Future Leader Spotlight: Tricia Herzig-Mckinnon

Tricia Herzig-McKinnon is a 41-year-old licensed funeral director, embalmer and vice president of Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory in Dover and Strasburg, Ohio.

How long have you worked in funeral service?
I grew up around the funeral home, but I began working there when I was in high school.

Why did you begin working in funeral service?
My great-grandfather, John W. Toland started our first funeral home in 1929. My grandfather, Richard Herzig, joined him in the business. Later, my father, John R. Herzig, became a fully-licensed funeral director and embalmer. To be honest, I never had an interest in joining the business because I knew, all too well, that my family worked all the time while I was growing up. I knew it was a 24/7 commitment. I also knew I wanted to be a mother and it would be tough to juggle with children. However, I graduated from Ashland University with a degree in both business management and marketing. I wanted to raise my family in the Dover, Ohio area. So, after completing my bachelor’s degree, I chose to go to Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. It just seemed like the right thing to do. In 2005, I became a 4th generation fully licensed funeral director and embalmer at Herzeg-Toland.

What is the most rewarding part of your occupation?
Getting to know people on a very personal level. I have made close relationships with hundreds of people in my community. Most of them, I may have never met. To have the opportunity to guide them through one of the most difficult times in their lives is extremely rewarding. There is no better feeling than the final hug once the service is complete.
What are your professional goals?
To never lose the vision that my great grandfather started in 1929. My goal is to treat each family with the dignity and respect they deserve.
What are you proud of that you have achieved so far during your career in funeral service?
My biggest fear when joining the family business was raising my children and not being able to “be there” when they needed me. Often, other families have to become priority over my own. It has been extremely difficult, but I feel like I have been able to juggle both pretty well. It definitely hasn’t always been easy. I have hopes that they will look back and realize that what our family does at the funeral home is important.
What are some important/notable trends that you have noticed in funeral service?
I have seen a shift in funeral service. I have noticed that many people are sending Facebook or website guestbook messages instead of actually paying their respects at the funeral home. Many families are spread throughout the world and with travel expenses and less time away from work, it’s getting more difficult for families to come back home. Webcasting or having no services has started to become the new norm.
How do you spend your time outside of work? Is there anything in particular that you enjoy doing?
I love spending time with my husband, Joel, and our three kids: Jack (16), Stone (13), Klaire (11) and our dog, Nellie Mae (2). Most of my time outside of the funeral home is spent chasing them at their sporting events. During the summer, I can usually be found at a baseball or softball field. My family also has a boat on Atwood Lake. Nothing is better than catching a good sunset while floating on the lake.
I have enjoyed attending the OGR Young Professional Events. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to attend the last few years due to COVID and busy children. The last event I attended was in Texas. I met some incredible young professionals whom I have enjoyed keeping in touch with. It is so nice to have a friend to message with a question or advice. Many of the individuals are from family-owned firms so we have a lot in common. The events give the opportunity to get new ideas and techniques to apply at home.
What are 3 of your personal goals?
Exercise every day, never lose sight of what is important and be a good listener.
Who or what inspires you?
I am most inspired by my mother, Joyce Herzig. She is a true representation of a strong woman and incredible mother. She handles life’s struggles with grace, patience and never a complaint. She has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love.
What is your favorite phone app?
Google Drive. Everything is always at my fingertips.
What is one thing your peers would be surprised to know about you?
I love ALL animals and I enjoy feeding the wildlife around my home. I especially love the nightly visits from a family of opossums and triplet raccoons (Larry, Curly, and Moe). I also hate coffee, but my favorite drink is a black tea with light ice and no water from Starbucks.
What is one thing that you think is just “golden,” wonderful or exciting?
Seeing a rescue dog getting a forever home. Every dog needs some kids of their own.
What do you value most about OGR?
I have turned to OGR several times to answer some random questions or to find a good vendor. Every time I have called, they go above and beyond to get me a contact person or the information that I need at the time. OGR has also introduced me to several young professionals that have become great friends over the years.
The organization tries to “follow the Golden Rule.” What other mantra do you try to live by?
I recently heard a quote by Mark Twain during a funeral and it has stuck with me. “Kindness is what the blind can see and the deaf can hear.” Those are powerful words! This world would be a much better place if we all were just kind.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of The Independent® magazine. Click here to read the entire issue.
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