Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lamb-Roberts gets hometown owner in funeral home deal with Carriage Services

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 1/3/2014

New ownership doesn’t necessarily mean change.

After being run by Carriage Services, headquartered in Houston, for nearly 20 years, Lamb-Roberts Funeral Home, 325 S. Hickory St., Ottawa, is under new ownership.

New ownership doesn’t necessarily mean change.

After being run by Carriage Services, headquartered in Houston, for nearly 20 years, Lamb-Roberts Funeral Home, 325 S. Hickory St., Ottawa, is under new ownership.

Michael and Jami Piper, along with Eric Price, funeral director at Lamb-Roberts, now are the owners of the funeral home, Price said.

“Mike and I are colleagues and friends through the industry,” Price, who has been with Lamb-Roberts for the past three years, said. “When we were both told separately that Carriage was interested in selling, we made the connection, and he asked me if I was interested in a partnership with him.”

Price’s entire career has been based in Ottawa with the ultimate goal of one day owning his own funeral home, he said.

“The opportunity to own was something I’ve always wanted, so it was a great opportunity for me,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of thinking to do.”

A name change is not part of the new ownership, Price said, but other small changes are on the way.

“Neither one of us feel like putting our name on the [funeral home],” he said. “Lamb-Roberts is a significant name in business industry in the community, and we’ll keep it that way. There’s going to be some subtle changes to begin with. The biggest difference between having corporate and local ownership again will be that we’re going to be making some beautification projects. We always had to fight with the prior owner, and something that’s our big concern now is we want to be able to reinvest in our firm.”

Buying Lamb-Roberts was a package deal though, Price said. He and the Pipers didn’t just buy Lamb-Roberts from Carriage Services, they also had to purchase Belden-Larkin Funeral Home in Leavenworth, he added.

“When [Carriage Services] purchased Lamb-Roberts [from then-owner Bob Roberts] they purchased [the funeral home in] Leavenworth together,” he said. “In this area, we’ve been the only funeral home [Carriage Services owned]. If you look at other areas they purchased in the beginning, they had an anchor firm and built around it, and that didn’t happen here in Kansas.”

Lamb-Roberts will continue to be his main focus, Price said, and the Pipers will help manage Belden-Larkin in Leavenworth.

“I feel fairly humbled to have the opportunity to see your goals come true,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience for me really. This is a great community that I feel lucky to have a job in, much less be an owner of a firm now.”

Price is looking forward to continuing the funeral home’s 115-year-old legacy of serving Franklin County, he said.

“My favorite part is serving the families here, that’s a big part of what I like to do,” he said. “Just being able to be more involved in the community. Some of your time when you’re at the corporate firm is spent sending out reports and things back to [corporate], and I’m going to have more time being actively involved in our community.”

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