History of Aurora Casket Company
Aurora's humble roots can be traced back to a small, 29-employee operation that Colonel John J. Backman founded in 1890. At that time, Aurora employees handcrafted wooden coffins in a factory building that is still located on Conwell Street in downtown Aurora, Indiana. Though the facility is no longer in use, the words "Aurora Coffin Co." are still visible.
In the late 1800s, many industries in southeastern Indiana contributed to the growth of the coffin and casket manufacturing business. Furniture makers were plenty. Cincinnati was home to many machine and tool companies. Ample natural resources and transportation routes, especially the railroad, provided the means for the casket industry to flourish. As the metal and automotive industries grew and migrated north to Michigan, workers who stayed behind returned to making furniture and caskets for the local community.
In the 1920s, Colonel Backman invited his son, Bill Backman, and his son-in-law, Bill Barrott, to join the business. Aurora Casket Company was fortunate enough to experience the leadership of five generations of Backmans and Barrotts.
Over the years, Aurora has continued to grow and evolve to meet the needs of funeral homes and families. Aurora introduced metal casket production in 1934, and as the business continued to grow, built a new manufacturing facility and office building on US 50, just west of downtown Aurora. This new plant, completed in 1971, is the primary manufacturing facility.
In 1997, Aurora acquired the urn company Meierjohan-Wengler, based out of Cincinnati. In addition to caskets, Aurora also offers a complete line of cremation urns and keepsakes. Aurora also acquired Clarksburg Casket Company in 2000. Clarksburg hardwood caskets are manufactured in Piney Flats, Tennessee. In 2011, Rob-Win Press became part of the Aurora family. Funeral stationery, including register books, acknowledgement cards and service folders added to the variety of products and services available to funeral homes.
Today, Aurora employs about 1000 people. A team of 75 sales representatives and 68 service center logistics teams represent the Aurora brand nationwide. In keeping with tradition, many Aurora employees are part of a family team--husbands, wives, sons, daughters and siblings work side by side in nearly every department. Caskets, cremation caskets, urns, keepsakes, cremation jewelry, stationery goods, bronze cemetery markers, business management software, websites and professional development training are just a few things Aurora has to offer.
In the summer of 2012, New York-based private equity firm Kohlberg & Company acquired Aurora Casket. The company plans to continue the long family tradition of service and quality under the leadership of new company president Michael Quinn.