Edna man’s casket designs add life to death – By Bianca Montes (Cont.)

Courtesy of VictoriaAdvocate.com | November 2, 2014
By Bianca Montes
When Trey Ganem thought about his death the last thing he wanted to be buried in was a typical casket. Twenty-two years later, he followed his dream of building customized caskets.
When Trey Ganem thought about his death the last thing he wanted to be buried in was a typical casket. Twenty-two years later, he followed his dream of building customized caskets.

Click on the picture above to see the video about Trey Ganem

For more information on Trey Ganem and his caskets, visit treyganemdesigns.com or call 361-489-1582.


EDNA – Trey Ganem is just a little bit country and a whole lot of rock ‘n’ roll.

His killer beard could easily land him on a cable television show about hunting animals – which he’s done – and his custom paint jobs and bodywork can be appreciated on many cars cruisin’ the Crossroads.

But what the tattooed father of three is doing nowadays might surprise some: He customizes caskets.

Standing in his warehouse – a hidden gem near downtown Edna – Ganem hovers over a vat of water as he slowly and carefully places inked film in the bath. Using his index finger, he taps away a few bubbles forming and then sprays the sheet with a chemical to separate it from the design.

As the ink begins to float in the water, the edge of a casket is dipped, marking it with the design.

It’s warm in the warehouse – a black and white former chop shop naturally bright from the sun. An industrial-sized fan is the only relief from the still humid, hot Texas days.

It still looks like a garage inside, and an old run-down car in the parking lot adds to the vibe. But for Ganem, it’s the home of a 22-year-old dream in the making.

While working as a hunting guide, Ganem began to think about mortality – a lot.

He thought about death.

He thought about his funeral, and the last place he wanted to be was in a plain, traditional casket.

“When I die, I want it to be a celebration,” he said. “A traditional casket wouldn’t represent me.”

He wanted a casket made to match his personality.

Twenty-two years ago, however, he said the idea never would have worked. Caskets laid with raw cowhide, decorated with flames or peacock feathers and hot pink-princess themes would have been considered outrageous then, he said.

In February, after almost 30 years of making a name for himself in the car industry, he closed the door to his garage and reopened it to fulfill his dream of making customized caskets with a flare.

One of his first caskets, The Peacock, came from his unwillingness to toss out some expensive car paint.

The paint is a rich, woodsy color that shifts hue depending on the angle it’s viewed.

“As soon as I painted it, my wife was like, ‘that looks like a peacock.'” he said.

Ganem finished the casket by lining the inside with a turquoise blue felt fabric and real peacock feathers.

Ganem said he doesn’t typically have a lot of inspiration when it comes to decorating a casket, he just thinks, “what would look cool.” The average cost ranges from $2,500 to $8,000, depending upon the modifications requested.

More importantly, it’s about making a casket that can embody the personality, he said.

That, he said, “helps take the mortality out of death.”

Ganem recently donated a princess-theme casket to the family of Sophia Calhoun, a Bloomington girl who died in a car wreck.

“No one wants to ever lose a child,” he said.

To help ease the pain of burying a child, he made Sophia a bright, sparkling pink casket with a tiara embellished on top and Princess Sophia embroidered inside.

The idea to also make children’s caskets came about when Ganem met Crys Kelly, a Dallas mother whose daughter died from cancer, at a funeral show.

“He had his caskets, and I walked over and fell in love,” Kelly said. “I told him how amazing it would’ve been to have something like it when Alexa passed away.”

Kelly, whose daughter died six years ago, said when she went to buy a casket, she remembers thinking, ‘this is it?’

“For me it was like putting my child to bed for the last time,” she said. “But they didn’t have anything to fit her personality – her last place to rest wasn’t her.”

Ganem also made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle casket for 3-year-old Carson Lee Thomas, who suddenly died in late August.

“It was extremely hard on the family, especially my son and my daughter-in-law,” said Kevin Shoemake, the boy’s grandfather of Victoria. “This was a way to ease their pain when they laid him in his resting place. Just a plain box with a child in it … It is so much easier to see your child resting in a casket they would love, rather then a wood or metal box.”

Ganem said that sentiment is why he chose to follow his dream.

“One day, I was just riding around with a friend, telling him how I’ve always wanted to do this, and then the doors just opened,” he said. “I’ve done a lot in my life, but, I’ve never had the feeling this gives me.

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