Funeral Director with Stauffer Funeral Homes
Learn more about Stauffer Funeral Homes
wedTHRIVE Episode 8 Transcript
Casey Clark (00:01):
Hi everyone. And thank you for joining us on the weTHRIVE Podcast, where we share stories from entrepreneurs around the world about how they’re creating an impactful legacy. I’m your host, Casey Clark founder and chief growth officer of C Clark consulting. And today I’ll be interviewing Courtney Stauffer a funeral director with Stauffer funeral Homes. So thank you Courtney for joining us this morning. Oh, you’re welcome.
Thank you for having me.
Absolutely. So tell us a little bit about yourself.
So my name is Courtney stuffer and of course our family is in a funeral business. I grew up in Western Kentucky in a small town go big Glu, huge Kentucky fan and met my husband in college in Nashville, Tennessee. We actually met in mortuary school, which a lot of people don’t know that I was going to school to study mortuary science.
Courtney Stauffer (00:54):
And that’s where we met. So we met in Nashville and that led me here to Frederick, Maryland in 2001. So we’ve been married 16 years and we have a teenager and a toddler. So life is exciting and our household.
I can only imagine I had no idea that that’s how you guys met. That’s great.
Yeah. So we met in mortuary school. Awesome. Awesome. So as you know, our podcast name is we thrive and it’s all about helping others thrive. So what exactly does thrive mean to you? Is that funny that you say that? Because my, you know, as I said, I have a teenager and a toddler and I used to be, you know, I felt like my life was so together. I had everything together. You know, we had clay, our teenager, perfect son, perfect child, everything was great, you know, active in the community.
Courtney Stauffer (01:48):
I was on this board and that board and this committee and that committee, and then comes a baby. So we adopted Linux. It kinda like brakes went on happiest baby in the world, but just feisty. We, we say she’s very spirited. So it’s kind of funny that I say now that my life is surviving, not thriving. So day of the day, it’s like, I’m surviving, not thriving. It’s so funny that you said, Oh, can you come on a podcast to talk about thriving? But thriving to me, I feel like as you know, once I hit 40 and had a baby, I kind of had to stop and put a little balance on my life. So I think as a woman, you know, whether it’s being a mom, whether it’s running your own company, whether it’s working thriving is, has so many different meanings, I think.
Courtney Stauffer (02:38):
But to me, a lot of it is I, you know, I thrive daily to be the best that I can be, whether I’m at work, whether they’re on in the community, whether I’m being a mom, whether I’m with our staff, it’s just everyday trying to do the best that I can do at what, what job I’m doing. And there are days where I fail and there are days where I’m like, Oh my gosh, what in the world? I just need to go to bed. But to, it’s just trying to be successful in whatever you’re going to do.
Casey Clark (03:02):
Yeah. And so it sounds like you’re really trying to find that balance so that you can be successful and you’re not like overwhelmed
Courtney Stauffer (03:10):
I did. And that happened. I think when I turned 40, I’ll be 41 in October. And also when we, you know, when we adopted Linux, I was 38 and there was kind of a time where I was like, you know what, for once I’m not going to be on, you know, I’m going to learn to say no, because it’s, I think everybody in the community kind of knew, Hey, if we ask Courtney, so she’ll say yes, cause I have a soft spot and I had a hard time saying no. And then when Linux came, I learned to say, no, I learned to be like, you know what? I have to have this balance. I have to, you know, balance family balance, work, balance community, but also make time for me and myself. So it was hard at first, but now it’s like, Whoa, it’s easy, a lot of things. So I’m really glad that you got me. I actually did this podcast. I think it’s about balance.
Casey Clark (03:55):
Awesome. So talk to us about some of the other obstacles you’ve had. It sounds like, you know, two years in of having a baby, again, that you’re learning how to navigate that. So what other obstacles have you had when trying to thrive?
