Where there is Smoke…is there Manufactured Housing Institute Fire?

December 20th, 2014 No comments

Some of the hardest working, savviest professionals in manufactured housing bear the title ‘state association executive director’ – or in some cases – ‘state association president,’ etc.. State associations are at the grass roots level of the industry’s representation. No matter how fabulous a national association might be or become, they would still require those state execs to do their jobs well for the national group to be successful in DC.

federated-states-mh-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-Which is why when MHI was formed, the deal made included a seat at the table through the “Federated States” division for those state associations. The state and regional community associations aren’t our focus today, but are mentioned because some key state execs tell me similar things to what you’ll see quoted below.

We will also explore the state and community associations in a future column.

Let’s start with comparatively light stuff, and work towards some heavier items…

When you see the words “Where is our industry?” in an email, that is often verbal shorthand for the umbrella national association, which in MH, is the Manufactured Housing Institute or MHI.

A VP of a large company emailed me a series of articles, and in one used exactly those words, “Where is our industry?” and in others a bit mail-bags-US-navy-wikicommons-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-stronger and more detailed language.

The subject of those mainstream-media articles sent by the VP were examples where MHI ought to be deeply engaged on a a given subject.

That VP suggests they are AWOL. Nor is that successful professional alone.

A president of another large firm told me, “It looks like we are heading back to having too many meetings at MHI.Yes, sir was part of my reply. We both agreed there is value to those meetings,

  • education,
  • information, along with
  • networking are all good things that MHI happens to do well.

But once more – the question was raised – where is the action that goes along with that information?  We published a series of video interviews on topics that MHI put on stage last April, where is the MHI action on any one of them, I was asked?

Where are the steps, asks another respected business owner, to addressing the issues that are holding those of us in MH collectively back?

Among the common questions we get from potential investors, researchers and the mainstream media is - when members of your industry know what is holding you back, why are those issues not directly addressed?

Why indeed are we seeing so many questions, concerns and allegations on the topics noted herein, or those not yet covered?

On the Record…

We don’t have to look far for on the record comments. Nancy Geer has a very thoughtful column, linked here.

Leigh J. Abrams, Steve Adler and Randy Rowe are among those who have called for an industry image campaign. There are independent producers that want it too. So where is the action? Where is MHI on these issues?

But the off-the-record comments are often more colorful, more blunt and thus will not usually see the light of day unless it is like this, as a source being cited anonymously. Here is an unedited example from a successful retailing and community pro, taken from a longer message to me:

You have 3 large builders against image. Were any one of them to bolt MHI, the viability of the association would be jeopardized.  Were two or more to leave,  the association would cease to exist, putting Jennison in the bread line.  You wonder why he is not image campaigning. You need to put the Latony bunson burner to the azzes of the big 3. But then any advertising from them to you,  if it happens, is gone. Not so easy,  is it my boy?”


To answer that, advertising dollars from those firms – while welcome – has never been a big issue for us. When someone comes on board with us to advertise, they do it because they know we have the runaway largest audience of MH professional readers. They do it because the investors are reading here; along with public officials, non-profits and educators. They sponsor us because they know we will tackle topics in a fair and balanced fashion others won’t.

By the way, Dick Jennison has said as much in writing, stating that MHProNews and this blog are “fair and balanced.”

FYI, I had to smile at the bunsen burner comment above because I know of at least one of those Big Three HUD Code Builders who has publicly stated they would support an industry image campaign.

More on that another time.

More eMail and Insider Sources

imagecredit-pixgood+mhi-logo-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-I’ve been sent documents and memos, some of which originated in MHI’s office in Arlington.  Some come from the president himself, though he may not realize its importance.

These are not likely to be used like an Edward Snowden or SONY Entertainment level embarrassing revelation. In saying that we as a publisher have the documents, we enjoy the 1st Amendment rights the courts have ruled protecting our using them.

But we will not use them today.  Because what is needed are the relatively lighter ones to remind someone that there are people all around who have fingers with which to type us, and tongues with which to speak.

Those sources shared these items with MHProNews,  knowing we will only use what is needed, when it is needed, as it is needed. So this post won’t be the Pentagon Papers or a big document dump. Rather, it will serve as a reminder that positive changes are necessary, and that steps to correct problems will hopefully take place.

I’ve reviewed my notes from conversations with what we will dub, ‘insiders.’

Among other things, they tell me about the pattern of the revolving door at MHI, previously mentioned in this popular article linked here.

Now, when you have a “bad fit,” most owners or managers would agree that the door should revolve.


But when you have just hired someone after a careful vetting process, and they leave you on their own within weeks or months of arrival, that should make someone at the top levels ask, hey, what gives?

When an email tells me that the Suppliers Division will have to do “fund raising” if we are to see an MHI backed set of videos that would promote the industry, then I have to say, what gives?

What are we paying our dues for – and why do we need MHI at all for such an effort – if they won’t put a dime of our dues towards a good effort that will arguably help the association and the industry?

Many think that it is the “Big Three” producers that keep an image campaign or other needed solutions from advancing. I can be persuaded drspikecook=credit-come-on-we=can-do-better-than-this-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com0on that either way.

But objectively we must note again that at least one of those big three has said publicly they will support such an effort. So to be fair and as the managing member of the top trade publication in the MH Industry, I’m not ready to throw those 3 under the bus as the cause.

