Colleen Edwards is CEO and founder of Cove Communities, a company built on a foundation of kindness that lives through their motto as “The friendliest Resorts and Communities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.” Specializing in age-restricted (55+) manufactured home communities, and destination RV resorts and holiday parks, Cove Communities provides quality, affordable housing and vacation options that offer vibrant lifestyles where people love to live. For this company that operates like a family, every decision made, every interaction with guests, every community built and employee recruited is guided by the values upon which the company was founded—excellence, passion, trustworthiness, stewardship, and, of course, kindness. Cove focuses on delivering the highest level of customer service possible across their 24 communities and 10,000 sites, offering vast amenities and a lifestyle that hotels and retirement communities would offer, but affordably—and for their residents, Colleen and her team are just a phone call away.
Cove Communities’ cozy dwellings attract relational folks from across the country who are seeking community and active engagement with fellow residents. Their communities feature aquatic centers, golf courses, coffee bars, dog parks, tennis, and other activities and amenities befitting residential villages. The RV segment of the business is transforming, with owners focusing on increased luxury, innovative, drivable RVs and homes (park models), and glamping. As families look for different ways to connect and vacation in the age of social distancing, Cove is seeing greater demand at their Florida RV locations and caravan parks in the U.K., which offer places for people to visit, live, and work for a day, a week, or longer.
“We love what we do. We want our residents and guests to live life to the fullest—to explore new activities and passions, engage in lifelong learning and wellness. They have worked hard their entire lives; they deserve it.”
Colleen and David founded Cove Communities in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2017, with the vision “to create a world where exceptional customer service is second nature and hospitality is our passion.” Launched on the heels of their previous venture, Carefree Communities, it is the third company they’ve built from the ground up since investing in the real estate segment nearly 25 years ago. After owning and operating nearly 200 communities during that time, there has been a lot of learning and a lot change. “When we built our first company, Encore Communities, in 1996, we wanted to own communities our parents would like to live in. Now that we are our parents, we know intimately what the demographic wants, and we operate with that in mind,” Colleen shares.
As she oversees the direction of the organization and develops long- and short-term strategies in concert with the chairman and the leadership team, Colleen also works to uphold the organization’s core values, setting high standards and encouraging her team to be the best—always. “Near and dear to my heart is our culture of kindness. This business is really a collaboration of a lot of leaders. One of my most important roles is to be a supportive leader rather than to micromanage and dictate,” she says. “It is this open culture, the human element of our company, that is important to me.”
Cove Communities’ dedication to their values and their residents has been no more evident than in their response to the global pandemic. “COVID has pushed us to look at our communities differently, challenged us to move in directions we wouldn’t have previously considered. For example, we introduced an app for meal takeout and delivery, food trucks, grocery shopping and delivery, well-being checks and a host of other services for our residents and guests. We’re all in this for the foreseeable future, and we want our residents to enjoy life,” Colleen explains. However, their efforts did not stop at their property lines. Cove opened sites in their RV parks in Florida to give safe harbor to traveling nurses and frontline workers. “Other places didn’t want to take the risk, but we felt it was our obligation as good citizens to do our part to help,” she says.
When asked what drives her every day, Colleen responds with unbridled enthusiasm: “It’s just a privilege to do this. I work with a dream team of associates, investors, and business partners—and to see our folks enjoying their work lives, creating a valuable enterprise, and offering customers a memorable lifestyle brings me tremendous joy.”
Founder and CEO
Cove Communities, Phoenix, AZ