Kim Cleaver has played a major role in the American Funeral Industry for almost 30 years. In her early years, she earned her funeral director and embalmer’s license at the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science and started as a licensed Funeral Director in San Antonio, Texas. After two years of practical experience, she moved into sales at one of the largest Funeral Home/Cemetery complexes in North America at Restland, Dallas and found her vocation. She was a consistent over-achiever and rapidly rose in the sales organization of Stewart Enterprises, the second-largest, public Funeral Home/Cemetery company in the United States, becoming Vice President of Family Service in 1990, and Executive Vice President of Sales in 1993. At this time, she was the first senior female executive in the industry.
In 1997 she joined Rose Hills Company (California) as the Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations, with full responsibility for the largest funeral home/cemetery complex in North America. Under her guidance and leadership, Rose Hills rapidly achieved spectacular growth, and by expanding Rose Hills from $20 million to $80 million in annual sales, she set a sales record for the industry in 2000. This sales record has never been beaten and when Rose Hills was acquired by SCI, the largest, public Funeral Home/Cemetery company in the world, this record was still mentioned on their website for over a decade. As part of Rose Hills, she recruited, organized and managed the largest Asian sales force in the country, at one point employing over 250 sales staff alone in this market sector.
In 2000 she moved back to Texas to open a successful printing and publishing company. During the 2000s she still regularly consulted to the Funeral Industry while also starting 3 regional Texas magazines; CityGuide, The Elegant Texan and The Elegant Woman. She started Funeral Help Now, Inc.,(FHN) a high-level, professional consulting company for the Funeral Industry which specializes in applying formal consulting methodologies to both Cemetery and Funeral Home organizations. FHN has already grown to a point where a major funeral insurance group has asked her to take responsibility for the whole Texas market and to open up the California market for them.
Additionally, she is a recognized public speaker for the Funeral Industry, having been a keynote speaker at The International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Industry Association (ICCFA), the Texas Funeral Directors Association (TFDA), the California Funeral Directors Association (CFDA) and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). Furthermore, she has appeared before the Texas State Legislature on a number of occasions, as an industry expert on funeral and cemetery related issues.
Her influence on the Funeral Industry is extensive. The innovative sales compensation plans that she conceived and operated for commission-only sales staff have been widely adopted. During her time with Rose Hills and Stewart Enterprises, she designed and developed an extensive series of Training Videos and introduced a series of Family Service Programs. The procedures, forms and documents that she designed, developed and introduced for Cemetery Family Services are still in use at both public companies and have been adopted across the whole of the Funeral Industry as the recognized ‘best practices’ for Cemetery Operations. In this industry, ‘best practices’ covers the spectrum of efficiency, compassion and customer-service at a time in families’ lives where there is NO room for error.