Gary L. Attman, Leonard J. Attman

Gary L. Attman (left) is the CEO and president and Leonard J. Attman is the chairman of the board at FutureCare. (Photo by Doug Kapustin / October 24, 2011)

When the owners of FutureCare Health and Management and the people who work at its 12 Baltimore-area skilled nursing centers talk about “family,” they mean it.

For one thing, the Pasadena-based company is family-owned and its board chairman, Leonard J. Attman, says it will remain that way.

For another, whether they perform nursing care, do laundry, prepare meals, maintain the buildings or manage the administrative side of the business, employees — the owners call them “coworkers” — say they feel like part of the family, too.

“My supervisor and coworkers give me a lot of respect and I feel very appreciated. The company has given me confidence and has helped me to grow in so many ways,” wrote a FutureCare employee as part of the WorkplaceDynamics survey.

FutureCare scored first among large Baltimore-area companies in The Baltimore Sun’s Top 75 Workplaces list.

“We have strong family bonds and we feel that way about everybody in the company, and we hope they feel the same way,” said Gary L. Attman, FutureCare’s president and CEO and Leonard’s nephew. The two co-founded the private company in 1986.

When the economy fell into recession and workers feared for their jobs, FutureCare administrators met with all staffers to emphasize the owners’ commitment to avoiding layoffs.

“As a single parent, it was a relief to hear that. It said to me that they cared and they didn’t want to throw us under the bus,” said Tyra Stokes, who has been at FutureCare for eight years, working her way up from housekeeping to her current position as a geriatric nursing assistant at the company’s Irvington facility.

FutureCare did wind up eliminating 16 positions, the company said, adding that it recently hired 23 people.

FutureCare’s comprehensive benefits include a “hardship” program to help employees avoid eviction from their homes or the loss of gas, electric or water service if they have financial difficulties.

“Lenny and I talked at the beginning of the recession about providing a lifeline to our coworkers,” Gary Attman said.

Since launching the program in 2009, FutureCare has assisted 705 employees with hardship advances totaling nearly $400,000.

The company even has addressed workplace concerns about how its buildings smell.

Leonard Attman recalled that, as a child visiting his grandparents in nursing homes, “the aromas were not exactly to my liking.” He was determined that FutureCare’s buildings would not have any offensive or depressing odors.

“There are no typical nursing home smells,” confirmed Ashley Toatley, an administrative assistant at the Irvington facility.

Gary Attman and other senior executives regularly visit their centers and meet every worker on every shift in every facility.

“We’re a local company and we want to know every individual here. We want to be the bosses you might run into at the movies and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I know you.’ We keep everything very friendly, on a first-name basis, with a limited hierarchy,” Gary Attman said.

The company’s efforts have paid off.

“I’ve had many jobs, but this is the first one where I can honestly say that when I get up in the morning, I’m so glad to go to work there,” said Lautonia Trusty, a laundry aide at FutureCare’s Cherrywood facility.

FutureCare Health and Management

Founded: 1986

Ownership: Private

Sector: Skilled nursing centers

Locations: 13

Employees: 2,024

Website: futurecarehealth.com