Werner G. Nistler Jr.
Founder and Chairman
Touchmark Central Office
Werner Nistler, Jr. is passionate about three things: family and friends, faith in God, and Touchmark. His commitment to all three drives his desire to upend an institutional approach to senior care and reimagine it into communities brimming with the same hospitality, opportunity, and hope he would want for his own family.
Over the years, he has started and grown a variety of businesses, including Touchmark, which develops and operates full-service retirement communities. Werner has served as Chairman of Touchmark since he founded the company in 1980. For 35 years, he also served as CEO.
Werner credits his early work experience in providing the skill set to grow Touchmark into the thriving top-ranked company it is today. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science from the University of North Dakota (UND) and a Master of Science in Accounting from Arizona State University.
A Certified Public Accountant at the time, Werner formed the idea for Touchmark when he served as Secretary-Treasurer for Roderick Enterprises, a chain of retirement communities and nursing centers. There, he created balance sheets from actual shoeboxes filled with financial receipts and then implemented state-of-the-art financial systems. As he traveled, he was saddened by the couples who couldn’t stay together as one had more needs. He believed there had to be a better way. Werner had an inspiring vision: to build a retirement community where couples could stay together in their remaining years and not only receive the continuum of services they may need but also live a life enriched by community, hospitality, lifelong learning, and spiritual fulfillment while remaining as active as possible.
Aging in place with dignity and hospitality drive Werner’s approach to how Touchmark delivers its continuum of services and enriching programs. When his parents’ health declined, they weren’t able to get the quality of care needed, so Werner began a community in Bismarck to offer people “the full life they deserved.” While his parents passed before it was finished, this heightened his resolve to provide people with a quality place to retire close to their roots and family.
Werner also founded and serves on the board of the Touchmark Foundation, a 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to enhancing the well-being of seniors. The Foundation’s longstanding charitable efforts include awarding nursing scholarships to students and teachers in the nursing field and providing food boxes during the holidays to help alleviate hunger among seniors and families in need. It also supports university research on geriatric study.
In October 2017, Werner was inducted into the University of North Dakota Accounting Hall of Fame. In 2018, Werner received the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award in the Lifetime Entrepreneur category in the Pacific Northwest. The award recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. He also was named a national finalist in the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2018 Award in the Real Estate, Hospitality, and Construction category.
In September 2019, the North Dakota Board of Higher Education and UND recognized Werner and Colleen’s many accomplishments and contributions with the naming of a new building for the College of Business and Public Administration. The new building and the College are now the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration.
UND named Werner a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Sioux Award, which recognizes alumni for their professional achievements and service, two hallmarks of Werner’s life. In 2023, UND awarded Werner with an honorary doctoral degree, and he gave an inspirational address to the 2023 graduating class during their commencement ceremony.
Werner is very active in his church. He has served on the Board of Trustees for Jesuit High School, Valley Catholic Capital Campaign, and the Catholic Charities Cabinet.
Always humble, Werner is quick to attribute the success of his many innovative accomplishments to others who have helped over the years. This includes his parents and others present during his early years in North Dakota, his professors at UND, his wife Colleen and their six children, longtime colleagues Tom Biel and Tom Moe, his siblings, Marcus Breuer, and all the allies, friends, and givers of Touchmark who have been part of his life.
"Physical fitness is very important to me as well as something I enjoy."
- Werner Nistler