By Alesha Russell
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Every kid dreams about what they would like to be when they grow up. The Rev. Franklin O. Hanes, a 60-year-old Winston-Salem native, wanted to be a policeman until the age of 13, when he discovered his love for the funeral business.
“I was cutting grass down by the local funeral home, and the owner liked my initiative and made me an offer to learn about the business. Said I could come with him and he’ll buy all my clothes and stuff I needed. So I went home and asked my father and he sent me on my way. That was the beginning of my life,” said Hanes.
The Rev. Hanes is the proud owner of Hanes Funeral Group, which is located in NECD at 460 South Driver Street. He purchased the empty warehouse building in September 1994.
Hanes and a few friends built the walls and different rooms themselves. He took what he calls the “Spike Lee approach” and maxed out three credit cards, which totaled $15,000, to make his dream a reality.
In December 1994, Hanes Funeral Group officially opened. A few days later he received his first body and got another body about every day for about two weeks. More business started rolling in slowly but surely.
Throughout the course of this business’ journey, Hanes has faced many struggles and made lots of sacrifices to keep his dream alive.
He has a few workers that help him during funerals but he runs the company on his own.
He has had some car mishaps, where undertakers would not allow him to rent cars or would take them from him, has had times where he was late on bill payments, and has even had to rent or borrow funeral equipment such as tables and caskets because of money problems.
In 2008, Rev. Hanes and his business were faced with their biggest struggle. Police threatened to shut down Hanes Funeral Group due to a lack of payment for one of his cars.
The car had been repossessed in 2003 and was sold to someone else the next day. Five years later, the company wanted to seize $20,000 from him. He did not have the money; therefore, that same day the police changed the funeral home’s locks and allowed him to collect his belongings. A few weeks later, they auctioned the building, as well as the property inside.
He bought back most of the stuff people purchased in the auction, some even donated. He and some associates cleaned the building up and made it look like a business again. The next day, he reopened Hanes Funeral Group and had customers instantly.
There are not too many funeral homes in the NECD area. Rev. Hanes takes pride in servicing ‘the hood.’
He said that his competitors do not want to deal with the people from the projects and the gang-bangers. Most funeral homes in the surrounding area are high-priced, whereas Rev. Hanes works with people.
“The rest of them don’t take their time, but I do. I take the time to make you look better than what you did when you came in here. The rest of them are just worried about the money. I want to make sure people are satisfied,” said Rev. Hanes.
“Hanes is the only funeral home that cares about us out here in the hood. Everywhere else wanted to charge my family an arm and a leg like we got money on deck. Hanes understood our situation and worked with us. He’s about quality not quantity,” said Brittany Jackson, a family member of a former customer.
Rev. Hanes also takes pride in being one of the only funeral homes that does not charge for baby funeral services.
“There was a lady whose baby died and wanted to pay me, she insisted on paying me. I told her that I don’t charge for babies, there’s no reason to. She was in shock that I was seriously doing her baby’s funeral for free,” said Rev. Hanes.
Hanes Funeral Group is not all about money. Whether you pay $2,000 or $10,000, Hanes strives to provide the best quality funeral service.
Rev. Hanes is respected so much throughout the NECD community; he went from making about $2,000 a month to about $20,000, all without radio and television advertisement, only by word of mouth.
“I heard about Hanes Funeral Group from a friend. He told me he would work with however much money I got because that‘s what he did for him and a few other people. I can’t help but to respect a man like that,” said Zakeem Whitfield, a future customer.
A few years ago, Hanes started his own church, Greater Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Mebane. The church has grown from having a small crowd to now having over 400 members.
Hanes considers himself a visionary of God and say he only wants to help bless people as much as God has blessed him.
People in need funeral services, can stop by Hanes Funeral Group or call his office at (919) 598-9968 or his cell at (919) 308-4397.