Aaron Koelsch, the CEO and founder of Koelsch Communities, joins Suzanne this hour. In this segment, Mr. Koelsch talks about his background and the origins of Koelsch Communities.
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The following is a podcast from a qualified senior care provider, hurt, on the answers for elders radio show. And welcome everyone to answers for elders radio network. And we are so excited because to all of our listeners here we have a very, very special program you know, one of the things I think with answer for elders is that we are really privileged to be kind of affiliated with the cream of the crop of the industry. You know, we find them, we know of them and every once in a while we get these amazing cream of the crop guests and this sky right here that is with me today is definitely at the very top of his game, beyond anything in the world. And because we are privileged today to have Mr Aaron Kelt, the CEO of Celt Communities, here with us, and I’m so glad you’re here, Aaron. Welcome to the show. Susan pleasurably here. Well, we’re through. You’re here because colch communities is an amazing organization and it’s someone that I’ve been knowing of for a very long time and of course, if you’re live anywhere, and probably in western Washington, you probably live in a radius of a community and but you you know, what’s really interesting is is that there’s so many senior living communities out there, but very few of them have your own last name as part of it. So another riture is you say the name is on the door, and that speaks volume as your is your history and you have an amazing history. So share with this just as we start, tell us a little bit about how colch came to be. Sure real privilege to do so. It all really starts with my mom and Dad, who were amazing greatest generation folks. That both since passed, but think about him every day. My father moved to Washington when he was seventeen on a lark with a friend of his. I was going to make a trip. was supposed to head home to Kansas, back to the family farm. Wound up staying like it out of your had a little independence, my mother and a coffee shop. They were married, had a my oldest sister. My father went off World War II, served in the navy very proudly days. Those are three years of his life. He talked about the the rest of his life and I know most of his stories by heart from his service, because he was willing and very willing to tell all of us kids over and over. It’s difficult to separate our entrance into seniors housing from our faith. My father came back from World War Two worked on an e limitum factory in Longview, Washington for twenty one years, Reynold’s metal else was very proud to do so. Really like that job, but they were working twenty four seven, seven days a week. At that time after the war things were really heated up and they were looking for a reason or an ability to take their saturdays off because they were seventh adminis Christians and were to the day they died. My mother was born and raised the seventh day, as my father was raised Catholic and he converted to some day adventism. And he had to work every Saturday and the mill wouldn’t give them the Saturday’s off. They were busy, they were I get it. I understand the pressures they were under. And so they found they knew a friend of theirs who had a little nursing home in the Portland Oregan who had done well with that, and they studied that. My mom checked out every book in the library on Nursing Home Administration and they began to look for a nursing home to buy, not sure how they were going to finance. They finally found a nursing home, an old, old, old, old nursing home called the Montes sell a hall in Kelsel, Washington, the next city over, and the lady that owned it, Mr St John, was building a new nursing home in long view and was taking all of her residents from the old nursing home into the new building and was willing to sell my parents the empty shell. The price was Fiftyzero and there was no one was going to lend my parents fiftyzero. Back in the day I was a big sum of money. And so she carried the note from my parents for five years. And so they sold the home they lived in for a little down payment. gave her some that and they moved all of their kids, I was not yet born, into the basement of that first nursing home in Kelse, Washington. Was Nineteen and fifty eight. I wornybuddy. Yes, ma’am, I was worried about two years later or so and we were still living in the basement. And so the first year and a half, two years of my life were in the basement of that nursing home. There’s a we do a our website. We do a video where all of my sisters go back. We tour the basement of that nursing home and kind of relived those those moments, which were very special. We eventually then rented a little home next door and moved out of the basement and never went back to the basement, but that was that was certainly our beginning, our rent. The residents were our friends. There was a native American lady by the name of Madeline, who is my sister and I as best friend. We did everything with Madeline. We would push each other up and down the hallways, we would play tag in the yard and these people that we cared for were our friends. Over the next fifteen years, my parents kind of figured out how to finance a little bit this stuff and they built or bought every nursing home in collets county except for one in one thousand nine hundred and seventy one. They identified in need that we called assisted living today, for people that didn’t need to be in a skill nursing facility but couldn’t quite live independently and needed help with basic things every day, perhaps even some med medication, past, etc. And they built a place called the Delaware Plaza in Longbe Washington for seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which in that day with a lot of money. Now they built what is today the first ever purpose built assisted living community anywhere in Washington, I contend, anywhere in the nation. Show me a data prior to one thousand nine hundred and seventy one. It was an immediate success. They filled up quickly and then that led to other assisted living communities. They built into, excuse me, in the Olympia, Vancouver, etc. All up and down the I five corridor. So somewhere in between their I graduated from College, met My beautiful wife, Judy, we married and headed off to Chicago Illinois. I never outside of summer work from my parents and I admired my parents very much. So what I’m about ready to say is not comment of a relationship with my parents, which