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Meet Brad White of New England Burials at Sea in Marshfield Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brad White.

Brad, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
New England Burials At Sea® LLC is the largest east coast provider for customized ash scattering memorials and full body burials at sea events in the USA. Based in Marshfield Hills, MA, the company operates year round from Maine to Miami and on the west coast from San Diego to Seattle serving all faiths with personalized and affordable services.

Recommended and approved by most funeral homes. Properly insured, USCG licensed, uses over 86 different vessels, departing over 73 ports for up to 400 people (some vintage yachts dating back to 1935) that are clean & current with the latest safety gear.

Unattended scattering prices start at just $495.00. Event includes an official ship’s parchment sea burial certificate marking the coordinates of the decedent’s final resting place, eight bell end of watch blessing and a ten gauge cannon salute as the ship circles the flower field and there are many more options to choose from. Families are welcome to participate.

What is it that you do and who are your customers?
I am the founder, Maine Master USCG Licensed Captain and oversee sales, marketing, operations, accounting, customer service and wholesale relationships.

Everyone is a potential customer. The caller to us is 35-65 years old, even split between male and female and the actual customer who we bury at sea had a love for the ocean.

There are 175M people who live within 10 miles of the water in the USA. We serve all races, cultures and creeds—civilian and military alike.

People come from all over the world to use our services and we are mighty proud of that and we worked hard to earn that recognition of quality events at sea.

What made you choose this path? 
Always loved the ocean and now it is my office. I was in the corporate world in business development, sales and marketing for over 25 years and decided to fine a new niche’ that we could develop for 20 +/- years to become the market leader.

Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer?
Yes to the Legacy, years ago my family was in the milk business—delivering dairy products by horse and buggy throughout New England –Great Uncle Edwin said if the horses are not working in the afternoons, let’s get into the funeral business and pull hearses. The MC Kelly Funeral home was then born in Boston and later became Gormely Funeral services which still exists today (No family in it) –but when asked to scatter someone’s cremated remains at sea about 12 year ago, one became 20 became 200 and the business was founded in 2006

Or are you a pioneer?
Yes but without a horse and a fleet of boats boat instead!

Did you go to school for it or are you learning as you go?
Kind of, my B.S. Degree is in management and I have a white glove customer service background so together they blend well and it is working. I am not a funeral director, don’t need to be as we Sea Burial Certify™ and work with over 1,500 of them from coast to coast. And yes, we learn every day and apply new science and technology to our company, at sea services, vessels and associates. I am into extreme efficiency.

They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day.
I am driven by happy customers—good people get great people (our associates) and we always strive to deliver way more than is expected. The positive experience and feedback that we recognize daily allows us to grant the wish of a family member’s loved one like no one else can—to me that is well respected success.

Why do you love what you do?
White glove service is in my DNA and the beauty of the ocean and its wildlife makes me want to get up and experience it every morning. Our version of drive time traffic is where we slow down for a passing pod of hump back whales, or Atlantic white sided dolphins or busting blue fin tuna fish—simply incredible.

Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
No adversity as of yet– people embrace the greening of the death care industry via burials at sea for cremated remains or full bodies from coast to coast. Smooth sailing—you bet as we watch and heed weather reports hourly. One thing we can’t control is Mother Nature and we want client families to enjoy the event and not have to remember bad weather so we are real flexible in case we have to make schedule changes

We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
When a woman put her Dad’s cremated remains in a 36” sailing ship model that her dad built as a hobbyist, wanted a Viking burial at sea, we granted it settling the model ship ablaze while it was deployed three miles to sea and as it sailed away from us the whole family looked to the sky and chanted, “We forgive you”—so either deeply religious or there was some history there that we did not ask about.

We have had hundreds of serious, funny, whimsical and interesting stories of our events at sea and have started a book. While we have outlined almost 20 chapters—it is a work in progress but just been too busy to put a pen to paper so I dictate to a recorder to keep the interesting details fresh and accurate. This is a fun project that we are proud of and many will glean different ways to design their final chapter in life when they read it.

What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
Good question! I walk two miles daily with my Schipperke boat dog, my wife and I snow shoe, snow ski and stay active. Of course I enjoy boating and also photography.

I am always reading current articles on boat safety, taking additional maritime training classes and I train funeral schools, funeral homes, senior centers, union halls and more. I work about a 36 hour day but do manager to take a week or two off per year to reboot.

This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
Paramount—that is how we are growing and I have three associates that make that happen. A search engine optimizer, Facebook marketing guru and a website developer who has been with me since 1998—we have a robust and informative website at complete with rules, regulations, customer comments, videos of actual events and more. WE get compliments all the time on how helpful the website is to inquiring families.

How are you involved in your community?
Very much so, member of three chamber of commerce groups, fishing groups, neighbourhood active roots group for sidewalk safety, historical branding, national and regional associations for charter boat operators and the FBI Citizens group member. I am also active in shell fish reseeding projects and more.

What does supporting local mean to you?
When the going gets tough the locals get going—we always support local and only work with products that we design and manufacture here in the USA

What does the future look like for you and your business?
It looks great—with the cremation rate expected to exceed 78% of total deaths in the USA in the year 2035 and people opting away from traditional in ground burials —we are well positioned to grow as we build the official New England Burials at Sea brand over the next 20 years. I want us to be the Levi Strauss of the industry. Meaning the best and most rugged quality company out there offering what we do with product and service.

Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
Yes, get your accounting system set up first so you can control the ebbs and flows of cash, hire the best people you can and DO NOT over promise and under deliver. You must do what you love or it’s not worth it.

I recommend to students today to live on the east coast, mid west or west coast (Chose two) and in a foreign city to get a good picture of our world and how it relates to different cultures. Real important when you are working with the public to be well rounded, grounded and respected

Please tell us about New England Burials at Sea.
We are the leaders in the space.

I am proud of the fact that we deliver a five star service nation-wide (Starting from right here in Boston) and we are now serving the 3rd generation of the families we started with 12 years ago.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t look in the rear view mirror. If you must have an answer, I always surround myself and hire people that are the brightest and best–good people get great people and that is how we have grown our brand.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Capt. Brad White

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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