Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Failure, Success and Profitable Truth Detection for Manufactured Housing

November 24th, 2018 No comments



Everyone has had the experience of realizing that something that they had believed about a person, thing or group was untrue. 


There are scores of reasons that explain why and how that phenomenon of discovery occurs. But the reality is that it does happen, so it needs no more explanation than what’s just been given.

Failure and success are often a matter of proper knowledge. Every parent has observed a child that was doing something wrong. If the child is not properly informed in a parental way of their error, perhaps they would just keep on making the mistake, and keep failing. It is innate for a normal parent to want the best for their child. So, the helping hand of correction is patently and lovingly given as needed.

So, when contradictory information is out there in the public, how does someone detect the truth? When contradictory examples or claims are made, how can one honorably discover and express the truth?

There are many ways. So, let me focus on a simple and proven notions, that anyone can do, and then relate it to achieving a greater degree of Manufactured Housing Professional Success.




Back to Basics  

Basics are the foundation of understanding. There are the ABCs of the English language. There are the 1-2-3s of math. There is gravity in science. But how about the basics for sustainable, profitable business? 

In Tulsa, OK there’s a manufactured home retailer whose business name is LifeWay Homes. Clever name, packed with meaning. If you spend much time in their office, it is no secret that their faith – LifeWay – is a core concept for them. Housing is also a prerequisite to what most consider a good “way of life” – again, LifeWay. By the way, they never expressly said that to me, it is intuited.  

In Louisiana, there is another retailer named Alan Amy. He too has a marvelous way of expressing powerful yet simple notions. People come into office and sales center, they are interested, but are not always ready to buy. Why?

Because they have questions, concerns, and doubts.  Those doubts about manufactured homes occur from coast-to-coast, border-to-border with regards to our industry.  It is a phenomenon that few if any industries as well established as manufactured homes are has experienced. 

But back to Alan Amy…


Alan Amy, sitting in a Sunshine Homes model, a still from a video captured during the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show.

Touch and feel,’ Alan said during a video interview we did with him, as he described what he sometimes says to skeptical buyers.

Smart. Get someone to experience what manufactured homes are. That’s similar to what the late, great Zig Ziglar taught me about the “puppy dog close” in sales. Experiencing a manufactured home is wise.

The five senses – including setting, touching, and hearing –  those can lead to believing.

Neither Amy nor the good folks at LifeWay knew it, but this writer has used some similar notions for years, although we might describe them differently. Our prime purpose with them was for interviews of them and some of their customers.

Getting someone to experience or confront a truth well told is powerful. We have an entire, formal marketing and sales process that can convert a site-built hosing shopper into a manufactured home buyer. Not 100 percent of the time, but more than often enough, and pleasantly enough, where it works for everyone involved. Happy customers and referrals flow.

But our sales and marketing successes aren’t the point of this column, Truth Detection is. 

The truth will routinely become evident over time. The truth may or may not be so evident ‘on the spot.’ Confidence men or ‘con men‘ know that, and they expect their deception to be relatively short lived, but long enough to separate someone from their money or some other valuable possession. 

By the way, in any con man movie that you ever watched, was the con artist – male or female – ever lacking in charm, or persuasiveness? Often dressed to fit the part, the con is about a well told lie, often based upon believable half-truths.



For a discerning, questioning, and open mind, the truth is knowable. Time and attention to the details vs. the claims made are among the keys to Truth Detection.


Truth Detection 101

Here’s how people around the world have detected the truth from a lie or deception for thousands of years.

It’s called, the 10 Commandments. Let’s first note that the best of believers fails at always keeping these 10 divine commands, but that doesn’t invalidate them. If you or I are periodically hypocritical or fail to live up to our own or another set of standards, that is human enough. I freely admit to errors, as any English major who carefully scopes out our publishing already knows.  

