Family ownership and involvement. Stability. Commitment. These qualities are at the foundation of Heritage Operations Group.
A Historical Narration by Founder & Chairman of the Board: Craig Hart
The Heritage story began in 1960 when Bill Froelich visited his sister in Washington, D.C. Helen, an official in the Federal Housing Administration, told Bill about a new FHA program. The program was designed to stimulate the construction of new nursing homes that would replace older homes that were serving this need at the time. Bill, who was a successful operator of several funeral homes and an ambulance company in Central Illinois, saw the need and opportunity for this service. Froelich took this idea and joined with banker Craig Hart, insurance man and brother-in-law Tom Jefferson, and prominent local doctor Herman Wellmerling to form Heritage Operations Group, formerly Heritage Enterprises.
The first Heritage Manor in Bloomington was built with one of the first FHA-insured nursing home loans and opened in 1963. In 1965, the group developed a second home in Streator, Illinois. A new home in Peru, Illinois followed two years later. Charles Adams, then the assistant administrator of Mennonite Hospital in Bloomington, joined Heritage and served as CEO of the new company. In 1969, a young Joe Warner joined Adams as his assistant. When Adams retired, Warner became CEO and served until his death in a plane crash in 2002. During Warner’s 32-year tenure, the company extended its services throughout a broad area of downstate Illinois.
After Warner’s death, Steve Wannemacher led the company through an exciting period of expansion and accomplishment. Wannemacher stepped down as CEO and assumed the role of Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors in January 2014. Benjamin Hart was named President and CEO at this time.
Since its founding in the 1960s, under the direction of Froelich, Hart, and Jefferson, and the leadership of Adams, Warner, Wannemacher, and a staff of many capable people, Heritage Operations Group has become a leader in senior healthcare. Today, the owned, skilled care facilities are known as Heritage Health, while assisted and supportive living facilities are part of the Evergreen Senior Living community. Sister company, Green Tree Pharmacy, provides institutional pharmacy services. In addition, healthcare management services are now an essential segment of the company’s growth.
The founding partners of Heritage Operations Group are still represented on the company’s Board of Directors today – more than 50 years after the organization’s start. Second-generation members of our founders’ families have joined the company in leadership roles. This continued family involvement and guidance is a testament to our founders’ passion and commitment to providing quality long-term care. This is their life’s work. Their ongoing involvement serves as their pledge to residents and to families that Heritage Operations Group remains dedicated to providing high quality, compassionate care to seniors.
Today, Heritage Operations Group provides healthcare and therapy services to thousands of senior citizens and employs thousands of dedicated healthcare professionals. Heritage Health continues to grow, proud of its record and recognition for quality in the healthcare field.
The Heritage Operations Group headquarters is in Bloomington, IL.
Watch our Heritage History video below.