For a family business to operate successfully for more than a century, Hitzeman Funeral Home in Brookfield must be doing something right.
Since 1904, the Hitzeman family has owned and operated the business, which called Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood home until 1976. But, since 1963, the Brookfield location has served generations of community members.
Fourth-generation owner Todd Hitzeman and his wife, Sue, say little has changed since the business’ 100th anniversary in 2004. An addition built in 2007 updated the bathrooms, coffee room, chapels and offices to better serve patrons.
“[The addition] was made to make it a better business, because we can literally have services going on in multiple chapels,” Todd Hitzeman said.
The funeral home has also updated to the way they plan wakes and funerals with families.
“There are better products to show families, like audio visual equipment,” Sue Hitzeman said. “Whatever updates with technology are what we have to keep up with too.”
Todd Hitzeman has continued to enjoy working for the family business, because he likes to make people happy when remembering their loved ones.
“The whole thing is to make something easier for somebody else,” he said. “The biggest satisfaction is when we’re finished with the service and [families] say, ‘That was just how we wanted it done.'”
While the Hitzemans own the business as a couple, they credit their staff as the funeral home’s greatest asset and a part of their family.
“The business runs because of our ideals, but if you don’t have a good staff working for you, you have problems,” Todd Hitzeman said.
The Hitzemans, who live in LaGrange Park, enjoy living and working in the same community.
“We love being active in the community,” Todd Hitzeman said. “We belong to the LaGrange Park Chamber of Commerce, the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club.”
Sue Hitzeman echoed similar sentiments, saying, “In the neighborhood, everyone knows you and you know them.”
The Hitzemans’ vision for the next 10 years is for the funeral home to continue to provide quality service.
“We don’t want to let anything slip,” Todd Hitzeman said. “Our biggest thing is to make sure everything runs smooth. I have eight grandchildren, and I may have some grandkids that may be interested in working here.”
Overall, the Hitzemans have enjoyed their life’s work with the family business.
“We like what we do for a living and I think that shows,” Mr. Hitzeman added.