“There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.”
– Warren Buffett
“Superficiality is the curse of the modern world.”
― Matthew Kelly
There are both keen truths and potent tensions between the two quotes above. The subject is easy, but we’ll avoid an overly superficial look at the topics for this month.
Unity and Disunity in America, The World and MH
When the 13 colonies declared their independence from England there was a conflict fought. Just days ago, in a heavy voting turnout, England (the U.K.) peacefully voted for independence from the EU, a “Brexit.” The U.S. then, or the British today, wanted to be freed from the rule of others. At the same time, they wanted to band together as a people.
There have for centuries been those who worked for unity, and towards division, in all nations and places.
So independence has in practice an interdependence.
The American colonies would forge a system designed to end England’s power, as well as limit the power of the federal system that came into being here in the U.S. once the war for our nation’s independence was won.
It’s a fact. The Soviet Union split into 15 nations. Yugoslavia split into 7. China has two significant areas where separatists are at work. The U.K. will face another Scottish exit effort. Across Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond – there are movements whose aim is to break larger nations – larger powers – into smaller ones.
Those who seek regional or global orders in America today have watched a strong anti-Democratic-establishment effort by Bernie Sanders followers.
They are watching an “America First” populist-nationalist camp led by Donald Trump lay claim to the party that Bush, Romney and a few Republican elites have previously led.
Perhaps 5 percent to 10 percent of the USA is libertarian, and smaller movements of Green Party or other forces are busy in our land too. Some pundits say Ralph Nader’s Green Party run in 2000 cost Al Gore the election against George W. Bush (fyi – your Masthead scribe is an independent).
Struggles over unity and division are ongoing. Never think that what’s happening today is so totally different than other parts of the world, or other eras of history.
Efforts for unity or division go all the way back in time to when the people of the world are said to have lost a common language, after the Tower of Babel was toppled by the God of the Jewish and later Christian people.
There is unity, and there is disunity.
There is Independence as well as Interdependence.
Manufactured Housing and Our Times
On this 240th 4th of July, some might say that within Manufactured Housing, there are – and historically have been – similar forces for independence and interdependence at work.
At one time, Fleetwood and Champion dominated the manufactured housing industry. Today pros speak of the three Cs of MH – Clayton, Cavco and Champion. There were numerous independents then, and now.
There are consolidations taking place on the manufacturing side of MH. Far more consolidations are occurring on the community side of MH.
Image credit, Pinterest.
Retail by independents have risen and fallen, but could be rising again.
A new paradigm has been coming to birth in MH for about a decade, as a growing percentage of home sales are done by MH land lease communities – aka “mobile home parks” – or more properly MHCommunities. While most MHCs buy pre-owned homes – or new homes from factories – solely for their own use to fill vacant homesites; in some places, retail off-property by MHCs are in motion. That’s a trend to watch.
The point is that there are in business as in politics, larger forces at work in MH, as well as thousands of smaller ones.
On the association/lobbying/advocacy side, most states have their own associations, some have separate community associations plus an “umbrella” association. A few have associations that span RVs and MHs or even other groups seeking collective advocacy.
In factory-built housing, there are more groups than are generally spoken of in MHVille – we hear the most from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), or the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). But the NAHB has their Systems Building Council. And there is the Tom Hardiman led Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA), which differs from the modular housing group under the MHI umbrella. There are others in Canada too…
Bob Crawford – left. Frank Rolfe, right. Still from MHProNews video.
As readers will see below, this month we’ll provide an article that promotes a new, independent post-production association – which the author of that column asserts that MHI is at best a 5 out of 10 in terms of its effectiveness in working for the interests of independent MH Retailers and MHCommunities. That author – Bob Crawford, and his mentor Dick Moore – have advocated for an independence movement from MHI before. Time will tell if there is more momentum behind it now, than previously.
The MH industry hitched its wagon to the federal oversight star 42 years ago. Just over 40 years ago, the first HUD Code manufactured homes rolled off the assembly lines in the U.S.
There were once more ‘national,’ ‘regional’ or ‘federated’ MH associations than there are today. Will history repeat?
