Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Memorial, headstone business being overwhelmed during pandemic

January 01 2022 12:00 am

MORRILTON, Ark. – Many businesses have seen a COVID slump this past year, but one industry is busier than ever. 

A Central Arkansas company that creates headstones and memorials has been overwhelmed with projects, some taking twice as long to complete after a backlog of orders. 

Travis McGee of McGee Monuments says it seems like the demand has been increasing over the past few years, but supplier setbacks during the pandemic have led to delays. This means a backlog of projects as the caseload increases every day. 

“I took over in ’93, and I’ve never seen it this busy,” McGee said. 

His company specializes in custom monuments and memorials, some including engravings and etchings to better remember the person being honored. It’s a multigenerational business that has spanned decades. 

For nearly two years, sales have spiked. McGee says a few things could be causing the rush, with an aging generation a likely factor.

“The only theory I can think of is….you have baby boomers getting of age,” McGee explained, adding that COVID could also be adding to the inundation. 

But the pandemic has also led to a backlog in materials, with everything from transportation to the blank stones taking longer to get in. 

“Part of it is things are coming in slow,” McGee said. “Inventory’s slow.”

His warehouse can finish 7 to 15 markers per day, but McGee has had to up his staff to meet demand – hiring more people and adding two more trucks. Orders are also taking longer to complete. Projects lasting four weeks now can take up to 10 and importing a custom memorial could be half a year. 

“They used to be four to five months and now they’re seven to eight,” McGee said. 

Right now, his team is chipping away at the overwhelming demand and working to ride out the wave.

McGee added he reached out to some of his peers across the country, and the rush in business and related supply delays is being felt all over. 

Right now, McGee’s team is working their hardest to shorten the wait time and ask customers to be patient in the meantime. 

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