Thorne Crest attributes award to the community

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, November 5, 2017

Customer and employee testimonials, a list of community service participation and a history of involvement with the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce combined to create the winning application for the chamber’s Large Business of the Year award, which Thorne Crest Senior Living Community took home Oct. 26.

Thorne Crest provides independent living, assisted living, memory care, a health center and rehabilitation services to the Albert Lea community. A handful of residents and close to 30 employees submitted testimonial letters about Thorne Crest to the Chamber of Commerce committee evaluating the nominees for this year’s award. According to Thorne Crest Director of Marketing Catherine Buboltz, more than a few residents was eager to hear whether they would win an award before it had been announced.

“They were excited about that,” Buboltz said. “They were like, ‘What do you hear? Do you hear anything?’”

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Some of Thorne Crest’s current residents are past Chamber members. Thorne Crest administrator Chris Schulz said the employees’ community involvement is important because it can have an effect on conversations between staff and residents similar to the one Buboltz saw.

“I think it also allows the staff to get closer with the residents, to talk a little bit more about things outside of just this working environment — things the resident is interested in,” Schulz said.

Additionally, he said employee community involvement brings back different perspectives of good business practice that Thorne Crest workers see in operation elsewhere.

“I have a huge list of stuff that, between our employees, that we’re involved in outside of our community here,” Buboltz said.

Buboltz is the most recent former Chamber of Commerce chairwoman, but said she was not part of the committee that selected this year’s winners.

After Thorne Crest was announced as Large Business of the Year, Buboltz said she received several comments that the award was “a long time coming.” Schulz heard similar.

“My understanding was that maybe (it was) a little bit long overdue,” Schulz said.

Schulz partially credited the recent $12 million facility renovation with why Thorne Crest is being recognized now as opposed to earlier.

“I think the project was a big deal,” he said. “We’ve probably had thousands of people walk through here during the construction and after the construction and I think … the community has always known about Thorne Crest, but until they actually came in to just, to see what it was about and the renovations, I think they were very impressed with our campus and, honestly, just the care we provide.”

He also credited recently lower turnover rates.

“I would say our turnover rates, our turnover rate has gotten better while I’ve been here, going on three years,” Schulz said. “So there is a longevity in the staff, seniority on the leadership team, which kind of stabilizes the business aspect of things.”

Above all, he credited the overall reputation of Thorne Crest within the community based on its quality of care. Schulz did not see the award impacting the facility’s future care.

“I don’t know that it influences us, but it just gives us another thing to be very proud of here,” he said.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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