Our reporting on issues isn’t always the same as advocacy of a perspective. Our taking a position doesn’t mean we’re looking for a do or die battle. We have clients, readers and supporters in both major national associations. In a professional world, the Ronald Reagan ideal below should apply.
As a disclosure, this writer broadly-speaking wears two hats. One is as a trade publisher of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com – the other as a provider of business development and consulting services, all of which operates under the LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC banner, of which I’m the managing member.
What brings those two hats together is a passionate love for this MH Industry, and for seeing MH advance in every possible way. Everything else we do can be seen through that prism.
News, Tips and Views
As a publisher, we report news as well as do commentary and analysis.
The following is another fact. Manufactured housing trade publications, with no disrespect for the Journal or others who have gone before us, have never had the same kind of publications we provide on professionally-focused MHProNews.com (aka MHMarketingSalesManagement.com, also known by some as MHMSM.com) or the public via MHLivingNews.com.
As a result, it’s no surprise that too many in our MH industry think of any critique by me of another person, persons or group as a personal attack. Not so! It’s purely professional.
It’s standard fare for the business of being a trade publisher. MH can’t or won’t advance to its potential until rigorous and candid discussions identify and resolve all those things that hold us as an industry back.
We will look at the GAPS Method in the near future, as one of the tools to analyze the road blocks to MH advancement. Good analyis is – or should be – objective. If you or others have a different point of you that you want to publicy or privately share, please write or call.
Unlike Jim Visser – whom I respect – or others who are no longer in the MH trade publication business, this writer spent many years in the trenches of MH long before picking up a digital pen and paper. We still earn our keep by boosting manufactured and modular home sales! Some of that personal/professional history will be rapidly reviewed in an article linked below.
Suffice it to say for now, that I’ve worked with some of the largest operations in MH, with assocations and with some other operations more modest in size, and also “mom and pop” businesses. All small firms hope to do well, some aspire to be big firms someday. We salute all those MH entrepreneurs, professionals and captains of industry.
So we come at MH related topics from a different viewpoint than someone who only prints articles and ads (no disrespect intended to other publishers, just stating facts).
When we write about Dick Jennison or Lesli Gooch at MHI, and raise questions about their effectiveness or the ethics of their communications practices, that’s a valid topic as they are public figures in our industry. If there is a critique of them, it is not necessarily a blast at MHI, of which I am also an elected board member. A critique is part of a GAPS analysis, pure and simple. If you or others you work with have a different take than ours, you can share it, as we share a Pro-MHI column this month (see below), and one that takes a we-need-a-new-association viewpoint.
That’s balanced trade publishing. “We Provide, You Decide.” ©
As both a publisher and as an MHI board member, others have encouraged as well as expressed concerns to me, and we have published some of those concerns by reference when off-the-record, or under the person’s name, when OK’d to do so.
When someone is a manager, executive or even an owner of a company or organization which supplies products or services to XYZ, it is entirely understandable that such a person does not want to publicly say something that XYZ may not want to read or hear on video. Other media do such off-the-record reports, we do too.
Let’s reframe some of the above.
In the automotive industry world, there would be thicker skins about Car and Driver or some other auto-trade publication critiquing a publicly visible professional person’s performance, or that of an organization. It’s pretty common in other industries!
The featured story on this almost decade old Manufactured Home Merchandiser Magazine cover was one that your Masthead scribe wrote for them.
What makes it uncommon in MH – and thus, perhaps a little shocking to some in MHVille – is precisely that our industry has heretofore had no similar trade publishing. Even in its heyday, the venerable MH Merchandiser Magazine was only a monthly, with some news and mostly columns and ads. Only MHProNews has produced an industry business daily news in the MH World.
Jim Visser at the Journal rarely does an editorial. Herb Tieder’s Merchandiser did an editorial column, but those that recall know it wasn’t much like those you’ll find here on the Masthead.
That’s no slam, it’s reality. In fairness to those others, how could they? Those other publishers never had the first-hand view from the MH trenches we have, then or now!
