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Access Holdings-backed Foundation Partners Group makes eight acquisitions during pandemic

Foundation Partners Group acquired eight funeral service businesses with 25 locations during the past year, growing its footprint in three states with existing locations and expanding to two new markets –  Kentucky and New Mexico. 

Owned by Access Holdings, a Baltimore-based mid-market investment firm specialising in a buy-and-build investment approach, the company now operates nearly 160 locations in 20 states and will serve more than 75,000 families this year.

“It’s been nearly one year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the funeral profession like a tidal wave, and the result has been a fundamental shift in the way many families think about the final disposition and memorialisation of loved ones,” says Foundation Partners Group President Kent Robertson.  “While funeral directors across the country quickly pivoted to online arrangements and streaming services, fear of infection, government restrictions and the reality of delayed memorials caused many families to consider cremation for the first time.”
In a market estimated to reach USD28.7 billion this year, the cremation rate in the US reached an all-time high of 54.6 per cent in 2020. A Cremation Association of North America (CANA) study, released in November 2020, which looked at data from 15 states for the period from March – August 2020, reported a dramatic increase in the average annual cremation growth rate – from 1.5 per cent for the last decade to an average of 2.74 per cent during the height of the pandemic.
“Foundation Partners was founded 10 years ago with the belief that cremation is the future,” Robertson adds. “Our industry-leading infrastructure operates at a mix of 86 percent cremation and puts us in a perfect position to take advantage of the current trends.”
Tom Kominsky, Foundation Partners Group chief financial officer, leads the company’s M&A growth initiatives. 

“Our acquisition strategy is to partner with independent funeral home operators who believe in providing the highest quality service for families regardless of the final disposition method they choose,” Kominsky says. “We do this by building density in existing markets and expanding into new ones. Assisting owners with their succession planning and providing a partner to help further grow their businesses and extend their legacies sets Foundation Partners apart and makes us the buyer of choice for many funeral home owners. We offer open and honest advice throughout the entire process and support them every step of the way.”
A key to the company’s growth has been its ability to leverage the knowledge and expertise of former owners. A large number of former owners stay on, continuing to manage and expand their businesses with Foundation Partners’ support. Others have become important members of the company’s leadership team.
Tommie Kamm, whose Denver-based All-States Cremation and All Veterans Funeral and Cremation joined Foundation Partners in 2019, says: “We didn’t want a public corporation. Foundation Partners is a private company. We wanted a partner who believes in value, affordable cremation. A company strong enough to go head-to-head against our competitors. Foundation Partners has invested in companies similar to ours; they see the future of this industry.”
In an innovative, multi-channel approach to pre-need and at-need funeral service sales, Foundation Partners firms offer families everything from multi-sensory ShareLife® memorial services to simple cremation services offered under its Tulip Cremation brand.  Offering affordable, online direct cremation arrangements allows the company to reach a new audience at a fraction of the cost of building and operating brick-and-mortar locations.
“Tulip lives at the intersection of cremation and digital,” Kominsky says. “In addition to providing increased flexibility for families, online planning of direct cremation drives efficiencies, margin improvement and helps us stay ahead of the burgeoning demand for simple and affordable funeral services. We expanded Tulip to four new markets this year and will continue to grow these service offerings in the years ahead.”

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