2019 AFCCA Annual Conference and Expo Recap

Another AFCCA Annual conference has come to a close and we hope that everyone that attended feels prepared for the Future of the Industry. This year’s conference was held at the Boulder’s Resort and Spa in Scottsdale where we were surrounded by the beautiful Arizona desert and wildlife. We believe everyone who stayed onsite thoroughly enjoyed the hotel and it’s amenities.

Kicking off the event was our annual golf tournament, where 52 golfers teed off on a surprisingly cool summer morning. Thank you to PBF Mfg for once again sponsoring the breakfast, lunch and prizes.

We also appreciate all of our hole sponsors:

  • Mountain View Funeral Home
  • Johnson Consulting Group
  • Handley Precast Systems
  • The Davis Whitehall Company
  • American Crematory Equipment
  • Great Western Insurance Company
  • Security National Life
  • Smart Card Services
  • Dignity Memorial
  • Camino Del Sol Funeral Chapel & Cremation Center
  • Bring’s Broadway Chapel
  • Hepburn Superior Chemical
  • Wyman Cremation & Burial Chapel
  • Bueler Funeral Home
  • Batesville.

For more photos, visit our Facebook Page:

That evening, we had the President’s Reception hosted by Amie Gazda with Green Acres Mortuary and Cemetery, as she ended her year-long leadership role for the AFCCA. The reception was also sponsored by Hillary Adair (Adair Avalon Chapel), Steve Handley (Handley Precast Systems) and Liz Zeig (Best Funeral Services).

Moving from there to the AFCCA Foundation for Children Tailgating Fundraiser, we would like to thank everyone who attended, donated and made the evening a success. Proceeds raised at this event will benefit Arizona School Children for the 2019-2020 School Year!

A special thank you  to Matthews International Funeral and Cemetery Products for sponsoring the drink tickets, as well as Coldspring and The Davis Whitehall for sponsoring the food (including that amazing Mac & Cheese station) for the evening.

Congratulations to the winners of the Beer Pong Tournament, Anthony and Matt Asta. Congratulations to Matt Asta for winning the Cornhole Tournament. And congrats to everyone who won at bingo and took home a silent auction item. Finally thank you to all who donated a silent auction item. Read more on the Foundation for Children Blog.

This year we had many wonderful speakers who brought so much new information and really gave us a lot to work on for the future of the industry.

During the opening ceremonies, we had the Presentation of National colors by the Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard and The Pledge of Allegiance and Taps led by Bugles Across America. Opening Prayer was led by Caleb Klein, Certified Life Celebrant with Dignity Memorial. We remembered our friends, family and colleagues that passed during the past year in a memorial video.

We would like to thank all of our speakers who came out and shared with us:

  • Judy Stapley & Gary Hendrix – State Board Updates
  • Jack Tynan, Funeral Innovations – “How Facebook and email nurturing can work together to make a positive impact on your community and clients”
  • Elisa Krcilek, CANA President Elect – “Cremation GPS”
  • Barbara Kemmis, CANA Executive Director – “Cremation Concerns for Funeral Directors”
  • Rory McKeown, Dodge – “Basics to Embalming Emaciated Cases”
  • Trish Hart, Law Offices of John K. Mangum – AZ Legislative Updates
  • Brian Hawkins, Central Traffic Enforcement – Funeral Escort Bill
  • Bianca Soto, ADHS Vital Records – State Updates
  • Chip Wittrock, Wittrock Financial – AFCCA and Foundation for Children Investment Updates
  • Wallace P. Hooker, Friends & Family Funeral Home – “What’s Happened to Embalming”
  • Roberta Knauf, PLPA Chair – “Integrating Your Funeral Home Into Pet Services – it’s not as scary as you think”
  • Lori Salberg, Johnson Consulting Group – “The Culture of Customer Service”

We would also like to thank all our wonderful vendors who made the Expo Hall an educational experience. Attendees had a great time answering trivia questions from our vendors on day one, and getting their passports signed on day two. The supplier sponsored reception on Wednesday night was a great time to network and meet many of our new supplier attendees.

Special thanks to our Sponsors:

  • PBF Mfg (Gold Member): Golf Breakfast, Lunch and Prizes
  • Matthews International (Gold Member): Foundation Fundraiser Drink Tickets
  • Mickelson & Ray (Silver Member): Event Sponsor
  • Mountain View Funeral Home (Silver Member): Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Coldspring (Silver Member): Foundation Fundraiser Appetizer Sponsor
  • Core Scientific (Silver Member)
  • Johnson Consulting Group (Bronze Member): Speaker and Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Healthcare Medical Waste Services (Bronze Member)
  • NXT Generation Mortuary Support (Bronze Member)
  • Dodge: Speaker and Golf Hole Sponsor
  • NFDA: Tote Bags and Neck Wallet Sponsor
  • Handley Precast Systems: President’s Reception, Golf Hole, Awards Luncheon, and Student Volunteer Room Sponsor
  • The Davis Whitehall Co: Golf Hole and Foundation Fundraiser Appetizer Sponsor
  • American Crematory Equipment: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Great Western Insurance Co: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Messenger: Printed Posters and Programs Sponsor
  • Security National Life: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Smart Card Services: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Dignity Memorial: President’s Reception, Golf Hole, Awards Luncheon and Awards Sponsor
  • Crakn’: Awards Luncheon Sponsor
  • Camino del Sol Funeral Chapel: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Bring’s Broadway Chapel: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Donor Network Arizona: Awards Luncheon Sponsor
  • Hepburn Superior Chemical: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Wyman Cremation and Burial Chapel: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Bueler Funeral Home: Golf Hole Sponsor
  • Batesville: Golf Hole Sponsor

We closed out our week with a very special Awards Luncheon on Thursday.  We were able to thank now Past President, Amie Gazda for her leadership this past year as she passed the gavel on to President-Elect, Ethan Bueler.

We inducted our newly elected Board of Directors: Ethan Bueler, President Russell Persinger, Vice President (Re-elected for new term) Daniel Salter, Secretary Steve Palmer, Treasurer Hillary Adair, NFDA Policy Board Rep Renee Corbelli Greg Coury Joseph Stone (Newly Elected) Michelle Green (Newly Elected) Paty Rodriguez (Newly Elected) Hallie Lang (Newly Elected)

We also honored the winners of the 2019 Excellence Awards:

  • Funeral Director Award – Megan Millage, Shadow Mountain Mortuary
  • Funeral Associate Award – Cynthia Thompson, Thompson Funeral Chapel
  • Funeral Home Award: Desert Rose Heather Cremation & Burial

We were also so honored to celebrate Dr. Taggart, who has spent the past 23 years teaching Arizona Mortuary Science Students at (formerly MCC) Chandler Gilbert Community College. Thank you to all who helped make this a special event for him! Special thank you to Steve Handley for creating the beautiful bronze plaque honoring Dr. Taggart’s many years in the industry.

Thank you to Charlie Cox, Sympathy Flowers/Arizona Floral Exchange, for the gorgeous centerpieces for the awards luncheon.

Once again, we hope that everyone gained new knowledge, met a new contact or just enjoyed spending time with friends and colleagues during the 2019 AFCCA Annual Conference. We look forward to seeing everyone next year.

Our wonderful photographer, Gladys Marietti with Funeral Photography Arizona, has made all conference photos available in the following gallery:

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There are three tabs containing the photos from the week, be sure to visit each one to see all photos. The pin to download any photos is 8547. This gallery will be available until July 1st, 2019. After that date, please email funeralphotographyaz@gmail.com or director@azfcca.org to obtain copies of photos.