Antonio Green’s great-grandfather opened James H. Cole Home for Funerals 102 years ago, and Green intends to carry his family legacy forward.
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As a new leader helps a company grow, they’ll face a major question: What parts of this business stay as they are, and what parts need to evolve?
Now try answering that question at a 102-year-old company in an industry where change is rarely welcome.
That’s Antonio Green’s task as the director of his family’s funeral home, the James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit. It was opened in 1919 by his great-grandfather, and Green grew up watching how his family served and supported its community. He now wants to carry on that legacy — while also updating the company and setting it up for the next 100-plus years.
He’s adopted new technological tools and expanded his definition of the community his business can serve. And he offers this advice to entrepreneurs — at companies one or 100 years old! — who want to try new things and see what works.
For more content like this, don’t miss The HISTORY Channel® Memorial Day documentary series event beginning at 8/7c! Watch The Food That Built America, chronicling the origin stories of rivalries behind some of food’s most iconic brands, and The Titans That Built America, that tells the fascinating history of brilliant and sometimes ruthless visionaries behind notable innovations
“We tend to fall into the mindset of, ‘If it doesn’t work, trash it,’” he says. “You might be building something that might be used 10 years down the line, that you don’t even know about. Just because it’s something that doesn’t catch fire right away, don’t abandon it.”
Instead, he says, try new things and constantly monitor their value. Maybe they serve a small role now — but can serve a big one later.
In this conversation, Green explains how he’s implemented that strategy at the James H. Cole Home for Funerals.