One of Greeley's oldest and longest family-run businesses has changed hands.
The 132-year-old Allnutt Funeral Services is now a part of the Dignity Memorial network of funeral homes and cemeteries, operated by Houston-based Service Corporation International.
"We're excited for a new opportunity," Allnutt President Rick Allnutt said. "It's a great match between two companies with similar visions and missions."
Although the business is changing hands, the family owners have no intention of moving on. Rick and his wife, Susan, along with family patriarch Bill Allnutt, will continue to be a part of the funeral home service, which has origins dating back to 1886 in Greeley.
“To me, it’s not as much important on who owns the business, it’s who is working there. We anticipate all of our staff will remain solid and continue to offer the same service for five generations in 132 years.
— Rick Allnutt, Allnutt Funeral Service president
"We're not leaving, we're not moving. We'll be right here doing what we've always done," said Rick, who joined his father, Bill, in the company in 1985 to become the fifth generation to run the business. "This does allow me to do what I really love to do, and that is spend time with families in our communities and also spend time in the community."
The decision comes after much consideration and one "inevitable" the family can't ignore. Unlike the four generations before him, Rick said, there's no one left in the family to whom he can pass the torch.
"When my family and I began to look at our succession plan, which every family does, there was not anyone from the next generation that was going to follow this path," he said. "My sons and my wife's kids all are pursuing other interests outside of the industry, which I'm very proud of.
"When we looked at that, it became a question not of if but when. We began to investigate what it might look like. It became very clear now was the best time."
Bill still lives in Greeley and goes to the Macy Chapel, 702 13th St., every day to work with families — when he's not volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. That won't change.
"When he and I talked about it several months back, he said, 'You know, it's been one heck of a ride,' " Rick said of broaching the idea of selling with his father. "I took that as his way of telling me this was OK. He's extremely impressed as I am that SCI is a team of professionals."
The Allnutt family name will continue to be on the door, as well.
"To me, it's not as much important on who owns the business, it's who is working there," Rick said. "We anticipate all of our staff will remain solid and continue to offer the same service for five generations in 132 years."
The Colorado State Chamber of Commerce reports Allnutt is the oldest continuously operated family business in northern Colorado, according to the company website.
The funeral home originated with a partnership with Weld County's first elected coroner, Thomas G. Macy (who conducted his first funeral service in 1886) and a young boarder, Frederic Allnutt, who married Macy's daughter. That partnership blossomed into Macy's Undertaking Co. in 1900, beginning five generations of ownership under the Allnutt name.
In the past several years, Allnutt has grown to 13 locations from Nebraska to northern Colorado, with Longmont's Howe Mortuary joining the chain last year.
The change likely will be invisible to most, but Rick will be able to go home at night with a lot less weight on his shoulders.
"I won't have to go home at night worrying about the business," Rick said. "It's extremely difficult. It's a very personal business and you have to mix the personal side with the business. It's just challenging."
Rick, at 57, said he still has a long time to go before he thinks of retirement.
"When you grow up there … you get to know a lot of families over that time," he said. "You don't just walk away from that."