Courtney Stauffer (04:10):
A lot of it is, you know, with our business, you know, not that it’s obstacles sometimes it’s great obstacles, but it’s growth. You know, we will probably in our business probably do almost a thousand funerals this year when I moved here, we were doing around two 50. So growth has definitely had obstacles, definitely had challenges. And I work with my husband every day and go home with my husband every day. So that, that gets a whole nother level of obstacles. Although we don’t really know any different than working with each other. But it’s, it’s all about learning and, you know, listening to other people, but teamwork, you know, we’re a huge team around here. We are like, you know, we truly call our staff, the Stauffer family because that’s what I feel that we are. We can not be where we are. You know, I cannot be at my son’s across games or football games, or we couldn’t be donating to this organization or that organization or me being on a board or if we didn’t have our staff and they are remarkable. I mean, we truly have the family, a great family environment, but we have 84, 85 staff members. So that can be challenging as well sometimes though.
Courtney Stauffer (05:17):
Yeah. It’s a big family
Casey Clark (05:25):
Awesome. How many locations do you all have? Again?
Courtney Stauffer (05:28):
We have six in Frederick County, Washington County and Carroll County.
Casey Clark (05:32):
Awesome. Awesome. So yeah, definitely sounds like you’re thriving in business, which is always good.
Courtney Stauffer (05:39):
Definitely. And that was kind of the thing with my husband. He was always like, you know, when you’re out doing, you know, we love community outreach, we love Frederick County, you know, any way we can help any there’s so many great organizations what we can do, but then also it’s kind of me finding that balance of, you know, you can’t have four meetings this week, you have a job, It was very understanding, but then also it was kind of finding that balance of work and community. And I think we’re at a great spot now and Covance yet. Cause it’s kind of put a pause on things. So
Courtney Stauffer (06:11):
Yeah. I mean, it’s funny how it affects us. Like some people it’s really caused us like to have that balance and forced us in a sense. So yeah, a lot of reflection. Yeah,
Courtney Stauffer (06:23):
Great. You know, I feel like I’m like my family has, we have eaten at the dinner table more in this pandemic than I think we ever have the first two weeks, I was like, Oh, it’s only going to be two weeks. I’m going to knock it on the park. I was cooking everyday. I don’t cook. I read a lot of takeout. Loves port local restaurant. So, you know, I’m the, probably the past support of local restaurants, but you know, it was like, you I’m going to cook. I’m going to bake. And I crushed it for two weeks and then I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m done. Okay. This is a few weeks. Like we gotta figure something else out here.
Casey Clark (06:57):
Oh, that is too funny. So talk to us a little bit about some of the resources that have helped you thrive both personally and professionally.
Courtney Stauffer (07:08):
You know, professionally, you know, with the resources, of course we like funeral business, you know, national funeral directors association. But mainly for me, it is, I love, it’s kind of sounds crazy, but when we travel or we go to my hometown, like I’m always going into visit other funeral homes. I kind of I’m that type that I want to see, you know, show me what you’re doing. Let me see some ideas. How can my business thrive? What can take us to the next level? There may be something that you’re doing for your families that we’re not offering here. So that’s how I learn. That’s my best learning is I want to see it. I want to, you know, how’s it working. I want to see the flow of things. So I try to visit other funeral homes that have multiple locations or that will have kind of the same mindsets that we have.
Courtney Stauffer (07:49):
We’re very forward thinking. So that to me like helps our business drive. It kind of helps me as a person. I do a lot of our marketing. And so I love marketing, like I’m out there and you’re kind of looking stuff, but you know, personally thriving is finding that balance between work between motherhood. It is finding time for me. My toes are horrible right now. I need to get a pedicure and it’s like, I just have to bring, okay, what stop Courtney? You have to take an hour for yourself. Right. And it’s funny that we, one of our staff members brought back the sign on my husband’s desk and it says, happy wife, happy life. And you know, it’s kinda like, I’m the one that kind of runs the household. So it’s, I thrive in our family thrives when I’m happy. So it’s kind of fun in that balance of you know, what, what kind of makes us all happy, enjoy life.
