Progressive Association Marks 75th Anniversary

May 7, 2012

Largo, FL – 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Preferred Funeral Directors International (PFDI) a professional association of independent funeral homes with members throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Formed in 1937 by G. R. Harris, the grandparents of Mr. Thomas Rost, current president of the R.G & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes in Detroit and the Cremation Society of Michigan. Originally named the Advertising Funeral Directors of America, the association’s objective was to provide a forum for the discussion of progressive marketing strategies. According to Mr. Rost, “There were many existing funeral homes in the greater Detroit area when my grandparents opened their firm, so marketing efforts were necessary for them to build a clientele. Advertising and public relations efforts were not common in funeral service at that time, so simple advertising was relatively rare. However, there were progressive firms nationally, and they became the charter members of the Advertising Funeral Directors of America.”

Over time the association became more and more prominent as the membership prospered from their marketing efforts. Because the membership was sensitive to branding and marketing issues, the name was changed to Preferred Funeral Directors International (PFDI). However, the group’s core values have remained the same; PFDI members are progressive marketing businesses which explore new ways to serve families and to create new sources of revenue which include operating crematories, reception rooms, importing and wholesaling caskets, and creating marketing networks such as “Cremation with Confidence”™.

Realizing that death care industry marketing does not differ greatly than advertising and marketing in other industries and professions, PFDI conventions in recent years have been conducted near or on major academic institutions such as The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, The Nido R. Qubein School of Communication on the campus of High Point University, and the Owen graduate school of management on the Vanderbilt Campus in Nashville. “Visiting major business schools has elevated our appreciation for the importance of cutting edge marketing and management techniques. We share best practices from member firms, and implement new practices learned from leading businesses in other industries, and in this process professional colleagues become lifelong friendship.” Tom Starks, Current PFDI President.

“As leaders in a service based profession, we believe it’s important to observe the highest standards of service in the hotels, resorts and restaurants we visit during our conventions and conferences. In this way social time doubles as a learning experience. Recent venues for PFDI conferences include Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston, SC; The Trump Hotel in Chicago, and The Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, NC.” Marilyn Gould, PFDI Business Manager.

PFDI will convene again in September at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN. For information concerning Preferred Funeral Directors International, visit