By Some businesses are recession-proof. The food business is one; the funeral business is another. After all, everyone’s got to eat, and everyone dies.

A few years ago, Tom Simpson, a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, ended up – almost by accident – on the supply side of the funeral business when he started making cedar caskets for coastal First Nations.

His Cedar Journeys Caskets business has gone from making six caskets per year to 36.

He has done zero marketing and zero debt or equity financing to build his business. It’s grown organically solely on word of mouth, with most of his customers being other coastal First Nations, mostly in B.C.

Simpson knew nothing about the casket-making business when he got into it. His one advantage, from a business standpoint, is that he is an accountant.

In 2007, he had to quit working after he had a stroke. He was initially confined to a wheelchair, and even when he started walking again, he had little stamina.

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