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Posted: November 06, 2013

2013 Top Company winner: Oakwood Homes

Community builders thrive through real estate downturn and beyond

Gigi Sukin

REAL ESTATE / CONSTRUCTION

OAKWOOD HOMES

The credit crisis resulting from the bursting of the housing bubble is considered the primary cause of the 2007-2009 recession in the U.S. Suffice it to say, it was a challenging couple of years in real estate.

But Oakwood Homes managed to make it out of the economic downturn and in fact made a sizeable comeback, opening eight new sales offices in the last 12 months and expanding into Colorado Springs, Omaha and Salt Lake City, with additional markets on the way. How did the Denver developer do it?

It wasn’t all easy. “We had to lay off over 80 people,” CEO Pat Hamill said. “We tried to maintain open communication both internally and externally. Lots of companies went out of business entirely during this disruptive time.”

But Hamill maintained faith in the community and continued to pay attention to the details. Within its developments, Oakwood kept up with properties that went into foreclosure, mowing lawns and preserving homes to avoid any eyesores that could crop up.

In 2009, Oakwood implemented Kova Solutions software, allowing the company to streamline data entry and administrative tasks to realize cost savings along with a new design interface for customers despite the struggling housing market. The new design positioned Oakwood Homes with an advantage over its national competitors, providing a customizable experience and allowing customers to make changes and see the immediate impact of their choices on a home’s price.

“We had the opportunity to listen to the consumer and adapt. We listened to the market and came out quickly with new products. We’re not afraid to innovate, but we also go back to the basics and build out of equity rather than costly financing,” Hamill said.

He also stressed the theme of community giving, in good times and bad.

One of its many contributions includes the Oakwood Homes’ Homebuyers Club, which provides financial counseling to families who want to purchase a home, but do not have good enough credit. The program helps home buyers improve credit scores, learn saving and budgeting techniques and how to pre-qualify for a home. Though participants are not required to purchase an Oakwood home, the program has accounted for more than 30 percent of the company’s sales since 2008, evidence that providing service has effectively built Oakwood’s client base.

Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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