Posted by Bob Sakamoto in Chicago, Happy Homeowners, M/I Homes Culture

In 2023, Bob and Marlo Sakamoto purchased a new home in Plainfield, Illinois at The Townes at Lansdowne. Read the unique and inspiring story below, as Bob—a former Chicago Tribune sports writer—recounts their experience with each M/I Homes employee throughout their homebuying journey and beyond.

Our New Home Consultant

The moment my wife, Marlo and I entered one of the Plainfield M/I Homes sales offices in January of 2023, we were greeted warmly by the genuine smile and disarming nature of our New Home Consultant, Brian Hecht. We immediately felt at home, and Hecht continued to make our home-buying quest a uniquely enjoyable venture.

Hecht is amazing at his job as evidenced by his phenomenal record of success. In no time, he helped us purchase the Townes at Lansdowne model home. Over a year later, my wife still refers to it as our dream home.

After Brian thanked us for our contribution in helping him reach a cherished milestone, I gave him the nickname “Six Million Dollar Man” after the 1970s TV show starring Lee Majors. Marlo and I relished sharing family stories with him that included our 23-year-old son Payton (named after Walter Payton) and in turn savoring the stories Brian shared with us about his newborn baby. There was always a twinkle in Brian’s eyes when he spoke of his first-born child.

Eventually, Brian was transferred from the Lansdowne sales office to ramp up sales at the new M/I Homes development in Des Plaines. Brian said in parting: “Let’s keep in touch and remember, I will always be your home consultant. If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to call.” And with that, Brian passed us onto the next member of the M/I Fantastic Four…

Our Construction Manager

Beneath the deep voice and tough exterior beats the heart of a compassionate man who truly cares about his homeowners. Numerous times during the process of acclimating Marlo and I to our new home, our construction manager, Chuck Thayer, would switch gears from “M/I Homes Chuck” to “fellow homeowner Chuck,” genuinely demonstrating empathy and care with the minor issues we faced.

Even though we had purchased our model home 9 months before moving in while leasing the home back to M/I to retain the sales office on their property, Chuck became our strongest advocate for being treated fairly like any other new homeowner. He told us at least 10 times: “If you have any issues or problems, call me first. If I can’t get it resolved, I’ll take it up with the bosses.”

I marveled at how Thayer seemed to know just about every one of the 60 or so families in the Lansdowne community. He could tell you about husbands, wives, and kids and took a genuine, personal interest in their lives. The way he described this warm community harkened back to the iconic small town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith TV show. It was fun to watch Chuck walking down Talbot Circle warmly greeting and waving to the residents. There’s a man who enjoys his job—just like Brian Hecht, our New Home Consultant.

When an issue did arise that Chuck couldn’t personally resolve, he referred us to our Customer Care superstar.

Our Customer Care Manager

All you need to know about our brilliant M/I Homes Customer Care Manager, Jenny Caswell, is encompassed in one scene. Picture this young lady getting down on her hands and knees as she carefully investigated an issue with our dishwasher—not once but twice. Caswell was nothing short of relentless in her effort to mitigate the situation.

Finally, when she had exhausted all options, she appealed to her boss for remedy. “I’m bringing in the big guns,” is how Caswell put it. With her supervisor’s blessing, Caswell contacted General Electric® to have a technician resolve the problem. She said if there is a service charge, contact her and she will pay for it.

There was just no stopping her! No wonder she routinely scores 100% on her performance reviews and her boss hails her as the best in the business. I truly admired her bulldog nature for doing the right thing and wanted to contact her boss. “I’d like to let him know how hard you worked to help us out,” I said. When Caswell wrote down the name Dan Dixon, I let out a loud laugh.

Our Director of Customer Care

What a small world. I first encountered Dan Dixon during my time as a Chicago Tribune sportswriter covering high school football and basketball. Dixon was the star running back at Oswego High School and the subject of several stories in the Trib.

Fast forward to July of 2000 as Marlo and I bought our very first Plainfield home in a community called Heritage Meadows. Guess who was the building manager/superintendent? Yep, none other than Dan Dixon who took great care of us, the first-time home buyers from Chicago.

Dixon has a wonderful humane touch with his homeowners and immediately puts you at ease just like our New Home Consultant, Brian. He is also a forceful advocate for his charges in a similar vein to Chuck Thayer. Now 24 years later, it was Dixon authorizing Caswell to use every means possible to help us out. And this was before he even remembered our connection from the past!

Dan Dixon is the father of 2 children with disabilities, including his daughter whose initial diagnosis did not look optimistic but is now in her 20’s and truly thriving. Helping his children overcome and walk through their challenges has provided Dixon with an unmatched level of sensitivity and compassion which he carries into his M/I Homes world.

A Team of Home Builders Who Care

Suffice to say, none of the above would have possible without the inspirational leadership and guiding hand of Bob Schottenstein. This brilliant trailblazing owner and CEO has created a culture where caring for one another is a top priority.

That has filtered down to other outstanding leaders, including Tom Jacobs, M/I Homes Region President and Rick Champine, Area President of M/I Homes Chicagoland. It is refreshing and so encouraging that powerful and highly influential captains of the home building industry such as Schottenstein, Jacobs, and Champine are not only extraordinary at what they do but have also thrived in an environment where looking out for the other person is Job Number One.

In the end, that might be the highest compliment of all.


Bob Sakamoto


A current M/I Homeowner and a former sports writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bob Sakamoto has enjoyed a "Walter Mitty-like" life where his professional and personal dreams have transformed into reality. It began as a teenager, working as a batboy for the Chicago White Sox after succeeding in the Chicago Daily News essay-writing contest. The most consequential break in his life came in 1984 when he was promoted to the Tribune’s Bulls/NBA beat. Sakamoto has a passion for people and loves life in his new dream home in Plainfield, Illinois.

What Is a Tray Ceiling?

What Is a Tray Ceiling?


Buying a New Construction Home: Do You Need a Real Estate Agent?

Buying a New Construction Home: Do You Need a Real Estate Agent?