Partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and WBD, Christine and Jeffrey Roth opened Roth Family Cremation Center in Viroqua, Wisconsin, in 2020. They offer a range of personalized services to suit each family's wishes and requirements. From traditional funeral and memorial services, and space to join with family and friends in grief, comfort and love, the Roth Family Cremation Center has many options available to provide a beautiful and respectful ceremony.
Chris and Jeff graciously took the time to answer a few questions and to share their experience about getting started, the challenges they faced and working alongside the SBA and WBD.
WBD: Had you always wanted to own your business?
"From 2013-16, Jeff and I were working for an establishment that we had planned to purchase. When the terms for purchase changed, we were put in a position to step down from that place of employment. We didn't give up, though it seemed a real challenge to pursue the dream of owning our own business. We loved our hometown that we were working in, so moving was not something we would consider. It wasn't just the SERVICE we longed to provide, but the PEOPLE we wanted to serve."
WBD: How did you make your dream of ownership a reality?
"While working in funeral service we saw a major rise in cremation as well as a need for a more affordable alternative to traditional funeral service. Jeff had a background in construction, so we started drawing plans to build our own. Funeral Service is not your typical business (actually, a ministry to us) so we knew getting funding was not guaranteed. Our wonderful banker, who we originally thought we would use to purchase an existing funeral home, told us about SBA loans and services. We started by taking the class offered at the UW-La Crosse campus. The individuals were wonderful to help us put together a plan that would eventually be viewed by our bank. In the end we got the loan through our bank and WBD. What a blessing!"
WBD: Did you find that the SBA and WBD provided the information you needed to make an informed decision on your financing options?
"The education we received through the SBA along with the loan we were able to secure made everything we do now possible. The part that is a real perk is that the loan rate is low, and locked in. This is unheard of for traditional loans. We thoroughly enjoyed all the people we worked with through the SBA and WBD. Everyone was very helpful and informative. There were times it seemed redundant and time consuming, but we are extremely grateful."
WBD: What have been your keys to success so far? What have been significant challenges?
"I think the keys to success for us were, having a firm plan and vision in place. The SBA was extremely helpful to us in forming specifics on that. We have worked extremely hard, not just to meet our goals, but to ensure WBD and our bank, Peoples State Bank, know they made a good choice by investing in us. Our goal was not to be busy at our business, but to provide a service that was genuinely needed and that has, in fact, kept us busy."
"The challenges we faced were building during a pandemic. We broke ground in August 2019, and the pandemic hit in March. We didn't end up opening until September 1, 2020; Some materials were hard to come by, workers were hesitant to come, carpenters had childcare issues, etc. We persevered and didn't lose faith."
WBD: Do you have some advice for people who may be considering opening a business or have taken the steps towards ownership?
"If you feel strongly about a vision you have and it is based on a real need - you know the demand is there - press on! Doors will open and you will never be sorry. Our business took three years from the time we met with our engineer, who eventually drew up our plans for the business. In that time, we were selling our home (to have money to buy the land and have money down for the project), moving, and lining up subcontractors. We were extremely fortunate to have such wonderful people work on our project! If you are able, surround yourself with likeminded individuals. You will have lifelong support and opportunity to help them. Helping others is always the focus. It isn't easy or without struggles to start a business from scratch, but the reward of offering a service that is needed surpasses all the trials."
Congratulations Jeff and Christine and thank you for working with WBD and Peoples State Bank to help purchase your new facility. We wish you the best of luck and thank you for sharing your experience with us. For our readers, please visit https://www.rothfamilycremation.com/ for more information. And remember to support your local small businesses.