Ottawa’s largest and most established full service renovator ha returned to its roots with new high quality services focused on smaller projects.
“When our customers talk, we listen. That direction was the genesis for our latest service offering and direction,” says John Liptak, CEO and president, OakWood.
Liptak is talking about the company’s decision to launch a new suite of home improvement services called the RenoTeam and HandyManPRO, which complement the company’s long standing, flagship design and build service.
“When my father started this business 60 years ago it was a small carpentry and renovation company,” says Liptak. The company grew organically on the strength of customer referrals and requests. “The way we approached projects instilled confidence in customers who started to ask us to take on bigger renovations because of the expertise, rigor and quality that we brought to those projects,” says Liptak. Over time, OakWood evolved into the full service, award winning Design & Build company that exists today.
Ironically, OakWood is seeing the very opposite phenomenon occurring now. Design & Build customers are increasingly asking OakWood to help with “other” home improvements. These include smaller renovations and handyman type projects such as building or repairing a deck or installing fixtures. “Our customers want these smaller projects to mirror the quality and attention to detail that they saw on their larger Design & Build renovation.” says Liptak.
According to Liptak, OakWood has received these kinds of requests from customers and other homeowners for years. In most cases, OakWood would take on the smaller projects for existing customers; but never packaged and promoted these services to new customers. “So we have listened to our customers and thought hard about doing that,” says Liptak.
In some respects, adding a smaller RenoTeam and HandyManPRO service is like coming full circle; and returning to the roots of the company. “It’s déjà vu, all over again”, says Liptak. Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t an easy decision to make; or one that was made lightly.
It has taken over half-a-century for the company to build the reputation it enjoys today – that of a quality, full-service renovator where OakWood “takes care of everything” from start to finish and all materials are top quality from a preferred, short list of suppliers from around the world.
“Most of our clients have been happy to hand us the keys to the home and let us do everything,” says Patricia Liptak-Satov, the company’s COO. “Truthfully, we have enjoyed that approach and relationship because it means we take ownership for the entire project. We can guarantee not only the workmanship but also the quality of materials used. This builds real accountability into the project and we take that very seriously.”
Offering new services with the goal of taking on smaller projects meant the company had to ask the hard question: what does Oakwood really stand for? “In the end, we realized that OakWood stands for doing it right, no matter how big or small,” says Liptak.
For OakWood, a big part of “doing it right” means ensuring the right expertise and qualified trades professionals are on the job. This is true for a custom designed home that is built from the ground-up, a small powder room makeover, or hanging new doors. Add OakWood’s exceptional project management capabilities, and you have a recipe for excellence that can be applied to any type or size of project.
“As a family run business, we meet on every major decision,” says Liptak. “And as a family, we decided that the timing was right to take our core value and package that into two new discrete services – our RenoTeam and HandyManPRO.”
OakWood’s RenoTeam essentially unbundles the company’s flagship Design & Build service and makes everything available on an a-la-carte basis. “Our Design & Build service includes everything required for a high quality, A to Z, turnkey renovation,” says Liptak-Satov. “It automatically includes concept design with a certified designer, photo realistic 3D renderings of the planned renovation, all permits and plans, a detailed renovation roadmap, and very attentive project management through the construction phase,” she says.
RenoTeam gives customers the flexibility to choose the exact service levels they want and purchase their materials themselves from any supplier.
“They may opt to do some of the tear down and removal themselves or some of the painting if that is part of the project,” says Liptak. Also, a renovation project may not require a concept design with a 3D rendering. “Most customers don’t need a concept design if they are simply doing an update such as changing out a bathtub, toilet, and counter with a new floor,” says Liptak. This flexibility to choose services makes OakWood’s RenoTeam a good solution for smaller, less complex renovation projects – and projects that it didn’t take on in the past.
HandyManPRO takes OakWood’s commitment to quality workmanship into small repairs and fix-it type projects. This includes carpentry, drywall services, painting and staining, and simple improvements like swapping out tile, faucets, or a tub.
The one constant across all services is the quality of the workmanship. “It’s exactly the same,” confirms Liptak. “We’re using the same qualified, credentialed trades professionals.” That means the only real difference with OakWood’s RenoTeam and Design & Build service is that a customer can scale back the number of services they want or they may prefer to buy the materials themselves, such as a kitchen from other quality suppliers like Laurysen or Deslaurier, then have OakWood do the prep and installation. “In the end, the customer gets OakWood quality where it counts: on the overall project management and the actual construction,” says Liptak.
A growing home improvement portfolio
Both HandyManPRO and RenoTeam complement a growing “portfolio” of home improvement solutions offered by OakWood. These also include Seriös, a separate custom cabinetry service that was launched in 2014, and Custom Homes which brings OakWood’s Design & Build service to homeowners who want a new, “from the ground-up”, home solution which usually involves working with an architect or designer.
With Seriös, OakWood has actually commissioned a manufacturing production line inside Cabico, Canada’s largest independent manufacturer of customized cabinets. “The number of renovations that we do every year has enabled us to negotiate that arrangement and offer unlimited options at an affordable price,” says Liptak. While OakWood champions its Seriös brand to its Design & Build renovation customers, the service is also available to any homeowner who simply wants an affordable, high quality custom cabinetry solution independent of a renovation. Many options like self and soft closing doors and drawers are standard with Seriös. The beauty of Seriös is that homeowners can get “made to measure” sizing for cabinetry which would typically be an expensive, custom fee with many other suppliers.
In some ways, the addition of both the RenoTeam and HandyManPRO options are a sign of the times. There are trends and then there are seismic shifts in any industry. “We are seeing the beginning of that in the renovation industry right now,” says Liptak. In the 50s and 60s when OakWood was just starting out, the trend was for handyman and more modest renovation services. People wanted to do as much of the work as they could themselves to save money. Many had handyman skills that they could bring to the table. That was then, and now is now.
In the 80s and 90s there was a fundamental shift. Homeowners didn’t have the time and in many cases the expertise or the specialized tools required to do quality renovation projects themselves – especially for major renovations and additions.
“They were looking for a turnkey solution provider who would take care of everything,” says Liptak. OakWood’s Design & Build Service was the solution to that customer need and “it really took off” he says.
While there will always be a market and need for premium, high quality full service Design & Build renovation services the real growth opportunity and demand is coming for flexible renovation solutions and handyman projects. OakWood’s HandyManPRO and RenoTeam are ready to meet that pent-up demand.
“We officially launched these new services in January of this year,” confirms Liptak. “Feedback from customers has been exceptional”. Both HandyManPRO and RenoTeam ensure that any home improvement project is done right the first time from a name they can trust: OakWood.