Big manufacturers as well as independents all have an incentive to grow the biz. If factories are selling more, that also means Communities are filling more spaces and Retailers are selling more homes too.


Factories have come together at trade shows. Why not promotion?

So is there possibly another explanation for this ‘lack of appetite‘ – as a leading MHI official told me – for promoting the industry?


Avoiding Another Internal MH Industry War

This is a serious topic that follows.  Let me now say that we’ve confirmed with multiple sources that a member of the MHI staff allegedly has a plan to put in place a membership director (that won’t likely be the title). Please stop and think about that fact for a few moments.

MHI has been bleeding some members, gaining some others, and has been at roughly equilibrium for some time now. There is a routine call for us as members (and our parent company is a member) to help recruit new members for the association. No doubt that person-to-person recruiting has yielded some results for MHI.

So why do we think that hiring a membership director – who in Washington DC is bound to draw a hefty salary – is likely to move the needle much for the association?

Even if a new membership director did so, there is a questionable practice in a filling a key role like that of hiring someone from outside of the ranks of our industry.

If MHI hires someone from outside our ranks, MHI may as well take that money and burn it. It takes too long to learn the industry’s politics for an outsider to be effective. They’ll be gone before they get anything of merit done.

But let’s take this analysis a step further.

Inside sources say that a goal of this includes recruiting MHARR members. Hey, your Masthead  scribe was publicly opposed last spring to what we thought was a frontal assault by MHARR on MHI. We opposed that as a publisher and we are equally opposed to a frontal assault by MHI on MHARR.

That will only result in a war, and the Industry can ill afford that at such low shipment levels. We want to see the associations work for peace.  So if this new job plan is merely a tactical blunder, we hope this warning flare will make the good folks in Arlington think again.

Further, if MHI wants to court MHARR – and remember, we believe that both should work with each other – then MHI will have to stop taking positions that arguably are aimed at harming MHARR producers.

To MHARR’s credit, they disavowed what we thought was their winter launch against MHI early in 2014. Let me say it again, we applaud the fact that MHARR’s leaders clarified their stance.

It is my sincere hope that MHI, if indeed our sources are correct, will change course before it is too late. Common interests – justice – is a two way street.


As someone near DC told me this week, this is the time of peace and joy. Let this be just that, not in some ‘in name only,’ or papered over fashion, but rather as getting to the heart of issues that divide us.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

- Martin Luther King.

Back to Those Manufactured Housing State Association Execs

Half of those state execs are in markets that are still losing new HUD Code home shipments.

There are some that tell us that if we subtract out homes being shipped to MHCs for use as rentals, or subtract out homes going to the fracking areas, we are still losing shipments nationally.

Let’s agree that such facts are avoidable in a trillion dollar a year housing market where rents are rising and site building is so expensive!

Christmas is nearly upon us, and we have a much more positive and solution oriented item in mind for the mid-week blog post. Please don’t miss that one.

cash-bag-wikicommons--posted-mhpronews- (1)

But this sampling of industry input has to be shared, or we as a pro-industry publisher aren’t doing our job. Heck, as a pro-MHI member, we arn’t doing our job if we fail to express to leaders what many are saying privately or publicly.

Let’s work wisely together to collectively unlock that cash bag. Let’s avoid those costly past mis-steps!

FYI – for those who think that all we need is an image campaign, let me beg to differ. Maybe nuance is a better way for me to phrase that…because Image alone is not enough.”   We’ll look at what we need – including the finance issue – in an upcoming column. Thanks for checking in, for continuing to sounding off to us – on or off the record – and Merry Christmas. ##

latonykovach-us-supreme-court-building-washington-dc-masthead-mhpronews-com-_light- (1)(Image credits – see individual image file name.)

By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com

Captive Financing and Selling more Manufactured Homes

December 17th, 2014 No comments

Captive Finance is back in the spotlight.  We did a previous in-depth report that covered a variety of perspectives on ‘buy here, pay here’ lending, linked here.  This month, the article by manufactured home lending veteran, Josh Ducharme, is getting the attention. Maybe that’s because reportedly hundreds are still using what Josh and others think is risky business?  cash401k2012flickrcreativecommonscredit-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com--573x430

Discover Josh’s well laid out thinking, linked here.

One point we want to underscore is the notion of the risk of fines. The CFPB seems to love them, just click the image shown or this link here.

When Josh offers a common sense option, why not take the safe path?

Failing to do so could cost a community operator huge fines – or even their property. MHProNews’

concern has been and will continue to be that those making captive finance loans are taking a serious and AVOIDABLE risk.

We therefore applaud Josh’s public posture.

MH Image and Boosting Home Sales


The image and education issue is once more attracting attention and interest.  Please see Nancy Geer’s interesting article on the topic, linked here.  

Your Masthead scribes’ thoughts on this can be seen be scrolling down though the last three columns. Is there behind the scenes movement on these issues? Will there be something new develop in 2015?

We’ll let you know.

Terrific Tunica!

Speaking of news, we will share an update with you on developments for the Tunica Show, which we should be go to share by this time next week. Please stay tuned.

Oil and MH – Impact?

oil-rigs-creditJim-WilsonTheNew-YorkTimes-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com-It seems that our friends at the TMHA have had their eyes on a topic we have too. Namely, what is the impact of the slide of oil on MH? We have two reports on that subject, please see those linked below.