MHProNews has changed all that for trade publishing in our industry. That’s why thousands of MHPros flock here daily.
Investors, media, academics, public officials, policy advocates and researchers from around-the-world read this publication too.
MH today is, as Nathan Smith said on video, a boutique industry and thus a relatively small audience. Comparing us to the Dallas Morning News, Chicago Sun Times or Tribune, the New York or Los Angeles Times – or even a more financially focused professionals’ publication like Forbes – our audience is signficantly smaller.
But MHProNews has articles that get more hits than some articles on Forbes gets.
That’s a fact. Here’s an example for proof. We’ll have more hits on dozens of articles on MHProNews this and every month than what this Forbes article reflects.
2,525 visitors on MHProNews at the time and date shown. That’s not cumulative, that’s readers at that specific time. Typical reader views 8+ pages, per Webalizer. Screen capture of base of MHProNews.com home page.
Some in our industry have never known anything but MHProNews, or perhaps some less popular bloggers or emailed PDF newsletters done by consultants, in which those other writers naturally promote their own products and services.
But none, none of those other publications have the same domestic or global reach that MHProNews has. It’s not bragging or hubris if it’s true, and these are facts.
It’s no surprise to us that a group out of Singapore is making a two billion dollar plus play for MHCs in the U.S., international business and investors interested in factory built housing are on our pages routinely.
While our audience is absolutely dominated by those in the U.S., as we’ve shown before, our webstats and contacts from professionals living in “investor nations” in Europe, Asia and other parts of the globe is steady and growing, as is our reach in the United States.
So the view from the Masthead matters to MHVille, and to a real extent, MHVille benefits from MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com. As but one example, every company that attends the Louisville or Tunica Shows in the past several years has benefited from our promoting those events.
The Masthead shares these insights, hoping to limit misunderstandings. I have no personal animus towards say MHI’s Jennison or Gooch; it’s professional and the questions are simple. Do they get the job done? Have they behaved in an entirely professional and ethical fashion? Are they helping or harming MHI and its goals?
Setting the Manufactured Housing World on Fire
Some have cheered our reports, others – including highly placed officials – have provided respectful feedback that disagrees with our take, and advises us to handle it differently. One was very kind in saying that they know I mean well, but that I’m going about this all wrong. I hear all of that, and to all who have sent their thoughts for, against or nuanced – my sincere thanks to each of you.
We respect all of those takes, encourage them, promise to take them all into consideration and we’ll gladly publish them when asked and thoughtfully presented.
We don’t seek conflict or controversy for its own sake.
We do have goals for the MH industry and for all those our great industry serves.
The executive summary for all this could be – the Truth sets us free. Everything else – are details and commentary.
With no further adieu, let’s dive into our July 2016 Featured Articles.
Featured Articles and Reports for Vol. 7, No. 10, 2016
Alphabetically by Category
COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)
• How Peace of Mind Attracts More Qualified Clients and Boost Sales
by Tifanee McCall
Every day, hundreds of thousands of big TVs and electronic items like computers are being sold.
• Colorado MHC Portfolio | 719 Sites | Colorado
by Christopher Nortley
MHRE Inc. is pleased to present the Colorado MHC Portfolio, which consists of 3 communities with a combined site count of 719. The Home Portfolio consists of 243 homes throughout the 3 communities.
• UMH Properties hits 52-Week High, Projections Skyward
by Matthew Silver
As investors await the Aug. 4, 2016 earnings report from manufactured housing community (MHC) owner UMH Properties, Inc. (NYSE:UMH), the stock has hit a new 52-week high at $11.25, with a target of $26.10, a 132% increase.
•Identifying and Resolving Barriers of Entry for more Manufactured Home Lending
by Titus Dare
Getting more lending into the manufactured housing space is not a simple snap of a finger and “poof!” it’s done. Getting more lending starts, as I noted a few days ago, with the three prongs of needed Education. It relies too on the 4S’ of good lending – Safe, Sound, Sanitary and Sustainable.
