Article written by:
Anthony “Ajay” Bean – Graphic Designer
Forever Shining prides itself upon being innovators in the memorial industry, bringing state-of-the-art technology, innovation and creative flexibility to what was once a stagnant industry. Our online design system has given more customers access to more customisable memorials in more locations. This, combined with our friendly customer service team and warm approach to memorials has helped hundreds of people make their memorials a happier place, instead of just a stone with a name, some dates, and restrictive text.
We believe it is in our right to grant our customers the right to choose how their loved ones are remembered. However, you may come across some staunch opposition when it comes to dealing with cemeteries. Whilst regional cemeteries are a little more flexible, metropolitan cemeteries tend to be quite exclusive, relying mostly upon keeping things within their walls, and thus forcing you to pay exorbitant prices for their rather inferior products. Today, I’m answering some commonly asked questions about our memorials.
So, what makes a Forever Shining Memorial Different from the rest?
Firstly, our memorials aren’t designed by a Stonemason. We employ an Engineer with well over 20 years of experience in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering disciplines. Our knowledge of concepts that are understood by structural and civil engineers helps us to build memorials that can withstand the conditions seen within most metropolitan cemeteries. For instance, our most popular option for colour imaging, Vitreous Enamel, is designed so that they can take damage from rocks and honkynuts that may be kicked up from a lawnmower. Australia is also one of the sunniest countries in the world by size. The same conditions which affect your car’s paint can affect an image on a memorial. The “Lifetime Images” option that the MCB provides, for example, has been proven to only last between 2 and 5 years before the topcoat fails and the images begin to fade. Forever Shining Vitreous Enamel images use a toughened glass coating to protect the image below from UV Fade and scratch damage. Not to mention, the quality, fit and finish of the plaques and memorials we provide are checked to ensure that every single memorial we provide to our customers is of an exacting and high standard.
Secondly, the Granites and stones we also use are simply put, the highest grade that we can get our hands on. Other monumental suppliers usually put your design out to what’s called a “Tender Process” where your design is sent off to a supplier network, where they can attempt to get the cheapest cost price on a memorial with no consideration as to the quality of the granite used. Their primary concern is profiteering, trying to make the most money out of your memorial with no consideration of the quality of the stone. At Forever Shining we work with a Sydney-based Stonecutting Factory, and place strict quality control upon them to ensure that our customers receive the best grade stone of the type they request. Even if it costs us a little more, we always try to make sure that we give you top quality stone for a good price.
Thirdly, unlike other Stonemasons and Monumental companies, we work with a team of Graphic Designers (myself included) who have a wealth of experience in the world of layout, presentation, form and function. We try our best to help you make a design that is both inclusive of what you want to capture, whilst also being readable, beautiful and durable. We have access to a wide variety of inscription tools, including our powerful laser engraving and cutting, sandblasting, and various colour imaging options that can be inlaid, overlaid or framed. Our Graphic Artists also have access to the same 3D design tools that you also have access to on our website, however we can assist you with creating something truly bespoke by using our skills to generate a mock-up which you can share with your friends and family, and give you a price for the memorial whilst we’re at it.
You’re not on my cemetery’s memorial suppliers list. Can I still buy a monument or plaque from you?
Absolutely! Just because we don’t show up, doesn’t mean you can’t buy from us. In fact, it’s illegal for your cemetery to restrict you from buying a memorial from your choice of supplier due to a clause known as “Competitive Neutrality”. This clause basically states that a government business cannot restrict a market and close it off to private companies, or to companies that they see as competitors. It’s the reason why you can choose between a Public or Private hospital to have surgery, and the reason why you have the ability to access private power supply companies. If your cemetery attempts to bully you into buying their products, we actually want to hear about it.
Long story short, As long as the memorial we design is within their specifications for size and design, you are more than welcome to get your monument made through us. For instance, you can find some of our memorials in most MCB Cemeteries in Perth. For an MCB cemetery monument, it all comes down to a Maximum height, width and depth, and a specific requirement for grave numbering. We usually factor in these requirements and can get in contact with the Cemetery to ensure that your memorial meets the requirements of their spec sheets. Not only that, we also can organise installation from Australia’s widest network of registered Monumental Masons, which means we can offer you the best quality installation for the lowest possible price. Unlike other companies who aim to cheap out on an install for profit’s sake, we focus on the structural integrity of an install due to our engineering and innovation. Often our installations exceed the Cemetery’s requirements for structural footings, and often exceed even the Australian Standard for monumental installation.
Cemeteries can be quite hawkish in their tactics when it comes to restricting people to their products. In the above article, Penny, (our other blogger), collected evidence to prove that corruption was afoot in the MCB’s ranks through a series of Mystery Shopper calls. In almost all instances, the shopper was asked to use the MCB’s Products and was forced into purchasing products on their selected list of memorial suppliers. This is illegal.
If you want to learn more about the clause of Competitive Neutrality, take a read of this Policy Statement from the WA Government. If you have the time, of course.
Your main office is in Perth. Do you have other offices where I can take a look at memorials?
We do work with other suppliers, and are in the process of setting up a display area at our Sydney and Melbourne distributors. However, since we are a world leader in online design tools, you don’t even have to leave your home to see what your memorial will look like. We are innovators in 3D Design software, and as such you can design your memorial and view it before it’s even made. How neat is that? We also work directly with several Funeral Directors and Cemeteries, including Newhaven Funerals, Peter J Jackson Funerals, and Kandanga Cemetery, By providing our design and supply services in conjunction with their funeral packages to locations all around Australia. We can even supply products to New Zealand and all around the world.
Are you a Funeral Director?
