One of Ann Arbor’s oldest companies changed hands in December, when Caryl Arnet sold Arnet’s Inc. to Patten Monument Company of Comstock. Arnet’s great-grandfather Joseph Arnet started the monument business in 1904 on a large property on Jackson Ave., where headstones and memorials were hand carved out back. Her father, Larry, later expanded the business with the purchase of a number of crematories (both pet and human).
Now the pet crematories have been sold, and both the human crematories and the old Jackson property are up for sale. Caryl, in her new role as manager, has worked with Patten co-owner Andy Bolt to move the showroom to the former Ann Arbor Arms building just down the road.
Arnet’s Ypsilanti location will also be kept as a showroom and office, but the monuments themselves will now be made in Comstock.
Caryl Arnet says that as she approached her sixtieth birthday, she was worried about the future of the business. “Nobody in the family really had the desire or the particular talent in that area to take over,” she says. Her brother and sister have both suffered health issues that prevented them from taking more active roles, and her daughters, Angela and Melissa, have moved on to their own families and careers.
So Arnet began looking at selling but wanted to make sure she found the right buyer. “It was really important to me to keep the integrity of the company,” she says. She found that in Patten, another old Michigan establishment coming up on its 100th anniversary this year.
Arnet says growing up in the family business was both happy and stressful, “because everybody has such deep emotions about what they think is good for the company.” When her father passed away, he left Arnet’s to her, but she says that she always preferred the customer interactions to the business aspects. “I feel, on a personal level, a great relief to be able to get back to what I really enjoy doing, which was the selling … the managing all the time is a challenge, and a headache.”
Her mother has also passed away. “We’re not excluded from death,” she says wryly. But she’s found comfort from people she had earlier comforted: “My customers helped me so much during the time of the loss of my mom and my father having Alzheimer’s. They were so helpful in their knowledge about what to do during these situations, because they already have experience by the time they’ve come in to me.”
Arnet’s Inc., 5060 Jackson Rd. Ste. H, 665-3658. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. by appointment. Closed Sun. arnetsmonuments.com