From the start, Benta’s Funeral Home in Harlem, established in 1928 by George Alexander Benta, was designed to be more than just a funeral parlor. His son, George Bernard Benta, built 40 rental apartments above the mortuary. A few decades later, the younger Benta launched Benta Transportation, a livery service that now operates 18 luxury vehicles, including four hearses. One of the most historic parlors in the city, Benta’s handled the funerals of Alvin Ailey, Count Basie, Langston Hughes and Etta Jones, to name a few.
Jason Benta, the founder’s great-grandson, took over in 2002 and runs the family enterprise with his mother, Dorrence. He expanded things further, taking cues from the wedding industry and hospitality management. He launched a digital printing company, Kreative House, which makes memorial programs, cards, brochures, funeral credentials and other materials for funeral homes and event planners, forged a partnership with Barbara’s Flower Shop and created set designs for memorial flower displays.
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Such business integration, he said, “insulates us as well as mitigates any potential outside economic pressures.”