Funeral Roll Up: Service Corp International

Robert L. Waltrip spent virtually his entire life in the funeral business, so it’s no surprise he would come up with ways to make it more efficient. When he took over his father’s Houston funeral parlor, he realized the industry had a lot of room for operational improvements. As Waltrip’s obituary in the Wall Street Journal reports, by buying additional funeral homes and having them share employees and equipment, he reduced idle time and drove profitability. The strategy worked so well he kept at it, and his company, Service Corporation International, went public in 1969. According to its website, today it has some 1,900 locations and 25,000 employees across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

When Waltrip started this ball rolling, I’m sure he didn’t call the strategy a private equity roll-up. It was just a smart business model that made money and enabled ongoing growth. Ultimately, that’s what private equity investing is about: taking a business, making it better, and watching it grow. Industry networking, jargon, and financial models are just the means to that end. Waltrip had a long life and a long, successful career. May we all be so lucky.

private equity private equity roll up
Source: James R. Hagerty | "Robert L. Waltrip, Who Built a ‘Deathcare’ Giant, Dies at Age 92" | The Wall Street Journal | 03/15/2023 | Visit