So why do thousands of manufactured home industry professionals flock to MHProNews daily, when there are typos? Why do thousands like yourself overlook our typos?  IMHO, because at some deep level, people know that we strive for the truth. We see value in telling the truth as we understand it. Our readers see value too, or they wouldn’t be reading here. Because anyone’s human understanding deepens over time, so has our writing.

I will focus for a few moments on only two of the Ten Commandments as keys to Truth Detection.  

   You shall not steal.

   You shall not bear false witness. 

That doesn’t mean the other 8 commandments aren’t important.  They are, or God would not have given them to Moses on Mount Sinai.  But let’s focus on not stealing and the truth for the next few moments. Because if you get those 2, you will have a powerful secret of truth detection.  Those secrets, properly applied over time, yield routine, sustainable professional success. 

Here’s the historic – the epic – secret.  

We may or may not know on the spot when someone has made a false statement, or if a falsehood was deliberate or accidental.

This is where history – experiences over time – are priceless. Because if you use the gift of memory, coupled with the gift of discernment, the truth becomes increasingly evident as time marches on.

So, with memory and attention to details, a false witness – a deception – becomes clear over time. Once deception is detected, and once patterns of deception are discerned, is there any reason to trust a deliberate deceiver?

The reverse is also true. Knowing that we all make mistakes, if one becomes aware that a source is routinely reliable, while another source is routinely deceptive or opaque, doesn’t that understanding and clarity help foster success?

Of course it does, so long as truth is followed over falsehood. 

Finally, we come to the divine commandment of not stealing.

The law recognizes many forms of theft. They include, but are not limited to:




   Theft by fraud or deception – a “con job

are among the more common types of stealing.  There is also racketeering, collusion that rigs a market, and more. 

But what about a political candidate who promises to ‘tax the rich,’ and give you ‘free stuff’ that ‘the rich’ will pay for? Is that sort of claim a form of stealing?

Absolutely, a scholar might argue, because time and again that false promise is proven to be a lie. It’s a deception designed to rob someone of their opportunities.  Opportunities that go untapped costs our industry tens of billions annually, and per the applied understanding of scholars, costs the USA a stunning $2 trillion dollars a year in lost GDP, because of the harmful impact of our nation not having enough affordable homes. 

What become known as the American Way was a blending of those 10 Commandments with the notion that people could do for themselves better and more efficiently than what a government can often do. If the government can unjustly take from one person, and give it to another, that is only a form of legalized theft. 

When Candidate Z – whomever Z might be – promises ‘free stuff‘ to millions of Americans, it’s a lie. That lie is based upon a form of legalized theft.  There Is No Such Thing As  Free Lunch =TANSTAAFL. That was taught to me around junior high school, just as computer class taught me GIGO = Garbage In, Garbage Out. 

A repeated lie, half-truth, spin, or other form of deception are how people become brainwashed into believing something that is not true.  

Smart people can be brainwashed, as can the simple. I’d venture to say, you and we have all been brainwashed at some time about something, even if it was something as common as the federal government’s dietary guidelines, which today are being medically questioned as contributing to obesity. 

And within that example lies the point.

We might believe something at first, but when time and experience reveals that those dietary guidelines were sold to the Feds by special interests, and those interests profited by their preferred guidelines being used, instead of using another diet that may have been more healthful. The result of poor dietary guidelines? Perhaps the richest nation on earth – the USA – has more than the norm of overnight people, and thus higher healthcare costs than would otherwise occur. 

The truth outs over time, for those who pay attention to the details. Paraphrasing what Marty Lavin has said: 

   Follow the Money trail. 

   Pay attention to what people say, but then pay more attention to the actual results of what they claimed produces.

If the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), or the power brokers behind them, back candidates for public office that tell the repeated lie of ‘something for nothing,‘ why should MHI or those Candidate Zs be trusted?  

At times, for clarity on what may seem like confusing issues, we have to get back to basics.

There are a growing chorus within manufactured housing that are paying attention to the money trail.  More are following the track-record of what has been said vs what has been accomplished, which yielded dissatisfaction with MHI – and those in Omaha or Knoxville who arguably pull the strings for that Arlington, VA based trade group.  