With Oil Prices Still Falling, What’s the outlook and impact on Manufactured Housing? – by Sandra Lane.

Consumers Happier, but Crude Slide bad for oil companies, and impact on Manufactured Housing – by Josie Thompson.

Something else rising…

Our readership has been rising steadily since we first launched, and while there are some seasonal/holiday

peaks and valleys, the overall trend has been one of steady, year over year growth. That said, the increasing readership and overall positive feedback on the revised Daily Business News (DBN) format has been noteworthy.


If you aren’t already one of the thousands who logon daily to check out the DBNs, you are missing out! What you’ll see in the revised DBN stories are more clear indications that manufactured housing, properly promoted, can and should be a big player in the future of American home building.

You’ll also pick up on ideas you could be putting to work in YOUR market to boost YOUR bottom line results.

We can do better than the low levels of sales we are experiencing now! We’ll cover this more in the weeks ahead, and you’ll get amazing insights that can boost your bottom line if you are coming the the Seminars at the 2015 Louisville Show. Just over a month way, come by our booth their and please take advantage of all the free education for industry pros! ##

(Image credits: as shown by clicking on each image)

la-tony-kovach-latonykovach-com-By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com

“Teacher’s Pet” and Manufactured Housing Conspiracy Theories

December 13th, 2014 No comments

Fox News   had an interesting error on a graphic recently. Scott Walker – Wisconsin’s GOP Governor and possible 2016 hopeful – made a comment that was taken as insensitive by members of the Jewish community. The Walker camp said there was a typo, the word Molotov was used instead of Mazel Tov.

Fox’s  Brett Baier accurately said in their news piece that a “Molotov” is gas or alcohol placed in a bottle to be used as a weapon. Mazel Tov molotov-cocktail=credit=criminal-minds-wiki-posted-mastheadblog-mhpronews- is a Jewish greeting of good will and fortune.

Conspiracy? Ill will? No doubt, this is an example of an error by someone in WI.

But that the Fox graphic not only showed the word “Molotov,” it also showed Scott’s last name as “Brown”  - an entirely different politico, since Scott Brown was the prior U.S. Senator from MA – rather than “Walker.”

Some mistakes are just that, an error. Sometimes there are compound mistakes! Within minutes, Baier was correcting and apologizing for the glitch on Scott Walker’s last name being shown on air as Brown.

Why can’t we more routinely make an apology a mark of good character and strength, rather than one of weakness, or worse, a denial that the error ever happened?

Are MH Goofs “Conspiracies?” Or…

Let’s start this section by saying that we goof here too. Example. It’s darn tough to edit yourself. As a writer, you know what you meant to say, and the mind sees that intention instead of what is there. It’s often difficult for even multiple people to catch an error, because all may be looking at something the same way…


(Typo on Billboard on I4 in Florida heading west towards
Tampa, credit – MHProNews)

My favorite typo is the interstate billboard in the photo shown above. Our family took that photo traveling west on I4 heading into Tampa, FL. It was months before the mistake was finally corrected.

The Point?

First, one could weave a conspiracy theory out of almost anything, including an innocent mistake or error.

Did the graphic artist make that one letter error on a 1 word message for a FL billboard on purpose? Was that graphics person getting ready to quit? Did someone want to “get even” with someone else? Maybe the error was a deliberate test?

You could imagine a conspiracy or ill-will out of almost anything! Or you could just say, it was a simple mistake.


(Image credit as shown and http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu )

A step closer to…Manufactured Housing Conspiracy Theories

Does the CIA, MI6, the Mob – an intelligence service or terrorist group anywhere in the world – plot in a conspiratorial way to do X? Of course. Conspiracies happen.

For conspiracy theorists, the Kennedy Assassination is the gift that keeps on giving (no, that’s not meant to take sides on the one gunman vs. more than one on Dealy Plaza in Dallas, TX that day).

A common explanation for what looks like a conspiracy is what a former Reagan official called the “Conspiracy of common interests.” Here’s how that works.

People who have similar backgrounds and interests tend to think and act similarly. Those who run a big business may think and behave differently than those who run a smaller one. Those who run a big association may behave differently than those who run a smaller one. That’s not a slam on anyone, its a reality. FYI, each has their unique advantages.

We don’t have to accuse either of anything. One need not ascribe ill-will or some treachery, even if to the eyes of others that is how it seems.

Against that backdrop, there is an appearance to some that MHI is trying to “stick it” and “break-it-off” to MHARR with the proposed DOE energy standards. It may cost less for a big company to comply with a regulation than a smaller one. Who says? A third party, The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)!

Are MHI members conspiring to harm smaller independent builders? Some think so.  

This is but one of many MH conspiracy theories.

There was the appearance earlier this year that MHARR was trying to launch a frontal assault on MHI. We brought that up privately and publicly; it was denied by MHARR, it all blew over and the matter was dropped.

What we are doing here is ‘raising the warning flag’ once more with this discussion. But this time, we’re bringing this to the attention of MHI’s leadership. 

MHARR can harm MHI, and MHI can harm MHARR…

For the good of the industry, can’t we try to avoid that headline?

don-glisson-jr-triad-financial-service-manufactured-housing-loans-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-I admired Don Glisson, Jr.’s efforts and intention as MHI’s Chairman to bring a greater effort by MHI to work with MHARR.

