Meet the Team
Jake Johnson – President and CEO | email
Jake Johnson has rapidly advanced into senior leadership roles and gained respect throughout the funeral and cemetery industries. He is known as an innovator, change agent and thought leader. Jake’s success is based on his unique ability to identify simple solutions to complex business problems and communicate across all levels of the organization, instilling positive morale, empowerment and employee ownership to drive service excellence. His strong foundation in accounting, financial analysis and EBITDA forecasting is complemented by technology savvy and broad general management qualifications in business development and operations. As President & CEO at Johnson Consulting, Jake provides strategic direction and marketing innovations that laid the groundwork for the company’s rapid growth, gaining recognition as the premiere total solutions provider within the funeral industry. In his former position as Executive Vice President and General Manager at Palm Mortuaries and Cemeteries, he provided key operations leadership to the Palm Cemetery Division. Jake began his career at Keystone Group Holdings (now Dignity Memorial Network) as Associate Director, Corporate Development, where his financial analysis and forecasting expertise was foundational to the firm’s growth. Jake’s educational credentials include a BSBA degree in Management with an emphasis in Accounting and Financial Analysis from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rounding out his financial portfolio, he is a licensed Real Estate Agent and licensed Investment Advisor representative. Jake is also a member-emeritus of the Funeral Service Foundation Board.
Tom Johnson – Founder | email
Tom has pursued a highly successful career in multi-site funeral home and cemetery management, as well as acquisition and divestiture activity in the death care industry. After beginning his career in banking and then serving in several key positions with Batesville Casket Company, he became President and CEO of Pierce Brothers Mortuaries & Cemeteries in Los Angeles. There, he grew the company from 17 locations to a total of 64 funeral homes and 14 cemeteries, making it, at the time, the largest regional independent funeral and cemetery operation in the United States. When Pierce was sold to SCI, he left the company and founded Prime Succession, which grew from no operations to 146 funeral homes and 17 cemetery locations in only three years, becoming the largest national independent operation in the country. After Prime Succession, Mr. Johnson started Johnson Consulting Group, which has become the premier consulting company in the death care industry focusing on mergers & acquisitions, business valuations and appraisals, accounting services, management services and training, and business financing. Mr. Johnson’s expertise in funeral home and cemetery management, combined with his strong background in banking and finance, gives him a unique understanding of operational and financial matters relating to the death care profession.
Jeff Casey – Sr. Vice President of Operations | email
Jeff joined Johnson Consulting Group to assist in their management consulting efforts. Jeff brings over thirty years of funeral home and cemetery management experience to the Johnson Consulting team. Jeff is a graduate of Cypress College of Mortuary Science in Cypress, CA and began his career in 1980 with Pierce Brother Mortuaries and Cemeteries in Los Angeles. After Pierce Brothers was acquired by SCI, Jeff continued with SCI to serve in various local and regional management positions including Regional Vice President in the Western Region. He continued his career with Prime Succession in California and Florida, where he was the General Manager of Fred Hunter Memorial Services in Hollywood, Florida. In addition to his duties with Fred Hunter’s, he served as a Regional Vice President, leading the Prime Succession Florida locations. Jeff’s local, multiple location and regional experience, along with a keen customer service focus, provide distinctive insight as an operational consultant.
Greg Hilgendorf – Director of Management Services | email
Greg has a record of proven success in business growth and development in the death care profession. As the owner of a successful multi-location funeral home business, his firms dominated market share and were renowned for their unparalleled customer service. In 1992, his business was the first acquisition by Tom Johnson and Prime Succession. Following progressive advancement within Prime Succession, Mr. Hilgendorf became Senior Vice President of Operations and Officer of the then fifth largest funeral home and cemetery company in the country, operating 150 funeral homes and cemeteries in 19 states. After Prime Succession, he joined The Alderwoods Group where, in his first eighteen months, he led his market to an 18% increase in operating margin and as Regional General Manager was responsible for the operating performance of 33 funeral home and cemetery locations in three states. From practicing funeral director to funeral home owner to corporate executive, Mr. Hilgendorf’s ability to deliver exceptional customer service and maximum business performance is a valuable asset to the clients of Johnson Consulting Group.
