Reginald Hartsfield shows how running great assisted living centers turns $100 million in revenue

BY Preta Peace Namasaba June 18, 2024 7:30 AM EDT
Reginald Hartsfield.

According to the 2020 Census, the U.S. population aged 65 and over grew nearly five times faster than the total population over the 100 years from 1920 to 2020. The older population reached 55.8 million in 2020 with 1 in 6 people in the United States being 65 and over. Predictions show that the growth rate of the older population is going to dramatically increase to nearly double what it is today over the next 20 years. This presents obvious challenges but for social care entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity to deliver a much-needed service.

The Administration for Community Living estimates that nearly 60% of older adults will need some form of long-term care. Older adults are likely to experience difficulties in performing daily tasks and activities. Skilled nursing and senior living homes provide medical, health, and personal care, and supervision to people who have a severe illness, disability, or cognitive impairment. They provide around-the-clock supervision and cater to both the short-term and long-term needs of residents in need.

Over the past two decades, Reginald Hartsfield, co-owner and president of Advantage Living Centers, has been helping people in need through his chain of nursing and senior living facilities. Although he owns one of the nation’s few Black-owned nursing home chains, he did not realize how important his work is until he almost died of COVID-19 in 2020. In the six months it took to recover, Hartsfield lost 30 pounds, narrowly avoided using a ventilator, and gained a new mission for living.

“Contracting and almost dying of COVID taught me to see life differently. I’m grateful and appreciative. I’m appreciative of our work more than ever. I better understand how the residents’ health challenges affect their lives. Family is not just blood. The doctors, the nurses, the therapists, they became my community. They became my family,” Hartsfield said about how his near-fatal experience with COVID-19 impacted him.

A business administration graduate from Western Michigan University, Hartsfield joined IBM as a territory manager. He was eight years into the executive track at the company when his gut told him it was time to leave. He was hesitant about leaving his steady job but after some consultation and contemplation, he decided to go. A conversation with a close friend, Nina, a hairstylist working in a big salon showed Hartsfield his next path. Nina revealed that she had to pay a high percentage of her proceeds to the salon owners although clients specifically came in to see her. They created a business plan as a solution to the challenge and opened Harbortown Salon, an upscale salon in Detroit in 1992.

“That’s the first day I ever felt alive in a job. That’s when I realized I was an entrepreneur,” Hartsfield said about finding his purpose as an entrepreneur.

His next opportunity came through another conversation, this time at his salon. A client, Kelsey Hastings, his current partner at Advantage Living, came in for a manicure and they talked about her career as a nursing home consultant. Hartsfield was intrigued and began considering eldercare as a career. He created Advantage Living as a consulting firm, buying its first nursing homes in 2003. Hartsfield’s talent for listening to the market, his relationships with local hospitals, and good timing were fundamental in acquiring nursing homes across the Detroit area.

Advantage Living Centers currently owns and operates 12 skilled nursing and senior living facilities, employs more than 2,000 team members and generates over $110 million in annual revenue. Hartsfield leverages his business sense to lead the organization through acquisitions, negotiations and strategic planning. He relies on his listening skills and intuition to ensure that his team treats residents with compassion and grace. In addition to his transformative nursing and senior living enterprise, Hartsfield serves on the boards of the Health Care Association of Michigan and the American Health Care Association.