those in need and educating others about the therapeutic nature of dogs.

Gurt made so many friends during the NFDA Convention and it is no wonder why – she is such a sweet and soulful dog!

Click here to see more photos of Gurt at ASD’s booth.

NFDA Goes Hi-Tech

The NFDA provided special accommodations this year to funeral professionals that like to stay connected. The NFDA App was an incredibly useful tool for attendees to have at their fingertips throughout the convention. Whether trying to find a class for a seminar, a booth in the expo hall or a restaurant nearby, the app could provide an answer in seconds. In addition to the NFDA App, the expo hall also included several cell phone-charging stations that allowed directors to give their cell phone battery a boost without missing a moment of activity. We were happy to sponsor one of these charging stations at our booth to help directors stay fully charged throughout the expo.

Engaging Speakers Share Important Tips

While waiting for an NFDA class session to begin, I overheard a gentleman say, “My wife is in the class next door. We decided to split up to get the most out of this convention.” With so many excellent seminars to choose from at this year’s NFDA Convention, he wasn’t the only one hoping to maximize his convention experience. As ASD’s Public Relations Specialist, I always look for classes that focus on funeral communications so that I may bring home tips and suggestions to share. This year, it was very difficult to choose between so many interesting topics and speakers.

I had the pleasure of attending Caleb Wilde’s engaging seminar on how funeral homes can use Social Media to create an ethical edge for their business. Caleb explained how social media humanizes funeral directors by allowing honest funeral professionals to disclose themselves and establish a meaningful conversation about death.

Thank you to Caleb Wilde for spending some time with the ASD team after his session.

Honesty and openness were also mentioned in Monday’s panel on diversity, presented by Funeral Directors, John Carmon of Carmon Community Funeral Homes, Stephen Kemp of Haley Funeral Directors, Steve Trevino of Ponderosa Valley Funeral Services, and Erin Whitaker of Whitaker Funeral Home. The panel discussed how remaining honest with yourself about changing demographics in your funeral home’s community is key to serving the needs of diverse groups. “You have to respect people’s differences,” stated Funeral Director, John Carmon.

This important statement was echoed in Lacy Robinson’s session on Tuesday as well, which focused on managing a funeral home with a diverse age range among employees. Lacy defined the characteristics of each generation and provided tips on how to settle points of friction when conflict arises among different age groups. Be sure to visit our blog next week for a complete analysis of these sessions and important tips you can implement from them to enhance communication at your funeral home.

Excitement In The Expo Hall

Funeral Directors honored Breast Cancer Awareness Month during the NFDA convention by sporting pink clothing and accessories. The ASD Team was proud to participate in the NFDA “Think Pink” day on Tuesday.

The ASD team had a great time walking around the Expo floor and seeing all of the latest funeral products and trends. We had an opportunity to spend some time with our friends at American Funeral Director and see the October issue of the magazine, which features an article from ASD and our podcast interview with Debra Fry. Here are a few photos we captured while walking around the expo hall:

Back by popular demand, the ASD Lego Cemetery Set was one of the hottest raffle items available at the NFDA Convention. We raffled off a lego set every day of the show, along with an iPad Mini. Congratulations to our raffle winners!

Raffle Winners, Michael Proch of Furman Home for Funerals, Steven Wickens of St Joseph Funeral Home, Jon Reichmuth of Reichmuth Funeral Home, Ashley Cozine of Cozine Memorial Group, Mark Thomas of Watson Thomas Funeral Home and Jeffrey Spear of Hansen-Spear Funeral Home.

A Hall of Fame Evening

The ASD team had a great time celebrating with NFDA Incoming President and ASD Client, Rob Moore, and his wife Pat Moore of Moore’s Home for Funerals. We spent some time with Rob and Pat during NFDA’s Hall of Fame Evening in the Country Music Hall of Fame. ASD was very proud to sponsor this event in support of Rob’s induction as the new NFDA President. A good time was had by all and it was the perfect way to end our wonderful week in Nashville.

At ASD, we look forward to the NFDA convention every year, but there was something truly special about this year’s show. We had a wonderful time catching up with friends, demoing our new app for clients and learning about the latest innovations in the funeral profession. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by our booth. We appreciate your support. Click here to see our complete album of photos from our time at the NFDA Convention.

We look forward to seeing everyone again in Indianapolis next year!

About The Author

Jess Farren (Fowler)

Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at

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