Sadly not. We are a monumental product supplier. As mentioned above though, we are more than capable of working alongside Funeral Directors to provide you with a memorial that complements your funeral service. Ask your funeral director to get in contact with us, and we can provide them with all the information they may require when it comes to organising a Memorial from Forever Shining.
What if I’m using a Tablet, or a Smartphone for that matter?
Our DYO software is compatible with any computer or device – landscape mode is preferable for ease of use. If you are using a Microsoft Surface tablet, or a similar Windows based tablet, we treat that is it is an ordinary PC or Laptop, so you’re safe there. If you’re on a Mac, or if your PC runs Linux as its operating system, you may need to use a compatible browser such as Chrome, Opera or Firefox. Smartphones and other devices such as Galaxy Tablets/Phones, iPhones and iPads are not compatible with Flash Player, and therefore you must get in contact with us in order to get your design sorted.
However, we are currently working on porting both our 2D and 3D Design Software to HTML5 and WebGL so that it is compatible with all tablets and smartphones. Follow this blog or Like us on Facebook for the latest news from Forever Shining.
Can you price-match?
We can price-match on like-for-like products, i.e, if the stone is identical in quality and appearance to the stone we quote. However, most other memorial suppliers and some metropolitan cemeteries, as previously mentioned, use a tender method to try and get the cheapest granite for the best price to ensure that their profit margins are higher. At Forever Shining we pride ourselves in using the best quality materials, the latest technologies and the most precise workmanship possible, and offering it for a reasonable price to you, whilst also giving you additional control over the memorialisation process so that your memorial is truly personal to you. Whilst our monuments may take longer in some cases to make, or cost a little more than others, you can be assured that our memorials really stack up in terms of quality, durability, style and most of all, wow factor.
It’s best to give us a call in regards to this, however. The best person to speak to about pricing is our Engineer, Albert.
What if I want to see some examples?
Sure! We have a catalogue that you can look at. We also have a Gallery of images of previous works, mockups and drawings to get you inspired to create the perfect memorial. We also have a range of Design tools at your disposal so you can get creative where-ever you wish to be. The design tools even also generate a price for you! How neat?
Is your stone made in Australia?
Some of our stones, including Adelaide Black, Darwin Dreamtime, Emerald Grandee and Snowy River Pearl are quarried in Australia, I.e, we dig it up and Cube it here.
However there are some stones which come from other countries due to the Geological conditions of the earth. Our most popular granite, Premium black, comes from inland China. It is the finest grain of black granite available in the world. The intense heat and pressure of the mountainous eastern Chinese landscape produces a low Quartz content, fine grain granite that is simply stunning to behold when polished. This granite is perfect for our high resolution laser etching machine, which is why we only offer laser etching on this granite.
There are other granites which come from all around the world. English Brown from England, Carrara Black and White marbles from Italy, Kashmire White and Gold from the Middle East, and Imperial Red from India, just to name a few.
However, the massive machinery required to cut even our Australian Granites down into slabs that can be used for monuments is located in one of two places, China or India. No local granite supplier gets their granite sawn down here in Australia due to the machinery not being located here. Stonecutters here in Australia do smaller cuts and finishing on granite slabs, as well as in-situ (at the location of install) cutting for Benchtops and kitchens. The factory which works with us is based in Sydney, and they have worked directly with us to create a quality control process to ensure that all granite meets our exacting requirements for structural strength, durability and clarity.
All of our laser-etching, design and CAD work is conducted in house at our Bibra Lake showroom and warehouse. We try to keep as many of our resources in-house as we possibly can, with our design and engineering teams, and the core components of the stone finishing process based right here in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
We try to utilise as much local talent as possible, whilst also working with interstate and international suppliers to reduce cost, improve efficiency and quality and to widen the range of products we have available to our customers.
So, what else is different about you, What about your customer service?
We are a memorial company which understands that the memories of your loved ones are more than just some morbid, unhappy names carved into a stone with a date of birth and a date of death. We try to make the experience of purchasing and creating a memorial a celebration of the life of your loved one, making their memorial a happy place. Our technology lets us get really creative with your memorial. We also tend to be a little more relaxed about working with various different materials and engraving methods, including Stainless Steel, Glass and of course our laser-etched engraving. In fact, it’s our Stainless Steel memorials that got us onto The New Inventors. We try to make the memorialisation about their story, about making the life of your loved one a place where the family can gather around and celebrate the good times in their life. Other memorial suppliers simply do not have this flexibility and creativity at their disposal.
Or, if you prefer something more sombre, we’re also well versed in that too. We cater to many people and their beliefs and religious convictions. Whether they were a devout follower of God, a loyal servant of the Prophet, or were on a journey towards enlightenment, or were even just a person who wanted to be remembered in a more serious and spiritual way, we can cater to their beliefs and traditions. We factor in traditions and beliefs when it comes to constructing memorials, and we often ask people to tell us a little about the deceased before we get stuck into creating a memorial. That way, we know what sort of things we can and cannot say or do, and what things we will focus on when it comes to your design.
In particular, we work a lot with indigenous peoples from all around Australia. We’ve found that Indigenous people tend to focus on the passing of their loved ones and their connection to the land and their families in their memorials. As such, if you do come to us from that kind of background, we may ask some culturally related questions. For example, some people like to have the totems that were passed down to them, emblazoned on their memorials. Some prefer not to mention the surnames or first names of the ones who have passed. Others like to have photos of the country in which they grew up in or came from engraved into the memorial. Some people (in rare cases where granite is dug up from there) even ask to have their memorial carved from a granite which is available close to their homeland. Whatever you choose, we ensure that our memorials are both joyful and respectful to their lives whilst being within your budgetary requirements.
It’s this level of expertise, understanding and know-how that really separates us from the rest.