Changemakers Series

By on May 10, 2022 in People, Senior Living

Remember Changemakers — the annual series recognizing pioneers in senior living? It’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the innovation, drive and commitment circling the industry, and honor the leaders behind it all.

We’re pleased to announce the 2022 series has officially begun.

Proudly sponsored by Yardi for the fourth year in a row, the Senior Housing News (SHN) Changemakers series will showcase some of the most dynamic leadership senior living has to offer. Released in batches over the next several months, this year’s interviews will feature never-before-seen insights from visionaries across the industry.

In that spirit, meet our first Changemaker: Tom Grape.

About Tom Grape

As founder, chairman and CEO of Benchmark Senior Living, a dedicated Yardi client, Grape is well versed in spearheading change. Having founded the company in 1997, he embodies what it means to shape senior living as we know it.

In his interview with SHN, Grape details how he’s led Benchmark through change to attract a more complex consumer, his mission to increase diversity at the leadership level and more. Here’s a snapshot:

SHN: What changes have you driven at Benchmark or in the industry that you’re especially proud of?

Grape: I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and I’m proud of having been, at least in the assisted living side, there from the ground up. I was one of the founding members of, then ALFA, now Argentum, and was a chair many years ago. I founded the Massachusetts chapter, helping write legislation in Massachusetts and as a founder of the Connecticut chapter, I take pride in being one of the early folks.

Benchmark was an early champion of promoting positive culture, and we are still defined by that characteristic today. The Boston Globe has named us in their “Top Places to Work” list each of the 14 years they’ve had it. We’re the only company to accomplish that in their large company category, and I’m so proud of that. We’re continuing to be a strong proponent of culture.

Care, in general, is something on which we’ve worked hard to differentiate ourselves from others. And we’ve become a pioneer in capital over time. We were the first one to bring opportunity fund capital and international capital to the sector, and we were one of the first RIDEA deals.

SHN: How do you think about timing so that a company like Benchmark can innovate without getting so far ahead that a new idea is just too new?

Grape: The best way to drive change is to do it in increments. We’ll start with a pilot, depending on what kind of change it is, to test it, tinker with it and work out some of the kinks. If it’s not being well-received but you think the execution is OK, then maybe you’re doing it too soon. I would try to avoid too many broad-scale changes at once without having done some form of test or early introduction.

SHN: If you could change one thing about the senior living industry, what would it be?

Grape: I’d love the senior living industry to find a way to have our product/service received in a more universally positive fashion. Our product is a real gift to the people we serve and yet, it is not always received as such. It’s not always delivered as such. If we can have it delivered, received and portrayed more consistently it would be a great advance for the industry.

Read Tom Grape’s entire interview

To read the rest of Tom Grape’s conversation with SHN, check out the full interview.

To learn how Yardi solutions help providers like Benchmark drive positive change, explore our Senior Living Suite infographic or product page.