Courtney Stauffer (08:48):
Yeah. So what helps you do that? I mean, I’m, I’m kinda in the same boat where it’s like, you know, the other day I working like crazy and I’m like, I’m going to get a massage. Like everything else can wait. So what do you do to like
Courtney Stauffer (09:05):
You know, my family kind of knows there’ll be three times a week where I’m like, if the bathroom doors close, I need 30 minutes to get in my large tub, hot water music on and you know, read, you know, read something like I really enjoy reading whether it’s a blog. And every morning I think this has helped me, my faith, you know, our family’s huge, huge faith. But it’s like starting my morning off with our preachers daily devotional. And it sounds so little, but it’s like three to four minutes of my morning and I will listen to pastor Dale. And it’s just kinda like, my day is like, I’m ready to go. But it’s like you said, you know, it stopped like, Hey, I need a massage or Hey, I really just, I need to go sit in my car by myself, working on it when you’re not a toddler, those precious moments central.
Courtney Stauffer (09:55):
And she’s all about mom right now. So literally he’s like clinging to my leg, clean everywhere we go. It’s like, I can’t even walk in that house, but the other day we have a swimming pool and I was like, okay, it’s nap time. And I took my, my son and my husband, Lennox is asleep. I’m going to float in the pool for 15 minutes. I don’t want, my phone is off. No one can talk to me. No one can returning the music that I like on. I need me time right now with a glass of wine in the pool. And it’s just even like 15 or 20 minutes, like what it can do for your mind, you know?
Casey Clark (10:25):
Absolutely. Yeah. But it sounds like your family really respects those boundaries that you set, which is all except the two year old when she’s not napping.
Courtney Stauffer (10:37):
Okay. Mom’s serious. Yeah. Mom’s serious, right? Yeah.
Casey Clark (10:40):
Oh, that’s too funny. Awesome. So I know that you’re really involved in the Frederick community as you stated. So how have those relationships helped you over the years?
Courtney Stauffer (10:53):
Oh my gosh. You know, it’s just like the connections that you meet when you get involved in Frederick County is, has so many great stories, so many great people, so many great organizations, but you know, when you get out there and you get involved, you make so many connections that, you know, Oh my gosh, you do this, or you do that or what you do this. And that’s where for me, that’s what it was just meeting people and meeting those connections. And some of them today that I’ve met at events or in the community are my best friends.
Casey Clark (11:22):
Awesome. Yeah. That’s great. So talk to me a little bit about a legacy. So I know in this area, you know, the Stauffer funeral home name is very common. So what exactly does legacy mean to you and what type of legacy are you trying to create personally?
Courtney Stauffer (11:42):
You know, I think every, and being in the funeral business, you kind of have the end of everyone’s life and you’re like, you know, what is their legacy? Like, what are they leaving? What are they? And it, to me, it’s like, I don’t want people to say, Oh man, she sat on 10 boards or she did this. Or she did that. It’s like, I want people to say, wow, she was a kind person. You know, she was kind, whether you run into me at the grocery store, whether you run into me at a lacrosse or football game or a family that I’m serving it’s all, it’s just being kind, just being kind to people. And, you know, I grew up in the South, so I was always raised to use manners. And so, you know, we try to work, you know, my son with that still at 14, that you’re yes, sir. Please. Thank you writing. Thank you notes. It’s the little things. So I’d rather be known as being a kind person than owning 10 funeral homes or, you know that’s not what life is about. And main thing is like, I want my two kids say, well, she’s a great mom.
Casey Clark (12:41):
Awesome. I love it. Yes. Very big heart. It’s very evident.
Courtney Stauffer (12:47):
Thank you. Thank you. I was raised that way.
Casey Clark (12:51):
Good. Well, hopefully some people can take some notes cause I know we all need some kindness, especially, you know where we are today.
Courtney Stauffer (12:59):
Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Casey Clark (13:03):
Awesome. So speaking of kindness and people taking notes, what are some nuggets that you have for people to help them thrive, whether it’s in their business or, you know, personally as a mom?