When Warren Buffett backs candidates who promise higher taxes, who offer something for nothing, he is arguably too smart and too experienced in history to believe what he said about various Candidate Zs. The logical conclusion is akin to the dietary guidelines.  A special interest – Buffett and his Berkshire brands – are getting something that they want. That might help him, but not others.

A front person in politics delivers as best they can to their donor, whatever those deep pocket contributors desired.

There are two commandments that if we pay attention to them, will help us discern the truth.

  • Thou shall not steal.
  • Thou shall not bear false witness. 

Couple that with the track record – the history of a person, a promise, or group – and much becomes clear over time.  Your failure or success depends upon facts, not fiction. Truth detection is profitable, buying a lie is costly. Indeed, truth and honesty in business are at the core of sustainable success.

Last point for today is this.  Just as a repeated lie or falsehood can deceive millions, so too the truth must be told often, and lies must be combated and refuted.  That can happen one-on-one, as Alan Amy’s example reflects. It can also occur in the court of public opinion. Those are keys to local, regional, or national success. “We Provide, You Decide.   ©

NOTICE: a different Masthead than this topic was been put on hold to present the above, but the planned topic will likely be published next week. ## (News, commentary, and analysis.)

(See Related Reports, further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

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Related References:

Machiavellian “Godfather” – Sam Zell, Warren Buffett, Capital, Lending and Crossed Lines in Manufactured Housing


Home of the Brave

May 28th, 2014 No comments

Three short topics today – the water's fine! – let's dive in and get started.

Home of The Brave

"…Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave? O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave…"


Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer in the U.S.A.. It is also the first of a trilogy of patriotic days to remember, followed by Flag Day on June 14 and the Fourth of July, which commemorates the Declaration of Independence.

In reflecting on the lyrics from the Star Spangled Banner, the clear ties to the American Dream of owning your own home struck me.

Which should brings us to the clear benefits we in the factory-built manufactured and modular home industry should be shouting from the rooftops.

Homes for the Brave, Safe Bet?

Let's agree that the safest bet is the one you have the most ability to influence.


Games of chance like cards or roulette favor "the house." That's how those gleaming palaces like Caesars, the Venetian, Bellagio or others in Vegas or other gambling towns get paid and turn billions in profits.

The safest bet isn't the long, long odds for the Lotto either.

Rather, it's the bet on your own business or profession, where excellence can be delivered in a fashion that is then rewarded! You are the one who decides daily to provide that excellence for your clients, comrades, corporation and colleagues.

In a previous Masthead, we suggested that the miracle of teaming up was needed.

Let's look at a practical application of that concept.


As an example.

What if every pro in our industry plunked down $10 each, with an estimated 200,000 professionals, we'd have $2,000,000 to launch a campaign to educate ourselves to better engage and to attract more of the public to a true appreciation of all that we offer.

That $2 million dollars would lead to billions of dollars in additional manufactured and modular home orders. Which would mean:

  • more job security for all true industry pros, starting on the factory floor and working though to ever aspect of our business.
  • Manufactured Home land lease communities would be fuller, so their values would rise.
  • Rising demand would boost values on existing manufactured homes.
  • Floor dues would move more robustly into association coffers, so they could do more.
  • Less subsidized housing would be needed, so any strain on local, state and federal budgets would be eased.
  • The multiplier economic effect would cascade through our economy, with more furniture, appliances, floor coverings, lawn mowers, etc, etc. being sold.

The point is we don't have to wait for the billionaires to do this. All that is needed is the miracle of teaming up.

More on this another time. Let's move on to topic two.

Park Models/RVs to Compete with HUD Code Manufactured Homes?

Your Masthead scribe was schooled recently by a number of state execs, and a legal mind or two on the importance of this topic.

Please see Jim Ayotte's thought provoking article, and decide NOW if you want to wait to see if this is “okay” as some think or harms us, as others do. Is this an issue we want to get in front of by calling your state, community and or national organizations to stop this in its tracks?

