Service Corporation International (SCI) was initially founded in 1962 and has its company headquarters in Houston, Texas. They own 1,435 funeral homes and 374 cemeteries in the U.S. and are the largest funeral and cemetery services company in the world. SCI provides any and all funeral-related services mainly in the United States and Canada but they also own facilities in eight European countries including England, France, and Germany. Additionally, the company also conducts business in Singapore. The services they provide include embalming, burial, cremation, and pre-arranged funeral packages. Their products cover every aspect of funerals such as caskets, burial vaults, flowers, cremation funeral options, and burial garments. It is estimated that their share of the total funeral and cemetery market in North American is 13%.
SCI considers itself to be an innovative industry leader providing high-quality services, good value to the consumer, and compassion in their interactions with bereaved family members of the deceased.
What were the corporation’s beginnings?
Corporate Head Office Phone: (713) 522-5141
The founder of this huge organization is Robert L. Waltrip, a licensed funeral director, who received his initial experience in the family funeral business. Mr. Waltrip has managed the firm for over forty years. Part of his formula for success was the purchase of additional funeral homes starting in the 1960s and the “cluster” concept whereby many facilities pool their resources for cost-efficiency.
Their network of funeral homes has largely been built-up by acquiring existing funeral businesses. Although SCI introduced the brand ‘Dignity Memorial’ in 1999, many of their network of funeral homes still trade under the family names that were acquired. In fact, in some businesses, the original funeral home staff may still be retained and employed by SCI.
The company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and currently has funeral contracts for unperformed services in an amount in the range of $8 billion. The company states that it assists approximately 630,000 families a year, and through their extensive network of companies would be able to serve almost 80% of the families in the United States.
In 2006 SCI acquired Alderwoods Group, who was at the time the second largest company in the North American death care industry. In 2010 they acquired Keystone North America, the then 5th largest company and in 2011 they acquired 70% of outstanding shares of The Neptune Society. Neptune is described by SCI as the nation’s largest direct cremation organization. In December 2013, SCI completed the acquisition of Stewart Enterprises, Inc. the second largest funeral company in North America at the time. This grew the company’s footprint to more than 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries in 44 states, eight Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These acquisitions have helped to position SCI as a dominant force in the death care industry
What brands does SCI trade with?
SCI operates a number of brands targeting different aspects of the death care market.
- SCI: provides services in 44 states, 8 Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with more than 2,000 funeral home locations and cemeteries.
- Dignity Planning: Dignity Planning provides funeral planning and arrangements through Dignity Memorial North America locations.
- Advantage Funeral and Cremation Services: Advantage provides basic funeral services and products.
- Funeraria del Angel: Funeraria del Angel provides specialized services for Hispanic customers.
- Memorial Plan: Memorial Plan currently manages six funeral homes and five cemeteries in South Florida.
- Making Everlasting Memories: helps memorialize loved ones by preserving and publishing life stories.
- National Cremation Society: Founded in 1972, National Cremation Society is the oldest and largest cremation service in the United States.
- Neptune and Trident Cremation Societies: operate in 9 states offering cremation services.
SCI also owns a disaster-recovery subsidiary, Kenyon International Emergency Services, Inc. which was involved in the aftermath of the tsunami tragedy that took place in Thailand in December of 2004. A private client (either a corporation or institution) hired Kenyon’s mobile mortuary to locate the remains of individuals connected to that client in the disaster area. This subsidiary has a list of clients in excess of 200, which include institutions, governments, and corporations for which it has the capability of setting up a disaster management coordination center.
SCI has partnerships with a number of organizations including:
- Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)
- The Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA)
- American Legion
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
- Angel de la Comunidad Fundacion
- Employee Bereavement Programs for:
- American International Group (AIG)
- Florida Hospice Association
- Liberty University
SCI’s top competitors in the funeral industry are:
- StoneMor Partners L.P is now the 2nd largest owner and operator of cemeteries in the U.S. and has its head office in Levittown, Pennsylvania. It has properties in 28 states, 303 cemeteries, and 98 funeral homes
- Carriage Services, Inc. that has 165 funeral homes in 27 states and 32 cemeteries in 27 states.
SCI’s acquisition of Alderwoods Group in 2006 raised some concerns. The Federal Trade Commission contended that the merger would lessen competition in 47 markets, leaving consumers with fewer choices and the prospect of higher prices. An agreement was reached to proceed with the merger, whereby SCI had to sell a number of properties within 29 markets.
Similarly, when SCI put in a proposal to acquire Stewart Enterprises in December 2013, a 100-year old company, which had 217 funeral service locations and 141 cemeteries in 14 states (& Puerto Rico) with a staff of 5,400 there were some concerns about antitrust violations.
Again the Federal Trade Commission investigated the acquisition as there were concerns that the merger would substantially reduce competition in 59 local markets. In order to conform to federal antitrust laws, SCI were required to divest a specified number of properties/locations in specific local markets. During 2014 a selection of properties were divested across a number of states. In many cases, these properties were sold to SCI’s competitors – StoneMor L.P or Carriage Services. In other cases, regional funeral groups such as Legacy Funeral Holdings Inc., NorthStar Memorial Group LLC, and Heritage Oaks Memorial Group Inc seeking to expand their portfolio purchased the properties.