Ep. 7 12 Oaks Deep Dive with Dick Blaylock

Jan 8, 2024 | Podcast

Dick Blaylock, Founder and CEO of 12 Oaks Senior Living, shares with President Greg Puklicz, how he entered into the family business of senior living and how 12 Oaks’ core values shape the trajectory of their communities, team members, and the company’s future.

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You are listening to The Roots Podcast by 12 Oaks with host Greg Puklicz, where we’ll be joined by industry leaders to discuss and highlight the character, competency, and care that is required to successfully manage senior living portfolios.

Greg 00:14

Well, hello and welcome again to another episode of The Roots Podcast, brought to you by 12 Oaks Senior Living. And today we’ve got a real treat in store. We have our Founder and Chief Executive Office, Dick Blaylock. Dick, welcome to The Roots Podcast.

Dick 00:33

Thank you, Greg. I’m glad to be on The Roots Podcast. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it. A lot of good work we’ve been doing.

Greg 00:40

Absolutely. Well, thank you. It’s exciting to have you here. And you know as the Founder and origin of 12 Oak Senior Living, I think what a lot of people are interested in hearing is kind of your origin story. Tell us how you got involved in 12 Oaks Senior Living, how you got involved in senior living at all?

Dick 00:59

Certainly! Back in 1986, my father, Charlie Blaylock had opened a senior living community in Irving called 12 Oaks Retirement Village, and he was building his second community in East Dallas, and he felt like there was an opportunity to build a portfolio and be successful in senior living, much like he had been in the nursing home business in the sixties and seventies. So I joined the team at that time in ’86 after a five year initial career in commercial estate brokerage. And my job was to lead our marketing and leasing at the properties and to pursue new development opportunities so we could expand the portfolio.

Greg 1:40

What’s interesting now too is so what’s 12 Oaks East is now known as West Fork Village, and that’s come back into the portfolio through our relationship with Longview.

Dick 1:51

Yes, it really is neat to see. And it’s the 12 Oaks Irving one, you said East, but yeah, it’s the first property that he built back in 1984. And Longview has that as part of their portfolio and we’re excited to be involved in it again. And it’s performing extremely well. It’s fully leased up, it’s got a great team on site there and it’s nostalgic and happy to have it back in the fold.

Greg 2:16

What’s it like for you to walk through West Fork Village now and think about when you were there originally with your dad and just starting out and now you see it and see the success it’s had. How’s that make you feel?

Dick 2:31

Old. It does a little bit. You know, 1986 for me, it’s a long time ago. Getting into the industry was a lot, but it was also very rewarding for me. It was a great time in my life joining my dad being involved in the second property in East Dallas. I’ve talked before about how my grandparents moved into and lived in the 12 Oaks Retirement Village in East Dallas. And at that time we were marketing on site and leasing on site. And since I was leading marketing & leasing, I was there every day. Sometimes I’d be at Irving, sometimes I’d be over in East Dallas. But I got to have lunch with my grandparents two or three, four times a week. And to see how they enjoyed the community, how much they thrived in the community, that was really important to me. It was a real rewarding time of my life to be onsite at the communities.

Greg 3:25

That’s great to hear. And you talk about them thriving in community and that’s been one of the things you’ve tried to install in 12 Oaks as culture. Right? And we talk about our mission, right, is for seniors to thrive in community. Can you talk about that a little more and what is it about the 12 Oaks communities even back then that allows seniors to thrive in those communities?

Dick 3:54

I think the most important element of that is the team, is the staff that are on site, what they’re like, what type of community they’re building. We talk a lot here at 12 Oaks about our core values of character, competency, stewardship, and servanthood. All of those build into this culture of thriving that we want seniors to have on a community. When we focus on developing those and exhibiting those core values in our teams, then we see that impact on the properties that creates the environment that they want live in and that those seniors thrive.

Greg 4:32

What inspired you to establish and develop this culture at 12 Oak Senior Living and why do you think it’s important?

Dick 4:41

I really like this question because what inspired me was the work I was doing on my own with my own executive coach and transformational leadership. It was there that I was first introduced to Henry Cloud and his proposition, that character can be defined as the abilities to meet the demands of reality. These abilities he also says can be developed and they can be applied individually and in an organization. So what I really wanted to do is I wanted to take what I was experiencing for myself and bring it into our organization so the rest of our leadership and team members could experience that as well.

Greg 5:19

That’s great. And I know that’s something you’re very supportive of. Here at 12 Oaks Senior Living, all the executive team and many of the leaders are receiving the benefits of coaching, spending a lot of time on some of Henry Cloud’s teachings and John Townsend.I recently picked up Henry Cloud’s new book “Trust,” and I’m just cracking that open. So that’s excited to read that. That was recommended to me by my Coach Jeff Carroll. So he said, I need to read that

Dick 5:51

Big Brother Jeff.

Greg 5:52

That’s right. So I’m excited to read that and for us to discuss it more and what builds what builds a great team. So the core values, how are we able to transform those and install those core values into the communities? It’s one thing to be able to do that here in the home office, but we’ve got communities, 39 communities now, scattered all over mostly Texas and Oklahoma and some other parts of the country. How are we able to successfully install some of those core value concepts into those communities?

