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Continued: Ecumen got ahead of change

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 4, 2014 - 6:42 PM

Q: You presided over the largest new-construction expansion in the nonprofit’s 151-year history. Why was it so successful?

A: Timing is extremely important. The senior housing market was ready for change. I mean, honestly, who wants to live in a nursing home if you can find another option? We decided that there needed to be other options and pursued the market-rate housing segment vigorously.

Of course, even the greatest vision requires solid execution if it is to be successful. At ­Ecumen we place great emphasis in understanding our would-be market.

Q: What big changes do you expect in the senior housing world?

A: Aging is a global phenomenon. Many countries in the world are beginning to confront the need for age-friendly communities and do something about it. I think that multigenerational age-friendly living will soon be upon us. Communities that emphasize and provide opportunities for infrastructure, technology, lifelong learning, wellness/fitness, care coordination, service integration and social interface will be ahead of the game.

Q: Why was it time for you to retire?

A: I love Ecumen. These past 10-plus years have never felt like work for me. On the contrary, they give me great joy. But leaving now feels right to me. We have done a good job of succession planning and I believe it is time to unleash folks with new ideas. My wife and I have purchased a home in the Tucson area and we love it there. We want to explore the beautiful Southwest and learn more about its culture and geology. The timing seems to work for us. Besides, Ecumen has graciously allowed me to stay on in a limited consulting role for the next year. I look forward to that.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

  • related content

  • Steve Ordahl, senior vice president of Ecumen, is retiring after helping to move the company from nursing homes to new types of senior housing.

  • Age: 67

    Family: Wife, two kids and one granddaughter.

    Hometown: I grew up in Duluth.

    Education: A degree in political science from the University of Minnesota. Then I did active service in Germany, where I met my wife.

    Mentors? I’ve had several, including an old colonel, who said the essence of leadership is this: Delegate, but then check and make sure that they are doing what needs to be done. I’ve never, ever, forgotten that.

    Post-retirement plans: I have worked out a deal where I will consult for Ecumen, but I plan to do less, not more. And I want to see if I can get my [golf] handicap a little lower.

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