Jurutka ascends to CEO position, Kramer moves to advisory role
By Jeff Shaw
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Robert Kramer, the longtime CEO of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), has officially transitioned to the role of “founder and strategic advisor” effective July 17. Brian Jurutka, the center’s president for the past two years, has added Kramer’s CEO duties to his current responsibilities.
Based in Annapolis, NIC is a nonprofit data and reporting service that works exclusively with seniors housing and care. The organization has a staff of 48, with plans to grow the team, according to Jurutka.
NIC employees basically fall into one of three different categories: the data/analytics team; event organizers for NIC’s conferences; and support staff, such as human resources and finance.
Having worked with NIC’s board of directors on a succession plan for more than two years, Kramer identified Jurutka as a leader who understood how increased transparency and access to data could help NIC transform the future of seniors housing and care. The NIC board of directors approved the CEO transition late last fall.
“If there’s anything NIC is known for, it’s that we’re thoughtful and strategic. This has been in the works for more than three years,” says Kramer.
“When we found Brian, who we were very excited to get, the expectation was that he would become the CEO, but not right away. The last couple of years gave him the opportunity to get to know the industry, the players and our team, and for the two of us to spend a lot of time together,” adds Kramer.
After 27 years at the helm, Kramer will continue working full-time for NIC. In his new role he will focus on building relationships with healthcare partners, developing program content and advising on specific research initiatives.
“My role will allow me to still speak on things I’m really passionate about, while freeing me up from all the day-to-day responsibilities of being CEO and running the organization,” says Kramer.
“Part of that is building new relationships that NIC believes are complementary, and even key, to our mission — for instance, broader areas of healthcare like health systems and insurers, academics and public policy.”
On public policy specifically, Kramer believes NIC’s data will become extremely important as seniors housing develops into a larger and larger industry.
Kramer also believes that serving the middle-market senior demographic will be one of the biggest challenges the industry faces in the future.
“A good part of my role now is ambassador. As ambassador I’ll be doing a lot of speaking, but particularly reaching new audiences,” explains Kramer. “Then I’m also a scout, reporting back on opportunities I see. It will be up to Brian and the board to decide which of those opportunities to pursue.”
Kramer will also help draft a written history of NIC.
Changing of the guard
Jurutka was a surprise hire to many in the seniors housing industry when his role as president was announced in August 2015.
He is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former nuclear submarine officer. Although he had more than two decades of experience in data analytics, operations and business development, he came to NIC from the telecom industry and had no seniors housing experience.
But that was by design. According to Kramer, the plan all along was to find someone from outside the industry.
“From my perspective, I’ve had a lot to learn, coming from outside the industry and the for-profit world,” says Jurutka.
“One thing that impressed me as I learned more about NIC was that the brand is incredibly strong across the industry. It stands for trust, quality and thought leadership,” emphasizes Jurutka. “That’s something I’ve continued to see grow, and it’s one of the big strengths of NIC.”
Jurutka is now charged with broadening NIC’s services to meet the needs of investors and operators in a changing environment.
For example, Jurutka cites the need for closer and more deliberate integration of non-real estate based services, including healthcare, with seniors housing.
He intends to diversify the data analytics and research products NIC offers, expand the scope of NIC conferences to generate added value among more constituencies, and expand NIC’s educational content delivery platform.
“We have the best data set in seniors housing, and we have an interface that was just revamped and is receiving rave reviews,” says Jurutka.
“That said, we cover 140 markets. There are opportunities to expand that. We also have a very large initiative going on where, rather than getting the asking rent rate, we get the actual rate that the resident is paying. One of the other large initiatives right now is to get property-level NOI (net operating income).”
“This is all to provide data to allow investors, ultimately, to assess the opportunities and risks in seniors housing,” continues Jurutka. “By doing so, it allows investors to allocate the right amount of capital to seniors housing.”
NIC is also working on integrating vast amounts of outside data, such as U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information on wages, into the NIC system to give NIC subscribers a more full view of the seniors housing industry.
This all comes at a time when seniors housing as an industry could be undergoing major changes. Baby Boomers are a “new, different and much more demanding consumer” than those from the Greatest Generation, says Kramer. Several factors, including technological innovation, legislation and changing consumer demands, are leading seniors housing into a period of “disruptive innovation.”
“When Brian and I began talking about his transition to CEO, I said ‘Boy would I love to be your age, to be sitting on the cusp of the next 15 years,’” says Kramer. “It’s going to be a really exciting time.”