Serendipity Inspires Growth of Windsor House Inc.

GIRARD, Ohio – The foundations – and for that matter, even the name – of Windsor House Inc. came as a happy accident.

Its growth, success and long-term plans for the future did not.

Attorney John Masternick Sr. – who along with his wife, Dorothy, founded the company in 1959 – had no intention of building what has become one of the largest regional developers of nursing homes and assisted living campuses.

“He didn’t have a long-term plan or formal plan,” his son, John J. Masternick, now president and CEO, recalls of his late father. “He just got up and came to work everyday.”

The company started when one of his father’s clients became interested in entering the nursing-home business, Masternick relates. Eventually, the two struck a partnership and the first nursing home – then named Milton Manor – was opened at Lake Milton. “He got into it by accident,” Masternick says. “At first, he really didn’t like it.”

Then, in 1964, Masternick says, his father attended a cursillo – a Catholic spiritual retreat popular among adults during the 1960s and 1970s. “He said it changed his life. After that, he wanted to dedicate his life to elderly people who had no one to care for them,” the son says.

Thus began the growth and development of Windsor House Inc., a company so named because of another accident, Masternick says. The first home under the company’s name was an old mansion on the north side of Youngstown, and the partners weren’t sure whether it was a Tudor-style house or a Windsor-style structure.

“They thought it was a Windsor, so that’s the name,” Masternick says. “It turned out to be a Tudor. It was a fortunate misnomer,” he says with a laugh.

That first Windsor House, no longer part of the company, today is home to Beatitude House, a women’s shelter administered by the Ursuline Sisters.

By the mid-1980s, Windsor House had expanded to seven nursing homes and one assisted living campus. Today, Windsor House operates 11 skilled-nursing and four assisted living centers that employ 1,500 people. When adding Windsor’s related businesses, that number rises to 2,500, he says.

Masternick relates that his father and his mother worked hard to build the business and also felt obliged to give back to the Mahoning Valley.

“They’ve been very successful in this Valley and believed in giving back to their roots,” he says.

Over the years, the family has contributed to Girard High School, St. Rose School and many other organizations.

Last spring, the family made a sizeable donation to the Department of Nursing at Youngstown State University through the Masternick Family Foundation. In April the department’s hands-on simulator lab was named in honor of John and Dorothy Masternick.

During that ceremony, YSU President Jim Tressel remarked that the family’s generosity would be felt for years through the use of the new lab.

“We are so grateful to the Masternicks for making this beautiful, high-tech lab available to the young men and women who are working to become compassionate, well-trained health care professionals,” Tressel said. “This facility will provide invaluable learning opportunities for our student nurses.”

Masternick says his family’s donations are grounded in a longtime personal association with the university, so it proved to be a natural fit. “Giving to YSU was really giving back to where my father came from,” he says. “That’s where he got his law degree and that’s where he met my mother. Being able to help their nursing program helps our industry at the same time.”

The elder care industry has gone through significant changes, he continues. During the mid-1970s, the business underwent a transformation from the old-style mansion homes that housed four residents to a room to a more institutional model with two residents per room.

“Today, we’re in the second major transformation in our industry over the last 55 years,” he says.

Hospital-style nursing homes have made the transition to private-room skilled nursing and assisted living campuses, Masternick explains, and Windsor House is responding to this dynamic market.

Masternick says his company is considering building in other markets, such as Columbus, where the need is growing. There’s also opportunity in growth markets such as Florida and the Carolinas, he adds.

Meanwhile, two local building projects are in various stages of development. A new 72-bed skilled nursing center is in the planning stages for Canfield while ground was recently broken on a $10 million assisted living complex in Champion specifically dedicated to residents afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“It will be the only Alzheimer’s assisted living facility in Trumbull County,” Masternick says. The 44-unit center should be finished in 12 months and draw from a radius of between 60 and 100 miles. “It’s going to cater to people with Alzheimer’s who don’t need to be in a nursing home,” he says. “It’s going to be a destination facility.”

Dan Rowland, marketing director at Windsor, says significant time and research were devoted to the project, which found a growing need to serve this growing segment of the population. “We’ve done our homework and visited other memory-care facilities across Ohio,” he says.

Residents of assisted living complexes who are afflicted with advanced dementia, for example, have few options other than being admitted to a skilled nursing center, Rowland notes. “This serves as a next step before moving to a nursing home.”

Moreover, the number of dementia and Alz-heimer’s patients is on the increase, Masternick observes, so it’s important to develop a health care solution. “It’s unfortunate that demand is so high,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t been touched by this through a family member.”

Pictured: Brian Franks and Terry Schoonover work at the site of Windsor’s new assisted living center in Champion Township.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.