Dan Schaefer and Brett Bunkers, owners of Oakwood Builders Group, have been friends since their early school years. In 1995 they created Oakwood Builders Group, a business that reflects this “personality” and has grown because of it. They trust each other and enjoy what they do.
Each owner contributes life-long associations with the many facets of the construction industry. Dan is a second generation builder. Brett’s family has been involved for three generations with the communications, design and business skills. The result is a company that serves its customers’ needs and inspirations, keeps them satisfied and keeps them aware throughout the construction process.
Dan and Brett approach each project and each customer with not only top-notch skills, but also with the core values that have kept their business energized and growing.
- Do your best work, honestly and without regret.
- Treat customers with respect.
- Communication is king. Oakwood professionals want customers to be honest about their expectations and to give continuous feedback.
- Owners are responsible for all work being performed in a project.
- Each job is as important as the one before and the one to come.
- Enjoy what you do and the people that are part of it.
This is how great reputations are built…and what keeps Oakwood Builders Group at the top of its field.
Dan Schaefer, Owner
For years, Dan Schaefer worked side-by-side with his father, Vince, applying both hands and mind to all parts of the building trades. He spent most of his time as a trim carpenter, yet he pulled knowledge from all fronts, eventually growing his skills and talents into the role of a general contractor. His college studies were in speech communications – he likes to meet his clients and walk them through the stages of successful projects.
In recent years, Dan says Oakwood has broadened its work scope. “We’re doing more exciting, fun and challenging projects – pushing outside our past boundaries.” This has included doing more custom homes, more design. “I thrive on new things. Technology has propelled us into a lot of new products.” Dan notes that many of the materials now standard in our homes simply weren’t so common in decades past. “Our customers learn about lots of new products and ask us to incorporate them. There are a lot more options than there used to be.”
Equal intensity is applied to projects for customers wanting to do very basic renovations in homes that may have problems or where homeowners want more space, different uses or an update. “We’ve developed some wisdom over the years,” Dan notes. “We aren’t going to re-invent customers’ homes in ways that don’t fit the circumstances. We’re honest and responsive – always. We want to make sense for each customer. A lot of what we can bring to the table is practicality within a budget.”
Dan’s enthusiasm for his work and his customers is infectious. “When it all comes together, it’s magic.”
Yet, work isn’t everything. Dan has a large, blended family with six children and is involved in each member’s careers, educations and activities. That, too, can be a challenge in terms of time. “I’ve been truly blessed. And I still find a time to play a little golf.”
Brett Bunkers, Owner
Brett Bunkers brings to the company a strong eye for detail and an ability to keep jobs on schedule. These are fundamentals for any thriving business. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in art and design. From that, he was drawn back to construction much due to his close friendship with Dan Schaefer.
“In the past few years we have seen an increase in projects for kitchens, master bathrooms, sun room additions and outdoor spaces,” Brett says. “In kitchens we see new cabinets, solid surface countertops, larger islands and new appliances. Master bathroom remodels consist of walk-in tiled showers, adding soaking tubs and heated tile floors. Sunrooms offer a lot for families, more livable space, a place to relax and a place to entertain.” In addition, converting decks with maintenance-free materials, covering with roofs and closing them off to form screened porches are among newer projects. Paver patios with fire pits are extremely popular as well.
“No matter how long you have lived in a house, at some point you are going to want or need to update,” explains Brett. “Cabinets get worn, floorings are out dated, fixtures start leaking and materials do fail over time – but the main thing is, it’s time to reinvest in your number one asset.”
With each project, he stresses: “It’s all about service. Every job gets the same attention to detail no matter the size of the project. We strive to do our best and to earn customers’ trust and confidence.” Because of that ethic, repeat business has become one of the things this owner finds the most satisfying in growing Oakwood as a business.
Other passions in life include spending time with family, traveling and working in the yard.
Steve Bannick focuses on trim work on Oakwood Builders Group projects. His education and employment paths have headed a variety of interesting directions, yet he has returned to what he knew best and longest – construction. In this, Steve follows the footsteps of his grandfather and father. His grandfather had his own company and built many houses in Des Moines and DeSoto. Steve worked with his father, but in 2008 charted a new path to receive an Associate Degree in computer technology networking. He traveled extensively to do underground fiber optic work and also worked for several years in the offices of a financial institution.
“There was too much travel required in the technology field, and I really didn’t care for working in an office,” he explains, adding that he is glad to be back in a profession he likes – finish carpentry. He also enjoys doing family things with his wife and their daughters, who are active in chorus and track.
Janice Guessford helps to keep the Oakwood Builders Group office running smoothly, particularly in handling accounts payable and payroll processing. Janice received an Associate Degree in business management from the American Institute of Business (AIB) and worked for many years for a metro insurance company. Her work path took a decided turn over the last 19 years, however, as she devoted 100% of her time to raising two sons, volunteering in their schools and at their church and supporting the boys’ many sports interests and activities. Now that one son is in college and the other is following closely behind, it was time to change things up again.
“This job just sort of landed in my lap,” Janice says. A good friend knew one of Oakwood’s owners and was aware of the company’s need for help in the office. Janice applied, was interviewed and the rest is history. And, she adds, she enjoys being back in the workforce – at Oakwood. It is a perfect fit.
Todd Guest manages jobs for the company, which means he does a little bit of everything. Born and raised in Indianola, Iowa, Todd attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he studied medical sciences. His original career choice was to be a funeral home director. His great-grandparents owned then sold a funeral home, where Todd worked in high school under its new owners. His, dad, however, was in construction, purchasing and rehabilitating rental properties. It was a path that Todd joined. He also has experience in pipeline construction. He has been with Oakwood for more than 10 years.
Outside of work, Todd likes to golf. He and his wife attended state universities, and now they enjoy keeping pace with their two sons as they follow a similar course.
Andrew Rohwer’s career could have headed down a very different path. He received a Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing and management from Augustana College near Davenport. But along the way he discovered something about himself. “I just enjoy working with my hands. Then I get to see a completed product or project.” So he enrolled at Des Moines Area Community College and earned an Associate Degree in building trades. He joined Oakwood Builders Group in 2013 as a project manager, where he lines up jobs, does the demo work and brings together subcontractors. He has more than seven years in the industry.
Andrew and his wife live in Ankeny. He enjoys spending his free time outdoors, including hunting and fishing. In the fall and spring, he coaches youth soccer and in winter, he leads soccer clinics indoors.