Granger Cobb, Bill Colson, Bill Kaplan, Jim Moore, Bill Sheriff and Stan Thurston are members of the inaugural class of inductees into the American Seniors Housing Association’s new Senior Living Hall of Fame.
The six were honored at ASHA’s annual meeting, held Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 in Orlando, FL.
The late Cobb progressed from executive director of an assisted living community to CEO of Emeritus Senior Living, the largest assisted living company in the nation, before spearheading a $2.8 billion merger with Brookdale Senior Living in 2014. When the 55-year-old died in 2015 following a battle with cancer, he was a member of Brookdale’s board of directors.
Cobb began his senior living career not long after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. Just a few years later, in 1989, founded a California-based assisted living company, Cobbco, with his wife, Tina.
After Cobbco was acquired by Summerville Senior Living in 1998, he was the combined company’s president, CEO and director from 2000 to 2007. Seattle-based Emeritus Senior Living merged with Summerville in 2007, and during Cobb’s tenure as president and CEO of Emeritus, the company grew to more than 500 communities in 45 states, with more than 31,000 employees serving almost 54,000 residents.
Cobb’s career-long commitment to developing future industry professionals was recognized last year with the creation of the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living at Washington State University.
The late Colson and his father founded what became Holiday Retirement Corp. in 1971.
Based in Salem, OR, the organization developed, constructed, acquired and managed a portfolio that over 36 years grew to more than 300 independent living communities in the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. The company ultimately sold for $6.5 billion. Colson died in 2007.
Colson “is widely recognized across the senior living profession as a visionary who saw the potential in building independent living apartments that featured food service, transportation and social activities long before others began to take notice,” ASHA said.
He was one of the founders of ASHA, and the organization credits him with playing an instrumental role in ensuring its success.
Kaplan founded Chicago-based Senior Lifestyle in 1985.
The organization created a broad range of product lines over the years, from affordable housing to high-end communities. Today, Senior Lifestyle has a presence in 22 states.
With the city of Chicago, Kaplan developed Senior Suites, an affordable housing brand that provides income-qualified residents with apartments in neighborhoods throughout greater Chicago. Unlike traditional affordable housing, Senior Suites includes daily resident programming, weekly local transportation, à la carte dining options and a daily check-in service.
Senior Suites serves more than 2,000 older adults in 24 locations. Each property is financed with a combination of investments from the private sector through the sale of low-income tax credits coupled with assistance from local, state and federal resources.
Over the course of more than 50 years, Moore has been engaged in multiple facets of the seniors housing business, according to ASHA.
His Fort Worth, TX-based Moore Diversified Services has participated in thousands of consulting engagements, including market feasibility studies, financial pro forma analyses, strategic planning, operations analyses and investment advisory services in more than 1,200 markets across the United States. In addition, Moore has had numerous international engagements in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Mexico and countries in Europe and Central America.
His column, “You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers,” appears in every print issue of McKnight’s Senior Living and also appears on the brand’s website.
“With market intelligence from thousands of consumer and business focus groups and firsthand experience residing in hundreds of senior living communities, [Moore] is a widely recognized authority on the intricacies of successful development and operations,” ASHA said. “He has been a mainstay on both the for-profit and not-for-profit sides of the seniors housing profession while serving national and regional organizations.”
After taking the reins of his family’s truck stop business at age 22, Sheriff expanded it. Nine years later, it was sold to the Ryder System’s new national network of truck stops.
Sheriff stayed, and under his leadership from 1975 to 1984, the Ryder division grew to become the largest chain of corporate-owned-and-operated truck stops in the country. Sohio acquired the company in 1984.
Sheriff then made the transition to CEO of American Retirement Corporation, a seniors housing developer and operator in Nashville, TN, that was backed by the founders of Hospital Corporation of America.
Specializing in continuing care retirement communities (also known as life plan communities), ARC went public in 1997. Nine years later, Brookdale Senior Living acquired the company.
With Sheriff moving over as CEO following the transaction, Brookdale became the nation’s largest operator of senior living communities. “Throughout his tenure, he stressed the importance of an integrated continuum of services at Brookdale that included skilled nursing, home health care, rehab therapies and hospice,” ASHA said.
When Sheriff retired in 2012 after 28 years in the senior living business, the company had assembled 647 communities in 35 states, with Brookdale operating independent living, assisted living and memory care communities as well as CCRCs.
Life Care Services, an LCS Company, in Des Moines, IA, is known for its involvement in CCRCs. The organization has partnered with more than 140 communities serving more than 35,000 older adults.
Over the course of almost 30 years, Thurston led the development division and oversaw the operations management division before he became Life Care Services’ president and CEO in 1995. He retired in 2006.
“One of his most noteworthy innovations was creating the 90 percent refundable entrance fee contract for CCRCs, which was a major breakthrough in exponentially expanding the market for potential residents,” ASHA said. “This also gave communities greater control over their capital structures, while residents benefited from more affordable monthly service fees.”
Thurston, according to ASHA, also “was instrumental in working with ASHA to guide legislation that changed the tax code to protect entrance-fee CCRC residents from encountering negative tax consequences. CCRCs for many years were traditionally the province of not-for-profit sponsors. Stan, however, saw an opportunity to bring for-profit participants to the table. By collaborating with various legal and regulatory groups, he came up with a business model that mitigated risk and provided a going return for the eventual owner of a CCRC.”
Next year’s inductees
The Senior Living Hall of Fame Selection Committee will be led by Larry Cohen, CEO of Capital Senior Living and former ASHA chairman. Committee members will include Lois Bowers of McKnight’s Senior Living and additional business journalists covering the industry.