Harrison Ross CEO Chip Smith pictured with his daughter, Naomi (Malik Morris-Perry/L.A. Sentinel)

In celebration of Black Business Month, the L.A. Sentinel shines a spotlight on William “Chip” Smith III, the CEO of Harrison Ross Mortuaries in Los Angeles. As a third-generation leader of this esteemed Black-owned family business, Chip continues to uphold the legacy established by his grandparents, Leon Harrison and Emma Ross.

Founded in 1948, Harrison Ross Mortuaries has been serving the community with dignity and respect for over seven decades. Over many years, the business has simultaneously operated in several cities across the western region ranging from San Bernardino to Las Vegas. Currently, they still have three operative locations serving the community — Compton, View Park, and Firestone.

Chip grew up as a child working in the mortuary with his grandmother, Lucille, and his father, William “Bill” Smith, Jr. In 1991, Chip came on staff full time at the age of 24. In 2016, Chip succeeded his father as CEO shortly after his mother took ill. Chip’s dedication to honoring his family’s heritage while also adapting to modern trends and technologies has solidified the mortuary’s reputation as a trusted institution in the community.

Related Stories

Caleb Williams Give Scholarships to BGCMLA Youth

Dr. Branden Turner Strives to Improve Quality of Life in South L.A.

During a recent interview, Chip shared with the Sentinel insights into his approach to running the business. In addition, he emphasized the importance of maintaining the values instilled by his grandparents.

“My grandparents believed in providing compassionate service to all families that came through our doors,” he explained. “That commitment to excellence is something I strive to uphold every day.”

As a third-generation business owner, Chip emphasized how strong family values have played an important role in the company’s success. He joyfully recalled how he was able to build a special bond with his father through the process of working with him and being groomed to take over the business.

With his eldest daughter, Naomi, now working by his side, Chip revealed how hopeful he is about the legacy of the business.  He recognizes that her fresh ideas and broad influence will be instrumental in driving growth forward. As she represents the next generation, he believes it’s crucial to tap into her expertise to bring the business into the future.

Chip aspires to groom his daughter to carry the legacy forward by expanding Harrison-Ross outside of the realm of the death care industry and more into community outreach through non-profit endeavors in the near future.