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03/31/2003 - Memories By Design Expands

Domain knowledge is the difference between average software and really good software. Domain knowledge is the reason Memories By Design, who moved into the Terabyte Triangle last June, has outgrown its suite in the Courtyard Office Center and expanded twice. They will expand again, into a new seven-room Courtyard suite, very soon. Memories By Design creates software and allied services for the funeral industry.

The principals of Memories By Design are Dan Womach, President and CEO, and Barb Gustin, Vice President. Both have long tenure in the funeral business -- Womach thirty years and Gustin ten years. They found no off-the-shelf software that fit the specific needs of funeral homes. The solution was obviously to create their own software. Starting in 1993, they created the Memory Keepsake Suite of software.

Their first software was a database-publishing package to create memorial flyers, prayer cards, register books, and thank you cards. All these items are unique per funeral, and most have to be produced quickly. The unique feature of the Memories By Design publishing software is the ability to insert a photograph with a frame and background into the funeral flyer. Called Memorial Folder and Frame Designer, the software can be customized to the specific needs of a funeral home --- even linked to the accounting system. One corporation bought over a thousand copies for its nation-wide co-operative of funeral homes.

The success of the publishing software led to the next product, the Memory Keepsake. The Keepsake Designer software provides the digital assets for a full video production of a custom made Memory Keepsake DVD, celebrating the life of the deceased. The production combines photographs of the deceased with music, scenery, custom design, and text. The DVD is between six and seven minutes long and is designed for viewing at funeral services, at visitations, and then becomes a keepsake for the family.

Unlike Memorial Folder and Frame Designer, Memory Keepsake is sold as a service to funeral homes. The funeral director suggests the keepsake DVD to the family. The family selects and brings photographs of the deceased to the funeral director, who in turn scans the photos and sends them over the Internet to Memories By Design. Multimedia technicians at Memories By Design create a smoothly flowing, high quality presentation. The technicians enhance the photographs, and create a digital program by adding visual effects, music, background scenery, and text. The completed presentation is then sent back to the funeral director over the Internet. The turn around time is usually just a few hours. At the funeral home the actual DVD is produced. As many copies can be made as the family needs. “We had to be in the Terabyte Triangle because high speed and bandwidth are vital to our business,” says Womach

Keepsake Designer is both software and service. The service is necessary because multimedia talent, knowledge and tools are needed for a quality production. Memories By Design created the software needed for capturing images at the funeral home, smooth transmission both ways, and the process needed for transferring to DVD. The software also will process and print DVD labels and covers with full color graphics, personalized with photos.

Along with the software, Womach will consult with the funeral home on the hardware needed to run and integrate the software with production of the DVD and the audio/visual tools needed for the best presentation. If the software needs customization, that’s Gustin’s expertise.

Memories By Design’s mission is to bring comfort, personalization and memorialization to families in need through technology and innovation. Their success indicates they are fulfilling their mission superbly. The Keepsake service is in so much demand that they now have full and part-time jobs for multimedia technicians. Memories By Design will expand into a much larger suite in the Courtyard as soon as possible. “We will have space for even more multimedia people then,” says Womach. “Jobs come in at all hours and all days of the week,” says Womach, “so we almost need three shifts of people for all seven days.”

Both principals love their work and are committed to staying abreast of technological changes in order to give the best to their industry. “It is really important to do something you believe in,” says Womach, “We get as much or more satisfaction as the client.”

For more information about Memories By Design, go to: http://www.memories-by-design.com/index.html

Billie Moreland
 
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