Greatest Obstacles and Challenges
My grandfather died in1993. I remember greeting over 1000 friends at the casket during the visitation and all of his friends asking where was my father. During my grandfather’s visitation my father was not there because he was at the bank asking them not to foreclose on us until after the funeral so that it would not be a part of the television news. Because our limousines and hearses were in such bad shape having all been vandalized two weeks before his death, another local funeral director donated his hearse for my grandfather to take his final ride to the cemetery. Our business, yes, was indeed on the verge of closing.
But like I mentioned before. Our business was founded by God. And in all those years of being in business. All those years of personal and compassionate service. All those years of free funerals. With all of those years of giving donations and doing good deeds, God gave us something. Even though my grandfather died leaving my father millions in debt, he died leaving us with something that was priceless. That priceless something was the name of Leak.
My father took the name of Leak, the name that God had given to my grandfather and to him and used that name to bring our business back to the institution that it once was. We are now once again one of the top and most well respected funeral businesses in Chicago, as well as the country.
Another obstacle took place March 11th 2008. Our business caught fire. Seven remains were burned. In my lifetime I have only seen my father cry twice. Once when his mother, my grandmother, passed away and then once again on this day. We thought that our business once again might have to close. Not because of damage to our building because only a very small room caught fire. Our building is almost a city block long. We thought it would close because of bad publicity. But once again, God stepped in and directed our paths. We found ourselves being comforted by those families who’s loved ones were affected by the fire and we were praised by the community because of the dignified way in which we handled the situation. And in 2008 we serviced over 2000 families which tuned out to be our best year up to that point. Since 2008 the number of families that we serve has increased every year. Out of this incident, my brother came up with a saying that we take with us wherever we go: “The Setback Was the Set Up For the Come Back”.
A third obstacle is that the funeral industry is rapidly changing. The internet, as well as the increasing cremation rate is causing many funeral service firms to have to re-boot. It is now become my responsibility to keep our business up to date with all of the different modes of technology as well as educate our clients about the many methods of cremation. Many clients are now becoming aware that you can have a complete funeral by renting a casket and then cremating. By offering this method, the family is getting a traditional funeral as well as satisfying those whose choice might have been cremation because they may not have known otherwise.
Most Important Company Contribution
Outstanding Business Efforts That Should Be Noticed
At the funeral of John Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet Magazines, Cerrilo Mc Sween, a well-known civil rights leader and businessman said that “John Johnson was a millionaire who gave away millions”. My father, Spencer Leak, Sr. is not a millionaire because he has given away millions.
I enter this contest today wanting the years of dedication that my father has given to our business and our community, to be noticed on a broader scale. I want entrepreneurs, young and old to know that when your business is going through turbulent times, it does not have to mean that it’s the end. It could very well mean that it’s time for a new beginning. Take your God given talents, whatever they may be and continue to build that name, that legacy, for you, your children, your children’s children and generations to come.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Black Enterprise for giving African American businesses like ours a chance to showcase our services. It would be an honor to win or even be considered for this most prestigious award. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Welcome to Chicago!
LEAK & SONS FUNERAL HOMES | 100% FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED SINCE 1933
7838 S. Cottage Grove
COUNTRY CLUB HILLS
18400 S. Pulaski Road
5744 W. North Ave.