We've had a number of PASSIONATE off the record comments on this, by phone and via email.

Please read Jim's thoughtful column. We will also have an article for you to read on this soon from MHI.

You know the drill. We Provide, You Decide ©.

A Red Hot – or is that Read Hot? ;-) – new June issue approaches!

Yes, you can still read all of the Featured Articles for May, but this weekend, watch for the Volume 5, #9 issue of MHProNews!

  • New, exclusive Video Interviews! (Sample prior ones linked here.)
  • New, legal experts sound off!
  • New, Manufactured Home Finance column and what many will find is a simpler and smarter way to navigate Dodd-Frank/CFPB and the steering issue!
  • New! Tyler on Marketing!
  • New, Eastern Ohio Home Show wrap up report!
  • Much, much, more including part two of our exclusive A Cup of Coffee with...Jim Clayton and A Cup of Coffee with…Ron Thomas, Sr., RV/MH Hall of Fame, Louisville Show and MMHF Chairman!

We expect no less than 5 articles from attorneys in June!

This legal topics will cover some HOT topics such as The Failure to Maintain (FTM) issue.

Let's be clear, we are not sensationalizing FTM. Rather, the hope is that an ounce of prevention is easier than the pound of cure.

We also think the articles on this topic should calm any nervous capital/investors who might otherwise come into manufactured housing.

Our regular bevy of quality marketing, sales and management subjects will also be showcased in June.

Please check in here this weekend for the full line up, and remember – while we switch new issues, part of the home page temporarily vanishes in that Featured Article module – but then returns soon thereafter with all the new ones!


We are rolling out our new and once more improved email news updates!  Yes, this matters to you, because timely information and knowledge are potential power in business.

No where else do you get anything like our industry-leading, twice weekly emailed updates, which mimic what you see on the e-Newsletter archive.

The new format will go out with our regular mid-week message. Your feedback is very much appreciated. We keep striving to improve to serve you better.


The time saving and information packed newsletter is the easiest way to keep up with the best of all that is happening in manufactured and modular housing. Sign up free in seconds at and make sure your team and colleagues are on the email list too.


Join us this weekend for the start of our read, err…red hot June issue!  Thousands of pros like you logon DAILY here at MHProNews. Don't be the last to learn more, because being ahead of the curve allows you to earn more.

For all you who make, serve and sell the owners past, present and to come of Homes for the Brave, thanks for checking in and enough said for today. ##

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach | | Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking: | | Office 863-213-4090 Connect on LinkedIN: 

He Who Hesitates is Lost and Manufactured Housing MOmentum!

May 18th, 2014 No comments

"The woman who deliberates is lost." in Cato, by Joseph Adler.

Let's run through, four quick snapshots of the Mo-mentum found in four industry advancing efforts, plus a positive CBS News video report and more!

Our industry has an amazing array of

  • perspectives,
  • frustrations,
  • opportunities,
  • hesitations and
  • advances.

Ideas are great, but they must be followed by action for advantages to follow.

Some fear loss more than they have the desire to gain, but its precisely those who risk loss – who put their egos, time and money on the line – who often gain the most. Abraham Lincoln is seen as one of America's greatest presidents. But he failed more than he succeeded!

The self-made millionaires and billionaires of America are precisely those who earlier in their career looked pretty run-of-the-mill, or in many cases. we're put down as day-dreamers or failures. Some bloom early, others later in life. What matters is the accomplishment, and it often stands on the shoulders of previous risks and failures!


Eastern Ohio Home Show, public day, courtesy of Ohio Manufactured Homes Association.

Event fatigue?

Like many of you, we hear from some about meeting or event fatigue. Indeed, there are hundreds of meetings and events in the course of the year for manufactured or modular housing. "Why do we need any more? " some ask.

Meanwhile others point to precisely what is new or revived as to where progress in factory built housing is taking place.

