In 1990, I formed Brecht Associates in Philadelphia, a company focused on what then was an emerging industry – senior housing and services. Since then I’ve established a team with extensive experience. We celebrate the expertise of each consultant yet recognize that our collective knowledge is the key component in achieving successful outcomes for our clients.
I believe clients are best served with direct access to the market analyst throughout the consulting relationship. We are committed to ensuring that you receive our full attention.
One Brecht Associates consultant guided by my leadership holds responsibility for your engagement.
Susan B. Brecht
Susan Brecht went to work in the real estate consulting department of Laventhol & Horwath (L&H) in 1983 and the partners didn’t know what to do with her. After a few months of trying to figure that out they had a bright idea. Susan was transferred to work with an older partner, Aaron Rose, who was making a name for himself in the burgeoning “lifecare” industry. That’s all it took! His generous spirit and willingness to give her a chance to prove herself resulted in Susan finding a passion and a profession that continues to stimulate her to this day.
Susan always liked to write and perform. By 1990 she had published several articles, made presentations at industry conferences, and was completing a manuscript for her first book, Retirement Housing Markets: Project Planning & Feasibility Studies. The book was published by John Wiley & Sons in 1990 around the same time that Susan left L&H and formed Brecht Associates, Inc. Brecht Associates built on Susan’s knowledge and reputation for conducting thorough market studies in the senior housing industry. She continued to provide leadership in the field, with expertise in market feasibility for all forms of seniors housing, planning for new communities, expansion and repositioning of older communities, and positioning and programming for new communities. She often works as part of a team with other professionals including architects and marketing consultants. Brecht is also a sought-after speaker at national and state association conferences.
In 2012, Brecht wrote Analyzing Seniors Housing Markets, an updated edition of her first book, which was published by the Urban Land Institute. She has also coauthored numerous articles that have been published in the NIC Seniors Housing & Care Journal. In 2008, she co-authored an article, The Impact of Erickson Communities on Existing Markets which was published and received an Honorable Mention in this Journal. In 2011 Brecht co-sponsored the first National Study of Adult Children of Residents of CCRCs. She co-authored an article based on this Study which was awarded the Prudential Real Estate Investors Award for Best Research Paper in the 2012 Seniors Housing & Care Journal.
Brecht has been sought out by many other professionals. She contributed several chapters to Livable Communities for Aging Populations by M. Scott Ball, published in April 2012 by John Wiley & Sons. In that same year, she participated as an outside expert in the City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place funded by the MetLife Foundation and Partners for Livable Communities. In 2014 she was invited to review Aging in the Right Place by Stephan M. Golant.
Brecht was instrumental in forming the Methodology Task Force, a collaboration between leading national firms designed to provide the lending community with agreed-upon standards for conducting market studies for senior housing communities. The work of the Task Force resulted in the publication of a White Paper, Demand Terminology: Finding Common Ground. In late 2013, Brecht reformed the Task Force which published New Principals for Market Analysis in late 2014. The Task Force is now working on version 2.0 of this publication.
Brecht is a long time member of Leading Age, as well as State Affiliates in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and also the American Seniors Housing Association.
Lauren Ilg has over eight years of experience working in the senior housing industry as a market and consumer research analyst. Before joining Brecht, she started her career in senior housing by collecting competitive data and organizing and recruiting for focus groups. Her experience led her to manage cross-function teams in the collaboration and execution of research engagements including market feasibility analyses, consumer research reports, pricing analyses, and market depth studies. In addition to her research experience, Lauren is a licensed business teacher specializing in Microsoft Office Suite certifications and has served on the School Improvement Team with leading teachers to reach the academic goals set by the school board in the North Carolina public schools.
Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree from Belmont Abbey College in Business Management with a minor in Accounting.
It seemed like everyone was building assisted living when Susan began working in senior housing. Communities were still institutional with long hallways and cavernous dining rooms. In the past 20 years Susan has seen enormous changes. During the recession her focus was on helping CCRC’s “reinvent” themselves whereas today we are asked to determine what niche market a client might focus on or what specialized care might be needed.
Bringing a passion for understanding a market and the people who live there is part of the reason for her success. This “passion” was formed in her previous career as a producer of documentaries at KYW-TV, the NBC flagship station in Philadelphia. The desire to tell the story translated well when she started to work in the senior housing industry. Her experience in research and the desire to understand trends and how a market place evolved also was easily applied in this industry.
Today, her satisfaction is due to the number of clients who return time and time again as they grow and need another voice to help them understand their challenges at a new site. Satisfaction comes from determining the perception of a retirement community for the LGBT population and other underserved populations. Satisfaction comes from seeing a building that we did a study for and knowing it’s successful.
Kate is the wheels of the Brecht work. Kate supervises a team of associate researchers responsible for gathering all the details critical to each project. Her skill at sifting through the quagmire of government agencies to learn all the details of a planned project is unequalled. In addition, her skill as a highly organized and inquisitive interviewer has been invaluable to her research management role.
“I advise the researchers about details critical to the outcomes of the studies. The interviews with directors of marketing, municipal planners, developers and other principals within the senior market tell us the story underneath the numbers. It is crucial to be an active listener and know the next best question to ask.”
Kate and the research team also conduct mystery shopping for clients wanting to know more about their competition, for developers checking on prospective marketplaces, and occasionally evaluating the client’s own property for a comparison.
Prior to her work with Brecht Associates, Kate’s background was predominately in marketing and sales for the entertainment, travel, and hospitality industries. As the director of membership sales for an area visitor and convention bureau, she was responsible for recruiting and retaining a large member base for this nonprofit organization.
“Every project is a different challenge, and I love the latitude that I have to follow the various trails of information.”
Beth has been working with BAI for nearly 20 years.
“The best part of working with BAI is the variety. Each client is unique and has different needs. Each location and every project is a new opportunity, and the completion of a study always feels like the consultant/client team has opened the door for new opportunities.”
A life-long resident of the east coast of the U.S., Beth has moved steadily southward, from Massachusetts to New York to Philadelphia to Charlotte, N.C, and then to Australia in the Southern Hemisphere (just temporarily!). She has a B.A. in Biology from The College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. in Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She has a keen interest in integrated health systems and health and wellness programming. She is a certified yoga instructor, and can be found using her spare time on the mat, teaching and practicing yoga.
The changes in the senior housing industry over the past few decades, along with the explosion of interest in the health and wellness industry have brought us all to an exciting time where we can work together to create environments that will allow us to live the best version of ourselves long into the future.