The big companies have to be seen and act in a manner that demonstrates they care about the interests of smaller operations. A common perception is that there is ‘arrogance’ on the part of a few and that perception ought to pro-actively be changed rapidly.

Failing to accomplish a meaningful, positive working relationship can only haunt the entire industry.

Give credit where it is due…there have been Efforts…

There were people and efforts – such as face-to-face, off-the-radar meetings between MHI and MHARR corporate leaders – designed to see how the two groups could better work with each other.

What happened to all of that? Poof!  Gone with the wind…

Each organization has the right to exist. Each was formed to represent the interests of their respective members.


Richard “Dick” Jennison – MHI CEO, left;

MHARR’s incoming CEO, M. Mark Weiss, JD, right.

But for good stuff to get done, MHI has to consider MHARR’s perspective. MHARR must do the same with MHI.

That doesn’t mean they have to merge. That would take years of trust-building that frankly doesn’t seem to exist today. By contrast, gaining mutual cooperation can rapidly be accomplished.  

The way the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000) was passed was that enough people of good will in both camps bridged the gaps! In 2 years, in what routinely seems like a polarized Washington DC, the MHIA of 2000 was enacted and signed into law.

The way that some tell the success tale of MHIA 2000 was that association and corporate leaders from Texas played a key role in that effort to bring MHI and MHARR to work effectively together. That historic event proved it can be done!

I’m not saying that Texas must play that same role today. My point is that there is a valid role for third parties from the industry to act in a bridge-building fashion.

We believe that just bringing these issues up is a modest-but-real effort at sparking such bridge-building efforts.

Enhanced Preemption is NECESSARY

Most MH pros may not realize it, but we as an industry need the MHIA of 2000 law to be fully functioning! We need federal preemption to be broadly and liberally construed, or MH – as great as it is! – is going to increasingly be a rural housing product or homes placed in aging MHCs.

I can’t believe that:

  • the teacher’s pet mentality, or

  • the corporate interests of some can’t be more broadly viewed, so as to benefit all,

  • that an earlier commentary, like this one, was viewed by a select few at MHI as “disloyal,” when the opposite is true!

Don’t shoot the Messenger

Does a loyal employee of the billboard company point out to management the mistake made on the billboard shown above?

It’s loyalty to the mission of Protecting, Educating or Promoting (PEP) MH that’s at the heart of all such columns. Might I miss the bulls eye at times? Sure. 

We called on the leadership at MHARR last spring to revisit their initiative. To their credit, they did so!

We are this time calling upon MHI’s leaders to revisit their proposed policies on issues like the DOE standards, in the light of the clear need to be more inclusive and beneficial to the maximum number of Industry members!

The Avoidable Nightmare or the Possible Dream

A short article in theDaily Business News Saturday morning provides another looming threat to MH. Our rising – but still too-low – production levels makes manufactured housing vulnerable to any number of threats that could swamp our industry.

LISTEN-ky-olsen-flickrcreativecommons-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-The MH nightmare is avoidable. And the MH imPOSSIBLE Dream can be achieved.

But that will happen only when enough broad-minded people of good will in both camps – or those nonaligned with either group – are:

  1. willing to listen to each other, really listen with the intent to understand.

  2. stop thinking in silo-like ways! In an industry this size, we must truly live the best of what Tim Williams at 21st said, we ought to behave in a genuinely fraternal fashion.

  3. There needs to be a genuine out-reaches to build bridges that lead to mutual victories.

An MHI plan that could backfire

We are aware of some MHI planned moves – not saying anyone in the mix has any ill intent – that a handful of MHARR pros know about already. IMHO, it could become a serious misstep, to put it politely.

Do we ever want manufactured housing to become dominant housing?

Or do we want MH to be marginalized housing?  Second, third or fourth choice housing?

Hey, we all goof. What looks like a conspiracy, may not be one at all.

We need an MH peace treaty. Some savvy state execs have wanted that for years.

More to the point, we need an MH Alliance! We first called for that about 3 years ago, not a new association, a trans-associational, trans-corporate effort that benefits consumers and all those professionals in the mix.

If we fail to do so, a third, fourth or fifth association may form.

Or worse yet – some new technology like the one linked in the Daily Business News brief above – will hit the scene, pass us by and leave MH saying, what just happened?  Then, MH may be finished.

We are under 70,000 new homes shipped in 2014. More than one industry leader has told me that given the demand for affordable housing, we ought to be adding a zero to that new home MH annual shipment level.


(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The MH Goal vs. the MH Petty Bickering

700,000 shipments a year. Could we achieve that by say 2018?

What would it take to accomplish that 700k HUDs-a-year goal?

Can we focus on that as our big picture? Can we collaborate in a win-win fashion to make that a reality?

Making 700,000 new MH shipments happen will heal the wounds of the past. They will become irrelevant.

Affordable housing is already a serious and growing need in the U.S. Be it MHARR and MHI or non-profits and the MH industry, we need to become better listeners and think win-win vs. win-lose.

The Proof it is Possible is all Around Us

Our newly-revised, read-hot Daily Business News format routinely points out areas we as an industry can grow. Some stories have to be read in the light of, ‘what is the implication for MH in this news report?’

l-a-tony-kovach-us-supreme-court-washington-dc-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-When news items are read like that, the real picture of MH Opportunities becomes clear.

