2014 NEWSMAKER: Zeke Turner

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When Indiana’s nursing home industry launched in the late 1960s, Zeke Turner wasn’t even born. But he’s arguably the biggest force in it now.

The 37-year-old CEO of Carmel-based developer Mainstreet was targeted by nearly the entire nursing home industry this year as it lobbied the Legislature for a temporary construction ban on skilled-nursing capacity.

Veteran nursing home operators worried that Turner’s well-capitalized development company would build its next “medical resort” in their back yards, siphoning away the most lucrative residents.

Turner Turner

Key lawmakers worried that Mainstreet’s aggressive building campaign, which had sparked construction from incumbent players as well, would cost the state money—since the Indiana Medicaid program pays for three out of five patients in nursing homes.

But Turner eluded the restrictions, first by promising that Mainstreet would build 24 nursing homes over three years in communities around the state—if the construction ban were defeated. Lawmakers salivated over the promised jobs.

Then Turner got some timely—and controversial—assistance from his father, former Rep. Eric Turner, who spoke against the construction ban during 11th-hour debates behind closed doors.

But Zeke Turner wasn’t satisfied. In August, he struck a $2.3 billion deal to sell a second company he started, HealthLease REIT, to an Ohio competitor, which then pledged to provide enough funds to triple Mainstreet’s pace of construction.

That work is now taking place in nine states, with Mainstreet looking for opportunities in 12 others. Mainstreet also started its own operating company to run some of the facilities it builds.

“It’s an industry,” Turner said of nursing homes, “in desperate need of innovation. We’re just getting started.”

Explore all of our 2014 Year in Review coverage.

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