Chattanooga Monuments continues to help families left without hope after Wichman closing
Orders are almost complete for many former Wichman Monuments customers who were left without headstones they paid for after the company shut its doors in March.
One company helping those families is Chattanooga Monuments, a small business operated by Jim Holcomb and his grandson, Jason Holcomb.
"Be careful to not make a mess," Jason said as he carefully hand painted details onto a headstone.
Making a headstone is a tedious process.
"I like to have precision,” Jason added, “and take pride in my work."
Jason understands the frustration of hundreds of families.
"This is more than just a business, about the money to us,” Jason explained, “It's something we're very passionate about and helping families."
Jason works with his grandfather, Jim. It's just the two of them.
Jason is the artist, and Jim handles the business. Lately, there's been a lot of extra work.
"We're making good progress," Jason explained.
They took on more than 100 extra clients when Wichman Monuments closed its doors last March.
"When you can do this, you feel like a hero,” Jim said. “So, if I can be a hero, that's a big part of my life, doing things for other people.”
It's not always easy.
Jason got married in May, and his wife was injured a week ago when she was hit by a car while crossing the street.
Jim is also recovering from throat cancer.
But they both say coming into work and helping others is still a top priority.
"I don't have a choice. I have to get up and do this,” Jim urged. “If I give you my word, that's what I’ll do."
"We're managing to stay efficient and complete the orders one by one," Jason said while working.
There is still a lot of extra work to be done, in addition to their own business. But they said nothing is better than making things right for families who had lost hope.
"There's been so many people that were so grateful that we did it,” Jason said. “Many of them thought that they were never going to receive anything."
In just a few months, Chattanooga Monuments has filled roughly 70 of the 106 orders.
The company isn’t losing money by completing orders, but they aren’t making much either. Customers who paid Wichman Monuments are not having to pay a second time. A company called A & R Holdings, who bought out Wichman earlier this year, is paying Chattanooga Monuments to finish the projects at a wholesale price.
The Holcomb’s are asking customers who are still waiting on their orders to be patient. It takes a minimum of four hours to complete just one basic headstone.