Koelsch Communities will celebrate its 60th anniversary Tuesday by inviting the public to a business-after-hours event beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Delaware Plaza in Longview.
Koelsch Communities, founded by Emmett and Alice Koelsch, got its start in 1958 with a nursing home in Kelso. Since then, the three-generation business has been passed down to current president and CEO Aaron Koelsch.
“My family started in Kelso all those years ago, and we wanted to celebrate that story,” Koelsch said in an interview Friday.
Koelsch Communities is a senior and elder care business that serves about 435 residents in the Longview area and 2,200 residents nationwide. It has 29 facilities in eight states and is expanding in Chicago, Colorado and Southern California. It has no further expansion plans in Longview, having completed several expansions and renovations here in recent years.
“The key to our success is staying humble and having humility. What looks good today can change rapidly tomorrow. Things can change and you have to change with it,” Koelsch said.
Koelsch said the company had to raise rates recently, in part due to voter-mandated increases in the minimum wage.
“We’re glad people are making more money. ... But the wage increase has put additional pressure on what we have to charge here, which can be hard for some people,” Koelsch said.
Koelsch Communities tries to work with residents who struggle to meet rising costs, but higher costs are inevitable. In the next five years, the average annual cost for private-room nursing home care in Longview is projected to go up about 16 percent, to about $116,000, according to Genworth Financial Inc., a long-term care insurer. Statewide, they’re forecast to rise to $131,000.
Koelsch said his focus is on the community and its seniors. “We have a long-standing relationship because we have been there for so long,” Koelsch said.
Asking to hold its 60th birthday celebration with the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce is an outgrowth of the company’s long-term involvement in the community, Koelsch said.
“We like working with them. They are very active in the community. ... Wherever we go, we remind everyone about the story of my parents and our start here in Longview. We are very proud of Longview and of our connection there.”