As the rate of cremation continues to outpace traditional burial in the U.S., many funeral home owners are left scratching their heads as they scramble to adapt to this growing shift in funeral service. For Robert (Rob) Olthof, former owner of the Olthof Funeral Home in Elmira, NY, it was the uncertainty of how to navigate this shift while remaining profitable that brought him and his family’s funeral home into the Rollings family of firms. “With the changes in cremation rates, I needed to make one of two choices to survive the change: expand my footprint in the state…or sell my business to a larger firm and take the worry away from the unknown,” mentioned Rob.
Rob’s roots in funeral service run deep with his grandparents, Robert L. and Louise Olthof, opening the Olthof Funeral Home in 1946. By the mid-60s, Rob’s father, Bobby Olthof, took over management of the family business and when Bobby passed unexpectedly in the early ’90s, Rob stepped in. With the funeral home being in the family for over 70 years, Rob had a tough decision in passing his family’s legacy into new hands when he decided to sell in 2018. However, after meeting four potential buyers (three of which were investor based), Rob felt most comfortable with selling to the only husband and wife team — Greg and Debbie Rollings. “…they had a spotless reputation and out of all the companies I met with, Greg was the only licensed funeral director,” said Rob.
While Rob had felt secure in his decision, he still felt unsure about the road ahead when it came to the acquisition process. At Rollings, we understand that this time can be filled with a lot of question marks, which is why we make ourselves available to you 24/7. “Greg and his staff understood this and quickly reassured us and put to rest our unsettled emotions…they were always a phone call or text message away if we needed anything,” noted Rob. When the ink was finally dry on the paper, Rob felt the weight of the unknown over the future of his business had been lifted and he was ready for the next bright chapter in his career.
Two years later, and Rob’s favorite part of being in the Rollings family of firms? The people. “The Rollings Funeral Service family is an amazing group of very caring and talented people…I have found it a gift to work for this very warm company,” he said. For the majority of our former owners, we’ve found that their new colleagues within Rollings have been the best part. While our employees are spread all over the east coast, they’re always there for each other when a need arises and that’s truly why they’re our greatest assets.
“If you want to continue to be proud of your funeral home name, address, and phone number after you sell, then Rollings Funeral Service is your only choice,” commented Rob.
Rob currently serves as our Area Manager for our firms in New York and Pennsylvania.