Courtney Stauffer (13:16):
No, I think, you know, in business it’s never stopped learning, you know, I think people get you know, just, okay, this is easy. They just don’t want change. And it’s change is scary for everyone at times, but you have to change. And sometimes I say that, but then I’m the worst. I’m like, Oh my gosh, we’re starting a new computer program. What in the world? But then it’s like, when you just get through it and you know, it, you have to change and you have to always be open minded, you know, never stop learning, whatever you’re doing, whether you know, you’re in the restaurant business, whether you’re in retail, you always learn, there is always something to learn and you can always, you know, listen to other people. Sometimes I feel like it’s just great just to sit in, to listen to other people, what are their ideas?
Courtney Stauffer (14:00):
What are their you know, what are they doing in our business is a little different. I mean, people are like, Oh, how can you change in the funeral business? But when I came here, you know, when I moved and started in the funeral business in 2002, if somebody told me 18 years later, which of course we’re not today because of COVID, but they would have said, you will be doing a ton of catering at funerals. I would have looked at them and been like, yeah, right. You know, there’s no way. And you know, before the pandemic kit catering was huge and it was just kind of about being open minded and changing. Like what do people want? You know, what people want today. They’re not going to want in 10 years, and 10 years are not gonna want that 15 people today. It’s totally different than five years ago, what people wanted.
Courtney Stauffer (14:42):
So it’s all about change is scary, but don’t ever, you know, don’t ever stuck, you know, always change, always grow. And then personally you know, same thing. I’m always, you know, I try to read, I try to, my faith is huge. But it’s my, I’ve been a struggle as a mom kind of coming into this whole teenage. I’m like, Oh my gosh, I have a 14 year old. He’s almost six foot tall. And you know, mom doesn’t know everything anymore. It’s just this morning he looked at me and he was like, mom, you’re acting like such a baby boomer. Like you’re a boomer, you’re a boomer. I’m like, I’m not a baby boomer. Well, you’re acting like that. Okay. You’re acting like one. And it’s like, wow,
Courtney Stauffer (15:25):
I didn’t know them, but it’s really different. They have totally different views, totally different. You know what I thought at 14, it’s totally different than when he was at 14. And I was like, well, my mom would let me do this, but my mom didn’t do that. And and we’re very strict parents. I mean, we were very strict parents, but also we’re in a business where we see, you know, it’s, we see some bad outcomes sometimes. And you know, my poor kid, I’m like, you know, if something happens here, you know, I’m that mom, that’s like, don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Cause you relate it to your life and you try to shut off work from life. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
Casey Clark (15:59):
Yeah. I definitely understand that. Absolutely. And it’s really interesting that like you talk about change not only from a business perspective and being open minded, but it sounds like you really embrace where your children are and kind of meet them at that point.
Courtney Stauffer (16:16):
Oh yeah. Yeah. You know, I tried to like, like I said, my son was like this perfect child and you know, I would be in target and I’d be like, Oh my gosh, that mom, she’s just not a great mom. Look, it’s thrown a tantrum and my kids just done here. Perfect. And then, you know, fast forward, and now with one X, you know, I’m in target and somebody is like, ma’am, she’s eating out Altoids. And I’m like, I know, You know, and it was like Linux threw her first fit, full-blown fit and clean, never going through whenever. And George is like, what do we do? And I’m like, I don’t know the Google it. Like, I don’t know. I don’t know.
Courtney Stauffer (16:51):
You know, it’s like, Whoa. So even changing from how I raised my son to how I’m raising our daughter. It’s still totally different.
Casey Clark (16:57):
That is too funny. I always love hearing stories about kids. Cause they’re all so different. So yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So I want to kind of go back to what you were saying about the funeral business and how you’re forward thinking. Cause I, I feel like, you know, a lot of people think, Oh, a funeral is a funeral. Like, you know, you have the viewing, you have the service. It’s like the same process. And with me, you know, having my other company, Bio Solutions, I also get a glimpse of the end of life and how important it is to be compassionate. So talk to us a little bit about how like your forward thinking really helps. Just youth thrive in general and just how it impacts other people.
