An industry veteran who helped lead the largest senior housing provider in the country is switching gears to help a regional senior living provider and operator grow dramatically.
Chris Hyatt, who spent over 15 years at Emeritus Corp. before the company merged with Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) in 2014, has accepted the position of chief operating officer and partner at family-owned New Perspective Senior Living. Hyatt has held numerous leadership positions, such as senior vice president of operations at Emeritus, and most recently executive vice president of operations at Brentwood, Tennessee-based Brookdale.
Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based New Perspective currently operates 20 senior living communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The company offers independent living, assisted living and memory care.
Hyatt spoke with Senior Housing News about why he chose New Perspective and how he plans to help more than triple the company’s number of residents in the next eight years.
SHN: Why did you choose to leave Brookdale and take a role with New Perspective?
Hyatt: I spent 18 years in leadership roles between both Emeritus and Brookdale. I thoroughly enjoyed doing so and learned so much from very wise colleagues. But that also meant I hadn’t looked anywhere else in almost two decades. So, after my time with Emeritus and Brookdale, I decided it was important to see what else was out there.
I explored opportunities with some of the top 10 largest providers as well as those not on the radar. I knew Todd Novaczyk from being on the board of Argentum and heard his story about why he started New Perspective. and we discussed the possibility of me joining them one day.
I then met his son, Ryan Novaczyk, at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) conference 10 months ago and had a great “first date,” if you will. Over the next several months, I took multiple trips to Minnesota and saw new developments and was really impressed. I also didn’t have to move from [Nashville to] Minneapolis to be a part of the team—they are very advanced when it comes to technology.
SHN: What do you think the company’s strengths are already?
Hyatt: They do everything in-house, from planning to building and design. They’ve done extremely well in design and development, as well as their financial structure.
The company is running between 92% and 93% occupancy but is still not satisfied with that, which is fantastic because there are many operators struggling to get to the 88% or 90% mark. I also like the fact that they have a very strong personal passion for this type of business based on their personal family experience with Todd’s mother-in-law, Betty, whom had Alzheimer’s.
The company has roughly 2,000 employees, and most of them reside within our communities, not within the central resource center [headquarters]. The New Perspective operating platform allows me to work remotely from anywhere in the country. So, for my position, that enables me to get out there and visit communities and talk to residents. It’s exciting to get back to the people at the community level, which is ultimately what makes this business so appealing and special.
SHN: What do you think still needs some work?
Hyatt: I’m hoping to do everything I can to keep this business as simple as possible without overly complicating systems and processes. Sometimes you bring in a multitude of systems with the intention of making things more effective and efficient, and it has the potential of creating the opposite effect.
We need to figure out how to take those burdens off executive directors. As the industry grows, we grow, but we don’t want to risk losing connection with residents if things are too complex. So keeping things from getting too cluttered with nonessential information is very important.
SHN: What are your top priorities at New Perspective?
Hyatt: My primary goal is to make sure we are all culturally aligned between the resource center and the local communities in which we serve. Given what I’ve seen, I had to mitigate as many errors or failures. I want to help them [New Perspective] dodge those big potholes in the road.
But New Perspective is a regional company that’s growing. It’s developing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois as well as building a new community in North Dakota, which is a new state for us.
SHN: Are there other new markets you’re looking at?
Hyatt: There are also other new states we will be entering, but we can’t disclose them at this time. There will be a combination of acquisitions and new developments.
SHN: How large do you want New Perspective to be?
Hyatt: Right now we have the privilege and honor of caring for 2,000 residents, and our goal is to take care of 10,000 seniors by 2025 with an eye toward living life on purpose.
SHN: You mentioned New Perspective’s development model. What does that look like, how quickly can that increase your resident population?
Hyatt: In terms of construction, we have a couple prototypes that we can build. We have a model that can serve 80 to 90 residents in smaller markets, and we are also looking toward a model to serve up to 150 residents in larger markets.
New Perspective has a significant amount of amenities that will differentiate us from others. In the new communities, we are putting in in-ground swimming pools, spas, pubs and Starbucks. There are a few affordable units, but the vast majority is [for seniors in] middle- or high-income brackets.
Since we are able to do everything in house, we literally pick everything out ourselves and can create communities with our own distinctive touch. We want to be known for an extraordinary experience.
Written by Alana Stramowski