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Cover Story: ‘Just getting started’

NexCore Group transitions to its ‘next core’ of executive leadership

By John B. Mugford

Members of NexCore’s executive team gathered recently at their new headquarters space, now under construction in downtown Denver. They are (from left to right): Todd Varney, Robert Lawless, Jarrod Daddis, Greg Venn and Ed Christen. (Photo by Eric Lucero, courtesy of NexCore Group)

As is the case with many successful companies, all of what NexCore Group LP has accomplished over the years, and continues to accomplish today, makes it somewhat difficult to remember when the company was just starting out and its new executives were wondering what the future would hold.

Back in those days, right around 2004, a number of professionals with the Neenan Company, a Denver-based design-build firm founded in the early 1970s by David Neenan, decided to do something the successful company had chosen not to do: become an at-risk developer of healthcare facilities on a national platform.

Doing so meant taking on all of the challenges and potential pitfalls that come with initiating development opportunities and having to land tenants to fill the spaces.

Their plan not only called for continuing to offer investment opportunities for physician-tenants as well as a stable of high-net-worth individuals, but also to tap into institutional capital partners for both developments and acquisitions in order to fund projects with the most-efficient capital possible.

Greg Venn and several others who had been doing design-build healthcare projects at the Neenan Company, including Peter Kloepfer, Bob Gross and 15 others, saw the potential for such a company and decided to take the risks head on.

One of their supporters turned out to be Mr. Neenan himself, who not only gave Mr. Venn and the group his blessing but challenged them to do so.

“David pushed me out of my comfort zone and said, ‘Okay you’re talking about starting a company, so go and do it to the best of your ability.’ At the same time, he offered to be an investor in our projects,” Mr. Venn recalls. “That was a great push and something I’ll always appreciate and never forget.”

As the company was in its earliest stages, one of the first tasks, naturally, was to come up with a name. So an outside consulting firm was working on some ideas.

But it was Gretchen Oswald, who is still with the company today, currently serving as information technology & office systems manager, who said something along the lines of, as Mr. Venn recalls, “You’re the core group of people, the next core of this new company, so why not call it ‘Next Core?’

“We decided right then and there to use that name, dropping the ‘t’ and calling it NexCore,” Mr. Venn continues. “I think it could not be more appropriate then and now, because as we look to the future we have come up with a model, a sustainability plan if you will, to pass the leadership of the company on to that ‘next core’ of leaders.

“Who knows? Hopefully this current core will pass the company along to another core group, and so on. Our dream is for this company to be as much about helping to improve the healthcare landscape and to provide our clients with the facilities and tools they need to succeed but also about the sustainability and the continual building of a culture here at NexCore.”

It’s why, he adds, “our motto, even after 15 years, is ‘We are just getting started!’ ”

That is the case indeed, as NexCore Group LP’s original founders have, during the last five or six years, devised their aptly named sustainability plan, which has already resulted in a new management group’s transition into key leadership roles.

While Mr. Venn remains the CEO as well as a member of the board of directors, two of the other founders have retired. They are Mr. Kloepfer, who remains on the board and invests in various projects, and Mr. Gross.

Taking the leadership reigns and making most of the day-to-day decisions is a management team comprising Jarrod Daddis as president, Todd Varney as chief development officer, Robert Lawless as chief financial officer and Ed Christen as chief investment officer.

As the name of the sustainability plan implies, it has already propelled NexCore to more growth and success than Mr. Venn says he ever envisioned.

“This new core of leaders has really added to the creativity of the deal structures and expanded and changed how they work with sources of capital,” Mr. Venn says.

“I fully acknowledge that many of the decisions being made by Jarrod (Daddis) and Todd (Varney) and the team are really improvements on what I was doing, what we had been doing.

“An example is how they have expanded the company into the senior living platform, something I would not have foreseen just a few years ago.”

Getting the ball got rolling

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