For some, following in Dad’s footsteps is a conscious decision. For others, it’s just natural. For Joel Bedgood, the path to taking on the family business was one he did not plan.
Joel Bedgood is the vice president of Waldo Funeral Home in Sherman. Bedgood’s father, David Bedgood is the president.
“I would work for [my dad] in the summer from the time I was 14 to 16 years old,” Joel Bedgood said. “My job would be to come do the yard, wash cars, piddly things that a kid can do. At that point, I did not look at it like a career. I was just a kid trying to make some extra money. It did, however, familiarize me with the business.”
Joel Bedgood did not know that he wanted to become a funeral director until he was a junior at Baylor University.
“I have never encouraged him to go into this business,” David Bedgood said. “I just let him do what he wanted to do. It was good when I found out that he wanted to do this.”
Joel Bedgood’s first job as a funeral director was not in his father’s funeral home.
“I worked in the funeral business in San Antonio before I came back here,” he said. “The first time I was here and one of my really good childhood friend’s dad passed away unexpectedly, I suddenly realized how close this business can be. When I was in San Antonio, I did not realize that because I was helping families that I did not know. They were strangers until I sat down with them. When you know someone that dies, especially in a situation like that where it is a complete surprise, — I knew how close he was to his father — you realize at that point it is a really important job.”
Since then, the Bedgoods have been working together. The business relationship has lasted 20 years.
“One of the main reasons I came back to Sherman is because we have a small family, and I wanted to be near my parents,” Joel Bedgood said. “I wanted to them to be able to see their grandchildren growing up. I wanted them to be able to go to their ballgames and what not. That was a large part of being in the family business. If my dad had another funeral home in a different part of the state that needed someone to go manage it, I do not think it would have been a good fit for me. Technically, it would still be a family business. But, I wanted to be in Sherman. I wanted to be close to my family.”
David Bedgood believes that his son has done a good job of making a name for himself in this area.
“He has a lot of people that call him,” he said. “The clientele that we are serving are a lot of the people that he knows, grandparents and parents. He has made a reputation of his own as well as the family business. There are people that know he is here and know he is the manager.”
Joel Bedgood agreed that his father’s reputation in this area affected how some people saw him at first.
“Anybody that does anything has their own particular way of doing things,” he said. “That may be reflexive of that person’s personality. I had the benefit of seeing all the years my father did this. He is likable. People trust him. And they made the same assumption with me whether I did anything to deserve that or not. That got me started on the right foot with a lot of people.”
David Bedgood has allowed his son to take over the daily operation of Waldo Funeral Home.
“Now, he does most of the management,” David Bedgood said. “I let him take on the tasks that he wanted to do and I backed off of them.”
The advice that David Bedgood would give fathers is not to push their sons into the family business.
“Patience,” he said. “Let things flow. Let things happen without forcing anything.”