Let me run through some recent/current events as examples of where the factory built home industry is finding progress! These areshoppers=rona-homes-eastern-ohio-home-show-credit-omho-ribbon-cutting--posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com pros who are stepping out and putting the time, money and effort into making good things happen!

Tim Williams gives Eastern Ohio Home Show day 2 bottom lines

While others have talked about doing public days since the last efforts for this were made a couple of years ago, Tim Williams and the sponsors of the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association have made it happen!

Official Head Counts under cloudy, cool and rainy skies provided to us by Tim Williams, executive director of the Ohio Homes Association, are as follows.


The 60% industry day event on Friday, 397 (9 AM- 3:30 PM),

Attendance for public day on Friday (the remaining four hours of the day, 4-8 PM), 337.

Public Day SATURDAY (9AM – 6PM)— 1,149.

Total Public through Saturday = 1,486.

Total public and industry = 1,883.


This already makes the Eastern Ohio Home Show the third largest event in the Manufactured Housing Industry for 2014! Sales and lead activity are being generated, from the early reports we've heard. Hats off to all involved!

We will give you a report at the conclusion of their show.

Jay Hamilton, GMHA – Atlanta Journal Constitution. Please see this link here.

Nancy Geer, New York Housing Alliance. Please see this link here.

Jay and Nancy both took different paths toward the same goal – industry image and understanding – advancement! Please see, view and read their efforts linked above, and ask yourself: how can we apply those ideas in our business or association?

An answer for some will follow in the “bonus,” later below.

Rick Rand, see this link for the outline, and let me note that the early reports are that hands are being raised (including some from BIG operations) to support and take part in what is being labeled as a trans-associational effort.

Most of the inquiries are understandably going to Rick. For clarity to those who have reached out to me here, Rick is happy to play a role in this effort, but my understanding is he isn't looking to be the face much less a one man band. Translation, you can put Your stamp on his plan!


Let's hereby congratulate each of those named above – Tim, Nancy, Jay and Rick – for their unique efforts and activities geared to advance the manufactured housing industry.

Let's remember that in 2010, the Louisville Show was canceled after a dreary death spiral in prior years. Many – wrongly! – thought it would never come back. But mutual, synergistic efforts and new online marketing efforts brought the show back, and have now made it the industry's top attended trade event in 2014!

There are many powerful lessons to be learned and applied from the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show.

As you face decisions in your business, association, operation or career, keep in mind one of my favorite quotes from this legendary pioneer:

"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."
– Henry Ford


As you think about positive media – linked from items above and below – think about how this platform and its public focused sister site are increasingly impacting the media and investment community mix.

Plans for raising the bar more profitably for investors, owners, associations and business professionals like you are found on MHProNews and ManufacturedHomeLivingNews. Please click the link to learn more how you can be a part of the growth.

Let me thank all those who encourage and support this industry-leading trade journal for manufactured and modular housing. For thousands daily, we are a part of the daily rhythm of their professional life. Since you're reading here, that may already – or now may start – to be true for you too.

Steve Lefler at Modular Lifestyles Shared this positive CBS News report

If your web-browsing device isn't "flash friendly," you can find the CBS News video at this link.

Industry owners, pros, investors and association leaders, please note that some of the facts that came out from the CBS News report…sound quite like information found on our Manufactured Home Living News sister-site.


Take-Aways and Lessons Learned

From top to bottom in the reports on this page, what all of these examples have in common is that multiple people and organizations pulled together towards a common goal.

We have an opportunity to tap more of a trillion-dollar annual housing market with greater gusto than ever before.

Why not pick one or more messaging/image building vehicles or concepts mentioned on this page, and make it happen for your operation, state or the nation?

Remember, he who hesitates is lost.

Inspirational wrap up!

Barbara Erickson, Pat Curran and Larry Hahn have each supplied us with some thought provoking and inspirational items. Please see their latest contributions – among dozens of others – found on the Inspirations blog, linked here.

Let's close with some quotes by 18th century thinker, writer and politico – Joseph Adler – courtesy of Wikiquotes. FYI, when Adler says 'dispatch,' think 'rapid.'

