Top Company 2010: Horan & McConaty
Ask John Horan for a story, and he might recount how failing eyesight once caused one of Horan & McConaty's older directors to lead a funeral procession into the parking garage at Cherry Creek Mall.
"Our director went to the husband of the woman who had died to express his apology," Horan says. "The husband smiled and said that his wife loved the mall, and this was surely a sign that she was in heaven."
Guidance from above - or just luck? Either way, it was a rare light note in a business the Horan family has taken very seriously for more than a century.
"In our work, we don't get a second chance to do things well," Horan says. "We consider it a sacred trust to manage our business with the highest professional standards."
In fact, Horan & McConaty wants professional standards to be the law. Colorado is the only state in the nation that doesn't require a license to run a funeral service company or become a funeral director, embalmer or cremationist, Horan says. The company has been working with state legislators to change that.
"We need to empower people to be careful consumers and ask questions," he says. "People do more research when they buy a car or an appliance than when they choose a funeral-service company."
When it comes to choices, make no mistake - although they've been around since the late 1800s, this independent company isn't your grandpa's funeral service company. Horan & McConaty's commitment to quality means using state-of-the art technology wherever possible.
During the service, digital projectors and drop-down screens in the chapels at each of its six locations facilitate visual memorials. Online obituaries and guest books make it possible for people elsewhere to connect with grieving friends and family members.
"All funeral arrangements are made using a Web-based platform that enables us to show families exactly how important documents will look and verifying that spellings and key details are exactly as expected," Horan says. "We provide a memorial DVD of a family's photos whenever we are involved in a funeral or memorial service and have dedicated state-of-the art sound and music systems."
Amid all the technology, however, Horan & McConaty maintains a very low-tech dedication to giving back.
"For over 100 years, my family has endeavored to do the right thing by caring for those with financial hardships, donating services for police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty and giving back by supporting charities that help people cope with grief," Horan says.
The company has created and donated veteran walls in long-term care residences, including one at the Denver Hospice Care Center. Its grief support and community education programs are open to anyone.
One of the company's little known acts of compassion benefits people whose relatives chose an urn rather than a coffin.
"We built the most amazingly beautiful gardens for those who want a permanent place for their loved one's cremated remains," Horan says. "It's important to have a place to go and remember, a place that connects us tangibly to the person we loved."