We have a great product in Modern Manufactured Housing! We tout that product to the world on our ever-more popular MHLivingNews.com website!

But we will only make annual shipment levels of 700,000 HUDs a reality when enough savvy people start building bridges instead of undermining them.

Enough said for today. See you in Louisville? We have and will share the answer with those coming there. ##

(Listening image credit: FlicrkCreativeCommons.

Molotov credit- Criminal Minds Wiki.

L. A. “Tony” Kovach by U.S. Supreme Court, Washington DC – credit – MHProNews.)


L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com

The MH Nightmare or the MHImpossible Dream? Part II

December 10th, 2014 No comments

Before continuing part two of – The MH Impossible Dream? – let’s look briefly at a MH nightmare scenario lurking in the shadows…

storm-clouds-nightmare-mario-flickrcreatvecommons=credit-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-A Manufactured Housing Industry Nightmare

It’s near the end of the first quarter of 2017. A dark horse Democratic candidate emerged and upset Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren for their party’s nomination in 2016. Less known that Barack Obama was, but using a populist message and an Obama-like coalition/organizing campaign plus digital excellence equaled victory. This Democratic national newbie defeated the GOP duo that emerged from a deep and wide field of Republicans, because they came together too late to continue their victory wave from the 2014 midterms.

Enough of the House and Senate remained in Republican hands to keep the GOP in control of both chambers. But this new president began almost immediately issuing Executive Orders (EOs) to various federal departments and agencies, even more boldly than his predecessors had.

The Imperial Presidency the founding fathers feared was now real in America.


Among the various EOs issued by the firebrand was a well meaning regulatory burden imposed by POTUS (President of the United States) through the CFPB on MH lending. Under the new 2017 regs, rates and terms had to mirror conventional, GSE or GNMA mortgage products, even for home-only (chattel or personal property) loans.

While land/home deals were still possible, the rapid collapse of chattel financing meant a 60% reduction in HUD code MH production almost overnight. Challenges in the courts to the CFPB’s new regs were still years away…this drove out the last of the MH “home only” or personal property lenders. It was a hammer blow to MHC sales.

The impact of the new regs were a case of too much, too fast with too little cash and land/home biz in the pipeline for the industry at large.

The new HUD Code shipments that rose from under 70,000 homes in 2014, peaked in 2016 at 79,000 MHs. The SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of production) – sans chattel lenders – dropped in 2017 to under 43,000 homes a year. That contraction forced the closure of a wave of independent HUD Code MH producers.

When 2017 drew to mid-year, there were 7 MH producers left standing. By year’s end, there would be 4. The handwriting was on the wall.tombstones-the-nightmare-michele-bighignoli-flickrcreativecommons=credit-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-475-329-rev-

The HUD Code was finished. The only question was “when” it became official. Berkshire-Hathaway was looking at how they could shift their HUD MH production as rapidly as possible to panelizing and 3D “printing” of houses.

In the MHNightmare, What went wrong?

  • Manufactured Housing failed to come together in an image/PR/education effort that could have lifted the industry to new highs. Low production levels equaled greater risk.

  • MHARR and MHI kept duking it out. For example, MHI favored stances that harmed small producers. Of course, they reacted and fought back. Such a lack of unity between the two associations added to their mutual vulnerability and death spiral.

  • Seasoned state execs who had quietly hoped for a detente between MHI and MHARR never saw it happen. Now half of those state association execs were out of a job. Some two dozen state associations began to close or were manned by part-time volunteers. There were too few MH shipments left.

  • MHCs which had in some cases had been doing quite well, we’re now in a dilemma. Where would the product come from to fill present and future vacancies? So…

  • Public MHC companies watched as their stocks dropped rapidly.

Marty Lavin would prove right. Communities would be sold off to big box stores, or re-developers turned them into multi-family housing. Some small ones reverted to green-space or corn fields, once the last manufactured home left.

The wealth of MHC giants and success stories dwindled, but the land value protected many from a major wipe out.

Independent modular home producers fared only marginally better. Since they failed to team up with HUD builders to promote the factory-built home as a superior option to stick-building. They now looked like a young dinosaur, but still a Dino.

There would soon be no independent factory-builders of HUDs or MODs left in in the United States of America. But Canada, Australia and England were among the nations were similar product carried on.

Where is that strong coffee? It’s time to wake up from the nightmare!

FYI, the scenario above is just one of the ways that sort of cataclysmic collapse could transpire. But let’s stress, the MH nightmare is avoidable.

rainbow-solar-panels-steve-jurvetson-flickrcreativecommons-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-475x329-rev-The MH Impossible Dream isn’t impossible at all.

In a trillion dollar a year housing market, with 10,000+ seniors retiring daily, and Millenials still wanting the American Dream, all that we need are common sense steps.

We as business leaders, nonprofits or association execs do them for our benefit, or wait for some strong wind – the nightmare above or another – to blow MH’s low-production-level house down.

Two of the keys for successful growth…

  1. PR/Image/Marketing and consumer-friendly sales training that grows the industry. The ROI dwarfs the investment. Doable? See a related Daily Business News report, linked here.

  2. Realtors (R) learning to understand and embrace the MH benefits to their clients and to their RE agencies. More on that at Louisville in 5 short weeks!

