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Joiner-Anderson expanding
Funeral home opens a site in Sylvania
Sylvania Funeral 1Web
Joiner-Anderson employees Phil Graham, left, and Ed Thompson stand in front of the funeral home's new location that just opened in Sylvania.
      In a time when business expansion has become increasingly rare, one local business is taking advantage of an opportunity to enter a neighboring market with the help of a seasoned staff.
       "We saw a genuine need for Sylvania to have a locally owned funeral home," said Mark Anderson, co-owner of Statesboro based Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home. "To meet that need, we have opened another location on Ennis Street in downtown Sylvania. Through the years, people from Screven County have come to us for funeral services and prearrangements, and they have told us time and time again that Sylvania needed an independent, family-owned funeral home."
       Anderson and his partner Tracy Joiner opened Joiner-Anderson in 1996, purchased Bulloch Memorial Gardens in 2004 adding an on-site crematory adjacent to the funeral home that same year.
       "Local involvement from funeral directors and Screven County residents Phil Graham and Ed Thompson are key to our operations in Sylvania," Anderson said. "These two men share ownership in this funeral home with us and will operate this location."
       Graham has worked with Joiner-Anderson in Statesboro for the past year, and Thompson has a long history of funeral service in Screven County with over 30 years of experience as a licensed funeral director.
       "When my longtime acquaintance and fellow funeral director Tracy Joiner first approached me about the possibility of building a satellite office of Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home in Sylvania, I was skeptical,"    Thompson said. "Since 1992 when the Loewen Corporation purchased and merged my funeral home, the Thompson Funeral Home, and the Strickland-Waters Funeral Home, James Strickland, Ronnie Waters, and I had worked well together and were friends as well as business partners. I knew I would miss them as well as the other employees if I made the decision to leave."
       Thompson did make the decision to leave and join Joiner-Anderson striking a working partnership with the much younger Graham.
       "I found Phil Graham, an employee at Joiner-Anderson, to be a capable, professional young man who wanted to come back to his native Screven County to work," he said. "I thought about the chance to help a young, ambitious young man advance his career. Experience has always been the best teacher, and it never hurts a young man to have an "old-timer" share knowledge gained from years in the business."
       Graham said his return to Sylvania has fulfilled a life long dream.
       "Sylvania is home to me," he said. "I care a great deal about the people here. They are my family and friends, and you just can't beat home."
       The 24-year-old Graham said he started in the funeral business at the age of 18 subsequently graduating from mortuary school in 2004. He became a licensed funeral director in 2006 and has been working for Joiner-Anderson in Statesboro for the past year. Graham said he is grateful for the opportunity to learn from Thompson's experience.
       "I have known of Ed (Thompson) my whole life," he said. "This gives me a wonderful opportunity to learn a lot from him."
       Joiner and Anderson continue to steer their business along a steady path of growth with their eye on innovation.
       "Joiner-Anderson has always tried to be responsive to the needs of the communities we serve while paying close attention to funeral trends across the nation," Joiner said. "In 2009, we plan to open a reception center in Statesboro in a neighboring building to accommodate families that want a location for a reception, whether it be a full-catered meal or hors d'oeuvres. This is going to be an ideal space where families and friends can gather and have a meal or host a reception while continuing to share fond memories of their loved ones."
       The Sylvania Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home is 7,800 square feet including a chapel that can accommodate 180 people. It is located at 202 Ennis Street.