Leisure Care has entered into a period of steady growth, with a plan to bring its hospitality-driven brand of senior living communities to new markets across the East Coast and elsewhere.
The Seattle-based senior living operator is teaming up with partners including Columbia Pacific Advisors to identify new U.S. markets for development opportunities. The company is on track to open this winter a 138-unit assisted living and memory care community in Silver Spring, Maryland, its first in the state. And in July, it entered New York by assuming management of two communities in Rochester.
Currently, Leisure Care operates 40 retirement communities in 15 states, with another 15 communities under development in states such as Washington, Oregon, California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Leisure Care’s parent company, One Eighty International, also manages senior housing properties in India, London, and Mexico.
If all goes according to plan, the provider will open between five and seven new senior living communities per year, according to Leisure Care Chairman and CEO Dan Madsen.
“Financially, it’s a good time [to grow] because, as rates go up, we have good financing in place and good investments in place,” Madsen told Senior Housing News.
The unit mixes of those new communities will be determined on a market-to-market basis, but already Leisure Care has plans to develop assisted living and memory care communities, and other communities that also include independent living units.
And while Leisure Care won’t shy away from acquisitions where they make sense, the lion’s share of its pipeline will consist of new development, Madsen said.
Coast to coast
It’s not every day that an established senior living provider decides to open up shop in new markets on the opposite side of the country. After all, each metro area is unique, and older adults who live in different places might have different tastes regarding dining, community design or activities.
Leisure Care has made a name for itself—particularly in the Northwest and on the West Coast—as a hospitality-driven company, in part by implementing unique amenities and services for residents. The provider has an in-house travel agency, slings its own low-acid coffee brand, offers a “brain fitness” program, and recently rolled out a new memory care program designed to put residents’ preferences first.
It’s Leisure Care’s focus on hospitality and wellness that helps it enter new markets, no matter where in the country they’re located, Madsen said.
“The brand is genuine. It carries through with all people, really,” he explained. “And we’ve been out on the East Coast for years, in Florida … Atlanta, [parts of] the South. So, that’s not new or hard for us.”
Additionally, many metro areas on the East Coast offer the right kind of barriers to entry and demographic profiles that make an area appealing for a senior living provider like Leisure Care.
Focusing on wellness and hospitality also makes the company well-positioned to capture the crucial baby boomer demographic that’s expected to move into senior housing en masse over the next decade, he added.
“We feel this generation is well-traveled,” Madsen explained. “They’ve stayed in nice hotels … and the hospitality services they’ve received, they’re going to expect in their retirement as well.”
Simply put, Leisure Care will continue to grow as long as there are opportunities to serve new residents. That means the company has no long-term growth target or envisions a certain size as ideal.
“We just want to be successful in what we have, and take opportunities as they come,” Madsen said.
While recruiting and retaining good workers has proven difficult for other senior living providers, Madsen “feels pretty good” about the company’s ability to hire top talent, especially from restaurants, hotels or other hospitality-focused businesses.
In the long-term, Madsen wants Leisure Care to be the best senior living company it can be—a goal he wants for the general senior living industry, as well. As the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.
“We should focus on competing against ourselves as an industry, and say, ‘Let’s just all get better, because there will be plenty of future residents,'” Madsen said.
Written by Tim Regan