Family-owned funeral home wins chamber award

Mueller Memorial staff (from left) Nichole Clarkin, Taelor Johnson, Mary Thompson and Mandy Stafford celebrate their Deubener Award win.

ST. PAUL — Mueller Memorial Funeral and Cremation Service was awarded a Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Deubener Award in the Family-Owned Business category.

The funeral home, along with fellow category nominees El Burrito Mercado and Keys Café, were recognized at the St. Paul Chamber Honors event Nov. 18 at Inwood Oaks in Oakdale. Mueller Memorial took home the top prize in its category.

“This was our third nomination and, though we hoped, we really didn’t think we would win because El Burrito Mercado and Keys Café are such fun and beloved St. Paul institutions,” said Scott Mueller, second-generation owner of Mueller Memorial. “For the voting committee, we thought a funeral home might seem like a bit of a downer by comparison. But this distinguished award celebrates many of the things we have been focusing on in our business, including family, risk, growth, diversity and innovation. It’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts.”

In recent years, the team at Mueller Memorial has been making changes to elevate the level of service provided at their White Bear Lake and St. Paul funeral homes. This includes a major facility remodel and expansion to create a unique experience for the families they serve.

“We knew we were taking a risk when we built a bar into a funeral home,” said Mueller. “But we wanted to create an environment where people would feel comfortable. We’re committed to transforming our business and the industry and improving the experience people have with us.”

And Mueller is seeing a return on his investment. At his White Bear Lake location, the business has seen year-over-year increases in requests for services. Many families have cited the remodeled facility as the deciding factor.

In addition to the new funeral and reception space, Mueller has developed other programs and services to help people better cope with the death of a loved one. The funeral home internally launched the trademarked Grief Compass program in 2018 to help the families they serve navigate grief in the year following a loss. “The feedback on Grief Compass has been phenomenal,” said Mueller. “This is an innovation that’s really making a difference for people. And just like every risk we take, every innovation we endeavor toward, it is guided by a single question: How can we better serve families and our community? Winning this award reinforces that we’re on the right track.”

Mueller Memorial Funeral and Cremation Services was established in 1946 by A.L. and Connie Mueller and has been helping members of their community navigate the difficult time around the loss of a family member or friend for 72 years. Having worked for the family business since age 15, Al and Connie’s son Scott took over the business in 1988; his stepdaughter, Taelor Johnson, joined the business in 2011.

The Deubener award is named after Walter Deubener, who with wife Lydia owned a grocery in downtown St. Paul. They noticed their customers’ purchases were limited not by their pocketbooks but by how much they could carry. Walter invented and created the first handled shopping bag. Their business increased overnight. The couple eventually sold their store to go into the shopping bag business. In 1919, they sold nearly one million bags.

From press release

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