Norfolk Memorials wrapped up 2020 by more than doubling its local staff.
Its parent company — Monumental Sales Inc. — purchased three Luken Memorials locations, including the Luken Memorials in Norfolk, at the end of November 2020 and brought its staff to Norfolk Memorials.
Both companies are longtime fixtures of Norfolk’s business scene. Norfolk Memorials was established in 1935 and operated on Riverside Boulevard until settling in its current location at 901 W. Norfolk Ave. in 2001.
Luken Memorials established itself in the community when it merged with The Tappe Monument Co. in 1982. It operated in a facility on South 13th Street until moving to its North 13th Street location in 1997.
Longtime monument consultant Jackie Wortmann and assistant Bonnie Bretschneider now join Debra Riedel, who has been a monument consultant on staff at Norfolk Memorials for three years.
“(Jackie) has been in the business for years, so if there’s other generations of family members that she’s done monuments for, she wants to let returning customers know where she’s at,” Riedel said.
Riedel said knowledgeable consultants are important to help educate clients — some of whom are preplanning a funeral and some of whom recently have lost a loved one — on the types and colors of stone available.
Norfolk Memorials offers rock quarried in states like South Dakota, as well as rock quarried in other countries like Canada, Norway, India and Africa.
“There are so many options,” Riedel said. “You don’t have to go with a standard tablet. We can do custom pieces.”
Monuments may be personalized to reflect the person being memorialized. Personalization may include a color or black and white and can be recessed into the granite so it looks like part of the stone.
Norfolk Memorials’ parent company has a production plant in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Riedel said it takes great pride in the quality of the product offered to its clients.
“We have a state-of-the-art laser program up in St. Cloud,” she said. “It’s amazing — the pixels this laser eye can pick up within a photo.”
Norfolk Memorials also has inurnment, sculpted monuments, stepping stones, bronze items and smaller memorial trinkets among its offerings.
The business is open 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as by appointment on evenings and weekends.
Wortmann said the work the company does is rewarding, and compassion is key in helping grieving families and friends decide how best to memorialize their loved ones.
“I’m helping people through a hard time,” Wortmann said. “They have no idea where to start, so you’ve got to guide them. We’re just here to guide people and help them. You have to be compassionate.”
Riedel said she is excited about the opportunity to offer the combined knowledge she and Wortmann have to clients, and she looks forward to working more with the community in the upcoming year.
“We set our goals pretty high,” Riedel said. “Now with us being together and not having two competing stores, we look at very much so exceeding goals, but we also want to look at doing something more community-wise, too.”