“Our focus from the beginning was to be the best in the industry, not necessarily the biggest,” said Steve Calloway, president and co-founder of Express Funeral Funding.
Two phones, one fax machine and a blanket to cover the computers from dust at night, was just the beginning for Express Funeral Funding, which today has become the largest privately owned insurance assignment funding company in the nation.
In 2002, two years before an early retirement from a successful 22 year career as a financial and business executive for a large multinational company, Calloway became a co-owner and operator of a funeral home in New Albany, IN. This was the beginning of Calloway’s long time desire to own and operate his own business. Two years into ownership, an insurance assignment funding company proposed their services to Calloway and his funeral home.
“I did not know insurance assignment funding companies existed prior to this encounter, but I saw a tremendous value in the service. Having a background in finance and insurance, along with experience in funeral home ownership, I believed, this was something I could do,” noted Calloway.
In 2002, Calloway started a regional funding company, serving funeral homes in southern Indiana. Five years later, a casual lunch at The House of Bread in New Albany, IN between two friends and business colleagues sparked a partnership. Looking to expand on a national level, Calloway approached executive vice president, Mike Wilson with the idea. Also retired from a successful career but wanting to stay active, long-time entrepreneur Mike Wilson seized the opportunity.
“The day before I had lunch with Steve, I accepted a position in the Recreational Vehicle industry and was planning to sell RV’s,” said Wilson. “Right after that lunch, I called and let the company know, I would pursue a different path,” he laughed.
Both Calloway and Wilson envisioned building a funding company based on the foundation of total customer satisfaction. They were confident their combined passion and skill sets would develop the ultimate funeral home and cemetery resource, while providing superior customer service. With the support of their wives, the two moved forward and Express Funeral Funding was open for business.
In search of office space, Wilson’s wife, Liz, offered space on the overcrowded second floor storage area at her interior design shop. Calloway and Wilson accepted! The two settled into their space after a labor-intensive day of relocating dressers, couches, side tables, drapes, lamps and fabric samples to carve out enough space for their two used desks, a copier and a fax machine. With a modest beginning, their passion for excellence and mission to treat each funeral professional like family, the business excelled.
“Mike and I truly believed in providing more than just excellent customer service, but total customer satisfaction. It’s about meeting the unique needs of each customer,” said Calloway.
The two quickly realized they would need additional help to support the growth and continue providing the level of service their funeral homes and cemeteries expected and deserved. Looking no further than family, sons, Aaron Calloway and Michael Wilson left their careers to join on their father’s venture. Both sons with dreams of owning a business did not hesitate for the chance to work side by side with their fathers.
“I was advancing my finance career in California when my dad asked if I was interested in coming home to join the business, I immediately accepted,” said vice president Aaron Calloway.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with both of my parents in their businesses and could not wait for the opportunity to do so again as a partner in the company,” noted Michael Wilson, vice president.
The foursome developed a partnership seamlessly, each providing a unique skill set to contribute to the business’s success. With a competitive rate, technological advancements and desire for total customer satisfaction, Express Funeral Funding expanded quickly and continued to h¬ire.
Outgrowing their first office space, the team purchased a commercial office building in Clarksville, IN just across the Ohio River, minutes from Louisville, KY. With new space to support continued growth, they enlarged the sales and marketing team and began attending numerous state and national conventions. Expanding their resources, Express Funeral Funding realized organic growth year over year until their first acquisition of Jefferson Financial in 2016. With the opportunity to provide additional benefits such as online claim submission, reduced claim paperwork administration and complete claim advancements, Express quickly gained the trust of those previously using Jefferson Financial.
Experiencing continued success in 2017, Express Funeral Funding proudly became the exclusive preferred provider for the Michigan Funeral Director Association. In addition, they officially became the largest privately owned funding company, trusted by funeral homes and cemeteries nationwide.
With the support and confidence of their amazing funeral home and cemetery family, Express Funeral Funding has been able to provide their FASTEST. EASIEST.® services to more funeral homes and cemeteries each year.