The MH industry must find the will and wisdom for a Partners in Progress program to be funded and advanced. The rewards?See part 1, if you missed it or need a refresher. ##

(Image credits: FlickrCreativeCommons, download each file to see photographer’s names.)

la-tony-kovach-latonykovach-com-By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.


L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com

The MHImpossible Dream? 

December 5th, 2014 No comments

Ever play, “what if?” Day dreamed about what it would be like if only…X… happened? Win the Lotto? Where 20 years younger (or never got older), better looking, the favorite to a bevy of rich uncles, and so on?  

Sure you have. Everyone does on something.  Let’s invest a few in an MH “what if…”


The year is 2017.  New MH Industry shipments just hit 423,652 new HUD Code Manufactured Homes by year’s end. New MHs sold by 12-rising-home-sales-shutterstock-masthead-blog-mhpronews-31-17 were 424,243. Modular production hit 178,016.  

3D printing of homes has started, but SAAR start levels were under 5,000, due in part to the resurgence of HUDs and MODs.  

Single family (SF) site built housing is at over 600,000, but even National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) experts project those numbers will slide down.  By mid-2019, an NAHB reports says SF site building is projected to be lower than MH for the first time in history.

The Multi-Family (MF) craze that heated up in the early teens has peaked and started its new construction decline. Industrialized international builders, such as China-based LandSea, which looked poised to knock out many domestic U.S. companies, we’re no longer seen that way in the USA, though they continued to grow in other lands.

Tell me More…

By 2017, many new HUDs were homes at or under 858 square feet. 16x60s, 14x56s and other MH-Unisectionals © (the new name for “single wides”) were a hot ticket. These Unisectional ©  homes often used concepts found in Ikea store displays or Tiny Houses, so they lived large at a low cost.

But even hotter were new MH multi-sectionals, including: HUDs placed over basements, ranch style, plus 1 and 2 stories, often with capes and panelized garages.  


> ADUs,

> most Tiny Houses,

> Park Models, 

had all been rolled into the HUD Code.  Some RV firms essentially entered the business of HUD Code production through Park manufactured-home-graphic-homeguides-sfgate=credit-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-comModels, while maintaining – in fact, growing – there traditional towable and motorized RV sales.

The NAHB’s  Building Systems Council, plus the Modular associations, MHARR and MHI were not united, but had arrived at a series of strategic arrangements. These arrangements made Chuck Shinn and others smile.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) was involved in roughly 42% of all new MH sales.

NAR members impact on MH volume was continuing to rise. These sales were done through virtual and other arrangements with independent as well as vertically integrated MH firms. More on those details soon…

Land lease communities were growing in numbers in the last 19 months, plus new sites were being developed in recent years. The NIMBY attitude towards new communities in many jurisdictions was now a fading memory…

…New MHCommunity designers entered the MHC space, creating a combination of environments that were designed for suburban markets, plus urban settings boasting high density communities that still yielded more privacy than MF. These new MHCs were a mix of Coops and private investor owned neighborhoods. Many of the investor owned were REITs, with residents being one of the sizable portion of share holders.

“Good neighbor” MHC polices were rising and dominating. Investors and ROCs were part of a wave of acquisitions of smaller MHCs, previously being largely overlooked, that started in the second quarter of 2015.

But how does this MH “Impossible Dream” happen?

Those are interesting “what ifs!” But how could it happen? Is it impossible? Should we not even think about it? How in this “dream” did we get from 2014s disappointing levels of under 70,000 shipments to 2017s imagined rocking and rolling era? Just quixotic hope? Intoxication? Psychedelic drugs?

In an era of

  • 1 trillion dollars a year in U.S. housing spending,

  • affordability at low ebb in many markets,

  • the desire for greener, more energy-saving homes,

  • lower incomes,

  • over 10,000 new retires daily,

  • is a receipe for just such an outcome, given the right plan and execution. Do you remember the heydays in the early 1970s?  When MH topped 500,000 new homes a year, and President Nixon mentioned mobile homes and communities in a positive way to Congress?

All good fiction begins with sound fact-based realities. So the the answer to how the MHImpossible Dream could happen is surprising, not just wishful thinking…in fact…practical…

(…Please tune into part two, planned for the midweek Masthead.  Until then, please see the new Featured Articles (FA) found on the home page, or our monthly Welcome message/new FA line up at this link here.) ##

(Top image credit: Shutterstock. Bottom, SFGate)

By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

la-tony-kovachby L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com

An Emotion-Packed, Visceral Experience

December 3rd, 2014 No comments

For any who’ve sold or bought homes – factory-built or otherwise – they know that it’s an emotionally-charged process for many shoppers. It’s a visceral experience.

The mainstream media run stories on our homes and communities. Often, its tales of ‘mobile home’ fires, park closures, wind-storms, flooding, etc.. As if those things were limited to pre-HUD code “mobile homes!”

When industry professionals see ‘downer’ media stories, is it surprising when many housing shoppers think less of our homes as a result?

When a community operator is in the news because they’re facing a class action law suit, or other seemingly bad MH news hits, how does that help sell more modern manufactured homes?

We see some interesting factors coming together. First, the positive examples.

Many are “discovering” modern manufactured housing, in a good way. Some find appeal in:

> the energy savings, check!