Courtney Stauffer (17:50):
You know, we’re very lucky that our, you know, most of our staff members are all forward thinking as well. A lot of our funeral directors are, and it’s, you know, we try to listen to that family. Everyone is different. So every funeral should be different. I mean, you know, it’s like we try to celebrate that person’s life and yes, some people just want a traditional service. Some people want cremations, some people want, you know, but we try to celebrate that individual’s life. And you know, we always are telling them like, listen for little cues, you know what, let’s make this about them. You know, let’s try to celebrate, you know, what this person did and whether it’s through, you know, catering or whether it’s through certain music or whether it’s through, you know, we had not too long ago. And we were able to do the catering, the lady who was known for her Apple pie.
Courtney Stauffer (18:39):
So our catering made tiny mini Apple pies that everybody took when they left. So it’s just that thinking of, and how would I, how would I want it? You know, like if something happened to me we’re never guaranteed tomorrow. Like how would I want them to celebrate my life? Or how would I want so it’s always just listening to those little cues because no two people are the same. And you know, I think in our business, some funeral homes get stuck in that. Okay, you’re going to come, you’re going to sit. The Oregon’s going to play. There’s a funeral going to go to cemetery and it’s, which is great. There’s nothing wrong with that. You know, we, there’s nothing wrong with that. But then there’s others where it’s like, you know what, this person they lived a totally different life and this was what their life was about.
Courtney Stauffer (19:19):
So in one, or if you know, directors here, Kelly and I, when he sees us together and we’re getting ready for a Memorial service or something, he’s like, Oh my gosh, what are you two doing now? Why do you need fishing wire? Well, I don’t want you to know, but we’re going to, you know, we’re going to have skis dangling from the ceiling season, you know, the ceiling because this person loved to ski. And it’s just that thinking, but he’s always like, Oh my God. And he’s worried about punching holes in the wall with somebody that day. Okay. You’re a Hunter bringing all your hunting stuff. Yes. We’ll put some deer heads up. We want to make this about you, you know, about your loved one. So he’s sometimes like, okay, you don’t even think you’re just nailing into a wall. I’m like, we’ll be fine. We’ll get it fixed. But luckily our, you know, some of our staff is better than me. You know, we have some younger staff than me and they’re, they are just great with ideas also.
Awesome. I love it. So I’m hearing you say openness, you know, change being kind. Are there any other last minute thoughts that you want to share with our listeners?
Courtney Stauffer (20:20):
You know, work hard. And I tell this to my son every day. It’s like, I don’t care whether you’re taking the trash out or we give you a job to do at home, or you’re at a lacrosse practice or you’re at school, do it right the first time and try to do your best and everything that you do. It’s hard. I mean, you know, there are days, especially, you know, working with my husband, I’m like, Oh, talk to me. But I was raised with a family that, you know, we were just hard workers. It’s like, you don’t get anywhere. It’s not easy. You know, you don’t get to the top just by sitting around. And, and it’s even my kid like folding clothes. I’m like, just do it right the first time. If you do it right the first time you don’t have to go back and redo everything.
Courtney Stauffer (21:01):
It’s I’m a bit of OCD. Sometimes it’s been hard for me, but you know, it’s just, you have to work hard and it takes hard work to be a good wife. It takes hard work to be a good mom. It takes hard work. You need it to be where we are in business, but we didn’t get here not working. So I’m always like, you know, work hard, listen, listen to people. My husband will say sometimes I’m the worst at that because he’ll throw an idea and he goes, don’t even get it out in your life. And I’m like, it’s just like you only like that. Would you ever advise that is too funny.
Awesome. Well, we really appreciate you being a guest today. And we’d also like to thank our music sponsors, Stephen Lamar Moore, who produced our theme music for our podcast. So again, thank you. And I wish you all the luck in business and I’m excited to see you continue to thrive in the Frederick community.
Thank you so much for having me great. Seeing you maybe I’ll see you in person soon.