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Changemakers: Dale Watchowski, President and CEO, American House, REDICO | Senior Housing News

Changemakers: Dale Watchowski, President and CEO, American House, REDICO | Senior Housing News

Changemaker Dale Watchowski has more than 30 years of real estate expertise in both local and national platforms, with a diverse background in acquisitions, development, capital markets and operations. He has also held senior management positions at some of the nation’s largest financial institutions including Travelers/Citigroup, HSBC, and J.P. Morgan Chase, and he currently serves as president and CEO of American House and its parent company REDICO, in addition to others.

Through the Changemakers series, Watchowski talks through his transition from commercial real estate to senior living and explains the lessons he has taken from that experience. He talks about how change has enabled him to build a strong leadership team, and he also discusses the key factors that differentiate his companies and his leadership style from others in the industry.

As you think back on your career in senior living, what changes have you driven that you’re especially proud of?

When I came into the senior housing business in 2008, we started as a small mom-and-pop. Within our American House business, we acquired 13 communities, starting in southeast Michigan. My objective was to grow the business through development and acquisition, both of which I was very familiar with from running a commercial real estate business as well, REDICO.

The second objective was to achieve measured growth geographically. And the third was being able to accommodate higher levels of acuity. Initially, we were offering independent living communities to residents who weren’t receiving services. But since then, we’ve accomplished all three of those objectives. We have grown the business to 72 communities with the completion of our current developments, and we have grown into new markets that were initially targeted as well.

Those markets started with growth throughout Michigan and the Midwest, moving down into Florida, with the intent to move into the Northeast (New Hampshire and Maine) and then into Tennessee and the Carolinas. We will continue our growth from the south to the north to expand on the Atlantic seaboard. The reason for our geographic growth strategy was to plug American House into the eastern seaboard. Our objective was not to spread ourselves throughout the country, but to spread ourselves out throughout adjacent markets.

I’m proud that we achieved the growth objective and we built a tremendous team to get there. Our initial team had much less institutional character and focus on the level of acuity that our current residents require.

Our team today is responsive to the needs of our residents and the acuity that we’ve added to the portfolio. We built our team around four areas of focus: clinical/wellness, life enrichment/hospitality, culinary, and marketing and sales. From there, we were able to build the business around each of those four pillars. That has enabled us to accomplish what has put us where we are today, especially through the pandemic, and I’m proud of all of them.

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