> Green or net zero designs like Steve Lefler/Modular Lifestyles promotes, check!

> The lower-costs during a growing affordable housing crisis, check!

> Fits the budgets of low and modest income Americans. Check!


Image credit: OpenSource and FlickerCreativeCommons

The MH Industry-fueled Dichotomy

We see MHC leaders like Randy Rowe, Steve Adler – see Steve’s fine, insightful interview, linked here – and others in MH that are doing their level best to create good homes and an appealing lifestyle.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are stories coming out of some communities that – if you read the media accounts – just don’t seem to be doing what’s right. Here’s a DBN story on a sad, dubious example. If the allegations are true, the class action suit is understandable.

On our popular Daily Business News (DBN), we cover the bad news, good and in between. That’s our policy. For example, when Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) had a nice article in the news, we covered it, see this link.

But when that huge judgment against ELS was awarded earlier this year, we covered that too. We also shared expert commentary on the case, two examples of ‘failure to maintain’ are here and here.

We strive to be fair and balanced, because that is pro-industry.

When an apparent bad news story has unfair media handling, we want to present both sides when possible – see another example, linked here. We are NOT in business to make the industry look bad, but nor are we in business of ignoring reality. The truth well told is powerful, and often favors MH.

The High Cost of Division

Industry division – the family feud and more – all carry a high price tag. We have evidence and market facts that suggest that manufactured housing ought to be doing much better than the sub-70,000 shipments we’re currently seeking.

One caller today, who’s operations has sold thousands of homes into both fee simple (land/home deals) or land lease communities, told me he thinks in the current economic conditions, we could be doing 500,000 home a year.

“The REAL Competition” you face isn’t the retailer down the road – in some markets, way down the road – or the other nearby MHCommunity.


Image credit: Scott Maxwell FlickrCreativeCommons

The far bigger competition is

  • Apartments

  • Condos

  • Townhouses

  • Duplexes

  • Conventional housing

  • Subsidized rentals, etc.

The other competitor is the media. The solutions?

> Fostering our own media

> Getting more of our good stories into the mainstream media.

> Not embracing those who cause bad stories, we ought to “police our own.”

> Teaming up with others to grow your business.

> We need our own ‘network,’ surprisingly doable today.

A respected industry association exec wisely said (close paraphrase), ‘Tony, we’re not in the business of defending the bad behavior of an industry member.’

More next time. Please check out the read-hot December featured stories and the popular Daily Business News. Your feedback is encouraged. ##

la-tony-kovachby L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com

2014′s December to Remember and…Family Feud?

December 1st, 2014 No comments

A routine comment read and heard here is that manufactured housing is a ‘fractured industry.’ Those divisions – so ‘they’ say – are one of the many reasons our industry has failed to reach its potential.

Not quibbling over that, but I happen to like what Tim Williams, 21st Mortgage CEO and the new Vice-Chairman at MHI, said when he likened the MH Industry to a fraternity.

To be “fraternal” – says Google – is to be “like a brother or brothers.” The implication is one of family.

Well, even the best of families as well as frat members can have a good squabble or debate.

Mindful of my parents lessons, including:

> you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but

> if you have a just cause, don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right -

…we enter into a delicate topic as well as some popular ones in this new “December to Remember” issue.


Photo credits: Ankur P, FlickrCreativeCommons.

The most SENSITIVE one is meant to head off an avoidable squabble. It is also meant to get us past the ones that have hung around seemingly FOREVER!

Some times people draw lines in the sand, and then dare the other party to cross it. In many cases, that’s a…

Bad Move

Go ahead and disagree if you want, but there are essentially two ways to play the Game of Life. Dr. Stephen Covey says, there is win-win and win-lose.

For those who want to try to ‘win’ in a way that makes the other party ‘lose,’ the sad reality is that it can cause both sides to lose. That happens in courts, where the cost of litigation can be so high, that even if you win, you may not get anything (I know we have a lot of attorneys as writers, members of the bar, pardon that please…but it is what it is).


There is a practical answer to the above high costs to litigate, but I’ll hold that one for another time, because this isn’t about promoting win-lose, it should be about healing the squabbles and creating mutual victories.

Even the waring factions in Northern Ireland kinda worked it out. Can’t our industry do as well?

As I look at the off-and-on issues between the two national associations, for example, it seems to me that win-lose has cost both. Because it has cost both of them, it has cost us all.

Are you telling me that intelligent folks can’t sit down and see how they craft a plan that benefits everyone in the mix?

Is the last 3 decades about enough time to make that happen?

I’m looking at some news that one association sees as the other association trying to kill them with higher costs. Hmmm…tell me, what can we expect next from the we-feel-threatened-association?

Are you telling me the leadership can’t see what has happened for 30 plus years, with a few brief respites like the MHIA of 2000? Didn’t that MHIA 2000 lesson in working together teach us the value it can bring?

A similar point can be made about PEP and our industry, as you’ll see in one of the stories from moi below. Failure to robustly pursue PEP costs us all. Let’s spend our money wisely, and invest it in our careers, businesses and a FRATERNAL Future!


Rodney King credit: WikiCommons.

So can we all try to get along? Can we try to pull together and admit that we need one another?

Rodney King, where are you?

Once more we bring you the biggest, deepest, widest line up anywhere in manufactured housing news tips and views that pros can use.


