One of the Triad’s most prolific redevelopers of commercial and health care properties in recent memory, Dr. Lenny Peters, has written a book set to debut in November that shares his tips for success.
Peters, a native of Kerala, India, is perhaps best known as the head of Bethany Medical, an independent physician group based in High Point.
“Peters’ Principles of Success: Common Sense Pathways to Prosperity and Fulfillment” focuses on 10 core principles:
- In the category of effort: do it now; be honest with ourselves; find a way;
- In the category of daily affirmations: listen and learn; think big; commit;
- In the category of inner resources: humor; be frugal; seek wisdom; it’s God’s team.
Peters includes what he calls a bonus 11th principle of “find the love.”
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Some of those principles break down to: making quick and accurate decisions; the importance of breaking free of procrastination; making sure to listen and learn from others; thinking big, backed by hard work, imagination and trust in yourself; put humor to use to gain allies and attain your goals; importance of recognizing your weaknesses; and knowing when and where to seek wisdom.
Peters said the book offers concepts “anyone can use, whether just starting to establish their own business or individuals who have been in business for a long time, perhaps ready to take a break to look back and see if these principles apply.”
All proceeds from the sales of Peters’ books go to support orphaned children and cancer patients through his foundation.
Overall, Bethany has 16 offices in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina that are open seven days a week, including two currently in Winston-Salem at 160 Kimel Forest Drive and 5093 University Parkway.
The group said it has a combined more than 1,000 daily patient visits at offices in Archdale, Greensboro, High Point, Kernersville, Mount Airy and North Wilkesboro.
Peters Development LLC, Peters’ real-estate arm, has bought three properties in Forsyth County since 2018.
In October, the company paid $16.6 million for Whitaker Square, an 82,760-square-foot center at 1955 N. Peacehaven Road in Winston-Salem. Harris Teeter is a longtime anchor tenant with a branded fuel station preparing to open soon.
The shopping center, renamed Peters Square at Whitaker Ridge, represents Peters’ largest purchase in terms of market value and square footage, said Dan Hill, vice president and director of real estate for the developer. A Bethany Medical practice, the group’s fourth in Forsyth County, is planned. The practice will offer primary care, urgent care and specialty care services.
“We are at a space-planning stage to evaluate the best use of small available space to start a Bethany location, which will be open seven days a week,” Peters Development said.
In October 2019, Peters spent $2 million to buy the former J.D. Byrider used-auto dealership site in Kernersville. The 10,193-square-foot property is on 3.9 acres at 975 S. N.C. 66, where it has a Bethany Medical location.
In November 2018, Peters spent $2.9 million to buy Northchase Shopping Center at 5041 University Parkway in Winston-Salem. Bethany Medical has a 5,600-square-feet location in the renamed Peters Plaza.
Peters took time to discuss his book and his principles to success. An edited version follows:
Q: What have been the inspirations for your principles of success, and what have been the main hurdles you and your companies had to overcome to achieve success?
Answer: I have been blessed to live and practice medicine on four continents.
In each place I lived, there were obstacles in various forms. I overcame them thanks to my purpose-driven approach to problem-solving. These obstacles included poverty, a lack of familiarity with my new surroundings, or outright prejudice.
Yet, with the power of forgiveness, I believe I was able to establish companies and create jobs that benefit many people.
My first book, Barefoot to Benefactor, is a testimony depicting how to overcome some of these challenges by recounting my life story.
However, I wrote Peters’ Principles of Success: Common Sense Pathways to Prosperity and Fulfillment to interweave my experiences in business with those of other companies I encountered along the way.
These are clearly defined values one can use each day, each week, and each month to build a company or to be effective in commerce.
Q: Why did the Triad make sense for establishing your medical network, and how has Bethany carved its niche in the market?
Answer: Our name comes from the Bible.
Bethany is where Martha, Mary and Lazarus all lived, united in their love for Jesus, just as we at Bethany Medical, despite our differences, are united in our love for our fellow citizens and community.
Our emblem is of a door, which indicates we are open to all who require treatment, regardless of who they are or what walk of life they come from, including those who are not well off or who are of the Medicaid population.
In 1985, I came to Wake Forest University to do research and my gastroenterology training. I became enamored with the area and found a medical practice which I bought and established Bethany Medical.
I always wanted to have a multi-specialty approach to patient care rather than solely practice gastroenterology. I want to see the “total” patient. I wanted to create easy access and the best experience.
I decided to add primary care, urgent care, and additional specialties to the practice for which I felt there was a great need in this area. We also offer diagnostic services so our patients do not have to visit multiple locations for further evaluation.
Over the next 3½ decades, I grew that practice to 15 locations and 15 specialties.
I believe this was the right decision at the time and continues to be the right decision today as we position ourselves for the next 35 years during which we will continue to grow, both in the Triad area and beyond.
Q: How challenging has it been to compete with Novant, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Cone Health in terms of patients, particularly since you don’t have a hospital system?
Answer: We have three excellent health systems in our community.
We are fortunate to have them for our in-patient care when we need them for surgeries or other life-threatening procedures and illnesses.
Bethany Medical works very well with the three health systems, though we are entirely dedicated to outpatient services. We are supportive of the three health systems as they are of us in a symbiotic relationship.
I do not consider the health systems as competition; instead, I view them as similar-minded entities trying to serve the health care needs of our community in different ways.
We have reciprocal referral relationships with all three health systems.
Q: What was the inspiration for getting involved in economic development? Was it to acquire properties for Bethany clinics and other facilities and shopping centers came with the purchase?
Answer: I have always believed that in any place we live, we should make it a better place than we first found it.
Economic development is the engine of improvement in a community. I have been interested in real estate for the last 35 years, developing properties in multiple states.
I maintained that interest while Bethany Medical and my other companies grew.
I wanted to create a better landscape; local ownership of properties is a better solution than out-of-state ownership because we better care for our properties with consistent landscaping and maintenance.
Typically, we will build or purchase a large shopping center or property and then move Bethany Medical or some of my other companies into that center or property as a tenant.
Q: Why buy shopping centers when online shopping has become so much of mainstream spending?
Answer: Shopping has largely moved online, yes, but there will always be joy found in leaving our homes, taking a stroll inside a shop, or throughout a strip mall.
As humans, we still need company and community to be able to feel and touch the things that we buy and to be able to talk to each other.
These needs are inherent in all humans. A testimony to this is the fact that, overall, we have a less than 3% vacancy rate across all our properties.
Q: How large and widespread do you project Peters Development and Bethany Medical to get over the next 5-10 years, and how have you managed growth so far?
Answer: We always have measured growth consistent with a sound strategic plan. We could have been five times bigger in multiple states, but we chose to be prudent and apply sound business principles to our growth.
We plan to expand beyond the Triad area in five to 10 years.
Elise Peters Carey, my daughter and president of our companies, joined us five years ago. She brings with her an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and more than a decade of experience in banking, working for national firms in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
Elise came back home to High Point to take over the family businesses and help create jobs where she was raised.
Q: Being that Nido Qubein, High Point University’s president, is an immigrant and a widely successful entrepreneur, do you and he exchange notes and potential collaboration for High Point and the Triad?
Answer: Dr. Nido Qubein is an amazing person. He is one in a million and has talents beyond those many of us can imagine. He is also a good friend.
Nido and I started our businesses and our families here in High Point at just about the same time.
Our children went to school together, and we have watched one another grow.
We operate in different areas of business, yet I believe we are driven by the same forces that I describe in my book.