Cyndi Henry – Director of Administration | email
Cyndi joined Johnson Consulting Group in 2010, bringing with her an extensive background in Accounting and Finance. In her previous roles Cyndi has made an impact in the Accounting profession by process improvements and client communication. Prior to coming to JCG, she was recruited to develop and implement an Accounts Receivable process for a national company, which resulted in the recovery of over 1.5m in outstanding receivables. As the Accounting Manager, her solid accounting practices, business ethics and leadership provide the clients and staff with the accuracy and integrity that they require and have come to depend on. As Johnson Consulting Group continues to grow, Cyndi is developing process improvements, both internally and externally, to maintain and ensure the highest level of standards for our clients.
Karen McCurdy – Director of Merger & Acquisitions | email
Karen McCurdy is a graduate of Florida State University (1991), she received a Bachelor of Science in Real Estate. Upon graduation, Karen began a career in appraising both commercial and residential properties. She continues to maintain her real estate broker’s license and State Certified General Appraiser License. After appraising for 3 ½ years, Karen accepted a position with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Appraiser Specialist. She reviewed statewide appraisals related to the acquisition, sale, lease and disposition of all real property. In addition, she performed desk and field reviews of proposed properties for state acquisition.
In May 1996, Karen began a career with Thomas-Pierce & Company as a Project Manager. In 1999, she was promoted to Sr. Financial Analyst. Some of her responsibilities include evaluating the operating and financial performance of client companies, assisting in negotiating the sales of client businesses and working through client transactions. Karen enjoys the challenge of working with the diversities of each business and assisting each client in meeting his or her individual needs.
Bob Ekins – Director of Business Development | email
Bob joined Johnson Consulting after 20 years of experience with three of the industry’s leading companies. After graduating from Spring Hill College in Mobile Alabama with a Business Management degree, Bob began his funeral service career with Batesville Casket Company. His roles included sales territory responsibility, national accounts, cremation specialist and selection room design including merchandising. In 2002, Bob joined Forethought Financial Services as Director of Business Development. His responsibilities included assisting funeral home and cemetery owners with solutions for existing trust funds and new preneed insurance business. The role evolved into client relations with multiple marketing partners across the country. In 2011, Bob was named Vice President of Sales for Trust 100, the oldest and one of the largest marketing partners to assist client funeral homes with Advance Funeral Planning. These career experiences have made Bob the ideal asset for Johnson Consulting Group to be responsible for client relations and business development.
Phil Sinn – Director of Accounting and Finance | email
Phil graduated from Dickinson College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and then continued his education by completing his MBA at LaSalle University with concentration in Finance and Accounting. Phil brings to Johnson Consulting over twenty years of experience working for large and small companies focusing on executing business initiatives and improving processes. For over a decade he held a leadership role at Ditech mortgage developing financial models and performing operational planning and analysis. Previously, he worked on an Arthur Andersen engagement with Hyperion, a large international software company, and managed the revenue accounting group. Phil has a strong technical background working with ERP systems to create forecasts, budgets and financial statements. He strives to exceed the expectations of both internal and external clients.
Berny Gaarsoe – Controller | email
Berny brings extensive experience to Johnson Consulting’s financial services. He graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Having served as chief financial officer for several large corporate companies, his areas of expertise are Corporate Finance, Accounting Systems – Implementation and Financial Statement Preparation, Tax Planning, Risk Management, Human Resource Responsibilities, and Governmental Regulation Compliance. Berny also has extensive death care industry experience having created the financial management systems for two large funeral home and cemetery companies, including Prime Succession where he was responsible for finance, accounting, budgeting, reporting, auditing, human resource and risk management functions. Under Mr. Gaarsoe’s direction, Johnson Consulting has created a web based bookkeeping system, employing proprietary death care industry software that will allow independent funeral homes to control cash flow, create accounting reports, and maintain budgets.
Ron Gushulak – Management Services Consultant | email
Ron brings over thirty years of experience in operations, sales and financial management of funeral home and cemetery businesses to Johnson Consulting Group’s Management Services team.
Ron is a licensed funeral director and embalmer, having graduated from Humber College in Toronto, ON in 1979. He also earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting) degree from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON in 1986 and later worked in public accounting and private business. In 1993, he joined The Loewen Group where he served in various roles including Operations Controller, Director of Operations and Vice-President of Advance Planning and Operations. From 2005 to 2016, Ron lead the Sales and Business Development efforts for Making Everlasting Memories (MeM), a Cincinnati, OH based company that provides software solutions to funeral homes and cemeteries for service personalization and memorialization.
Ron’s strong financial background along with experience in operations, sales and strategic management are welcome additions to Johnson Consulting Group’s Management Team. We are pleased to have him in our lineup to help deliver customer service improvements, organizational efficiencies and sound financial management principles to our clients.
