Building Something Special
As the founders of Almond Blossom Assisted Living, your hosts Cory and Robin Williams believe that dignified, high quality assisted living is best accomplished through a combination of compassion, accountability, staff training and attention to detail.
“Robin and I opened our doors in our hometown of Chico, CA in 2009 after looking for a place for my grandfather to live down in the Bay Area,” Cory explains. “We experienced the pressure of looking for a place, and noticed a gap in the services being provided by the large institutional care facilities and the smaller residential units. We liked the professional environment and activity options of the larger places, but we preferred the smaller staffing ratios and home-like feel of the residential facilities. We felt we could build something special for our residents that did not exist yet here in Chico.”
The Williamses remodeled and opened the six bed Almond Blossom West Assisted Living in 2009. After building an extremely happy clientele and maintaining a long waiting list, they opened the six bed Almond Blossom East Assisted Living in 2013 and finished the third location near the second one in 2018.
How We Got Here
Married since 1998, Cory and Robin both started their professional careers as educators: Cory for the elderly and special needs population, Robin for the other side of the spectrum with 4 to 7 year olds. Cory knew he had a passion for protecting the elderly and other vulnerable populations from a young age when he would advocate for people with disabilities as a high schooler in Napa, CA. He later pursued a degree in outdoor recreation at Chico State University, and gravitated towards working with disabled and elderly populations at a local nonprofit and as a recreational therapy instructor at Butte Community College.
“I ran exercise therapy and activity programming for 11 years with elders in our community, and I have personally witnessed how a higher level of attention and direct care equates to a happier and healthier person,” Cory says. “I’ve seen it my entire professional career and it’s part of what drives me. When I see the health and well-being of a resident improve substantially because of the care levels at our facilities, to me that is what success looks like.”
Feeling an entrepreneurial call, the Willameses branched out into the coffee and specialty beverage industry for several years in the 2000s while still maintaining their educators status, and sold their successful business after about 10 years to return to their passion of service.
“It was important that we started and ran our own successful business before opening Almond Blossom because it gave is the business acumen we needed to start, staff and operate this business successfully,” Cory says. “The stakes are much higher here. We understand and appreciate that this business is different from any other. You cannot be a leader in this industry as we have shown ourselves to be without constantly striving to improve processes and the resident experience, and genuinely connect with the residents, the staff and the families. It just doesn’t work that way.”