Member Spotlight on Infinity Funeral Home – Biloxi, Mississippi

Bishop Rick August, president of Infinity Funeral Home in Biloxi, Mississippi, and his children Lasha and Jonathan August - vice president and CFO, respectively - share their experience running a successful funeral home.

Tell me a little bit about how your funeral home was founded and how it operates today.

Our funeral home is first-generation family-owned and -operated. My father, Rick August (Bishop, as we call him), completed his funeral service internship with Mr. Jesse Richmond, the owner of what was then Richmond Funeral Home. When it came time for Mr. Richmond to retire, he reached out to Bishop August to discuss selling the business. Needless to say, the path has been a winding road, but God continues to lead us. Today, our family along with a great team of staff are focused on providing our best to families through the help and grace of God.

Why do you believe funeral service is important?

Funeral service bridges a gap for families and communities by providing a place of comfort, guidance and support during times of need, loss and uncertainty. Whether it is lending financial support to a local youth group or finding ways to honor life during the burgeoning days of a pandemic, funeral service and the funeral home are instrumental to the life and stability of a community.

What is the most rewarding part of working in funeral service?

The connections we build with families and the community as we walk with them through transition.

What do you believe distinguishes your funeral home from other funeral homes?

We seek to put God first in all we do. We understand the lasting impact the funeral service can have on the grief process and strive to serve each family as we would want to be served.

What does your funeral home do in order to create a strong community presence? Do you believe that this is  important?

In addition to supporting local pastors and ministries and participating in community sponsorship events, Infinity Funeral Home hosts a monthly bingo event for senior citizens in our reception hall as well as an annual Community Tea Party at our local civic center. Our last tea party event welcomed nearly 200 seniors and their guests who were treated to plated table service, live music and an opportunity to show off their Sunday’s best including hat and gloves.

In what ways do you use technology to further the services you offer?

In today’s climate we understand the importance of utilizing technology to enhance our service to families who may feel apprehension about traditional funeral planning and services. We offer virtual family planning conferences, private live streaming of the funeral service on the funeral home’s website and via social media upon family request. One of my favorite ways we’ve been able to integrate technology is by using Tukios’ tribute video software. It features a link that allows families to easily upload photos and videos which we then use to create a personalized tribute video. It’s so much faster than our previous way of doing things.

What growing trends have you noticed in the funeral service industry? In what ways have you tried to keep up with these changes?

Personalization of the funeral service seems to be a growing trend. We offer a wide array of memorial personalization options. We try to think outside the box when it comes to serving families and say yes, where possible.

As a new member, what do you value most about OGR? Why did you become a member?

The support and guidance of OGR’s staff has been invaluable. We have received good guidance and advice as well as the knowledge that we are part of a larger group that understands the joys and challenges of family-owned funeral service. We had heard of OGR previously but decided to become a member after joining the Veteran’s Funeral Care Network. The relationship with VFC and OGR seems to naturally go hand - in - hand. We’re glad to be a part of both organizations.

Is there anything in particular that you do at work to keep your spirits high or the spirits of your staff high?

We do regular wellness “check-ins” with our staff. We believe team culture and business atmosphere are improved when our staff feel supported. We also sponsor regular team-building days such as bowling or dinner. These socialization opportunities allow team members to get to know one another in a relaxed setting and, we believe, strengthen work relationships.

What are three future goals that you have in mind for your funeral home?

We plan to add a crematory, enhance our integration of technology and further involve the next generation of the August family into the business of serving families.

Besides owning the funeral home, you also are the senior pastor for a local church. Which came first in your professional life and how did you come to be involved in both?

The church began in 1990, and I graduated from funeral service and completed my internship in 1997. What they have in common is that I truly feel called to operate in both capacities and receive strength from God daily to do both.

How do you balance both of these responsibilities?

Because we see what we do at Infinity Funeral Home as ministry, the two dovetail nicely. Serving and helping people in need is the order of the day.

What are the challenges and benefits of wearing both of these important hats?

Both can be pretty time consuming, but fortunately I’m blessed with a great team in both places who do a tremendous job. The benefit is easy; meeting and getting to know so many wonderfully interesting people.

Having served in the United States Air Force, have you found that this has given you a special connection with the veterans you serve at your funeral home?

I think I relate to certain aspects. Serving away from home, as well as being “under contract” are some uniquenesses I can relate to.

Do you do anything special for them?

We’re very excited about some new initiatives and programs we’re starting that will show our veterans how much we appreciate them. I think they merit honor and it’s our joy to give it!

What do you think funeral directors should know about working with and developing good relationships with clergy?

Having worn both hats, I think the funeral director should defer to the officiating minister where and when possible, being respectful of her/his role in carrying out the family’s wishes. If possible, a simple contact leading up to or on the day of the service goes a long way.

This message was originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of The Independent® magazineClick here to read the entire issue.

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