In Ron’s spare time, he stays fit by playing ice hockey and he enjoys entertaining at local retirement and nursing homes playing guitar.
Samantha Tracey – Business Development Consultant | email
Samantha graduated college at Western Illinois University in 2008, with a degree in Public Relations. Right out of college, she started her career in Sales for the banquets department at Arrowhead Golf Club, helping coordinate weddings and other social events. At the end of 2010, she and her husband decided to move to Arizona and see what life was like in the Southwest. Bringing in the New Year, she was offered a job at a national Prelicense Insurance training school, called TesTeachers. She worked in various managerial roles and eventually was moved into their sales department for the Midwest territory for 5 ½ years. She takes pride in the client relationships, where she builds and maintains at a professional manner. She thrives on challenges, typically those that expand the companies reach. Samantha is starting the Johnson Consulting Group Sales department, as the Business Development Rep and she will take her continuous knowledge of providing each client with the utmost professionalism, customer service and attentiveness, and keep building and maintain current and new clients that come on board.
David Adams – Business Development Consultant | email
David graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1977 with a degree in Mortuary Science. He served as a partner/licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer at a firm in Southern Illinois. In 1984 he joined Batesville Casket Company, a leading manufacturer of burial and cremation products. During his 25+ year tenure with Batesville, he served in a variety of sales and management positions. These roles enabled him to gain experience, knowledge and in-depth understanding of sales and merchandising strategies, industry demographics, and the complexity of the changing funeral industry market. David also gained invaluable experience by serving as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at a leading funeral/cemetery complex in the Greater San Francisco Bay area. For the past four years, David expanded his professional resume by serving as the Director of Corporate Development for a publicly traded acquisition company. Throughout his career, David has gained extensive knowledge and diverse experience with all aspects of the death care industry.
Chad Roberts – Performance Tracker Administrator | email
After Chad graduated Arizona State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science Degree, he went on to earn his Master’s degree in Business Administration in 2009. He joins the Johnson Consulting Group team with an extensive and diverse background in client service development and management of procedural operations in the education industry. He has spent time in both the business of golf and the healthcare field, completing comprehensive financial analysis with an emphasis on cost saving initiatives while helping to achieve maximum efficiency and departmental productivity.
As the Performance Tracker Administrator with Johnson Consulting Group, Chad is responsible for the maintenance of our survey program and the client relationships for our Performance Tracker clientele.
When Chad is not working, he enjoys playing golf, going to the gym, in addition to barbecuing with friends and family.
Tess Flores – Administrative Assistant | email
Tess comes from a professional background in business administration and executive support. She has extensive experience in a variety of administrative tasks including accounts receivable and payables, correspondence, marketing, billing and project management. Her role includes office assistant, customer surveys and special projects support. Her main area of focus is in JCG’s management services department with client and organizational support.
Annette Sanchez – Receptionist & Administrative Assistant | email
Annette comes to Johnson Consulting Group with over 10 years of experience as an Administrative Assistant with other firms including a law firm in New Mexico, property management companies and at Univision. She has experience in Accounts Receivable and Payable and Customer Support. Her role at Johnson Consulting Group as a bi-lingual Administrative Assistant is invaluable to her co-workers and management on many projects. Annette is currently furthering her education at San Juan Community College.
Lou Eberle – Sr. Financial Analyst | email
Lou earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from The University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Upon graduation Lou began his career in the Banking industry. He was involved in corporate planning efforts, budgeting and retail branch profitability analysis for a large multi-state financial institution. Lou’s most recent experience includes various financial positions in two large healthcare entities whose operations include hospitals, surgery centers, freestanding emergency rooms and physician practices. In these positions he gained experience in the areas of budgeting, variance analysis, cost accounting, profitability studies and large capital investment analysis. Lou is responsible for financial analysis support for the Management Services leadership team and JCG client base.
Han Ngo – Sr. Financial Analyst | email
Han graduated from Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Han previously worked at Ditech and Honeywell as a Senior Financial Analyst and brings her strong analytical experience and technical skills to Johnson Consulting. Her experience includes budgeting, forecasting, financial modeling and reporting. Han focuses on process improvement and is Six Sigma Green Belt certified.
Katie Berg – Financial Analyst | email
Katie graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. She works with clients and her fellow analysts to complete each financial analysis accurately and efficiently. Her analytical thinking and attention to detail make her a great asset to the Johnson Consulting Group team.
