Scott Randall has a knack for connecting with people.
His new job as a memorial counselor for Northwest Monument in Storm Lake allows him to maximize that talent to the fullest of his abilities.
A former salesman for McCormick Distributors out of LeMars, Randall decided to become a memorial counselor when parents of his wife's students at Storm Lake St. Mary's told him he had a gift for helping and counseling people.
On the job for a little over three weeks, he said he jumped at the chance to work at Northwest Monument.
"When I saw the opportunity, I thought it would be a great chance to use that skill and ability to connect with people," Randall said. "Helping families through tough times is something that is satisfying, because you're using your life for a good purpose. If I can help someone feel more at ease with the loss, then that makes it very worthwhile."
Much of Randall's job involves talking to people and getting to know the individual families at the time a person passes away.
After listening to them and becoming familiar with the family and who the memorial will represent, he then carefully helps them choose one that best fits the needs.
"You have to be a good listener and be very understanding in this line of work," Randall said. "Everyone grieves in different ways, and while some people choose a memorial relatively quickly, it takes others a long time. All you can do is let them know you're there for them, and let them know you care."
Many people are not aware of the different types of memorials companies like Northwest Monument offer, and Randall said a big part of his job is simply letting people know what alternatives are available for them and helping them through that process.
"Some have ideas when they come in, but a majority of people say they have no idea what they want for a memorial," Randall said. "That's why it's so important to talk to them and educate them about the different options that are available."
There are many sizes, shapes and colors of memorials, and prices can range from a few hundred dollars for a simple pillow stone to over two million for an extravagant mausoleum.
Styles vary from benches to polished rock to the rough edging of a balanced rock chipping design, and designs can range from photos etched in stone by lasers to nature scenes hand-carved by professional craftsmen.
Templates are available for nearly every design, as pictures of nature scenes, hobbies, crafts and sports can all be utilized, and if a template can not be found, one can be made to suit anyone's needs.
Randall said one person even approached him at the Clay County Fair and asked if Northwest Monument could put a picture of two slot machines on her stone to commemorate her love for gambling.
"Something like that just goes to show the variety of thoughts that can be displayed," Randall said. "It's something that personalizes her and is unique to what her life was like."
That distinctiveness is something Randall wants to see when he sells a memorial.
"I think every memorial should be unique, because every person and every person's life is unique," Randall said. "It disappoints me when people say they just want to get the cheapest thing possible. A life is more important than that. A memorial is something that isn't supposed to just mark a death. It's supposed to celebrate a life."