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Chippewa Valley Cremation Services

Matt Thompson is not your typical business owner. His unique business involves helping families celebrate the lives of their lost loved ones. Chippewa Valley Cremation Services is a licensed funeral home that "provides caring, affordable funeral services at half the price of conventional funeral homes." Unlike most funeral homes, Chippewa Valley Cremation Services does not have a funeral chapel on site. This difference allows Thompson to keep costs low, and he prides himself on keeping his business affordable and accessible to his clients.

Before opening his own business, Thompson worked at a funeral home in downtown Eau Claire. When he began imagining his business, he knew he could do one of two things: "We can compete and be the same type of business, or we can compete and be different." He chose to be different and offer clients something revolutionary. Thompson calls this style of funeral home "the beginning of the future." He urges, "In a decade there will be a place for this type of service provider, where they merely pick up the body, cremate them and present them to the family. That's where the funeral system is heading."

When Thompson first began writing his business plan, he had a pretty good idea of the direction he wanted his business to go. After encouragement from a friend, Thompson went to the Western Dairyland Business Center for help in perfecting his business plan. "I'm glad I went to Western Dairyland. I needed different perspectives on my business plan, and I'd recommend doing that for anyone starting up a new business." The Business Center's one-on-one business counseling gave Thompson even more confidence in his business plan, and in 2010 Chippewa Valley Cremation Services opened its doors.

Despite the nature of funeral service work, Thompson is able to look past the sadness and what some might call morbidity. "I've been doing this for so many years and I'm used to it. Death can be a joyous celebration of life, or it can be very tragic. I had a friend pass away last year and it made me realize my own mortality. But it was also my chance to shine. I wanted to give him the funeral he would have wanted, and the funeral that his family wanted and needed," says Thompson. He was able to provide funeral services for his lifelong friend that allowed people to remember and celebrate his life. That is the reward for this type of work.

Impressively, Thompson has exceeded his goal of how many families he would serve in a year. Currently, Thompson has no immediate plans to expand his business, although it is something he has considered. "The question is, 'where can I grow efficiently and effectively?'" he said. "If I grow and have to raise my prices, I'm just like all the other funeral homes out there. We're better off being different for the time being."

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