Not such a glum send-off

Exit Funeral Services co-owners Gary and Diane Shaw display a peren­dale wool lining destined for a casket. Photo: Shawn McAvinue
Exit Funeral Services co-owners Gary and Diane Shaw display a peren­dale wool lining destined for a casket. Photo: Shawn McAvinue

The latest instalment in a varied career has been the most rewarding, a Dunedin businessman says.

Exit Funeral Services co­owner Gary Shaw, of Saddle Hill, said he bought the funeral services company as a going concern 15 months ago and business was good.

‘‘There’s a whole lot of baby boomers in Dunedin — and I’m one of them — and we’re all just ready to pop off because we didn’t look after ourselves as well as we could.’’
His wife Diane Shaw finished running the mortuary at Dunedin Hospital for the past 20 years to start working full-time at Exit Funeral Services on Wednesday.

‘‘With our backgrounds, we can successfully run the business with just the two of us,’’ Mr Shaw said.

The business would allow them more of a ‘‘lifestyle’’ than his past business ventures in Dunedin such as working as an engineer at Hillside Engineering and owning Shaw’s Demolition Yard and Kitchens for Less.

He sold the kitchen manufacturing business in South Dunedin three years ago and started a business selling rubber tracks for diggers — Shaw Tracks.

The couple operate Shaw Tracks and Exit Funeral Services from a premises in Buller St, in central Dunedin.

The funeral services business was the most rewarding work he had done.

‘‘You get such a buzz out of it.’’

He recalled an 18-year-old mourner hugging him after a service to thank him for his approach to his business.

‘‘It gives you a furry feeling.’’

The business provided ‘‘cost-effective’’ funeral services, including completing the legal paperwork, transportation, refrigerated storage and dressing of the deceased, making caskets, viewings, cremation and hire of Dunedin City Council chapel at Anderson’s Bay crematorium for the deceased’s loved ones to use.

He made ‘‘eco-friendly’’ caskets from material including plywood, water­based glues and rope.

Often grandchildren had fun drawing pictures on a casket.

‘‘The last memory of their grandparent is having a few laughs.’’

His business model allowed mourners to hold a ‘‘casual’’ ceremony with no set rules — different from a traditional ‘‘glum and matter-of-fact’’ funeral.

‘‘As long as it is legal, respectful and ethical, they can do whatever they like.’’

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