Case Studies

Oakley Construction Company Inc.: A Regional Leader in Construction Excellence

  • Written by: Oakley Construction Company Inc.: A Regional Leader in Construction Excellence
  • Produced by: Oakley Construction Company Inc.: A Regional Leader in Construction Excellence
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Commercial entities in the greater Chicago area seeking high-quality renovations often turn to Oakley Construction Company Inc. (Oakley). Augustine Afriyie and Anthony Kwateng, co-owners of Oakley, are proud that their general contracting and construction management company has successfully developed over the last 28 years, and it has done so primarily by providing worthy endeavors in medical facilities.

The company was founded in 1984 when the two friends, both of whom worked in construction for the government in their native homeland Ghana, decided to launch Oakley in the basement of Afriyie’s Illinois home, which happen to be located on Oakley Street. Akua Kwateng-Bonsu, Anthony’s daughter and the contract administrator for Oakley, reveals that the company has deservedly earned its reputation as a regional leader because of its personalized approach towards each of its projects.

“The biggest thing that sets Oakley apart from its competitors is the way we work a project from beginning to end,” relates Kwateng-Bonsu. “Every new project is assigned a team and they stay with the project for its duration. Our clients like that they are dealing with the same individuals throughout the process. Over 95 percent of our projects have successfully been completed without having to change a team mid-construction.”

Nearly 30 Years of Experience

Oakley is a commercial and institutional general contractor with nearly 30 years of experience in the Chicago region. Therefore, the company has developed a network of subcontractors that reflect Oakley’s adherence to high-quality work and open lines of communication.

The company’s 25 employees regularly work on projects throughout the Midwest, primarily the states bordering Illinois. The company is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.

A good safety record is a strong factor in determining a company’s success, and such a tradition of responsibility can be found at Oakley. According to Kwateng-Bonsu, the company eschews self-nominated awards, but proudly holds its safety record up to any of its competitors. “Tunesia Towers is currently our quality control manager and has been with us since 1996,” says Kwateng-Bonsu. “She implemented the use of toolbox tops and our superintendents conduct ongoing training sessions to ensure that we adhere to OSHA safety standards. We have been so successful that we currently have a .89 EMR rating.”

The company’s strong safety record and reputation has led it to work on several high-profile projects in the region. Kwateng-Bonsu outlines one of the company’s most recent projects as follows: “We were one of handful of general contractors hired for a renovation and new construction project at Rush University’s Medical Center [RUMC]. We started at RUMC in 2007 when we built the mock-ups of the project with sample patient rooms, emergency rooms etc. RUMC brought in a team of doctors to tell us what they liked and what they didn’t like and we incorporated their suggestions into the project.”

Oakley was also hired as the general conditions contractor on the 14-story project. The new 376-bed hospital building, known as the Tower, was part of the medical center’s major renovation. The makeover also included Rush’s Orthopedic Building, which opened in 2010, and further included additional overhauls to the Atrium Building.

Project Completed for Friendly Competition

Kwateng-Bonsu reveals that Oakley was selected as the general contractor on renovations at a Chicago-based engineering group’s main office, which is a further testament to the quality of Oakley’s work. “They could have self-performed the work, but they asked us to complete the renovations instead,” she says.

Oakley strongly believes in giving back to the community that has made it a success over the years. The company even proudly provides valuable internships. “Last year we hosted students from ACE Tech Charter High School and Illinois State University,” says Kwateng-Bonsu. “This year we will host students from the Illinois Institute of Technology, which teaches engineering and construction management.”

The company is also a strong supporter of the Builders Association, African American Contractors Association, BCU and the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention, which is a charitable organization that strengthens prevention systems, policies and programs in underserved communities through culturally relevant research, training and advocacy.

Kwateng-Bonsu also reveals that Oakley is a proud union shop and is fully committed to its employees. “The owners are both very dedicated to providing jobs for our employees and encourage family members to work at Oakley as well,” she says. “We have several employees who have family members here. Also, if we need to rent a vehicle, some equipment or something along that line, we try and support other family-owned businesses.”

Augustine Afriyie and Anthony Kwateng may both be nearly 66 years old, but according to Shebretta Groce-Burt, office manager at Oakley, the two are not slowing down. “Both of them are still here every day, because they are dedicated to Oakley and its employees,” Groce-Burt says. “They’re making a difference in people’s lives and they have no plans to stop.” Oakley Construction Company Inc. will remain a success thanks to its proud and persistent practices.

Published on: March 15, 2013

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