Pace chisels new role as monument group leader

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 25, 2008

Brookhaven Monument Co. owner Dave Pace has reached a goal hesays would make his late father, Jeff D. Pace Sr., very proud.

Pace is currently serving as the president-elect of the MonumentBuilders of North America, an organization that is not onlycontinent-wide, but also has members in Puerto Rico, Europe andAustralia. The group currently has over 1,000 members, includingretailers and suppliers of monuments and memorials.

Pace said he and his father, who ran the family business beforehim, have been members of the MBNA since the late 1950s.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I really wish my dad was here to see this,” Pace said. “Hethought so much of the MBNA, and he promoted and pushed themeverywhere he went.”

For the last two years, Pace has served as the membershipchairman, recruiting new members and fielding consumer complaints.This year, he will train to be the President of the MBNA.

“We work with bills that pertain to the monument and funeralindustries, and the problems that might arise,” he said. “I’m proudto say we had no consumer complaints last year.”

The MBNA offers several programs that are an asset to itsmembers, Pace said. Some of them are design symbolism, theft andvandalism insurance to provide a replacement for a monument if itis vandalized or stolen, and grief therapy.

“The grief therapy program helps us to understand why a customeris so upset when he or she comes in, and why they’re so happy afterthey leave,” he said. “I used to think they were just leavinghappy, but it turns out that monument selection is actually a partof the grieving process.”

Pace went to his first MBNA conference in 1972 at the ShamrockHilton in Houston, Texas. Since then, he said, it’s been quite ajourney.

“I’ve learned more about the industry in the last three yearsbeing on the executive committee for MBNA than in the last 25 yearsbeing in the business,” he said. “That’s because I’m associatingwith the best dealers in the United States.”

And the MBNA has also taken him places, Pace said, as it willcontinue to. When he takes his full-fledged presidency in Januaryof 2009, he will have to clear out his schedule to make room for 12district meetings, and four board meetings.

“That’ll take us everywhere from Eugene, Oregon to Vermont, toMiami, Florida, to Texas,” he said. “I can do that because I havepeople who work with me who know how to do the job when I’m gone,and not everyone can say that.”

He said the travel is one of the best parts of the new job,especially fitting all the different locations into one year.

“It’s actually the pay for the job,” he said. “I get toexperience things you wouldn’t usually experience, and I get to dothem all in a short period of time.”

It wasn’t a sure thing when it came time to accept the job,though, Pace said.

“I took the job with a lot of trepidation,” he said. “This isnot an ego trip for me, like it has been for some of mypredecessors. I need to give back to the MBNA because it’s meant somuch to me.”

It adds a bit of excitement, Pace said, to watch the evolutionof the monument industry as well. It’s come a long way from thedays when the stone was cut and lettered by human hand.

“The industry has changed so much in the last 40 years,” hesaid. “From cutting and lettering the monuments by hand to computerdriven sandblasting. I personally have engraved stencils by handand engraved by computers, and been through four stages sincethen.”