Seniors Housing Business

AUG-SEP 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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68 www.seniorshousingbusiness.com Seniors Housing Business n August-September 2018 Fast facts Company Name: LCS Founded: 1971 Headquarters: Des Moines, Iowa Operating Portfolio: 130 communities, 33,883 units Locations: Nationwide By Jeff Shaw Working at LCS was one of Joel Nelson's first jobs out of college, and he's had no reason to look back. After a brief stint with a local hospital sys- tem in 1986, Nelson joined the Administrator in Training program at LCS. He started in the field, learning the day-to-day operations of seniors housing communities, before serving in several executive director roles and moving up to the corporate level. After several years as the president and chief operating officer, a long-planned succession was set in motion. In January, Ed Kenny relin- quished his role as CEO, handing the title to Nelson. Kenny remains chairman of the board. Des Moines-based LCS is a family of six sep- arate companies, each serving seniors housing in some form or another — including develop- ment, management, real estate, group purchas- ing, insurance and home health. As of June 1, LCS ranked as the second largest U.S. seniors housing operator with a portfolio of 130 prop- erties and 33,883 units, according to the Ameri- can Seniors Housing Association. It also ranked as the 24th largest owner with 34 properties and 7,151 units. As one of the pioneering companies in the seniors housing industry and original innova- tors of the sector, the LCS name is itself almost synonymous with seniors housing, particu- larly continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Seniors Housing Business spoke with Nelson to see what the future may hold for LCS under his leadership. Seniors Housing Business: You were execu- tive director with several LCS communities before entering the executive level of the com- pany. Do you think it's important that seniors housing executives have that hands-on role in their background? Joel Nelson: I can only speak for myself, but it's been very beneficial in my career. Having that hands-on experience and understanding the intricacies of how seniors housing commu- nities function is a plus on a lot of different fronts. But I will add a caveat. While it's been very beneficial to me, I wouldn't say it's a require- ment. Our industry can also benefit from other industries, such as hos- pitality and healthcare. There are other ways to learn and bring outside industry experience into our space as we advance what we do as an indus- try in serving seniors. Technology is chang- ing so fast, too. As long as there's balance between technology and human need and what we do in our business, there are other ways to advance to the executive level without being an executive director. SHB: What are some examples of what other industries do better than seniors housing? Nelson: We're working with Argentum, NIC and other organizations on standardization and professional certification. The hotel indus- try, for example, has done a very good job of standardizing metrics across the spectrum and across operators. With the new product types and increasing number of rental communities, the executive director certification is not unlike the financial and accounting space. The designee of a CPA is just further strengthening the credentials of the professional. Passing the baton SHB: You were promoted from COO to CEO in January, as Ed Kenny moved to chairman as part of a retirement strategy. How has your role changed? Are there any plans for a replacement COO in the works? Nelson: Ed and I have worked very closely together for 25 years. My job as the COO was really to execute the strategy. The two areas where my role has changed most greatly is a higher focus on setting that strategy for the organization going forward and communicat- ing it to the company. Secondly, I have an even greater focus on growing the businesses. We have not replaced my position of COO. We are leveraging one of the most experienced executive teams in the space. We expanded some roles and expanded my leadership team. Today I have an executive leadership team of five. Each of those individuals has taken on a bigger piece of the responsibility within the organization. Diane Bridgewater, CFO and chief adminis- trative officer, now has responsibility for two business lines: our insurance business and our procurement business. Rick Exline, a 40-year veteran, has actually relocated to Des Moines from Indianapolis and added responsibilities working with our devel- opment team now. We brought in an industry veteran, Chris Bird, to run our rental company. The last leg of that stool is David Laffey, a veteran investment banker in our space who has been with us over 10 years. He's handling our real estate company growth. We had a lot of talent when I assumed the role. Those individuals had some bandwidth to take on more responsibility, and we used them to create a formal executive leadership team. Will we ever have a COO again? It's likely we will, but the model we put forth today seems to be working pretty well. SHB: Has anything changed under your leadership since taking over in January? Nelson: In terms of sweeping changes, not Joel Nelson, President, CEO of LCS n The SHB Interview After climbing the ranks for over 30 years, Nelson takes the reins at one of the industry's biggest owner-operators.

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