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On the Boat with Manufactured Housing’s Marty Lavin

The truth be told (and such is my intent), it was NOT my plan to write about the time shared with Marty Lavin, JD. Yes, I wanted to take some photos that might be used later on for something. But going to see Marty and Pat Lavin to relax on their handsome new craft, the Spy Sea, was the intent. Let me share briefly why my mind was changed, and why you as an industry professional should care about what Marty had to say. Because he might as well have been speaking to the industry!



An Industry Success Story

First, we had a great time. Perhaps more on that another day. Let me dally for a moment about the Spy Sea (which, when you say the name fast, sounds like “spicey”) and explain that this is a symbol of the significant success Marty has had in his career in manufactured housing. Marty has operated:

  • finance units that were bigger in loan volume than some 'major' lenders in our industry today.
  • Operated communities with overall good resident relations.
  • Was a team member in a retail operation that pumped out 5,000 factory built homes a year.
  • Went through a down turn, without biting the BK bullet, because he kept his cool (my view) and worked through challenges step-by-step.
  • Worked with Fannie and Freddie, so he knows their insights and processes.
  • Was awarded the coveted MHI “Totaro Award,” which graces what land lubbers would call the living room, but which on a fine Italian crafted vessel such as Lavin's is properly called a 'saloon,' the place where you relax and taste your drinks!


My point is that Marty has been successful in our industry. He's been there, done that, has the ship and the t-shirt to go with it. Also please be mindful that I'm not Marty's publicist, he is not my client. I did let him know prior to leaving what I had in mind about sharing his thoughts and he said to me, by all means, go ahead and write.

Love him, hate him, admire him…you have to be willing to lend them Marty your ear, eyes and mind.


Because what the man has to say may be so important that it could be worth millions to you, and billions to our industry.

Also keep in mind that he isn't trying to line up new clients, Pat and Marty are enjoying their retirement.

But IMHO, his passion for manufactured housing and the community business has not waned one little bit!

With that tee up, let me zero in on one of many pithy, pointed, powerful pensées shared by one Marty Lavin, JD.

Tony, It's Not the Product!”

Tony, it's not the product.” Marty was telling me that the challenges facing manufactured housing has little to do with our homes, which aremarty-lavin-jd-manufactured-home-community-owner-on-board-sea-spray just fine and a great value. It has more to do with issues surrounding our homes, and more to do with our industry's unwillingness to deal with core issues that hamper our growth.

Marty mentioned a handful of people in our industry who have caused it significant grief. I won't go into the names, at least not today, other than to point out what he said for the record in the article linked here. Be you a MHARR member, an MHI member, in a state or community industry trade association or are non-aligned, please listen!

About Pogo

“Tony, I was writing and speaking out about Manufactured Housing's Pogo over a decade ago.”

About Non-Profits and Manufactured Housing

I'd like to hold this topic for another day, because it is a doozy. Please consider this as a place holder.

About Manufactured housing finance and image

I'm not going to repeat the well known industry names that Marty mentioned, but will say that Marty worked for years to get Fannie and Freddie to understand our industry better and to be willing to step in with sound financing that could 'save it' from the declining path he saw the business on.

Once the deal was in hand, what happened? People inside our industry torpedoed it.

Marty is quick to add that some of those same people have since come around on the topic. Some big name pros that were once opposed to an image campaign, now support it. Some who tossed the proverbial monkey wrench into the financing opportunity that Marty and others worked on, now wish they had done differently.  

Lets add as well that this isn't just Marty's take on the topics, your scribe has spoken with others involved in those activities who tell me a very similar story to what Marty shared on the Spy Sea.

There are lots of other comments, I hope to share in periodic future reflections on almost 2 days of conversations with this respected industry pro, who believes in doing the customer and the industry right.

For now, a rather humble one Marty shared with me: “… if I'm so smart, why ain't I rich like some others who seem not so smart? Well, I guess intelligence is no guarantee of wealth, as Einstein found.”

That one had me laughing. Marty is no poor boy, but let me tell you, he has a wife and family who love him, and he is rich in so much that truly matters.

Industry Events

I'm trying like a son-of-a-gun to get Marty and Pat to say yes to coming to either Tunica, or yes to coming to Vegas and MHI's Congress and Expo (FYI, Congress and Expo is up about 10% in pre-registrations over this same time last year!).

What I have from the Lavins' at this point is a polite, no. I offered Marty stage time on Tunica, and since I'm the seminar coordinator, I could make that happen for him. No thanks, was his reply.

As some of you know, it isn't in my persona to give up easily.

But either way, if he comes off that fine yacht or not, you should go (you may not be retired in style like Marty is yet!) to Tunica and to Congress and Expo and you should join me in encouraging Marty to keep sounding off on MH Industry issues. Because each time he sounds off, some people do listen.  Marty went to tons of events like these over the years, and he could tell you why the pros who go, tend to grow.

Shipments UP and Looking Back at Louisville

Is it a coincidence that shipments for January 2014 are up and that Louisville had a post 2010 record attendance? We don't think so!

Next to articles about Tunica, the next hottest topic are the interviews and recap videos from the Louisville Show! They are linked here, enjoy. See Terry Decio, Wally Comer and others in all their video glory!

Tunica Looms Large!

Messages and calls related to Tunica are dovetailing with the red-hot readership on the subject here on MHProNews. Our sources with the show tell us people are calling even from parts of the country that don't normally show up in Tunica.

If you are coming, please stop by and say hello.  When I'm not busy doing:

  • videos with pros like yourself, like the one you see below or the ones linked here;
  • or in the Seminar Room,
  • or walking homes, exhibits or at a mixer
  • you'll see me and our team at Booth 13H in the Hall of Harrah's fine Convention Center in Tunica, MS.

More this weekend on industry insights, in the mean time, please check out the many fine featured articles by our experts found on the home page, center module just below the Daily Business News modules. The article from Bill Matchneer, formerly with HUD and the CFPB is another top of the mountain read, its linked here.

Don't forget to take a look at the featured home of the week, on Manufactured Home Living News. ##

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
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