Made in Indiana: Anderson company sells caskets around the world
85% of lumber used comes from Indiana
Last Updated: 40 days ago
ANDERSON, Ind. - On Halloween people love to surround themselves with ghosts and goblins and macabre decorations, like caskets.
But for some in Anderson, they’re surrounded by caskets every day of the year.
That’s because they build them.
Workers at C.J. Boots Casket Company make custom caskets that are sold around the world. Owner and Founder Chris J. Boots worked as a cabinet maker before deciding he wanted to move on in life.
He built his first casket and drove it around to area funeral homes, hoping to get some feedback on his newest creation. All five wanted to buy his casket and that’s when he started his new career.
Since 1999, his company has turned out thousands of wooden caskets. Workers build them from scratch from nine different types of wood such as cherry, oak and walnut. Many of them are so-called craft caskets, that aren’t a traditional model.
The Rustic Hickory has real hickory bark and logs. The Patriot has 50 carved wooden stars on it. One is even made to look weathered, like old barn wood.
Most of the wood comes from Indiana.
"Indiana is actually the third-largest lumber producing state in the country and most people don't know that," Boots said.
In fact, 85 percent of the lumber they use comes from Indiana. The rest comes from surrounding states, except for the mahogany, which is imported from Africa.
"We like to say, it's Indiana hardwood, being made by Indiana labor, going into Indiana soil. It can't get much more Hoosier than that,” laughed Jim Rogers, the company’s vice president.
Despite what one may think, the casket business isn’t a somber place to work. Workers at the downtown Anderson facility like to have fun and feel positive about what they’re doing. As Rogers said, they’re providing a special gift to a family, and as a former practicing minister, he knows how important that is to people at a time when they’ve lost a loved one.
So, at C.J. Boots, it can often be heard how they think “outside the box” and how their caskets are “to die for”.
One of the original employees even brings a smile to people’s faces simply by telling them his name. It’s Rip, short for Ripley.
Among Rip Denman’s many jobs as a master craftsmen is signing the casket before it leaves their facility… a personal touch the company often provides.
"I don't put R.I.P. I sign it Rip," he said.
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