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Industry Growth vs. Industry Threats – Coal Industry Lessons for Manufactured Housing?

April 14th, 2016 No comments

February 2016 witnessed a record shipment increase in new homes, the biggest jump in some time in our manufactured home (MH) industry. That Daily Business News report is linked here. While that’s obviously a positive sign, pros must keep in mind that until we crack at least 100,000 new home shipments annually again, MH as an industry is still vulnerable to what happened to U.S. Bank. 

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HUD Code multi-sectional manufactured homes, ready to ship. Photo credit, WikiCommons.

We’re seeing factory-built home production centers re-opening, as well as the trend of factories being consolidated, see just a few examples linked below.

Aquisitions – consolidations – are also taking place at a steady clip in the MH communities space, as this report reminds us.

We love to share good news. Cheerleading can be fun and done properly, is necessary. However, someone in MH trade publishing must also act as the clarion call to do more – for your sake, ours and all involved – on the utter necessity to grow. Each of the stories linked today represents facts and trends that industry pros must sit up and ponder.

Lessons for MH from the Coal Industry?

We can and must learn from our own and other industries. Breitbart ran the article excerpted below, written by a former coal industry executive. Its a chilling reminder of government overreach that harshly impacted private industry, and the link to the entire article is found here.

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We can learn lessons from experiences within manufactured housing, but also must be aware of other trends outside of our industry that could foreshadow both potential for good or ill within the MH space. The “War on Coal” during this administration has been big news for years. Who has wondered if their is an unspoken war on manufactured housing? Image credits for screen captures above, Breitbart.

Could a hostile administration or a hostile regulator turn on MH in a potentially deadly fashion to the industry? Why do you think MHPros are thanking us for the article on Pam Danner and HUD, linked here

Discrimination Code…

A very successful MH pro told the Masthead that the HUD Code is a discrimination code. What does that mean?” – was my reply. Part of his answer was that public policy was being used to turn HUD’s preemptive code on its head, instead of giving MH the technical advantages it was intended to bring.

Please don’t take that the wrong way.

Some think, for example, that the solution to federal, state and local pressures on the HUD Code for manufactured housing is to escape and shift “HUDs” to building modular housing. First note that the modular industry is wisely taking steps to promote themselves, and to increase their positive visibility in the news. Then we must be mindful that MODs are still only a fraction of the size of MH in shipments. Furthermore building only MODs wouldn’t help land lease communities without changing key elements of their business models, and MH Land lease communities represents north of $90,000,000,000 in value.

Additionally, the savings from modular housing isn’t as great as HUD Code MH yields

Therefor, while MODs cleary have their place, MH pros ought to be thinking more growth and more profits, while keeping each element of PEP in mind.

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                                                  A leading MH state association’s mantra taught by one of our veteran MH leaders.

So the common sense bottom line for the MH industry ought to be to fuel growth through educational image change. That’s a cause MHProNews and MHLivingNews have long championed. 

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Click the image above to see the Becki Jackson video interview, an important one for all affordable housing advocates and factory built home pros to know.

A growing number corporate players in MH are arguably striving to improve their image, but the need for more of the industry to unify behind a localized image/educational campaign that has regional and national coverage just makes good sense.

Our own industry’s lessons at the hands of regulators – plus those apparent from the coal industry – both tell you why all forward thinking MH pros must plan and act to grow your unique part of the MH space.

Make no mistake about it! In a more free market economy, MH is well positioned to thrive! But our economy isn’t nearly as free as we used to be. We need more firms taking the warnings and lessons of the coal industry’s plight, apply that to their own success in MH, and join those with other forward thinkers in a collective effort to enhance and grow our industry.

Make no mistake.  We strongly believe in the future of MH. The reasons for those openings, consolidations, etc. is because others believe in the future of MH too. Promoting a brighter future is a big part of why we do – and what we do to serve all aspects of the factory built home industry.  

We in MH also need the truth – a balance of the good and the troubling – to navigate the rocky shoals our respective businesses strive to navigate through. Let’s close for today with these four links. John Bostick,  UMH Properties/OMHA Congressional meeting, Becki Jackson and Soheyla Kovach. Each of these four links are pieces of the puzzle for future success. ##

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One of the educational sessions at the 2016 Tunica Show, to see the recap video, please click here or the image above.

L. A. “Tony” Kovach
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