Aurora Casket Company won't meet you at the Pearly Gates, but it will get you there in style. One of the nation's largest casket and cremation urn makers, it sells its products directly to licensed funeral homes via 60 US service centers. Known for its stainless-steel line, Aurora Caskets makes caskets in a variety of woods and metals. Its cremation items extend beyond urns to include memorial markers, tablets, and plaques. It provides online advice on funeral planning and grief support and offers consulting, software, and website design services to funeral homes. Aurora Casket was owned and managed by the Backman and Barrott families for more than 120 years. In mid-2012 Kohlberg & Co. acquired the company.
Aurora Casket is banking on the Kohlberg & Co. investment to accelerate growth and provide funds to acquire companies in the death care industry that haven't fared as well during the economic downturn. Before buying into the casket maker, the private equity firm made two purchases in 2011 -- hospice care provider SouthernCare and outpatient care center operator e+CancerCare.
While competition in the industry has heated up in recent years, Aurora Casket has remained focused on primarily manufacturing caskets, but that could change under new ownership. Cremations have become a more popular choice to traditional embalming and casket funerals. To this end, Aurora Casket makes caskets that cater to funerals involving cremations. The company also supports products and services for the death of pets.
In 2010, amid a turnaround in the global economy, Aurora Casket acquired the remaining 50% stake in Alliance - Saint-Laurent Caskets it didn't already own. The Canada-based designer and manufacturer specializes in hardwood and cloth caskets, as well as cremation and transport containers. Aurora Casket purchased its first 50% share in Alliance - Saint-Laurent in 2006. The move allows Aurora Casket to expand its product lines and extend its reach into the Canadian market.
Aurora Casket's purchase of Alliance - Saint-Laurent comes at a time when casket-making is getting increasingly competitive. Indiana is already home to fellow casket maker Batesville Casket Company. A startup company, funded by Spanish metal auto parts maker Gestamp Automocion, moved into Indianapolis in early 2011. Genesis Casket Co. plans to produce some 30,000 metal caskets its first year.
Founded in 1890 by John Backman with 30 employees, the company is run by William "Bill" Backman III as its president and CEO. A fifth-generation family member, from the Barrott family, joined the company in the marketing department. – less