J.W. Reynolds Monument Company Celebrates 100th Anniversary!
The Vienna Times, 1988 – Submitted by Susan Reynolds Lamb for The Southern Illinois
The monument industry has changed quite a bit since the J.W. Reynolds Monument Company was founded in 1888.
A young man by the name of John Wesley Reynolds worked part-time for a monument retailer in the small community of Simpson, IL. The owner of the monument company got into a position where he could not pay young Reynolds his wages, so the owner deeded the company to Reynolds in exchange for his wages, $54.70. Hence, the name of the company was changed and the J.W. Reynolds Monument Company was on its way with one employee and three or four monuments.
During the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s there were many difficulties for the monument industry. Trans portation was limited. Tombstones, as they were called, were delivered to the cemetery by a mule team and wagon. Reynolds’ territory only covered six miles in diameter, but the longer trips required an over night stay with the trip home being made the next day. Foundation material consisted mainly of creek rock. Tools and equipment to handle the heavy stones were either non-existent or too expensive.
Mr. Reynolds moved his family and the monument company to Vi enna in 1929. There he kept the company going until a son, Joseph Wesley Reynolds, dropped out of college in 1937 and took over the family business which now had ten or 12 monuments.
As the years went by the company under went major expansion. Reynolds was joined in the business by his wife, Mary. Together they worked hard to make many changes which would affect the future of the company. Branch offices were opened, plant facilities were expanded, and inventory was increased to become one of the largest in the United States. It now consists of over 6000 monuments, markers, and mausoleums. At present the company has 14 display offices throughout a three state area and employs 48 people.
The younger J.W. Reynolds, Joe, as he is known to his friends, has carved out a successful business based on a good reputation. This reputation has been built by providing quality memorials and trying to please every customer.
“We try to make sure that all customers are pleased with their memorials. We have a very high degree of customer satisfaction. We work hard for that, we strive for that, and we exist because of that,” states Joe.
The future for the business looks bright. They say. “We are extremely proud of our heritage, our growth, and our future.”
The next 100 years will probably have just as many changes as the last 100 years. The J.W. Reynolds Monument Company will work hard to meet these changes. As their advertising says, “They will be here tomorrow to back up what they sell today.”