Zach Osselaer – Financial Analyst | email
Zach earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Economics and also received a minor in Mathematics and Business Management. While attending school he worked as a manager at Domino’s Pizza. Currently he is working towards receiving his real estate license in the state of Arizona.
As a Financial Analyst at Johnson Consulting Group, Zach brings management experience and an analytical mind to the team. He is responsible for providing a wide scope of accurate financial analysis for our clients.
In Zach’s free time, he enjoys hiking, going to movies and spending time with family and friends.
Scott Gardner – Sr. Accountant & Onboarding Specialist | email
Scott graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, and a Master’s Degree in Accounting. He has prior experience in the banking industry as a claims analyst. Scott also has extensive accounting experience in the private sector where he has worked as a bookkeeper and as a financial manager. His responsibilities included oversight of financial reporting, implementation of internal controls, and assisting management with strategic planning. Scott’s understanding of business and accounting assist him greatly in his accounting role at Johnson Consulting Group.
Brandy Sipos – Sr. Accountant | email
Brandy graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. While attending ASU, she started her own small business, which is still in operation, to help pay for college. Her prior work experience includes preparing, analyzing, and evaluating internal and external financial statements. As an accountant with Johnson Consulting Group, Brandy is responsible for providing accounting and bookkeeping services to our accounting client base.
Nate Larsen – Sr. Accountant | email
Nate graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. His prior work experience involved preparing, analyzing, and evaluating internal and external financial statements. As an accountant with Johnson Consulting Group, Nate is responsible for providing accounting and bookkeeping services to our accounting client base.
Grant Reynolds – Sr. Accountant | email
Grant graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University. Prior to Johnson Consulting Group, he worked in the banking and personal finance industries. Currently he is studying for the California Certified Public Accountants Examination. As an accountant with Johnson Consulting Group, Grant is responsible for providing accounting and bookkeeping services to our accounting client base.
Jill Minnick – Sr. Accountant | email
Jill comes to Johnson Consulting Group with an extensive background in the Accounting arena. She graduated from Willmar College with an Accounting Associates Degree. Her vast prior work experience in various accounting positions brings a wide range of experience to Johnson Consulting Group. She is familiar with everything Accounting from Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable, and she has been extensively involved with bookkeeping for a variety of private sector employers including preparing and analyzing financial statements.
As a Senior Accountant with Johnson Consulting Group, Jill is responsible for overseeing the accounting and bookkeeping services for multiple accounting clients.
In her spare time, Jill enjoys watching NASCAR with her Bichons Buddy and Nikki.
Sheryl Lawary – Sr. Accountant | email
Sheryl brings over 15 years of accounting experience to Johnson Consulting Group. While earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Accounting from the University of Phoenix, she worked with certified public accountants and tax attorneys. Prior to her accounting career, Sheryl worked as an Assistant Trust Administrator in Wealth Management and Private Banking.
As a Johnson Consulting Group Senior Accountant, Sheryl builds and maintains strong client relationships and anticipates their needs. Integrity is her core value. Sheryl is responsible for providing accounting and bookkeeping services to our Accounting client base.
In Sheryl’s off hours, she enjoys the outdoors and the challenges of hiking.
Mike Orr – Sr. Accountant | email
Mike joined Johnson Consulting Group in 2015 and holds degrees in Accounting and Finance. He has worked in both the public and private sectors as a consultant and controller. His experience includes preparation, analysis and presentation of internal and external financial statements. Mike also has experience working with payroll and identification/implementation of process improvements. As an accountant with Johnson Consulting Group, Mike is responsible for providing accounting and bookkeeping services to our accounting client base.
Stephanie Scarim – Jr. Accountant & A/R Administrator | email
Stephanie comes to Johnson Consulting Group with a work history in billing, finance, and customer service, as well as an education in Accounting and Finance. She works closely with our Senior Accountants to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality of accounting services. Her dedication to providing accuracy and integrity in our client’s accounting processes makes an excellent addition to the JCG team.
Niccole Delgado – Jr. Accountant | email
Niccole graduated from the University of Phoenix with honors, earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Niccole is a current member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business Administration. Her past work experience in the credit and banking industry as an SR Rapid Cycle Test Analyst provided her analytical and strategic decision making, as well as teamwork skills. Her innovative ideas help strengthen customer relationships, improve processes, and fortify the company brand. Niccole’s dedication to Johnson Consulting Group’s core values and mission to provide the highest quality services, will ensure she is not only meeting, but exceeding, our clients’ expectations.
