Trustwell Living has added 16 communities in three states, significantly expanding the company’s footprint in a move that CEO Larry Cohen called an indication of more growth to come.
The newly managed communities are located in Illinois, Florida, and Ohio, totaling 762 assisted living and memory care units, Trustwell announced Monday. On average, the communities have nearly 48 units apiece. Cohen declined to name the company that previously operated them.
Since its founding in 2021, Trustwell Living has curated a steadily growing portfolio of communities nationwide, and in 2023, Cohen said all indicators were pointing to current and future expansion and progress.
Cohen told Senior Housing News. “This is a stepping stone for further growth as we continue to build out our platform.”
That track record now includes six consecutive months of occupancy growth, coupled with increased lead generation and tours this year. The company first purchased four buildings in May 2022, and since then has grown to manage 21 communities in six states.
21 communities and counting
Trustwell has slowly grown over the last two years. As the company has expanded, it has done so using a strategy centered on empowering local leadership and keeping existing workers on the job.
For example, Trustwell is keeping all of the employees in the 16-community portfolio on the job and offering them new benefits “designed for employee retention and recruitment.” With the portfolio deal alone, Trustwell Living more than doubled its ranks by onboarding approximately 300 additional employees.
The newly added communities also bring new “strong leadership” to the company, Cohen said. He also noted that the company has recently brought on new operational sales staff and expanded accounting personnel, along with operational specialists.
“We’re all very excited that we built the infrastructure, we have the systems in place that can facilitate this growth,” Cohen said.
This recent announcement fits into the overall growth trajectory for Trustwell Living, with Cohen noting earlier this year that the company was simultaneously making progress elongating margins and finding efficiencies in staffing.
Cohen said one of Trustwell Living’s strengths comes by way of experience. He founded the company in 2021 with several executives who previously worked for the operator formerly known as Capital Senior Living.
And he noted that the corporate leadership team has grown to have “over 160 years” of combined senior living experience, having a career scorecard as a team of 87 community transitions and nearly two dozen communities opened from the ground-up.
Taking on 16 properties at once is not easy, and Cohen acknowledged the move will require “a lot of execution” going forward. But he also said that the new management agreements are a testament to Trustwell’s ability to execute on community transitions.
“The reason that we’re now getting these management opportunities is the recognition of our focus, approach and the success that we have had in operations,” Cohen said.
Cohen said Trustwell chose to bring the 16 communities on board in part to increase its regional density and support further growth. Looking ahead, Trustwell will seek to leverage its new scale where it has crossover within its existing markets. Cohen noted that the company prefers to have “focused, concentrated management” of its buildings.
“It allows us to create the expansion of our existing regional platforms,” Cohen said. “We think the culture of on-site staff, the accountability, the treatment of residents are all very complimentary to how Truswell operates.”
He added the company is focused on “finding opportunities that are complementary to what we are doing, and create scale within certain geographies,” he said.
In the short-term, Cohen said he sees future opportunities for management transitions of wayward senior living communities, noting that Trustwell Living was “actively looking” at opportunities to grow the portfolio. The company is focusing on catering to multiple care levels, from IL to AL and memory care.
Last year, the company began managing a new community in Knoxville, Tennessee, with owner Passco Companies. Looking ahead, Cohen foresees more potential growth along the way with that company as a partner.
“We have a very active pipeline and expect to see growth throughout 2023,” Cohen said.
The new agreement to take on 16 new communities follows a period of growth that also saw Trustwell expand in the Midwest last year.
Cohen said renovations were mostly complete at properties the company acquired last year, with occupancy rates remaining strong, he said, and employee turnover at approximately 10% across the portfolio.
Like other senior living executives, Cohen said he expects the wider industry to be pushed forward by strong demand from the incoming baby boomer generation. He expects other challenges, like access to capital, to remain sticking points for many operators trying to grow in the short-term.
Overall, he sees the industry at an “inflection point” where demand starts to outweigh operational challenges.
“From balance sheet issues, valuation changes, and the impact of higher interest rates to having higher inflation out there, challenges remain but I think overall the outlook for the industry and for Trustwell is positive,” Cohen said.