The York Group makes boxes nearly too beautiful to part with. The nation's #2 casket maker (after Hillenbrand's Batesville Casket) produces metal and all-wood caskets, memorials and plaques, and cremation containers. (Cremation is the industry's growing trend -- a third of US deaths are handled this way.) York is staking its vitality on an incentive program designed to boost sales via independent funeral homes. Its caskets and funeral products are sold almost entirely in the US through company-owned and independent distributors. The firm developed the York Merchandising System (YMS), a modular display of casket materials and decorative details. Industry behemoth Matthews International owns York Group.