It's that time of year. Here in the mid-west we are trying desperately to shed ourselves of the "W" word, winter. It's already May and we are barely seeing the tease of warm weather yet we have hopes that the change will happen and do so with finality. Farmers are chomping at the bit because time is long overdue for their Red, Green, Blue or Yellow tractors to be moving about their wet fields in hopes of a successful harvest come fall.  Lawns are as green as ever with the generous rains that have bathed the earth.  Because there are those of us who choose to use fertilizers to enhance the beauty of our lawns, our lawn mowers are getting used sometimes twice as often as normal for the mowing season. 

It's that time of year when we clean the flower beds, pull weeds, open the windows, listen to the birds, spread mulch, get out summer clothes, planning summer activities and sporting the flip flops (years ago we called them thongs, but time has a way of changing the meaning of things). Then there those things that are not so pleasant like pollen counts, watery eyes, sneezing fits and of course DANDELIONS.  What is about this this nuisance of nature that causes frustration to many a homeowner? We pay big money to landscapers and  nurseries for flowers to adorn our homes and bring beauty to the eye.  Yet nature provides this flower for us at no cost.  We don't have to plant, water, prune, weed or mulch, they are just there for our enjoyment.   Why is it that society has created this paradigm that the well manicured lawn, the one accepted as socially correct is the one free of the dandelion?  I'm sure there have been many occasions in neighborhoods around the country where the homeowner stands with pride observing the fruits of his labors, with his aching back and sweaty brow proudly judging his inferior neighbor as useless and a menace to society.  All the while in the back of his mind crafting a letter to the local home owners association president declaring his disgust at the very idea this second class citizen should be allowed to dwell in his  neighborhood.  This could only be the very beginning.  The Fosters down the street might stop mulching, the Downings have let their leaves go, there is a crack in the driveway at the first home on the left. Home values have plunged and all hell is breaking lose all because of the dandelion.

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Rustic Hickory "Something more than Chocolate and Vanilla"

A few months ago I came up with an idea for a casket design that I thought might appeal to a few people.  To my surprise it appealed to more than a few.  We’ve received more calls in a short amount of time for the “Rustic Hickory” than any other new casket design we’ve created.  My greatest fear was that because it is so “non-traditional” that a funeral director may be hesitant to put the Rustic Hickory on his floor.  I have to say for those funeral directors who have chosen to step outside the box (so to speak) the Rustic Hickory has shaken up the casket selection of old.  For a casket that is available in either Duck Cloth or “Realtree” Camouflage, the Rustic Hickory stands out in a show room.  There are so many stories out there in every publication and online article about “personalization” although it makes great reading material; few people want to do what it takes to make it happen. I love to quote Joe Joachim of funeralOne, “Don’t make your product vanilla!”  I don’t think you have to have 31 flavors but at least something more than Chocolate and Vanilla.  It’s a new day and the whole funeral industry needs to rise to the occasion.  Even though we are a casket manufacturer we have a ball on our Facebook page.  What was once frowned upon to be broadcast to the masses is now “liked” through social media. In his book “Contagious” by Jonah Berger, Jonah says in today’s world it’s all about making the private public. The funeral director who offers and the family who chooses a casket like the Rustic Hickory wants you to celebrate a life lived to the fullest.

With the success of the Rustic Hickory I’ve decided to offer more caskets like this.  Last year at the NFDA we introduced our Patriot Casket.  This casket is walnut with solid wood inlay maple resembling the waving of the flag, it also has 50 maple stars.  Families of Veterans love this American made casket for a heroic member of the family who served their country with pride.  When I started my company, my motto was “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is!”  The best part of my job is creating!  Follow us on Facebook

- Chris Boots    

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Musings from a Craftsman!

Since starting C.J. Boots Casket Company, we've manufactured caskets from 9 different species of lumber using well over 3 million board feet of hardwood lumber. I'm always amazed how hardwood responds to its environment. A 3 inch wide strip of lumber 8 feet long can be quite warped if the environment is not kept in check. However by controlling the temperature, moisture, airflow the lumber can be better managed. But the real benefit of keeping the lumber in check is when it's bonded with glue to other boards. Each board works to keep the adjoining board straight and therefore keeping each other in check. I can't help but think this is true of our friends, sometimes when we are left alone and the environment is not good things can go from bad to worse but it's when our friends come along side us and make a bond unbreakable, that's when our true strength shines and we stay on the straight and narrow!

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