Vi celebrates 25 years in senior living industry

Posted on: September 12, 2012

Twenty-five years ago a gallon of gas was 89 cents and the Internet was still a work in progress. No one had a cell phone yet, and you could mail a letter for less than a quarter. While a lot of things may have changed since 1987, Vi and its heritage of hospitality have remained strong for 25 years.

vi-cakeOriginally established in 1987 as Classic Residence by Hyatt, Vi was founded by Penny Pritzker, whose family founded Hyatt Hotels. Penny believed the company could leverage Hyatt's hospitality expertise in the retirement living industry to better cater to the needs and lifestyle of older adults. The first location opened in Reno in August of that year, and with it the company was born.

"We are extremely proud of the accomplishments we have achieved during the past 25 years," said Randy Richardson, President of Vi. "Our employees and residents can take pride in the fact we are a stable, national presence within the senior living industry."

Throughout the years, the number and locations of the communities have changed. Today, at 25 years old, Vi is a streamlined company of 10 continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) across the United States, with corporate leadership committed to maintaining excellence in each community.

According to Bill Sciortino, Senior Vice President of Operations, it took some time for the company to grow into the owner-operator it is today.

"When we started 25 years ago, we were just learning how to operate the communities," Sciortino said. "Then we learned how to design and build them from the ground up. There are a lot of owners and investors in the senior living industry, but we're one of the only ones who can say we own, design, build and operate our communities. It's a very small niche."

Sciortino agrees that what makes Vi truly unique, however, is the experienced staff at each community who maintain a commitment to exceeding the expectations of each resident.

"The leadership in our communities is some of the most experienced in the industry," Sciortino said. "Now, with 25 years of history, we have employees who have been with us for a long time. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to get to know so many of our staff members at each community and to be on a first name basis with them."

Dene Wilmot, Sales Director at TidePointe in Hilton Head, is one of those people. Wilmot has worked at TidePointe since before it opened 16 years ago and watched the community - and the company - develop.

"I was able to see TidePointe grow from a pile of rocks and sand to the fully developed community that it is now," Wilmot said. "I've seen the way the trends in the housing market have changed, the way our competitors have changed, but we as a company are continuously taking things to a higher level."

Todd Miller, Executive Director of Vi at the Glen, has also seen the way Vi has grown throughout the years. Miller, who has been with the company nearly 10 years, has worked for three Vi properties: Lakeside Village, Aventura, and now The Glen. Miller, who has worked in the senior living industry for more than 30 years, was attracted to Vi based on the caliber of the company's reputation.

"All retirement communities are basically alike in the same way that I can say all cars are basically alike," Miller said. "But it's the style, the way the car is crafted that makes it different. For us at Vi, that's the hospitality component. That's what we've got compared to all of our competitor's hands down."

According to Miller, the changes Vi has undergone in recent years have helped the company become more effective and streamlined in its approach.

"We've clarified our focus, and we know what our niche is in the industry," Miller said. "We're certainly not the biggest company out there - and we don't want to be - but we're the best at what we do."

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