Case Studies

Avenir Construction LLC

Building outstanding senior living facilities across North America

In 1975 David Craik established Avenir Construction LLC (Avenir). The business started out as a commercial builder, constructing shopping centers, stand-alone retail, restaurants and other establishments. In the late 1990s, David recognized an opportunity to take Avenir in a new direction, maintaining a strong reputation for construction and development quality while helping others. In 2008 Jason Craik, David’s son and now partner, joined the company to help build its U.S. operations.

Avenir began building independent living facilities approximately 15 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. The company’s unique retirement communities offer resort-style living at an affordable price for an aging generation. “Our communities offer independent living, activity programs and the ability to age in place,” says David. “We want our residents to live with dignity in a pampered setting. Our housing includes a number of social amenities, including food, entertainment and transportation. We have nurses on staff and programs to help our residents maintain health.”

A growing network of communities

So far, Avenir has been involved with the construction and management of seven such communities. Four are located in British Columbia and the others are in Arizona. One of the company’s most recognized communities has been the Arté in Scottsdale, Ariz. Arté is designed in an Art Deco style inside and out, a homage to the 1930s and 1940s. The structure is built with a number of sustainable design elements, allowing the business to operate more efficiently, and therefore, driving down costs for residents.

Avenir’s communities are clean, attractive and welcoming. These communities keep seniors active without compromising affordability. Structure has played a vital role in the success of the business and its properties. “We build our communities ourselves,” David explains. “We manage our costs so we can offer more for less. The LEED-certified features we have chosen keep our operating costs considerably lower than the average retirement community.”

“We have a great team,” Jason adds. “We have been successful because of our exceptional people. I believe you are only as good as your team, and we have been blessed to be surrounded by great people.”

This form of cost management has also enabled Avenir to diversify. The team has recently begun building memory care centers for active senior living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our first is Scottsdale Memory Care, which opened in 2013 next to Scottsdale Hospital,” David elaborates. “We are building another in Chandler next to Chandler Regional Hospital. We have yet another on the books ready to go, starting in June. All of them have around 86 beds.” The team also has work in the pipeline for Arizona, Texas, Colorado and British Columbia.

Vertical integration

Avenir creates such communities from start to finish. The team acquires the land, designs the buildings with in-house architects and registered interior designers, develops working drawings and acquires all required permits. The company’s contracting department buys all materials direct. Vertical integration offers the business better control over costs and materials.

“We control all of our costs from day one,” David explains. “That sets us apart. We know what we can pay for land. We buy our furniture, fixtures and floor coverings directly from manufacturers. Our costs are 20 to 25 percent lower than those of our competitors.”

David goes on to note that the company utilizes a lot of the same suppliers time and again. “We also are looking for a good deal,” he continues. “We buy the same carpet as Hyatt and we purchase thousands of yards at a time. Once you do that, another carpet company will come in and say they can beat that price; we’ll take it. We have had the price go from $14 down to $9.30, reducing our costs by almost $5 per yard for one project. We understand design and we have these made to our specs. When our suppliers lower the cost, we can charge a lower price to our residents.”

David, Jason and the team have built a business structure that works, providing a strong product that offers reasonable profits. While any venture must make money to succeed, David says that is not what the company is about; Jason agrees.

“The first priority of our business is to care for families’ loved ones, and to make a positive difference in their lives,” Jason continues. “Some of the most worthwhile experiences for us have also been the most heartwarming. We have seen incredible improvements in our residents’ health and well-being after living in our communities.”

Although Avenir has operated many buildings of its own, the company has developed a partnership with an exceptional management firm. “Avenir has strategically partnered with whom we believe to be the best assisted-living and memory care operator in the United States, they bring highly trained specialized care staff and unique programs that help make a difference in the residents’ lives,” explains David. 

Like most developers, the recent economic downturn proved challenging for Avenir. However, David says the business is doing well in the recovery. Avenir has four new communities planned already for 2014 and will continue to evaluate new opportunities. “Canada went through the recession with flying colors,” he notes. “The United States is getting better and I think the next five years are going to be great.” In the coming years, the team at Avenir Construction LLC is looking ahead to new communities that make a difference in the lives of more seniors and families.

Published on: July 21, 2014

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