was very good, but I never really worked for my parents outside of summer work. I went to work for a company called Manor Healthcare in Chicago, Illinois, and right out of Chicago they gave me a training job. I was the lowest man on the Totem Pole that you could possibly find. They paid me eight dollars an hour and I’m not sure why they would even pay me that because I didn’t bring much to the table, but they were willing to train me. I was there for two years and then they moved me to Wisconsin. Had a community there that we were fortunate enough to take and turn around and create a positive reputation positive senses, and so after four years of that, I left at the age of twenty six years old. We packed up and we moved to California, where my wife and I built our first assisted living community in Victor Orville, California, which we still have to this day. Made our home there for nine years. But again my parents came in to play because my father guaranteed my first loan. Without his guarantee, the bank was not interested in talking to me, they were interested talking to my father. So again, my parents are very generous and supportive of taking risk and reward taking risk. Committed to our seniors, very very much so. And so that’s where we started our business in nineteen eighty eight and my wife and I’ve been in business for ourselves for those many years. By thirty thirty four years now and so then, over the course of the years, as my parents were getting older, we began to acquire their communities and bringing them into Kelch communities. I chose Kelch. We’d mentioned that earlier in your introduction. Thank you. It was a very easy process to choose that as a name because I have four older sisters and I didn’t have to wrestle anybody for the name. I know all of my sisters each have their own seniors housing organizations as well. A couple have are I’m the youngest of I who now retired and sold out, but they each called their companies a different name. So I just took couch and it was easy to do and we liked it and we like putting our name on the front door. So and so we’ve been in business oursels since nineteenred and eighty eight. We started we were twenty six and twenty four. Judy has done all the interior design on our properties ever since that point and says, for the the way, thank you. Thank you. How many bobbies have like old tea birds sitting in the middle of that’s the thing is just amazing. It’s like you walk into some of your memory care communities and it’s truly like stepping back in time and when it’s having that experience of, you know, culture, of you know the era that many of those that are dealing with Alzheimer’s that’s the world they loved in today. Well, so this may be a Susan. The closest thing I get to a slight criticism of some of our competitors. Not all, and you won’t hear me say anymore, because I think there’s a lot of different ways to skin the cather’s different ways to do it here. But oftentimes I walk into some of our competitors and it feels like I’m in a very nice hotel, but it does not feel like I’m in someone’s home. In our memory care community specifically we use the term historical surprises. We try to clutter our community with historical surprises, and his historical surprise would be an antique car in the lobby. Now we today are not the only people that put antique cars in our communities, but we are amongst the very first. We’ve been putting anti cars in our community since one thousand nine hundred and eighty one. So this is not a new thing for us. We’ve been doing it for a very long time and committed to that. Other examples of historical surprises would be actual antique. So very few things are just brought off the shelf. There’s antiques which bring memories back to people. I really walked our community focks. It’s so far on and it’s like to see this kind of stuff that when you walk in, of course me, I’m sixty five right, so I look at these things it’s like wow, these are these are things from when I was a teenager or earlier. You know, this is my you know that the memorabilia that’s there, it’s pretty amazing and certainly at the same time it doesn’t when you say we clutter it up. It doesn’t feel cluttered. It’s beautiful and when it like you talked about, a surprise, every room that you walk into it’s like this new experience and I think that’s really one of the things that’s so incredible because it allows if you have memory issues, and you know I know enough knowledge about Alzheimer’s Dementia to be dangerous, I will say, but one of the things I do know is anything that can provoke the brain to work on especially the fact that there might be a memory of somebody might love the you know, Seattle pilots, and here’s information about that and they had a special story about that. Yes, my little piece of Trivia. My grandfather was a former owner of the Portland beavers. So just little. So anyway, Aaron, we’re going to have this high school. A lot of memories is going to be yes, we’re going to have Aaron with this this entire hour and everyone this is an important time to listen and hear about the history free of an amazing organization. So all of our listeners that are here with us, we look forward to having Aaron back with us in our next segment. In the meantime, how do we check you out? Yes, please. Our Home Office phone number, first of all, three hundred and six drow eight, six, seven, nine zero zero. And if you call there and are looking for a particular community, we’re happy to connect you to wherever you would like to go. Our website is, of course, wwwclch COMMUNITIESCOM’s actually Kelch senior communities, for give mecom, and that will connected to any one of our communities, whether it’s up in the Seattle area or elsewhere. Yes, and and remember everyone, couch communities. There in is the eight states in the United Right. Yes, Ma’am EH, state states. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about keelch and Aaron will be right back by after this answers for elders radio show with Suzanne Newman. Hopes you found this podcast useful in your journey of navigating senior care. Check out more podcasts like this to help you find qualified senior care experts and areas of financial, legal, health and wellness and living options. Learn about our radio show, receive promotional discounts and meet our experts by clicking on the banner to join the Senior Advocate Network at answers for elders RADIOCOM. Now there is one place to find the answers for elders.
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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