Your strategic business partners
Our consultants are seasoned industry experts who have successfully owned, operated and managed hundreds of funeral homes and cemeteries. Our goal is to assist you in achieving unprecedented levels of customer service, an optimal workplace environment, and maximum financial performance.
Helping you attain a new level of success
We provide our clients a wide array of business consulting services to help them achieve optimal success no matter where they are in the business life cycle. Here’s how we do it.
- Conduct extensive research through many interviews, conversations, and background analysis, so we thoroughly understand your business
- Build trust and rapport with you, and all of your management and staff
- Ensure that all initiatives and goals that are set benefit you and the success of your business
- Practice open and regular communication with your team
- Be readily available anytime you need our assistance
- Abide by timelines set by you in advance
- Maintain confidentiality as we progress through our partnership
A comprehensive 360-degree assessment of your current operating and financial performance including customer service assessment, workflow analysis, competitive market share assessment, financial analysis, and recommendations for improved performance.
A strategic plan for your business establishing key company initiatives, the specific tactical actions needed to achieve them, an implementation sequence, and ongoing accountability management.
Strategic Pricing Initiative
Establish optimized retail pricing for your business to achieve targeted revenue objectives including competitor price comparison, detailed sales analysis, and a consumer-friendly general price list.
Incentive Compensation Plans
Incentivize your employees to deliver exceptional customer service while achieving financial goals with incentive compensation plans that are understandable, fair and easily measured. This includes customized incentive plans and administration.
Business Succession Plan
Deliver a business succession plan created well in advance of a sale to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership at maximum enterprise value. This plan establishes a timeline, successor characteristics, potential buyers, and enterprise value strategies and initiatives.
Schedule performance management meetings with you and your team to address ongoing operations and identify opportunities for improvement. These meetings will review all operating performance metrics including customer satisfaction, market share, call volume, business mix, financial results, and employee performance. Our business consultants will also provide continuous coaching in operations, management, and leadership development.
Analyze your workflow and organizational structure of your business to assess current staffing levels, staff utilization efficiencies, employee morale, and recommendations to improve the workplace environment through increased communication, effective management of employee welfare, and leadership development.
Meet our Business Consulting team
A word from our clients
Johnson consulting has helped our team stay in tune with our value as an organization. From deep analysis of our traditional funeral home, cremation society, pet business, and cemetery, Johnson consulting took the time to learn our business and worked with us to set appropriate benchmarks around our financials and payroll. We feel that we have a solid value of our business and with this knowledge, will lead our business to even higher levels of growth. I’d recommend Johnson Consulting to any Funeral Home or Cemetery business.
– Tom Antram
Let’s start the conversation
With a clear understanding of where the profession has been, and a compelling vision of where it’s going, we help our clients reach new levels of success. Let's talk about how we can do the same for you.
Director of Business Consulting
Nelson Thulin began his funeral service career at a family owned funeral home in Wisconsin and over the course of 30 years, his work experience has included independent ownership as well as corporate leadership roles. His management experience ranges from a single location serving approximately 100 families a year to multi-location markets serving over 2600 families. As a mortuary science student, Nelson received the J.M Nolte Scholar Award and continues his education as a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner through the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice as well as collaborating with and learning from other funeral professionals. Nelson emphasizes a keen focus on the importance of exceeding expectations of client families and providing a meaningful and memorable experience for their guests, resulting in a loyal advocacy of our profession as well as continued growth of individual businesses.
Senior Business Consultant
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.
Senior Business Consultant
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.
Senior Business Consultant
Vince graduated with a degree in Economics with High Distinction from the University of Michigan- Dearborn. He also earned a degree in Funeral Service from Commonwealth Institute and holds a license in Mortuary Science in the state of Michigan. He is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and has worked in location management and operational leadership roles for Service Corporation International. Vince began work in Funeral Service in order to make meaningful impacts on the lives of others. As a Senior Business Consultant he enjoys positively impacting the customer experience, workplace, and operations of Johnson Consulting Group clients. Whether for client-families or clients of JCG, he has always been motivated by delivering work of exceptional quality. Not only does Vince draw on his unique blend of educational and work experience, but also from his years racing as a semi-professional cyclist across Europe and the United States. Outside of work Vince enjoys spending time with his wife Gosia and their Newfoundland dogs.
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 he teamed up 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.
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 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 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.
