If one were looking for a distinguished business model in the world of home building Oakwood Homes would be an excellent place to start. Jessica Scott, their marketing manager, describes their unique approach: “We buy the dirt and turn them into communities — we don’t just build neighborhoods.”
Indeed, the company’s model belies the notion of the proverbial “developer” who merely subdivides large tracts. Scott described the concept which is “centered on a what we call our Ranch House, which is the activity center. It features community events, campouts, movies, or trick-or-treating activities. The goal is to get all the people to come together and share community life, creating a sense of place. We want people to love where they live.”
Founded in 1991 by Pat Hamill and several partners, it’s grown to over 500 employees in Colorado Springs, Denver and Salt Lake City. Two years ago, it transitioned to a publicly held company, joining Clayton Homes, which has led to expanded market share and optimal scale.
Another distinguishing characteristic is expressed in their Mission Statement, “We help families build their dreams. Luxury at every level.” Scott is passionate about the company’s goal of “achieving livable luxury for our customers. We include luxury items in all home levels, including spas and kitchen islands, which are typically only found in expensive homes.”
Another core value at Oakwood is their focus on customer retention. “Our goal is to build customers for life. They often return to us to build up or down later in life. We feature different types of homes in different locations within a community, so they can move to one or another seamlessly.”
Equally remarkable in this time of exorbitant housing prices are homes that begin in the $200s. That’s welcome news to young families looking to realize their dream of home ownership, which in today’s market seems out of reach to many. In terms of location, Scott explained, “Our master plan community is Banning Lewis Ranch, which is our primary focus. We’re also active in Cumberland Green in the Fountain area.”
Since quality of life and affordability are at the top of many buyers’ lists, the Springs has a special allure because U.S. News & World Report placed it in the vanguard of similar-size cities. Indeed, although she reports that growth in Denver is strong, the advantage of the Springs is that people who relocate here “can downsize on price but enjoy a comparable-size or larger home.”
In terms of employee culture, she highlights the value of a highly trained and professional staff. “We develop integrity in our staff, a passion for their work, and look for those who are deeply people-oriented and customer focused.” In addition, Oakwood Homes provides “a variety of educational opportunities, leadership training, Excel classes, and the highly rated learning opportunities at Dale Carnegie. And, when it comes to promotions we first look internally.” These employee programs have resulted in low turnover and highly satisfied customers, which are the hallmarks of a company at the top of its class.
In the important area of community outreach, she describes Oakwood’s work to “partner with the Switchbacks, the professional soccer team, and we are actively involved the Housing and Building Association’s neighborhood cleanup programs. In addition, we work with the Chamber of Commerce to identify community needs.”
If the past 27 years of steady growth at Oakwood Homes is any indication, the company is on a trajectory to continue its strong performance and well-deserved reputation as a premier home builder and community developer.