Highland Monument Conservation
It is not every day that you encounter a child fascinated by monuments and cemeteries, but Burke Greear was one of them. “I can go all the way back to being a child, really, and having some sort of reverence or feeling for cemeteries — that they are places that need to be taken care of and maintained,” says Burke.
This fascination led him to start Highland Monument Conservation, a business offering professional maintenance and conservation for historic stones. Burke’s childhood admiration for these stones influences how he conducts business.
“I don’t just take these stones as objects,” he explains. “I think about the person. Every death was a life, and every life was a death, and that deserves to be remembered.”
As the only business of its kind in the area, Highland Monuments has no shortage of work. Customers frequently contact Burke after seeing the poor condition of family members’ graves. However, new projects necessitate additional equipment.
Burke contacted the Mt. Empire SBDC hoping to find funding for this equipment. His wife works at Mt. Empire Community College, where a friend of Burke’s had previously been the SBDC’s director. He introduced Burke to Becki O’Quinn, the new director who became Burke’s advisor.
In one-on-one meetings, Becki guided Burke through the application process for a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) grant. He received $6,500, which he described as “a godsend.” He used the money to purchase a tripod and a jack system to lift and level stones safely. The SBDC also helped him prepare project updates and progress reports to present to his local town council.
“Being a beneficiary of the SBDC has really made all the difference in the work I’m able to do,” he explains. His new tools expanded the services he can offer to municipalities, historical societies, churches, and entire cemeteries.
With the new equipment, Burke was able to complete a $40k contract with Gate City Cemetery. He will also use the equipment in an upcoming project with 350 town monuments.
As for the SBDC, Burke comments, “Folks don’t really realize everything that they have to offer, and it would benefit them if they would get to know their local SBDC.”