Lynne Jejna – Jr. Accountant | email
Lynne comes to Johnson Consulting Group with an extensive background in the finance/accounting arena. Her prior work experience encompassed preparing and analyzing monthly financial statements. She has worked closely with her client base to foster an invaluable partnership. This experience has afforded Lynne the essential skills needed to better serve her clients.
Allison Benedict – Jr. Accountant | email
Allison graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Arizona State University. She gained her professional experience at a local credit union applying her knowledge and skills in check processing, accounting, and risk management. She works closely with her fellow accountants to provide accounting and bookkeeping services.
David Yang – Jr. Accountant | email
David is a recent graduate from ASU with Bachelor of Science in Accounting. While attending ASU, he did an internship at US Airways in the procurement department, just before the merger with American Airlines. David has previously worked with the Wells Fargo Accounts Receivable department, doing calculations for turnover and reconciling.
As a Junior Accountant at Johnson Consulting Group, he works with multiple Senior Accountants on bank reconciliation, income reconciliation, case counts, including working with variety of Point of Sale systems (SRS, Director’s Assistant, FDMS) and interpreting monthly financials for clients.
When David is not working, he enjoys staying fit by playing tennis, basketball and cross country running.
Jordan Palazuelos – Help Desk Administrator | email
Jordan comes to Johnson Consulting Group with a background in customer service management and merchant risk analysis. He works directly with our Accounting clients and internal staff to provide assistance on the technological side of the business. His primary role is to assist with the new client set-ups and updates within the different POS systems. He is currently working on his Accounting degree to expand his knowledge on the field. With his experience, Jordan strives in providing the best customer service support for our Accounting Help Desk, making him an excellent addition to the JCG team.
Al Asta – Consultant | email
Al graduated from Cypress College of Mortuary Science in January of 1982. A Summa Cum Laude graduate, he was also Valedictorian of his class. He began his career with Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, a large volume funeral home in Phoenix, AZ. In 1984 Al was involved in a Forethought Life Insurance pilot program as a sales agent. In this role he developed sales materials, phone scripts, training materials and product development. After approximately one year in working on that project, Al was named Manager of Whitney & Murphy. After a successful tenure at the funeral home, Al was promoted to General Manager of Prime Succession Inc. Phoenix, Arizona operations, which soon grew to include the company’s operations in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska and Arkansas. In 2000, Al was promoted to Regional Vice-President, with diverse and varied corporate responsibilities. Al’s experience leading businesses through rapid growth and transition as well as difficult financial times will allow him to relate to our client’s challenges, regardless of their nature. Even during the toughest financial periods, Al’s region maintained morale, quality of service and profitability. Al’s experience managing multiple locations and supervising location managers, along with his practical experience as a licensed funeral director make him a very productive operational consultant to both large and small volume single and multiple location firms.
Bill Cutter – Consultant | email
Bill graduated from Ball State University in 1976. He spent eleven years in various sales management positions with Batesville Casket Company and then spent several years as Vice President of Corporate development with Service Corporation International. This experience helped grow his expertise in all aspects of the death care industry, and ultimately teamed him with Tom Johnson as Vice President of Corporate Development at Pierce Brothers Mortuaries and Cemeteries and Prime Succession Inc. before going on to serve as Director of Corporate Development at Equity Corporation International. Bill has over 32 years of funeral service experience and has been instrumental in the successful acquisition and divestiture of hundreds of funeral homes and cemeteries.
Todd Lumbard – Consultant | email
Todd grew up in his family’s funeral business, Brockie Donovan Funeral Home in Brandon, MB., and learned his work ethic, attention to detail, and honesty and integrity in business from his father, Jack. However, Todd’s passion and talent for hockey led him to a goal-tending career with the Notre Dame Hounds, Brandon Wheat Kings and Regina Pats, before being drafted by the New York Islanders. When Todd’s hockey career came to an end, he graduated with honors as a Funeral Service Professional. In 2004, Todd acquired Speers Funeral and Cremation Services in Regina, SK as a perfect fit for his belief in providing high-quality, locally-owned funeral service to a community. In 2006, Todd was elected to the highly-respected position of president of Selected Independent Funeral Homes. Todd is involved in several boards and committees such as the Wascana Country Club, the Canadian Club of Regina, Regina Eastview Rotary Club and the Funeral and Cremation Services Council of Saskatchewan. JCG is proud to have served a number of Canadian firms, and has made a commitment to elevate the standard of services in Canada by affiliating with Todd Lumbard, who will work exclusively with Canadian firms.
