Business As Unusual: Fairway Memorial Gardens
The managing partner of Fairway Memorial Gardens discusses the impact of coronavirus on his funeral service business in the 23rd installment of this series from LMG
Lifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask questions about the impact COVID-19 has had on their businesses—and what the future holds. Today, we check in with Keith Epstein, the 30-year-old managing partner of Fairway Memorial Gardens in Deerfield Beach.
Business backstory: Keith was preparing to enter law school when his father—30-year industry veteran Rory Epstein—became ill. Keith joined him as a funeral director at Eden Funeral Services and obtained his funeral services degree. The father-son duo acquired the land for Fairway Memorial Gardens, formerly Crystal Lake Country Club in Deerfield Beach. They opened the 47-acre golf course-turned-cemetery in 2017; Rory died in 2018 just as they were finishing groundwork for King David at Fairway Memorial Gardens—a Jewish cemetery located on a separate parcel within the grounds of Fairway.
The impact: “Fortunately, we already had technologies such as live-streaming services in place prior to COVID-19, and we have always met necessary benchmarks for sanitization and safe transport. Since the pandemic, we have limited funerals to smaller crowds, shifted exclusively to outdoor services, and now offer the opportunity to make arrangements virtually. We have also seen an increase in demand for pre-planning. Many are now realizing that pre-arrangements can alleviate the burden on families during what is already a stressful time.”
Moving forward: “While we will continue to personalize each family’s experience by offering options that are representative of their lives, technological advancements such as live-streaming funeral services, virtual arrangements, digital consultations, and contactless practices will now be at the forefront of our offerings.”
What he’s learned about himself: “This unprecedented period has given me much opportunity to reflect on my time in this business. What I now know for sure is that I am on the right path. My plans to enter law school were derailed as my father became ill, which prompted me to join him as a funeral director at Eden Funeral Services. I spent every day with him learning everything from keeping funeral home bathrooms clean to arranging funerals of all sizes. When we set out on our journey to create Fairway Memorial Gardens and King David at Fairway Memorial Gardens in 2017, we did it with the intention that anyone who placed their trust in us would have peace of mind knowing they were in the best care possible for eternity. As I pass my dad’s grave every day, I wave, tell him I love him, and continue our mission of serving our community with dignity and respect. I am proud to carry on my dad’s legacy, particularly during this time in history.”