Leaders in Building Communities

Kurt Ehlers, Corvias Campus Living

Kurt Ehlers

A Strong Sense
of Mission

Editors’ Note

Kurt Ehlers is Managing Director of Corvias Campus Living, where he is responsible for new business development, client relationships, and staffing operations. Prior to joining Corvias Group, he worked for two of the nation’s largest multifamily developers and was responsible for construction, development, and management of projects in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, California, Oregon, and Washington State. Ehlers holds a B.S. from Syracuse University.

Company Brief

Corvias Group (corvias.com) is a privately owned company that strives to tackle complex, large-scale challenges through trusted partnerships that put client interests first, producing sustainable long-term solutions by focusing more on performance than profit. The company works on behalf of the U.S. military, and public and private higher education institutions, as well as municipal and state governments to develop tailored solutions for many of the nation’s most challenging infrastructure deficiencies caused by chronic underinvestment. Their mission is to materially improve the lives of the people their projects touch. Corvias Group is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

How has Corvias as a company evolved over time?

Our Founder and CEO, John Picerne, is and always has been a very purpose-oriented leader and inspired Corvias employees at every level to feel a strong sense of mission. When the company was in its infancy in the early 2000s, we served military families that were dealing with frequent deployments and hardships that most Americans would not typically experience. During every moment of every single day, we were 100 percent focused on doing what was right for the customer and would never let traditional constraints around customer service get in the way. Our employees knew it was our highest priority as well and felt a real purpose for going to work every day.

This employee-driven mentality held the entire company to a higher standard, and that mentality has now been transferred into all of our partnerships. Although we’ve engaged in different types of partnerships with other government entities and higher education institutions, all of our work to help solve our partners’ problems with sustainable, long-term solutions is motivated by our deep desire to better communities and the lives of others.

What did you find when you entered the higher education industry?

People working in higher education take tremendous pride in their school’s culture, as well as the mission and value of their own unique educational experience. People in this industry dedicate their lives to the educational experience and work to help our next generation succeed. In that way, this work has a much different impact on society at large. In many instances, the local communities see the educational institution as a primary economic engine, which is very similar to military installation communities. For this reason, we are thrilled to see the ways we can support change on a much larger scale than simply renovating or building new facilities. As we partner with schools, we are committed to the best interests of their surrounding communities.

What do your partners value most in your working relationship?

What differentiates Corvias is the “true partnership experience” that includes listening, flexibility, and innovation. Our ability to do something as simple – but rare – as listen, is something that we found to be crucial while working with the military. These fundamental tools have certainly been true in higher education as well. For this reason, we look outside the higher education industry for talent; we look for people who have the specific skill of listening in a very meaningful way.

How do you enforce the company’s core principles?

It’s actually a case of our employees enforcing our culture. They hold leadership to a very high standard. To that end, it’s very important in everything we do that we infuse our core principles of being the best place to work, providing the best customer service, and giving back to the communities we serve. I challenge everyone on my team to constantly think about how they’re infusing these principles into conversations on a daily basis, and not just in how we talk about Corvias to people outside our organization, but also in the questions we ask.