REMOTE – When the New Bethlehem Burial Service closed its doors last August, it emerged that the area’s longtime business was gone for good. Then, earlier this year, two longtime friends bought the business in hopes of breathing new life into it.
Tom Sellers of Putneyville and Troy Smith of Corsica, who have been best friends since college, took over the remote burial service in January with the intention of maintaining the same services while offering additional offerings.
“It fell on us,” Smith, a Summerville native, said of whether to resume the New Bethlehem funeral service. The timing was perfect, Smith said, as he and Kittanning-area native Sellers were looking for new career paths. Smith has owned and operated Evergreen Landscaping & Lawn Care since 1994. Sellers, who has worked with Smith over the years, is also a nurse in Butler County. Both said they were looking for a new full-time job opportunity that would give them more flexibility. “It was really a whirlwind. We made an offer and it kind of took off from there.
Although new to the business in particular, both men bring years of expertise and related skills to the table. Although Smith has a business background, Sellers is also a qualified funeral director with seven years of professional experience in Oklahoma.
“I said [Tom] that I wouldn’t do it without him,” Smith said of taking over the funeral services business, noting Sellers’ funeral services experience and adding that other landscapers have added funeral services to their businesses. existing. “The transition is not as big as I thought. With our combined experiences, I think we complement each other quite well.
According to Sellers and Smith, the new company was named Allegheny Concrete Products and Allegheny Burial Service. In addition to making and selling vaults, providing burial services and renting tents, and selling septic tanks and agricultural products – all of which have been provided by the New Bethlehem Burial Service for over 90 years – the new company will also create cement lawn ornaments. , steps, curbs, pavers, birdbaths and more.
“Anything you can think of that’s prefab could come out of here,” Smith said.
“We hope to make as many other concrete products as possible to serve the community,” Sellers added, noting however that it will take some time to build up inventory.
Although Smith has worked with landscaping and concrete block in the past, the two men are new to the precast process and said they enjoyed learning how to make vaults and other concrete molds with the help from former owner Randy Dinger.
“Randy has been a great mentor,” Sellers said, also acknowledging former owner Ann Hetrick who was also an invaluable resource in learning about the business. “They have so many contacts and relationships. It was a huge advantage.
The couple pointed out that one of the most difficult aspects of the business so far has been promoting the funeral side of the business again.
“There was just enough time from when they [New Bethlehem Burial Service] stopped providing services until now, it’s kind of like starting from scratch,” Sellers said. “We had to start on the funeral side, so we’re doing that and building relationships and growing.”
Smith and Sellers also said that while they currently run the business on their own while building inventory, they hope to hire additional employees in the future.
“We want to employ people in our area,” Sellers said. “This is my community; I want to be invested and help it grow.
Sellers pointed out that while the New Bethlehem funeral service was not a major manufacturing industry, its closure last summer still left a significant hole in the community.
“When production and manufacturing are lost, the chances of recovering them are slim,” he said, noting that while not a major producer, the industry is still an advantage. for the region. “The community just can’t afford to lose something like this.”
Smith agreed, explaining that he wanted to keep alive the “tradition” of the New Bethlehem funeral service.
“It’s pretty hard to see a company that’s been around since 1929 go bankrupt,” he said. He added that although the company’s name has changed, he and the sellers plan to stay true to the company’s roots while incorporating some of their own ideas.
“I think the four of us [Smith, Sellers, Dinger and Hetrick] together want to see Allegheny Concrete Products succeed,” Smith continued, noting that he and the vendors are eager to build community relationships and grow the business. “Our goal with the business is to be a strong member of the community and do our part to bring revenue to the New Bethlehem area.”
For more information about Allegheny Concrete Products, call Smith at (814) 758-3459, sales at (724) 525-6706 or the sales line at (814) 275-3333.