Starting your own business is something else, it’s incredibly gratifying and rewarding when everything goes right and can be aweful when things are going the other direction, I’ve been self employed since I was 15 years old and I’ve experienced it both ways. I was describing to my friend Wyatt Taylor today that being self employed is like jumping out of an airplane and putting together the parachute together while you are free falling down to earth. If you don’t pull it together in time… SPLAT financial disaster. Luckily we live in an amazing country FULL of opportunity and we can get back up, dust ourselves off and stomach another round or two of jumping out of the airplane. Although our outcome with Shepherd Premier Senior Living has been successful, if it wasn’t for all the previous SPLATS we never would of been successful. The mental game of being persistent during tough times is real and no joke, it’s the gauntlet that many of us simply can’t get through. Luckily as I was growing up as a kid with my father passing at a very young age, my mom Karen Schwab, my grandpa Bud Schwab and my baseball coaches taught me about work ethic and importance of seeing things through, especially the mental side of finishing. In my household today, we treat words like can’t as bad words with my two kiddos.
My team and I have built the Shepherd Way of doing things VERY different in a industry that is like the Wild Wild West. The others in the senior living business often are MUCH bigger institutional type buildings and are bottom line focused operators ask a CNA/Caregiver to care for 15-20 seniors at a time (which is impossible to do well) and we choose to remain SMALL on purpose and only ask our caregivers to care for 5. At our office, we consider the word “Facility” as the F word and often playfully reprimand others in the office for using the F word. At Shepherd we open and operate HOMES, they don’t just feel like homes THEY ARE HOMES. The Shepherd Way is different, we specifically make sure our CNA/Caregivers ratio is 1:5 meaning one CNA/Caregiver never has to care for more than 5 residents at a given time. WHY? Because you can provide better care when you only need to be responsible for 5 compared to do 20 at the other places in town. Yes, our staffing costs more (meaning less profit) but it’s non-negotiable we must do things right for our seniors we are trusted to provide care for. It’s been 4 years now since we’ve opened our first home in Ringwood in a booming population of 832 people and now we have 6 homes across 2 counties that we’ve been entrusted with.
Last Thursday we obtained the FINAL FINAL (Ashley Ann haha) approval from the Village of Huntley to start building on nearly 12 acres of land in two phases and I step back to express gratitude for how far we’ve come and all that God has trusted us with. We’ve provided an environment for our residents that their families trust us with their loved ones but most importantly we create the atmosphere where the questions about their final destination after earth can be answered either through my business partner Theresa Maskrey or the many church pastors locally that have rallied behind us in support. The Catholic Church not only supports us but they want us to build a home their retired pastors and run it for them! That’s a compliment and a major blessing coming from Father Paul at Holy Apostle.
The recent approval in Huntley not only means another Shepherd house is opening 144 more Kingdom Opportunities (aka beds) but it’s another successful parachute being put together before the SPLAT…thank goodness! Lot of people have known Shepherd for being successful for converting existing homes into 10 or 16 bed assisted living homes with really high level of quality care and now we’ve overcome the nah sayers that didn’t believe we could do new construction development for a variety of reasons…. and that feels really good knowing that we’ve made it through the grueling entitlement process paving a new tomorrow for our local seniors to provide them a better option than the F word. Tomorrow I hope Shepherd is known as the best boutique senior living operator through new development that got BIG while remaining focused on SMALL. As we expand out of Illinois, I’ll be seeking to partner with builders across the country (many in Collective Genius) to supply us with the housing we need to keep up with growing senior population starting in 2020. I can’t wait for my Q1 presentation at CG rolling out our 10 year plan. Pretty please put me in a room with all 20 of the Build to Rent folks. Bailey Nicole / Leon G. Barnes.
I am so thankful for the MANY people in my life that have helped me persevere to this point today. Gabe Strom is my accountability partner and he was been with me since the beginning when I decided to start Shepherd in 2014. I appreciate you more than you’ll know Gabe. Gabe and I went to go hear Stephen Cook speak at a Lifeonaire event, right then I knew I needed to make changes in my life as working 80 hours per week wasn’t sustainable. Steve at Lifeonaire has made a profound impact on my life. The next big business breakthrough came from meeting and working with David Phelps, he’s been the #1 biggest impact on adding the jet fuel to our business to expand by opening doors and making introductions. I never would of met him if Jason Medley didn’t assemble the BEST community of folks around through Collective Genius Mastermind, Frank Cava & Cory Boatright are both also major inspirations to me as well.
There are many more folks that I’ll leave nameless for this post that have made MAJOR impacts of time, money or both to make brighter tomorrow for our local seniors—- without you none of this would be possible. I appreciate my wife Kelli Schwab & my family for being there for me throughout all the ups and downs. This week we are launching a referral program to replace nearly all of our marketing/advertising dollars (check out the new pop-up on our website ShepherdPremierSeniorLiving.com if you’d like more information) and later this week I’ll be distributing 10,000 of these door hangers with local runners & athletes around 55+ communities driving our mobile billboard (our ADA Shepherd bus). I appreciate Darren Burgstiner for your involvement from the start and help along the way. Theresa & Steve Maskrey have been amazing business partners and their hard work and guidance has been outstanding.
Shepherd is re-writing the future of how Senior Living is delivered, we are branding a new niche market of Boutique Senior Living that all other alternatives will be compared.