Dale Espich – Consultant | email
Dale Espich began his funeral service career as a field rep for Batesville (top 15%) in Washington/Baltimore and Michigan (1965-1977). He co-founded Professional Funeral Management and was President/CEO (1977 -1981). From 1981 to present he has consulted with over 500 funeral service companies of all sizes. A graduate of DePauw University with a double major in Economics and Psychology, he has presented countless workshops on communication and profitable pricing to funeral director groups throughout the U.S. Dale has worked with funeral businesses ranging from 40 to 5,000 calls annually in virtually all areas of Management, including Financial Analysis, Cost Analysis, Business Evaluations, Profit and Pricing Planning, Accounts Receivable Control, Arranger Training and Motivation, and Casket Merchandising. His precise evaluations have been invaluable to funeral home owners during his successful negotiation of over $200 million for sales and transfers to public companies, employees, competitors and family members. He has also published countless articles on business valuations, management analysis, and casket merchandising. Dale has been happily associated with his friends at Johnson Consulting Group since 2004.
Rich Sells – Consultant | email
Rich has spent thirty extremely productive years in the funeral and cemetery industry where he held several senior level executive positions. He is well known and respected for his many accomplishments during those years. Twenty seven of those years were with Service Corporation International (SCI), the world’s largest owner and operator of funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories. There he held senior level executive positions in operations and is renowned for his accomplishments in the Pre-Need sales arena. As part of his responsibilities, Rich devised and led the construction of the traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial. He also headed up several other initiatives to honor and care for the Homeless Veterans. In addition to his many accomplishments while at SCI, he also served as President of the International Cemetery and Funeral Association (ICCFA), a 6,000 member trade association, as well as a Hall of Fame recipient for ICCFA,. Rich earned a BSBA degree from Washington University in St. Louis and is a CPA. He is considered an expert in all facets of funeral home and cemetery operations.
Bob Horn – Consultant | email
Bob Horn began his career in the funeral industry more than 44 years ago with a small family-owned mortuary. During the mid-1960s, he was involved in organizing International Funeral Service (IFS), and served as Vice President of the pioneer “multi-unit” funeral cemetery company that operated over 120 locations nationwide. Prior to co-founding Keystone Group Holdings, a multi-state funeral acquisition and operating firm, Bob was Chief Operating Officer and Partner of Prime Succession, Inc., following 10 years as Executive Vice President of Pierce Brothers. A strong proponent of the team concept, Bob believes his role is to provide the goals and the momentum that keep the company working together and moving forward. Bob provides the leadership, the strategic thinking, and the clear vision that foster this environment of success and growth.
Ken Knauss – Consultant | email
Ken Knauss is truly one of the innovative leaders in the funeral and cemetery profession as the past owner and chief operator of Palm Mortuaries and Cemeteries in Las Vegas Nevada. Palm basically dominated the Las Vegas market under his leadership, handling over 7,000 families a year, and was truly a pioneer and innovator when it came to PreNeed marketing. Mr. Knauss’s ability to stay ahead of the growth of Las Vegas through strategic construction of funeral homes and cemeteries also secured Palm’s position in the market and was certainly responsible for the continued growth of Palm. In late 2009, Mr. Knauss sold his company to Service Corporation International where he remains in an advisory position. He was also an owner for many years of Great Western Insurance company where he served on the board of directors. He also served on the board of Pioneer Bancorporation in Las Vegas until 1999. Ken Knauss brings all these abilities to Johnson Consulting Group where he can assist funeral directors and cemeterians in almost every aspect of their business, especially as it pertains to growth and development of both funeral homes and cemeteries.
Charles Merrick – Consultant | email
Charles has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in the State of Arizona for over fifty six years. A graduate from Arizona State University in 1955 and from San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in 1956, Charles began his career as a partner with Whitney and Murphy Funeral Home in Phoenix, Arizona. After 21 years with Whitney and Murphy, Charles joined Service Corporation International. As a General Manager for Service Corporation International, Charles was responsible for all aspects of the operations in Mortuary, Cemetery and Cemetery Sales Staff Service. As the regional Vice President with Service Corporation International, Charles was responsible for 38 cemeteries throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. Finally, as Director of Funeral Revenue for Service Corporation International, Charles Developed sales programs, casket sales, and oversaw revenue for North America. Currently, Charles is the consultant on a new Mortuary/Cemetery in Marana, Arizona. Charles has been happily married to his wife Beatrice for over fifty five years during which time they have enjoyed their four children.