I first met Trey Ganem when he introduced his creative caskets at ICCFA’s 2014 convention, when he had a 10’x10′ booth with three caskets. This year, he featured ten fantastically designed and custom-built caskets in a large island exhibit at ICCFA’s 2016 convention in New Orleans.
In the video below, he starts out with an over-the-top rock and roll casket made for a reality TV show that’s filming his endeavors. That model features a playable drum and guitar, and a working microphone and amplifier, all attached to the lid. It can be used as a rental casket, when the deceased would be cremated after the service.
“A friend of mine who is a funeral director said, ‘Man, could you imagine if we went to the pulpit to use the microphone and it didn’t work, you could say, oh, hold on and just go over here.’ He could pull this microphone out and do the service over here at the casket,” said Ganem.
He also displayed a casket for a friend who has cancer, inspired by the forest setting of her favorite movie, Maleficent. It’s a Garden of Eden inside, with a real peat moss interior and flowers, covered with feathers on the outside.
Other creative designs included a barbershop theme, with striped barbershop poles on the corners, “Diamonds Are Forever,” with the entire top covered with hand-glued bling and a fake rabbit fur interior, a fisherman-inspired casket (with a mounted fish Ganem caught) and a patented cowhide covered casket for ranchers.
The rancher model was an early idea and one of the first models he exhibited in 2014. “We take this to people’s ranches. Of course in Texas, everybody’s got ranches, and they use their family brands and they actually brand the caskets. That’s just as personal as you can get,” said Ganem.
He also had a child-size version on display, for little cowboys or cowgirls. Ganem has a flair for creating caskets that beautifully reflect a child’s personality and provide very healing goodbyes for bereaved families.
While I was speaking with Ganem, Jimmy Lucas with Lucas Funeral Homes in Hurst, Texas, showed a photo of a team of his funeral directors wearing Superman T-shirts under their dress shirts, in honor of a 7-year-old Superman fan who died of cancer. When the funeral directors showed the parents their shirts, the parents started crying and hugging them.
The casket Ganem created was emblazoned with the Superman “S” logo. Funeral attendees were asked to wear super hero costumes, and many obliged.
Being in New Orleans, Ganem featured several music caskets, including a “Jazz Club” model with paint that lights up and the image of Louis Armstrong playing a trumpet with a 3D extension (removable for burial or entombment), and a casket decorated with a guitar that has playable strings.
Perhaps the most photographed model was “The Casino.” It featured a working roulette wheel and table for placing bets across the lid, and a Blackjack spread of cards inside the lid. “It’s perfect for your person who loves casinos, or Vegas, or anyone who loves Blackjack or roulette,” said Ganem.
In two years, his business has grown tremendously. He has more than 60 caskets on hand and a team of eight workers who can turn a customized casket around in four hours and ship it out the next day. They produce two or three custom caskets a day.
Observed Ganem, “Everybody in our shop knows why we’re doing this. It’s not about the art, it comes from the heart. God’s led us into this to help families, and that is the most important part of our job, helping families.” Learn more at www.TreyGanemDesigns.com.