Tom Neubauer headshot
Tom Neubauer
Erickson Living’s former logo…

Erickson Living is changing its name to Erickson Senior Living and rolling out a new logo as part of a strategy that will see almost $3 billion in development and construction over the next five years.

The company currently oversees a $1 billion portfolio. The plans potentially will expand Erickson’s reach past the 11 states in which it currently operates and bring the total number of continuing care retirement communities it manages from the current 19 to 25 or more.

… and Erickson Senior Living’s new logo.

Now No. 6 on the ASHA 50 list of largest senior living operators by the American Seniors Housing Association, it has more than 23,000 living units, in excess of 15,000 employees and more than 27,000 residents. The Baltimore-based company is expected to add 5,000 more units by the end of 2025, which would put it No. 4 on the 2020 ASHA 50 list.

The company started thinking about rebranding “several years ago,” Tom Neubauer, executive vice president of sales, marketing and communications of Erickson, told McKnight’s Senior Living.

“As we started to put together our long-term growth strategy, it was very clear that our brand was going to be an essential part of that overall strategy,” he said. The company hired an outside firm, conducted surveys and interviews, and looked at the industry as part of the rebranding effort, Neubauer said, “to really get an understanding of where we were currently and, more importantly, where we needed to be to make sure that our name and our brand reflected everything else we were doing.”

Poised for ‘very aggressive growth

Erickson originally expected to announce the name and logo changes in 2020, Neubauer added, but the coronavirus pandemic put a hold on those plans.

“We decided to delay it until a more appropriate time,” he said, “and we believe that now absolutely is the time for us to be rolling this out. We are poised to have some very aggressive growth.”

Erickson has held the No. 6 spot on the ASHA 50 list of largest senior living operators from the American Seniors Housing Association for the past several years. The company has grown from operating 21,705 units in 17 communities in 2017 to 23,441 units at 19 communities in 2020. The company is poised to add 5,000 more units through 2025.

That growth includes the planned openings of Siena Lakes in North Naples, FL, in July and Avery Point near Richmond, VA, in late 2022. It also includes Woodleigh Chase in Braddock, VA, as well as a property in Clarksville, MD, and the redevelopment of the existing Marriott International global headquarters site in Bethesda, MD, into a retirement community.

The latter project, announced in 2019, is progressing “very well,” Neubauer said. “We’ve got our plans fairly well solidified. We will be opening our sales center in 2022, and we’re really excited about the opportunity to get into that area,” he said.

Beyond those previously announced undertakings, Neubauer said, the company’s land acquisition team is looking “at the entire country,” including sites in Pennsylvania, where Erickson already operates CCRCs, to properties in states that would be new locations for the company, including California, Illinois and New York.

Tom Neubauer headshot
Tom Neubauer

“While we’ll obviously look to find sites in states where we’re currently doing business, we’re also very much looking to start expansion in states where we have not had the opportunity to do business at this point,” he said.

The rebranding, Neubauer added, “really is an essential part of everything we’re doing. I think it’s going to be very clear to anyone associated with our company who we are and what it is that we do.”

COVID-19 may have delayed the announcement of the company’s new name and logo, but “one thing that the pandemic created is opportunities for some site acquisition. So we’re seizing that opportunity, in spades,” he said.

“We’re so well-capitalized and have what we think is a really well-defined and proven operating model that allows us to really look at the country and where there are opportunities. There’s definitely some underserved areas that give us opportunity,” Neubauer added.

“It’s absolutely conceivable” that Erickson will have 25 communities open by the end of 2025, he said, adding that the total “could be more.”

“Our independent living business is doing very well,” Neubauer said. The unit type dominates Erickson’s offerings. “The last four months have been among the very best months of performance that we’ve had in years. I think it reflects our updated services, our updated apartment models.”

Examples of service improvements, he said, include restaurant-style dining and health and wellness-focused amenities that cater to residents’ desires to be active and engaged.

As for adding “senior” to the middle of the company name, Neubauer said that the modification stems from the company’s pride in being in the business of serving older adults.

“So it’s only natural that when we were looking at a name change, we decided to include the name ‘senior’ in our overall name,” he said. “It’s been my experience — I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years — that this is a customer base that really values authenticity. And with our operating motto and our products and our services, we’re really trying to be pure and aligned with this customer base, and we wanted to make sure that our name reflected our commitment to serving them.”

The logo, with three curving lines forming a subtle E, is meant to depict “foundational promises that the company makes to residents: financial stability, health and well-being, and an active, engaged lifestyle,” according to Erickson. The colors, blue and the green, are meant to convey “strength and vitality,” Neubauer said.

The company started sharing the new name and logo with its more than 15,000 employees in mid-April, and the response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

The rollout of new signage, marketing materials and employee badges and uniforms begins this week and will continue through the summer. They follow the company’s unveiling of redesigned corporate and community websites, announced earlier this year, which now will be updated with the new branding.

“This is a very, very competitive industry with lots of established operators,”  he said. “We know that we’ve got to distinguish our company in every possible way, every single day. And we feel like this new brand is so closely aligned with the great progress we’ve made with our products and services that there’s just a sense of confidence and optimism.”

Neubauer said he doesn’t expect branding changes for Erickson Advantage, which offers Medicare Advantage health plans exclusively for Erickson residents. National Senior Campuses, the not-for-profit board that provides governance to Erickson, however, is “continuing to look at evolving what they are doing,” he said. In October, Erickson and NSC announced the joint venture involving the development, management and oversight of new CCRCs across the United States, wherein Erickson will develop and manage the communities and NSC will provide oversight.