• Northpoint Commercial Finance Expands Field Sales Organization
by Northpoint Commercial Finance
Alpharetta, GA, June 26, 2016 – Two new Directors of Business Development have joined Northpoint Commercial Finance’s Field Sales Organization.
• Why Manufactured Homes Are Being Chosen By Today’s Homeowners
by Triad Financial Services
Many of us are aware of the current affordable housing crisis. Whether it be the significant increase in rent or lack of affordable options in today’s site built homes, consumers are looking for a solution and manufactured homes are providing a viable choice.
GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS
• Clayton releases top energy efficient features for manufactured and modular homes.
by Clayton Homes
Top energy-efficient housing features every new homebuyer should know
Most Americans want an energy-efficient home, and they’re willing to make the necessary changes to help improve efficiency, whether it’s changing their habits or buying more energy-efficient appliances.
• You’re Invited – 2016 RV MH Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
by Barry Cole
You’re invited to the 2016 RV MH Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony!
• Bob Crawford – On MHI, MHARR and a New Association
by Bob Crawford
In reply to your request to rate MHI’s effectiveness at advocacy for independent retail/non-corporate MH business, I would have to rate it at best a 5.
• Proof MHPros Can Attract the Site Built Customer to Manufactured Homes and MHCommunities
by Tom Fath
We met Tony (Kovach) in 2014 at the Louisville Home Show and found his firm’s vision, professional services, and expertise to be in the direction our business and the industry as a whole needed to move at a fast pace.
• Frank Rolfe – Interview on MH Industry Business, Politics and Associations
by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
There has been a wide range of comments – for, against or in between – regarding the MHProNews critique and analysis of MHI’s lobbying activities, centering on Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison and Lesli Gooch.
• Congressional Testimony by Jayar Daily, COO, American Homestar Corporation on – Future Of Housing In America: Government Regulations And The High Cost Of Housing
by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
The written testimony (linked here) to Congress by F. R. Jayar Daily, Chief Operations Officer for American Homestar Corporation and a member of MHI’s board of directors is dated March 22nd, 2016.
• The Next American Political Revolution? The Next 4th of July
by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
Those who neglect the lessons of the past are condemn to relieve them.
• Off The Record – Musings Of A Warped MH Mind
by MH Industry member
The recent allegations concerning MHI staff members are troublesome.
• Singapore Investors Turn Sights on Yes! Communities for $2Billion+
by Matthew Silver
MHProNews has learned from The Wall Street Journal that Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, is in talks to acquire Denver-based YES! Communities from private-equity firm Stockbridge Capital Group for over $2 billion.
• American Banking News – Key MHI Staff “Excoriated” for Failing Their Mission, Members
Matthew J Silver
With Dodd-Frank, financing and CFPB related issues routinely on the minds of manufactured housing industry professionals, TheDaily Business News has learned fromAmerican Banking News the following report on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), which is made available below.
• Mary McBrady says Massachusetts is Smacked with Shortage of Mid-range Homes
by Matthew Silver
Mary McBrady, executive director of the Massachusetts Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA), noting the shortage of mid-priced housing in Mass., and a plethora of schools and researchers interested in housing policy within the state, says, “We, as an industry, need to be part of that conversation and dialogue.”
• Skyline Outshines other MH-related Stocks; Dow Regains 235 Point
by Matthew Silver
In the news from CNNMoney: A Tesla 2015 S on autopilot has fatal crash, spurring Federal investigation.
• Tony Prevatte Chosen to Head NC MH Association
by Matthew Silver
MHProNews has learned from robesonian that Tony Prevatte, owner of Prevatte Home Sales in Lumberton, NC has been elected president of the North Carolina Manufactured and Modular Homebuilder’s Association’s board of directors.
• Manufactured Home Marketing and Sales Makeover
by Soheyla Kovach
To get a different result, you obviously have to do some things differently.
• Award Winning Manufactured Home Retailer Perspectives on Sunshine Homes, Red Bay AL
by Soheyla Kovach
Our family, videographer, drone pilot and I went to Hattiesburg MS to meet with award winning manufactured home retailer, George Campbell of Southern Colonel Homes.