Dick 6:33

Well, integrating all that we want into the communities is always a challenge, and it’s a leadership challenge. So for us, we want to make sure all of our 12 Oaks leaders, whether they’re the c-suite, executive team, department leaders, or some of our regional operators, we want to make sure that they’re practicing, learning, and exhibiting these core values in the work that they do. If they’re constantly looking to improve in this character piece or these abilities to meet the demands of reality, they should be teaching and mentoring and coaching that to the Executive Directors. And as the Executive Directors understand and exhibit these core values and lead their teams, the department heads on property, then we want to see that move down. And so that all of the associates, all of the employees in the communities have the opportunity to see what it’s like to live and work under these four core values and the type of culture that it creates. And the target culture that we want to create is what we say about our mission and purpose is that we’re passionate about seniors thriving in community. So the goal of all of this, at the end of it, is for those seniors to thrive in community.

Greg 7:54

So Dick, I want to ask you, what in your opinion, makes 12 Oaks unique? What makes us different and successful as an operator of senior housing?

Dick 8:04

There’s a number of things, but for one, our experience through the years as an owner, operator that provides insight into challenges for the ownership groups that we represent, the importance of trying to solve those issues by helping a community perform to its potential in the market. We do this by valuing and respecting the life experience of our associates, the residents, the families, the vendors, the elders. It’s a very integrated perspective and approach that we pursue on the site. Another thing that makes us unique and different is that we manage leads and we direct operations at each community according to the reality that this is a people business. Our investment in developing our talent in their current roles for their future roles and as leaders is unmatched in the industry. Practically, we only assign five or six properties to our regional operators. It’s part of our high touch approach that you’ve talked about and we’ve talked about before on this podcast. This gives them more time to be on site supporting the Executive Director and helping develop their teams. And the last thing that I wanted to note which is extremely important, and I know Greg, you’ve talked about before, is we have a very robust back of house operations in accounting and HR. This eliminates additional contract services for our ownership groups and it keeps us closely attuned to the performance in these areas, making sure that they align with the goals of the property and with our core value and with our culture all at the same time.

Greg 9:44

So Dick, given your experience in the industry, where do you see the future of senior housing and where do you see 12 Oaks in that future of senior housing?

Dick 9:55

Sure, of course. I believe that the future of senior living is bright. I mean, there is a large demographic heading our way, as we all know. Certainly there are challenges now that we have to face these challenges and we have to work through them. And we will, as an industry do that. I’m a big believer in market dynamics and forces and recognize that all of us have to deal with the same issues in our industry, the same realities. And that’s why we want to be prepared to meet the demands of realities. We’re dealing with high inflation. We just came through a pandemic and maybe we’re still kind of in it with Covid still around. We’ve got labor issues, other market forces, supply and demand issues in separate markets. All of those are realities that we have to face and that we have to work on on behalf of our ownership groups and on behalf of our seniors that live in our communities. To your question about where do I see 12 Oaks, in the future, I think there will be more and more opportunities for us to advance our style of management to lead on these issues of character and competency performance at properties, and have an impact by helping seniors thrive in community.

Greg 11:14

So really that’s the value proposition to the ownership groups we work for. Isn’t it?

Dick 11:19


Greg 11:19

Installing character and competency in these communities.

Dick 11:25

Absolutely. We can only perform as well as the market will allow us to, but we need to make sure we’re performing at that market level, that there’s character and competency in place at the property so that we can meet our expectations.

Greg 11:42

Dick, it’s been wonderful talking to you. Enjoy hearing your insights. One last question. Everywhere I go, I go to Asha, I go to NIC, right? One of the first questions I always get is, where did the name 12 Oaks come from? What’s this “12 Oaks?” And I’ve heard many different stories, so here we are. You’re the OG, we want to go to you. This is your opportunity to tell the world. Where did the name 12 Oaks really come from?

Dick 12:07

The original 12 Oaks community that Charlie built back in 1984 was called 12 Oaks Retirement Village. And it was built in South Irving at the southeast corner of Union Bauer and Britain Road. It was on a little three acre parcel, which was a carve out of a much larger track. And this was originally a farm, and the name of that farm was 12 Oaks.

Greg 12:31

So it came from the name of the farm?

Dick 12:33

It came from the name of the farm.

Greg 12:35

Were there 12 oak trees on the site?

Dick 12:37

I imagine there were probably a number of them and there were large trees on the site. I don’t know if there were 12 large oak trees.

Greg 12:47

Well, we’re going to go with that. We’re going to run with it. Alright, awesome. Well, Dick, thank you very much for today being on The Roots Podcast by 12 Oak Senior Living.

Dick 12:58


Greg 12:58

Enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about your thoughts and what drives your passion in senior living.

Dick 13:07

Appreciate that. Looking forward to doing it again.

Greg 13:10

Thank you.

Dick 13:10

Thank you.


We hope you enjoy this episode of The Roots Podcast by 12 Oaks. Get connected with us on social media and at 12oaks.com.