Larry joined Lifespace Communities 15 years ago to serve as the company’s first chief financial officer. While he enjoys fastidiously tracking budgets against industry benchmarks, he makes time to spend with his tight-knit family. He lives by the motto that family is everything.
Q: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since joining the Lifespace Communities team?
A: The biggest change would be the board’s philosophy on management. As we started to build more expertise within our leadership team, the board relinquished a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities to us. At the time I started with the company, it was really managed by others. They hired two positions in the same year, and we were able to help take Lifespace Communities to self-management.
Q: With the Baby Boomer population planning for retirement, how does Lifespace Communities continue to grow and meet the needs of these seniors?
A: What the Baby Boomer population wants is choice, and that’s a common understanding throughout the industry. We need to figure out how we can provide a bundled contract that offers many different choices within that one contract. This will really attract the people who want even greater control.
Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career at Lifespace Communities?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is seeing our residents thrive in a successful aging environment. We have dedicated team members who are compassionate and create positive experiences for our residents. Many strong bonds are formed in the work we do, and I find it quite gratifying when I think about the results of our efforts.
Q: Was there a person or situation that inspired your career move into senior living?
A: I can’t say that I had a big vision. Maybe it was when my parents and my wife’s parents lived in Iowa while we were living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our parents were getting older, and we decided we really wanted to get back to Iowa. Being closer to them, while at the same time establishing a career in senior living, has been a life-changing experience.
Q: In May we celebrate Mother’s Day. What is the most important lesson you learned from your mother, and how do you incorporate that lesson into your daily life?
A: My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and she was always there when we came home from school. That had a lot of influence on me. We try to carry that on in our own lives. We’ve tried to really build the notion of a home and a family. Meals with no cell phones and spending quality time together.
Q: You mention that family is very important to you in your life. Tell us a little more about your three children.
A: I have two daughters and one son. My son still lives in Des Moines, and often visits us for dinner. I have one daughter who is in her second year of veterinary school in Ames, Iowa. My other daughter is a police officer in Texas. I told my kids when they were growing up to become productive members of society and do something that you have a passion for. When my daughter said she wanted to become a police officer and eventually a hostage negotiator, I found that quite surprising. We’re very proud of all our children.
[In the photo: Larry Smith enjoying a vacation with his family.]
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