Creating Personal Connections

“I’ve always believed you cannot be a successful salesperson unless you truly believe in the product you are selling,” says Keith VanLanduyt, Vice President of Marketing at Oakwood.

“This is why one of my favorite things about working at Oakwood is when our team members come across new residents on campus a few weeks or months after they have moved in,” Keith says. “You’ve answered all their questions, supported them through the often-stressful process of downsizing and selling their home, and now they are settling in and are extremely glad to be here. Inevitably, there are details that need to be worked through when someone moves in, but by and large, residents and their families consistently express to our team how happy they are to be here. It’s constantly reaffirming and rewarding in terms of job satisfaction.”

While Oakwood’s Sales and Marketing team has gone through a few changes in the past 12 months, including the addition of three new team members and the promotion of Patty Keller to Sales Director, a few things have remained constant. Namely, the fact that Oakwood’s sales team views themselves primarily as educators as they introduce prospective residents and their families to services offered at Oakwood.

In her supervisory role, Patty reports to Keith and directly oversees the sales staff at both Prairie Ridge and University Woods. She provides daily support to team members, improving cross-campus collaboration and helping to ensure consistency between the two locations.

It is the hope of every team leader to have employees who love what they do and feel a sense of purpose. A few members of Patty’s team have a particularly strong connection to the campuses, as they currently have or have had loved ones living at Oakwood.

“I remember saying in my interview ‘it won’t be hard for me to sell Oakwood because it has been such a positive experience for my family and me.’”

Meet Kurt Schuhart

Kurt Schuhart, who began his Oakwood career in 2018, has a personal connection to the organization. Kurt’s parents moved into a Prairie Ridge apartment home in 2016. Knowing it had been a good move for them, Kurt explored an open sales counselor position when he was looking for a career change a few years later.

“I remember saying in my interview ‘it won’t be hard for me to sell Oakwood because it has been such a positive experience for my family and me,'" Kurt recalls.

Part of the reason Kurt’s parents moved to Oakwood was because of the continuum of care. As Kurt puts it, they knew they wanted a community where they could get additional support if needed.

Since their move, the health of Kurt's father has declined. He moved into assisted living last summer, while Kurt’s mother remains in her apartment home.

“Going through this past winter, knowing Mom didn’t have to worry about driving to see Dad, and that she could just walk down the hall—that was so great for my family,” Kurt shares.

Kurt’s firsthand experience of moving his dad into assisted living has given him new insight into what the families he works with are going through.

Understanding the complexities of assisted living and memory care, Kurt’s approach is to guide families and help educate them throughout the process.

“Even if we’re not the right fit, I hope they will be able to continue their search with the information I’ve provided them and that will make things a bit easier for them,” Kurt says. “The work I do here is really fulfilling. The thing I appreciate most is helping families navigate what can be a really challenging time.”

“At first, I wasn't sure I was prepared for this position. But once I took a tour and had lunch with residents to hear why they chose Oakwood, I became really excited about making those connections and helping other people along their journey.”

Meet Ashley Tubbs

Ashley Tubbs, Kurt’s colleague at Prairie Ridge, is also a Sales Counselor. Ashley also started in 2018 and has a similar connection to Oakwood.

Growing up nearby in Sun Prairie, Ashley was familiar with Oakwood before she began her career here, as her paternal grandmother spent time in the Health and Rehabilitation Center at Prairie Ridge. After college graduation, Ashley sought a position at Oakwood because she wanted a career that entailed a high level of customer interaction.

After Ashley began working at Oakwood, her mother became the primary caregiver for her parents. Ashley noticed the toll it was taking on her.

Ashley’s grandparents had been on Oakwood’s waiting list for a while, and ultimately her family made the decision for her grandparents to move into assisted living together, where they could receive care right across the hall from each other.

Having moved in during the fall months, Ashley’s family got to experience holidays on campus, holding both their family Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings at Oakwood.

“I was able to see personally, as a family member, how convenient it is to be a part of the Oakwood community,” Ashley shares. “I could see that my grandparents enjoyed still being able to host family for holidays, as well, and that was really special.”

While Ashley’s grandparents have since passed away, the experiences her family had at Oakwood have served as a foundation for her work as she approaches her four-year anniversary as a Sales Counselor.

“Oakwood was a sanctuary for my family, especially for my mom,” Ashley says. “Right away, I could see my mom was more relaxed when my grandparents moved in. Having the burden of being the caregiver taken off her plate and seeing her just be a daughter again is something I think about when I work with others.”

“When you’ve had a loved one who has spent time in a skilled nursing facility, you understand how important the environment is and how much time you as a loved one will spend in that space as well.”

Meet Beth Ravenscroft

Beth Ravenscroft joined the Oakwood Village University Woods campus as a Sales Counselor in the summer of 2021. Her parents had moved from their home in Rockford, Illinois into University Woods in 2013, after her mother was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. The family knew Alzheimer’s was likely in her future. While her father was mom’s primary caregiver, Beth and her two sisters lived in Madison.

Her eldest sister started researching retirement communities on Madison’s west side, near where all three sisters lived. After deciding on Oakwood and waiting for an apartment home to become available, Beth’s parents were set to make the move up to Madison.

While the family expected they’d be moving into independent living together, Oakwood staff recommended Covenant Oaks memory care as the best fit for Beth’s mother.

“It was very sad, and a big shock for us,” Beth shares. “Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. But what I appreciate about Oakwood is that it offers a place for your loved ones, even if they can’t live together.”

For Beth and her sisters, knowing their mom was safe, their dad was not taking on too much, and that their parents could visit each other every day (regardless of weather) was invaluable.

Once her youngest daughter went to college, Beth decided to get back into the workforce. The first place she thought of was Oakwood, but there weren’t any open positions at the time. She found a job at another retirement community in Madison and was there for four and a half years.

Eventually deciding she needed a change, she found her way to Oakwood when her dad informed her there was an open sales counselor position.

Having seen Oakwood from the perspective of a family member for nearly eight years, Beth says she thought she knew Oakwood well.

“Since I started working here, I’ve seen that Oakwood is even more than I was hoping for. I didn’t know how long Oakwood has been serving Madison. I didn’t realize how deep its roots are and that there are literally generations of families who have come through our doors.”

Beth’s mother has passed away, but her father continues to live in his apartment home in The Oaks. In the subsequent years, Beth shares that she and her sisters have had an opportunity to know their dad in a way they hadn’t before.

Having her dad as a resident has meant that not only does she have a lunch buddy (they meet in the Garden Terrace Bistro for lunch regularly), but it has given her a unique perspective as she works with future residents.

“When I’m explaining the continuum of care to prospective residents, I can tell them firsthand why it’s so important. I’m ridiculously excited about the new Hebron Oaks that’s being built. When you’ve had a loved one who has spent time in a skilled nursing facility, you understand how important the environment is and how much time you as a loved one will spend in that space as well.”

Ashley, Kurt, and Beth make up three of the seven sales team members responsible for the 685 apartment homes, assisted living, and memory care suites available at Prairie Ridge and University Woods. Their dedication and success reinforce the idea that if you hire the right people, you can teach them the necessary skills.

“I am so honored to be a part of this team,” Patty says. “They work hard and they care. Everyone is here because they want to help people and they truly believe in the services Oakwood offers. It’s rewarding to see the kind of connection our staff members establish with prospective residents and their families.”

If you or a loved one are thinking Oakwood could be a part of your future, we invite you to begin your relationship with us today by calling (608) 230-4580 or reaching out via our website at

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