Many companies will frequently take a “back to basics” approach in reorganizing their business or retooling their management approach. Hearthstone Assisted Living, however, has always focused on the business basics and that strategy has kept the company in good condition, financially and otherwise, according to Timothy Hekker. He cites “being able to grow a company as well as grow people” as one of Hearthstone’s greatest strengths. “You’re not hiring someone just for their business acumen,” he said. “They have to care and they have to be with the business, including employees, residents and their families. You have to satisfy the families as well as the customer.”

Hekker, who has more than 20 years of experience in seniors housing, knows the success that focus will bring. He has served as Hearthstone’s president and CEO since 1997. He previously worked for Marriott Corp., where he helped to develop a seniors housing division for the company.

He is a member of several seniors housing industry associations, including the American Seniors Housing Association, the National Investment Center and the Texas Assisted Living Association.

The company has experienced tremendous growth. In 2000, the company was valued at $42 million and now is at $61 million, according to Hekker. Hearthstone operates 33 seniors housing communities in 10 states, serving approximately 4,000 residents.

Occupancy rates have risen in the past several years, and the company is poised for growth through acquisition. Because the company’s overall portfolio is fairly young, it will continue to expand. Hekker expects that Hearthstone will acquire new properties in the next six to 24 months.

But he will continue to focus on the key issue involved with seniors housing — people. “You can’t forget that it’s a very people-intensive business,” he said. “You’re giving care to people, not selling a product.”