Provident Bank, September 2005
Finding the right career path can be challenging. Many people go through high school and college with no idea what they want to do, switch majors and take a different route after graduation. However, for Vaughn Greene, his “calling” came early in life.
Greene, president and founder of Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Services, knew early what he wanted to do. “I was 16, and my grandfather was friends with James Morton, who owned a funeral home. I was interested in the business, so he gave me a job washing cars and mowing the lawn,” says Greene, who rode the bus after school to work. “It was tiring to get home at 8 p.m., and then do schoolwork.”
Greene’s hard work, however, would pay off. After graduation, he went to mortuary school at Catonsville Community College and continued to work with Morton. “I wanted to go to school locally so that I could keep working. Funeral homes didn’t have cell phones, pagers and answering services, so my job was to sleep at the funeral home and work from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. It’s a 24/7 business, so I would take calls and pass the information to the funeral director.” After graduation, Greene was promoted to manager, and in 1996, he decided to start his own funeral services business.
“I felt that the industry was lacking a higher level of service that the customer deserved. Also, there were no suburban funeral homes. Most were in areas devastated by urban issues and had no parking, chapels or large facilities. There were no local, minority-owned funeral homes for an underserved African-American market. We thought it would be tough to be immediately successful because most families stick with the same funeral home for several generations, but our business exploded overnight.” Indeed. Greene has quickly become one of the most respected funeral directors in the area, and the ability to handle all aspects of a funeral has led to the company’s enormous growth. What started as a sole location in West Baltimore has led to a four-location operation handling over 1,200 funerals a year.
Greene says that he was fortunate to be able to partner with a childhood friend, Bill Miller. “I’ve known Bill since I was 8 years old. We played Little League and swam together. He’s a good friend and a Christian, so I knew we would have the same vision.” Miller’s background in marketing and writing business plans made for a good fit. “I needed someone with a business mind, especially when approaching banks for financing. I was turned down by three banks; they all liked the business plan, and even though I had experience in funeral services, they were not willing to take a chance on a start-up.” Greene eventually went to Provident Bank and is thankful he did.
“Provident was willing to take a chance on me and help fund my business dream. The personal service I get at Provident is great, whether it’s for my personal or commercial banking,” he says. “My relationship manager, Scott Guthrie, is wonderful and is always receptive to my ideas and needs.” Greene’s involvement in all of the company’s funerals reinforces the importance of personal service.
“I have a passion and zeal to make sure that families are represented well during a difficult time and treated with compassion and integrity. You only get one chance in this business to get it done right. My motivation is to guide people through the process, and I am blessed with the opportunity to help.”