After 20 years as an accountant, Salvation Army employee Malcolm Pittendrigh became CEO of Salvos Funerals—a social enterprise that has changed the face of the funeral industry in Australia by investing profits back into the frontlines of the Salvos’ work.
How did you get into this industry?
I’ve been a Salvation Army employee for 20 years and worked in Sydney for them as an accountant. In 2013 The Salvation Army invited ideas that we could pursue that were essentially industry-related but could also be put back into the frontlines. I put the idea forward that we should enter the funeral sector because we had clergy who worked officiating at funerals, and we had effective infrastructure all over the country. It was a logical progression for us. Five years later here we are.
How is Salvos Funerals different from traditional funeral companies?
We do the same things that funeral directors do in terms of the funeral process, but I think we care for people and give them a fairer go in terms of the overall costs of the funeral; that differentiates us.
We’re certainly very transparent and fair with our pricing. We’re a great affordable option and I think we come with that DNA of building trust that the Army’s known for.
Your funerals provide options for people on a variety of incomes. Why is this important?
I think everyone deserves a dignified send-off and I don’t think that should be compromised because you can’t afford an expensive funeral. We’re able to provide fairly what people want at a reasonable price, and we’re prepared to listen to what their needs are rather than force the products down their throats.
Our focus is not solely on sales, it’s on caring. So we are able to meet demand for everyone. We see a lot of people who have financial means but they like the idea of us because the profits are going back to social enterprise and there aren’t too many models out there doing that.
What motivates you to do your job?
First and foremost I love The Salvation Army and the work we do. I’ve been an accountant for 20 years and I haven’t been on the frontlines so to speak, but I’ve had interaction with the frontline and my passion is to go into that work so I can use my gift. That fires me up.
My second motivation is that I really love my work. I think it’s an important space that the Army is operating in. I really enjoy helping people through rough areas of their life.
How does your faith impact your work?
My motivation through all this is faith- driven, not professionally-driven. I’m doing this because I believe I’m being called to do it, and it’s an obedience thing. If I wasn’t a Christian I probably wouldn’t be doing this.
Salvos Funerals services are available in Sydney and the Central Coast. For more details visit salvosfunerals.com.au.