With great new

  • A Cup of Coffee with...interview,

  • with plenty of legal advice,

  • inspirational wisdom,

  • marketing,

  • sales,

  • management,

  • loss mitigation,

  • politics and more – let’s jump in below to the 2014 December to Remember line up!

Featured Articles and Reports for Vol. 6, No. 3, 2014

Alphabetically by Category


• Cyber Crime and Cyber Liability for Manufactured Home Communities and Retailers

by Kathleen Bianculli

kathleen-bianculli-manufactured-housing-american-insurance-alliance-aia-posted--mhpronews-com-50x50-_1There’s been a lot of talk about cyber-crime over the past few years and the question of need for cyber-liability coverage.

Read more…


• Writ Petitions and Administrative Records – at What Cost? 

by C. William Dahlin, JD

bill-dahlin-hkc-law-california-posted-manufactured-housing-pro-news-com-50x50-Our modern world has created a framework where many factual and legal decisions are made by administrative agencies. This is true at the state and federal level alike.

Read more…


• Privacy Rights and Contacting Family – what’s legal for Manufactured Housing Professionals?

by Nadeen Green, JD


So many of you who manage communities in the manufactured housing sector want to “do it right” whatever “right” may mean.

Read more…


• Is My Park Manager an Employee or an Independent Contractor? If They’re an Employee, Can I Pay them a Salary vs. Hourly Wages?

by Kurt Kelley


Many park owners ask me whether they should set up their park manager as an employee or as an independent contractor (a “contractor”).

Read more…




• A Cup of Coffee with…Steve Adler

  1. cup1) Who, What and Where: (Your name and your formal title at Murex Properties).

Steven P. Adler, President & CEO of Murex Properties, LLC.

Read more…


• The Road to Success Pass through the fast-approaching 2015 Louisville Manufactured Home Show! Updates!

by Dennis Hill and Ron Thomas Sr.

dennis-hill-showways-unlimited-manufactured-housing-mhpronews-com-50x50-The Louisville Show is sort of a microcosm of all that’s available out there, and as you look over the new homes of varying designs, and the hundreds of products and services, you may have a glimpse of the vision I’m talking about.

Read more…


• 300 Hours – Revisiting Green Courte Partners Chairman Randy Rowe’s 5 Point Plan for Manufactured Housing

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach

tony-kovach-2-50How does manufactured housing capture more of the $1 trillion dollar annual U.S. housing market?

Read more…


• Who Tells Our Industry’s Stories? Videos, Visuals and Verbiage can Sell More Manufactured Homes

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach

tony-kovach-2-50Industry expert and community owner, Marty Lavin, JD has made the point that the mainstream media is telling our story on a daily basis. Where are the counter-to-the-media’s often “bad news” stories being told?

Read more…


• Wake up the Sleeping Housing Giant! Getting Realtors ® and Developers to do more MH

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach

tony-kovach-2-50Realtors ®! We as an industry could collectively sell tens-or hundreds-of-thousands of more manufactured and modular homes per year by getting more Real Estate agents to better understand and respect our homes.

Read more…


• Will Cable and Broadcast TV both Vanish by 2030?

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach

tony-kovach-2-50The CEO of Netflix thinks that by the year 2030, cable TV could be dead and gone. While that may seem extreme to some, BetaBeat states, “But 2030 seems mightly early, no? 

Read more…


• Honoring Small Business, President Obama and MHI’s President 

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach

tony-kovach-2-50The New York Times headlines reads, “Honoring Small Business, Obamas Go Book Shopping.” The photo below shows the good optics of this, and this hits many positive themes held high at MHProNews. Leaders are readers, and small business creates the most private sector jobs.

Read more…


• Too Big To Succeed The Bi-Partisan Problem with Big Government and MH

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach


We hear about too big to fail, what about too big to succeed? Quality, green, affordable homes are a growing necessity in America. Our factory-built homes industry should and does have bi-partisan appeal.

Read more…


• Perceptions, Codes and changing Energy Demands – An Opportunity for Factory-Built Homes to Leap Ahead? 

by Steven Lefler


Most people understand a code as a minimum set of regulations and rules of procedures or conduct. The definition of a dwelling is a building or place of shelter to live in; place of residence; abode; home.

Read more…




• If you want to lead, you have to master self-leadership 

by Tim Connor, CSP

tim-connor-50I am amazed at how many people in positions of leadership can’t even lead themselves effectively, consistently or with integrity.

Read more…


• What are you doing different in 2015?

by Tim Connor, CSP


What can a lost sale cost you in sales revenue and personal income? Do you want to sell more in 2015 than you did in 2014? There is only one way to guarantee you will exceed last year’s results and income and beat your competition – hands down

Read more…



• ZigOn The Ten Commandments

by Zig Ziglar


There seems to be a number of contradictions in our society. We are inundated with statistics proving that crime is decreasing.

Read more…




• Sales Tip – Promise a lot and deliver more?

by Tim Connor, CSP


Many salespeople make a lot of promises or benefit statements while trying to sell a new prospect or existing customer. The assumption these salespeople often erroneously make is that it is necessary to promise the world in order to close the sale.

Read more…

L.A. 'Tony' Kovach, MHM - Publisher, Marketing Director and Industry Consultant
Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka MHMSM.com aka MHProNews.com
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