Family funeral business digs into Richmond

Kimberly Mullins Stein and Josh Mullins are running a new location of their family's funeral business in Richmond. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Kimberly Mullins Stein and Josh Mullins are running a new location of their family’s funeral business in Richmond. Photos by Michael Thompson.

For its first Richmond location, a third-generation Virginia funeral home is keeping it in the family.

Affinity Funeral Service opened this month at 2720 Enterprise Parkway near the Westland Shopping Center. The venture is run by the Mullins family, which has been in the funeral business since 1962 when the father of current CEO David Mullins got into the industry.

Today, the Mullinses have two locations in Fredericksburg and two more in Louisa County under different business names. At 28,000 square feet, the new Richmond location is the biggest.

Affinity Funeral offers burials, cremations and visitation packages. Burial packages start at $2,395 and cremation packages start at $1,295.

David Mullins said he saw an opening in the Richmond market when Nelsen Funeral Home was purchased by Houston-based Service Corporation International, which owns thousands of funeral homes through various brands. Nelsen has two locations in Richmond and one in Williamsburg.

“What kind of pulled the linchpin on me was when Nelsen sold his company to the folks out of Houston,” Mullins said. “We have felt Richmond possibly could use another family-owned firm.”

Affinity opened

Affinity opened at 2720 Enterprise Parkway

Keeping it in the family, Mullins’ two children, Kimberly Mullins Stein, a VCU grad, and Josh Mullins, a UR grad and licensed funeral director, live in Richmond and will manage the new facility. Dave Mullins has also bought a home here and will split his time between Richmond and Spotsylvania.

Josh Mullins said he knew early on he was interested in the family business.

“It’s something I was always around as a kid,” he said. “I believe in what we do.”

Dave Mullins said it has cost more than $2 million, including purchasing the real estate for $858,000 in 2014, to get Affinity Funeral operating in Richmond. The facility has a chapel and room that can seat up to 350 people. There are more than 100 parking spaces on the site.

Fredericksburg architect Sarah Hanson designed Affinity Funeral’s space, and Dominion Construction Partners built it.

And Mullins also bought the office strip next to the new funeral home, located at 2706-2716 Enterprise Parkway, which houses several other tenants.

Affinity enters a crowded Richmond funeral home market. More than a dozen brands operate in the area, such as Bliley Funeral Homes, Wilson & Associates’ Funeral Service, and Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, among many others.

Dave Mullins said Affinity will be able to compete with a combination of affordability and quality.

“Death is a part of life,” he said. “I think now more than ever with the financial constraints that many people find in everyday life and living, having an option that perhaps could be a little bit more affordable is a good thing.”

Josh Mullins said cremations from competitors can run between $1,600 and $2,800, and burial packages average around $3,400. He wouldn’t say what kind of volume it takes to get the new location profitable. And he said the business does mostly burials, but cremations are on the rise.

“We’re self-financed,” he said. “There’s no rush to get a certain volume.”

In the more than 50 years since his grandfather got into the business, Josh Mullins said consumers have become a bit more savvy when it comes time choose a funeral home.

“Families used to be associated with a family (funeral home) name,” he said. “Now, people are doing more homework before they go in search of a funeral home. I think the consumers are getting more educated.”

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