Charles Wright - Chairman R.D. Merrill and Merrill Gardens
The Merrill companies began in the 1890's when Charlie Wright's great grandfather, R.D. Merrill, formed timber partnerships in the Pacific Northwest. An aggressive businessman, Merrill was compassionate and forward thinking. Under his leadership, The R.D. Merrill Company grew to become a successful business as strong as its magnificent forests. Fourth generation family member Wright carries on his grandfather's vision today.
In 1993, he pursued opportunities to diversify the R.D. Merrill Company, looking for an industry to extend Merrill's long-term commitment to quality. In the senior housing industry, he found an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of senior residents. Twenty years later Merrill Gardens has 26 operating and development communities in four states. Wright was named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist for guiding the growth of Merrill Gardens. The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs whose achievements make them leaders in business. Wright was chosen from a large group of nominees in five Western states to receive this highly coveted award.
Under Wright's leadership, The Family Business Institute named Merill Gardens the Family Business of the Year twice in the past ten years. The company was chosen based on innovative business strategies, company performance, and contributions to the community. The Better Business Bureau named Merrill Gardens the Business of the Year for the company's commitment to residents, team members and community service. Merrill Gardens earned a Finalist Award as the most innovative company in the American Business Awards. Wright received his bachelor's degree from Princeton and his law degree from Stanford.
Bill Pettit - President and Chief Operating Officer
Bill Pettit is the president and chief operating officer of the R. D. Merrill Co. with responsibility for Merrill Gardens and sister company Pillar Properties.
After 20 years in operation, Merrill Gardens is one of the most respected assisted living operators in the country. Based in Seattle, the privately held company, has 26 operating and development communities in four states.
Pettit joined Merrill Gardens in 1992 after 18 years in the banking industry. He was instrumental in the formation of the company, starting with one community in 1993. He directed the rapid growth and timely execution of acquisitions, and developed the policies that speak to the Merrill Gardens commitment to quality.
Under Pettit’s leadership, the Better Business Bureau named Merrill Gardens the Business of the Year for the company’s commitment to residents, team members and community service. The Family Business Institute named Merrill Gardens the Washington State Family Business of the Year three times in the past ten years. The company was chosen based on innovative business strategies, company performance, and contributions to the community. Merrill Gardens received a Finalist Award in the American Business Awards in the Innovative Business Practices category.
Pettit received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton in 1971 and a M.B.A. from the University of Oregon in 1973.
Pettit is the past chairman of the Executive Board of the American Seniors Housing Association.
David Eskenazy - President
David Eskenazy is the president of Merrill Gardens with responsibility for 31 operating and development communities in five states. After 22 years in operation, Merrill Gardens is one of the most respected assisted living operators in the country. Based in Seattle, the private, family company is owned by the R.D. Merrill Co., with roots that extend back to the 1890’s.
Eskenazy joined Merrill Gardens following five years as chief financial officer at Aegis Living. During his tenure there he oversaw operations, finance, accounting, property development, financial planning and analysis, IT and investor relations. Eskenazy also has experience in the hospitality industry, having spent 20 years at the R.C. Hedreen Company with oversight for the Seattle Hilton, Madison Renaissance and Grand Hyatt Seattle hotels. Eskenazy was also a senior supervising auditor at KPMG and he is a certified public accountant (inactive).
Eskenazy serves on the board of directors for Outerwall (Nasdaq: OUTR), the operators of Coinstar, Redbox and ecoATM kiosks and he is the director of the northwest chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. He was named a Finalist by the Puget Sound Business Journal for the 2013 Chief Financial Officer of the Year.
Eskenazy received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nevada in 1984.
Doug Spear - Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Doug Spear brings 26 years of financial experience to his role as senior vice president and chief financial officer.
Spear is responsible for all the financial practices of Merrill Gardens, from acquisition planning to ongoing financing issues. He oversees all finance matters impacting development, acquisitions and operations for the company’s 26 communities in four states. He is in charge of private placement offerings, investor relations and all aspects of Merrill Gardens’ growth capital. He manages strategic relationships with capital partners, accounting firms, law firms, insurance brokers, and banks. Spear leads the Merrill Gardens risk management initiatives, including the internal audit system, ensuring that each community meets the company’s high standards in all aspects of operations.
Based on innovative business strategies and company performance, Merrill Gardens was named the Washington State Family Business of the Year three times in the past ten years. The Better Business Bureau named Merrill Gardens the Business of the Year for the company’s commitment to residents, team members and community service. Merrill Gardens received a Finalist Award in the American Business Awards in the Innovative Business Practices category.
Spear was vice president and controller for parent company R.D. Merrill Co. for three years before he joined the Merrill Gardens senior management team. Previously, Spear spent 11 years in public accounting, including three years at Ernst and Young.
Spear is a previously licensed C.P.A. in the state of Washington. He is a past chair of the National Investment Center (NIC) Operator Advisory Board. He is a member of the ALFA CFO Executive Roundtable. He received his B.A in Business Administration from Seattle Pacific University in 1988.
Morei Lingle - Senior Vice President
Morei Lingle has 25 years of experience in the senior housing industry with a background in skilled nursing, Alzheimer’s care, independent and assisted living.
Lingle is one of the original members of the Merrill Gardens team, starting with the company in 1996. In the past 17 years she has been instrumental in guiding the company’s growth into a leading national operator. She has worked in all phases of operations for the company and established a comprehensive company-wide customer service initiative. In her role as Senior Vice President she oversees Quality Services, Human Resources, Training and Development, Real Estate and Lifestyle. She has also worked in sales and marketing during her tenure with Merrill Gardens.
Lingle is part of a senior housing consortium that designed and implemented the first semester long course in Senior Living Management offered at a public university. Lingle is also one of the teaching professionals for the course at Washington State University that is designed to bring management talent to the senior housing industry.
Under Lingle’s leadership, the Better Business Bureau named Merrill Gardens the Business of the Year and the Family Business Institute named Merrill Gardens the Washington State Family Business of the Year three times in the past ten years. The company was chosen based on innovative business strategies, company performance, and contributions to the community.
Lingle is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Seniors Housing Association.