Firm built new plant in 2008

A new tradition practiced in ancient Egypt is being carried on by a company that moved its headquarters from New Jersey to Richmond in 2008.

Tiedemann-Bevs Industries opened a new plant and headquarters building in the Midwest Industrial Park in July 2008 and had an open house there in December.

The Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, Indiana, helped the company by arranging with the City of Richmond for the purchase of 9.5 acres of city-owned land at a discount. In exchange, the company agreed to expand from about 35 employees to about 42 in the next few years.

The company continues the ancient tradition of letting future generations know about what kind of person is inside a casket. In ancient Egypt, mummies were preserved inside of a wooden sarcophagus covered with hieroglyphic pictures representing the dead person’s activates and interests. Today, Tiedemann-Bevis makes upholstered cloth linings for caskets and, in many cases, embroiders them with pictures or emblems from the deceased person’s life.

Approaching a 6-needle 12-head embroidery sewing machine with Pete Galletly, co-owner, he points to embroidered military emblems coming out, noting that many people want to be remembered for the branch of the military where they are served. Others ask for a special word like a floral “Mother” or professional and collegiate sports team logos, golf, or other hobbies or even special pets.

In fact, personal embroidery is such a growing part of the company business that the have a brochure filled with stick emblems from which families can choose. They also will make custom designs: a popular item is a family tree with the names of all the grandchildren and great-grands. Photos can even be applied to the fabric.

“We will take a custom order today and it will arrive at the location by 10 a.m. the next day, for the service,” says Galletly.

As fast as the custom-emblem part of their business is growing, Tiedemann-Bevs is still heavily involved in selling bulk fabrics and enhancements for the industry and making traditional casket upholstery from “high-end velvets to less expensive woven polyester,” Galletly says. It has responded to an increased demand for cremation by manufacturing linings for rental caskets.

Tiedemann & Sons was started in the late 1860s in New York. It had been headquartered in New Jersey since the 1960s and had a distribution operation in the Richmond Center. Pete, the executive vice president, is a co-owner with his brother, Bob Gallently, Jr., the company president.

Bev’s Threads, Etc., acquired by Tiedemann & Sons in 1999, had been located on Richmond’s south side since the late 1980′s.

In 2007, the Galletly family decided to consolidate the company’s three locations to Richmond. The result is the new 65,000 square foot building. General Manager Pam Soper, who has been with Bev’s Threads for 22 years, said she likes the new building’s open interior. “We were more confined, tighter together. Now I can see all of the operations. Before, we were all sectioned off.”

“The location is great for the casket business. There’s a large contingent of customers here, not only for the finished caskets but also for components,” Pete Galletly said. “Plus, we like the labor force here.”

“We loved our people in New Jersey – it was hard to leave them,” he continued. “But we have great managers and team players here; it’s a very good atmosphere.”

They also liked working with their general contractor, Thor Construction.

“Dan Stamper (owner of Thor) was an absolute pleasure to work with,” Pete said. He suggested that the building be “light’ green, meaning that it maximizes sustainable, energy-efficient lighting and heating. Stamper also participates in the Buy Local Initiative of the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce and involved about 18 other local companies in construction or providing materials and supplies.

Galletly also had praise for Richmond and Wayne County, saying that, “The size of the community is an asset. It’s easy to know a lot of people.”

“The town made us feel welcome, that you wanted us,” he said. “We are extremely happy to be here.”