Arthur O. “Buddy” Phaneuf, president of Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Business NH Magazine's 2023 Business of the Year in the Business Services category.
Ever since Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium opened its doors in 1906, the focus has been on service and supporting customers during their most difficult times, says President Arthur O. “Buddy” Phaneuf.
The company, which employs 55 people and serves more than 3,500 families annually, is one of the oldest and largest continually owned family funeral homes in New England. The firm operates five funeral homes and four crematories in Manchester, Concord, Keene, Littleton and Brattleboro, Vt., as well as a sister company, the Cremation Society of NH in Hampton.
It was started by Phaneuf’s great grandfather and has remained in the family with Buddy’s children now part of the business. “We don’t run our funeral home as a funeral home but as a business that provides a high level of customer support,” Phaneuf says. “I enjoy strategic planning, but I also help dress the deceased and make arrangements. None of this is above me. At the end of the day, this is a family business.”
A decade ago, Phaneuf began using the Baldrige Excellence Framework as its guide for managing the business and in 2013 earned the Achievement of Excellence for its efforts, the highest recognition level in the Granite State Quality Awards. It was the first funeral home in NH approved by the Green Burial Council to offer a green burial package, including green caskets, biodegradable urns and alternatives for cremated remains.
When the pandemic caused deaths in NH to rise by 10% in 2020 and 6% in 2021, Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium was prepared, having invested in technology and already offering livestreaming for services and arrangements. “COVID was extremely challenging, but we never officially shut down,” Phaneuf says.
Phaneuf says he is proud of the Phaneuf Family Foundation, a separate nonprofit that provides financial assistance to families in need in NH and Vermont to pay for funeral expenses. “We’ve helped over 200 families, whether it’s one of ours or one of our competitors,” he says. The foundation awarded grants in the amount of $19,028 last year.
And Phaneuf makes sure it can meet the diverse needs of clients, including working directly with the Hindu Society in NH and Massachusetts. “I met with one of the [society’s] leaders years ago and we serve about 100 [Hindu] families a year. Serving so many groups allows us to understand different cultures and traditions and to think creatively, out of the box.”