Doug Wagemann has joined the Johnson Consulting Group as the President/Owner of Wagemann Holdings, Inc which owns funeral businesses in California. Doug began his funeral service career in 1973 and graduated from Cypress College of Mortuary Science. He immediately went on to complete his B.A. in Business Management (Operations) from Cal Poly, Pomona, and a M.B.A (Finance) from Cal State, San Bernardino. Over the years, Doug held operational management positions within Service Corporation International (SCI), Carriage Services as well as the banking industry and hospice. He has been an Adjunct Professor at several colleges teaching strategic planning, financial/cost analysis and strategic management, as well as a frequent radio guest and conference speaker discussing various industry topics. Doug deeply believes in creating one on one partnerships with clients that’s necessary to fully understand their objectives so he can provide the best advice possible to grow their business and watch them thrive.
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 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.
Senior Administrative Assistant
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.
Business Development Consultant
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.
Business Development Consultant
Gill Giddens began his career in 1991 in the Dallas Fort Worth market. Starting at one of the largest combination locations in the nation, it set the foundation of service to families and the importance of assisting families with planning for the future. Through the 1990’s leading large sales organizations including multi-state, multi-market operations. In 2003 Gill and his brother built four funeral homes in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. Three cremation focused locations and one large traditional funeral home. The experience of building and operating a family owned business from the ground up gave him a new perspective of strong operational foundations to expand and grow a business. Gill has extensive experience in developing individuals and teams in both the sales and operations. Focusing on peoples strengths along with strong business strategies, Gill consistently grew organizations, accomplishing and exceeding the goals of the company.
Business Development Consultant
Doug began his career in 1972 in Orchard Park, New York. During the course of 46 years he has worked for two Independent owners, Service Corporation International, The Hamilton Group, The Keystone Group and Park Lawn Corporation. Overall, he has held positions of location management / GM, District Manager, Regional Vice President, Regional President, Chief Operating Officer and President. These positions involved funeral homes, cemeteries, care centers and floral shops.
Doug has held licenses as an embalmer, funeral director, cemetery broker and pre-need insurance. He is a past President of the Nevada Funeral Directors Association, past member of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association serving on the Finance and Membership Committees, past member of the California Funeral Directors Association serving on the Finance, Legislative, Public Relations and Professional Development Committees. He also served as a board member of the Interment Association of California and the California Mortuary Alliance. During his time of 22 years with SCI he also held the positions of Governmental Relations Liaison for Nevada and SCI’s Western Region Field Trainer. Doug contributes many of his accomplishments to his belief of being a hands-on leader. He enjoys working “along-side” other funeral professionals at all levels, and has learned much from the experience.
Business Development Consultant
Lacy offers funeral home clients more than 14 years of success in developing and facilitating customer service training programs. As an experienced coach and speaker Lacy has established organizations including Aurora Casket Company and the National Funeral Directors Association as leading providers of training and development for funeral professionals. Lacy currently serves as an instructor for Worsham College of Mortuary Science teaching Fundamentals of Customer Service.
Lacy is a licensed funeral director/embalmer, a certified funeral celebrant and certified member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and previously served on the APFSP Board of Trustees. She is a graduate of Georgetown College holding a bachelor’s degree in Communications. She is also a graduate of Mid-America College of Funeral Service.
As an active member of the Bluegrass Toastmasters Group Lacy has achieved the designation Competent Communicator. Lacy is also an active volunteer for Hosparus Health in Louisville, Kentucky.
Business Development Consultant
Dave began his funeral service career in 1973 in his hometown of Sterling, Illinois. He holds degrees in Mortuary Science, a BS Degree in Business Quality Management, and an Executive MBA. Dave was a licensed funeral director and embalmer in both Missouri and Kansas (1980-1998). He joined Batesville Casket Co. in 1997 as a Kansas-based Sales Representative. He was Region Sales Director in both the Mountain and Midwest Regions, a Sales Consultant in North Texas (2005-2013), was inducted into the Maters Club in 2012, and concluded his Batesville career as the Sales Training Manager (2014-1019).
In 2019, Dave founded AnchoredGrowth Partners, LLC, a consulting practice focused on training and coaching business professionals for performance growth. He specializes in relationship building, sales and merchandising strategies, maximizing customer satisfaction, and improving business profitability. Dave primarily serves as a trainer, one-on-one coach and workshop facilitator. He has been privileged to speak on skill building and motivation at ICCFA, various events in Kansas (KFDA) and Texas, and for numerous Batesville sponsored events.
Dave resides in Peoria, Arizona. He is married with two married children and six grandchildren.