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Toronto corporation is now majority owner of Mundell, a family-run business since 1914

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

John Arthur Mundell stands next to portraits of his father, Jack, and grandfather, John Alfred.

PACKET & TIMES FILE PHOTO John Arthur Mundell stands next to portraits of his father, Jack, and grandfather, John Alfred.

John Mundell says area residents won’t see any difference in the service they receive from the business bearing his family name even though it now has a new principal owner.

Mundell Funeral Home Ltd., which has been an Orillia fixture since 1914, is now majority-controlled (80%) by Park Lawn Corporation, a Toronto-based publicly traded company on the TSX Venture Exchange.

“There will always be family involvement,” said Mundell, a third-generation funeral director, who retains some company ownership, with other family members remaining involved in the business, including his sister, Michele Mundell, and son-in-law, Jeremy Carpenter.

“My family has put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears. This was not an easy decision.”

According to a release prepared for Park Lawn investors and analysts, the company paid more than $3.3 million for its stake in the funeral home. Mundell will retain, indirectly, a 20% ownership stake, which, “under certain conditions and subject to regulatory and other consents, may be converted into common shares of Park Lawn.”

Before signing off on the deal, Mundell said he wanted assurances staffing levels would be left untouched under Park Lawn since Mundell’s tight staff of seven funeral directors and 15 support workers remain a close, cohesive unit.

“I didn’t take the money and run,” he said. “I did my homework on how the community would be best served. I was adamant that staffing would remain the same. These people guaranteed that. This wasn’t just a business decision.”

According to the release, Park Lawn has a long history of partnering with progressive independent funeral home operators in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“The ownership, management and staff of Mundell Funeral Home share with Park Lawn similar business philosophies, long-term goals and the highest regard for standards of customer service,” it stated.

Added Park Lawn CEO Andrew Clark: “Our recent partnership with the Mundell family is underpinned by a strong emphasis on ‘team’ culture and maintaining close connections with the communities in which we operate.”

Like every other type of business, Mundell said, the funeral industry has had to deal with major changes in consumer behaviour over the years.

“You’d have to blind to think that the funeral industry has not been untouched,” he said. “It’s a different business than my grandfather or father knew before me.”

He said the new ownership agreement should help consumers by leading to a wider range of services and better pricing a larger company can normally offer.

Besides owning and operating six cemeteries in the Greater Toronto Area and a crematorium in Brampton, Park Lawn operates funeral homes in the Ottawa area, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and in several areas of Quebec.

The release goes on to state the deal is specifically designed to enhance the delivery and scope of services being offered to Mundell’s at-need and pre-need client families and “with the synergies that are expected,” the transaction should benefit Park Lawn shareholders.

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