When northern Westchester resident Matthew Fiorillo took ownership of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in White Plains in 2001 he had already been an employee of the funeral home since August 1998.
“I had an opportunity to purchase the building and business in 2001 and have been here ever since,” Fiorillo recalled last week.
Fiorillo enrolled in funeral service school when he was 18. “I chose funeral service at a young age, not understanding what it would entail. I just felt it was my calling and something that I was meant to do in life,” he said. “When I was working here I established a relationship with a lot of the community members. I had the opportunity to purchase it and move forward.”
Fiorillo owns a second funeral home in Elmsford, which he purchased in 2011, and two years ago he purchased a third funeral home in Beacon in Dutchess County.
Fiorillo said in college he studied mortuary science, which included several disciplines. “It’s anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology. And then it’s also the soft sciences, accounting, business management and sociology,” he said.
Sociology is used by funeral directors as a way to learn to handle people in delicate situations, Fiorillo said. “All my staff is trained in just creating healing experiences for people. To be able to walk hand in hand with them through their journey of grief is really rewarding for us. It’s really what we hope to accomplish – to create a healing experience through the funeral services that we provide and get the family back to living their new normal without their loved one,” he said.
Fiorillo said his business provides memorial services, visitations and cremation services.
Another feature of the business is the ability for customers to preplan for services. Every quarter of the year it offers Dine and Learn, which invites residents to a local restaurant where they learn about the benefits of pre-planning, Fiorillo said. “Really that’s putting your wishes on paper, making all your wishes known for what your final arrangements would be,” he said. “Whether they choose to pay for it or not, they get the peace of mind knowing everything’s in place.”
Though he has been in the business for many years, Fiorillo said it is not easy working with families who have lost loved ones. “It’s something that you just have to learn to cope with,” he said. “The dynamics of a family is always different. Every time the doorbell rings it’s a different family with different needs and different wishes. We never lose sight of the fact that these people are hurting and they need our care.”
“We’re really big on personalization, making the service unique for each unique individual,” Fiorillo said.
Fiorillo said his business is a member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes. “We’re the only one in this area,” he said. “If the death occurs outside of this area, for instance Texas or Arizona or California, there’s another Selected Independent Funeral Home that abides by the same code of ethics that we do and we use them at a cost savings to the family to transport the person back into our care.” Only 7 percent of funeral homes in the nation qualify to be a Selected Independent Funeral Home, he said.
His funeral home provides free services for police and firefighters killed in the line of duty and free ongoing grief support programs for those who have lost loved ones, Fiorillo said.
The funeral home recently conducted its annual Dove Release and Memorial service, Fiorillo said. “Every family comes back to the funeral home that we served in the previous year and they get a basket with a white dove and we all let the doves go at the same time,” he said. “They’re welcomed back into the funeral home for something other than a loss or a death. And they get to see us again and we’re able again to walk with them in that grief journey that they’re going through on that path to healing.”
Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services is located at 2 Maple Ave. in White Plains. For more information call 914-949-0566 or visit https://ballarddurand.com/.