HUNTERSVILLE – Sam James’ passion for his business led him to start the funeral home that bears his name in 2010.
He hasn't stopped there.
The 27-year-old Huntersville native bought Northlake Memorial Gardens, another Huntersville-based funeral home and cemetery off Alexanderana Road on March 5.
James said the new acquisition benefits the community because the family-owned business opportunity to maintain its trust with clients at two separate funeral homes.
“It’s going to be a good relationship,” he said. “I was not anticipating (expanding) would happen, but it presented itself to me and I ran with it. I’m excited about it.”
James declined to provide the price he paid for Northlake Memorial Gardens, which, he said, is the only consecrated Catholic grounds in the area. It will also be the only local perpetual care cemetery.
“That means that forever, the cemetery you’re going to use will be taken care of,” he said. “Every plot sold goes into a perpetual care trust fund, so the plot will always be cared for and that won’t stop at any time. It’s different from church-operated cemeteries, because they don’t usually offer perpetual care.”
According to the Huntersville 2030 Community Plan, the town’s 65-and-older population is projected to increase to more than 10,000 residents in the next 17 years. The town’s 65-and-older population in 2010 was 7,349.
The projected increase in the older population was one aspect that made the acquisition attractive, James said.
“Certainly, the fact the area is growing made (the expansion) a good option,” he said. “We’re in a growing, aging and transient market.”
James began negotiations with Northlake Memorial Gardens’ previous owner, Dana Elder, last October.
He said he will be making renovations and improvements to Northlake Memorial Gardens, including landscaping, paving unpaved roads, repaving those that need it, removing a mobile unit, creating a park-like atmosphere and centralizing operations at the James Funeral Home location.
James said he figures to create some new jobs in the long-term, but his immediate plans don’t include making any hires.
But growth in the funeral home sector serves as one reminder that the town’s business landscape continues to prosper.
“We’ve got a lot of people looking and a lot of people talking (about businesses in the area),” Huntersville Commissioner Ron Julian said. “That’s always a good thing. It’s says we’re growing.”
James said he’s not going to grow his operations beyond Huntersville.
“I’ve always said from the time I was a kid that I wanted to be a funeral director, not a businessman,” James said. “I want to have relationships with the people of Huntersville. I want to serve this Lake Norman area. These are the folks I care about.
“I’m not looking to start a big funeral home group. (My operations) will stay in Huntersville.”