  • "There is nothing more requisite in business than dispatch."
  • "When men are easy in their circumstances, they are naturally enemies to innovations."
  • "Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly."
  • "There is no virtue so truly great and godlike as justice."
  • "Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors."
  • "What an absurd thing it is to pass over all the valuable parts of a man, and fix our attention on his infirmities."
  • "The great art in writing advertisements is the finding out a proper method to catch the reader's eye; without which a good thing may pass over unobserved, or be lost among commissions of bankrupt."
  • "Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed."

A number of sources say “He who hesitates is lost” was a paraphrase of Joseph Adler quotes, like the one we opened with. DictionaryReference cites the American Heritage dictionary as explaining the quote as:

He who hesitates is lost definition,

"A person who spends too much time deliberating about what to do
loses the chance to act altogether."

You see farther from the Masthead. We see farther thanks to the insights and contributions of readers and pros like you. Send your news tips – as Steve Lefler did and others routinely do – to:

and don't forget to sign up for the best twice weekly recap of industry news, tips and views you can use delivered = free = to your inbox. The link is here, sign up in seconds.

Many thanks, see you mid-week as we look anew at one of the most exciting industries, modern manufactured and modular homes! ##

(Image credits: Eastern Ohio Home Show, Tim Williams, "Mike N Mary Jo", Video credit: CBSNews)

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach | | Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking: | | Office 863-213-4090 Connect on LinkedIN: 

CFPB, MHI and MH Captive Finance Lending? Like “Screen Doors on a Submarine.”

May 9th, 2014 1 comment

Their headline was a strong tease. Indeed, there were two Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) representatives at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Congress and Expo (C&E) event last week in Las Vegas. It was hardly an 'invasion.'

Indeed, we knew the week prior to Congress and Expo that the pair had registered and paid to attend the MHI event.

Your tax dollars at work?

When we asked about the presence of the two CFPB representatives, MHI President Richard 'Dick' Jennison told MHProNews:

We at MHI, along with our leadership team, were definitely aware prior to the event and planned accordingly that two individuals from CFPB from Washington, D.C., registered and paid to attend MHI’s Congress & Expo."

Ready to go a little deeper?

"Unlike MHI’s business meetings, which only MHI members and invited guests are allowed to attend, Congress & Expo is open to everyone.”

cfpb-goverment-agency-logo-posted-on-mhpronews-comWhile this incident might cause angst for some who are 'flying under the radar' or might be on the wrong side of a regulatory line, it has little or no impact on those who are doing business according to the regs.

Screen doors on a Sub

When an MH industry operation involved in finance was asked about a topic we raised last year – ie: how can a mom and pop MHC or retail operation hope to have a compliant captive finance operation – here was that operation's executive's reply.

When we "…with a lot of resources are constantly trying to keep up with Dodd-Frank and other changes. This (selling programs to an independent MHC or retailer trying to comply with DF) seems like selling screen doors for submarines.

Thanks for a morning hoot."

Don't Get Scared, Get the Facts, Plan and Act!

In our two part series – Manufactured Housing and Captive Finance: Can it be done Successfully in today's Environment? with numerous quotes from industry pros, can be found at the link above addressed that issue in depth.

While the views vary widely, there are legal experts that doubt that a modest independent can comply with a captive finance program, given the fact that much better funded community banks and others are leaving lending due to Dodd-Frank and the CFPB's current regulatory regime.

A similar regulatory concern needs to be expressed about those doing so-called "lease option" deals. Recall this popular Industry in Focus report, NCC Discussion on Manufactured Housing, Rent to Own and Lease-Option.

Meet Marie and Alexi

Marie Whittaker is reportedly from the CFPB's Office of Research and Alexei Alexandrov is a CFPB economist who has worked on their appraisal rules.

If one of these had 'enforcement division' or something similar on their business cards, then certainly the alarm bells might well be going off in manufactured housing offices across the country.

But the surface view at present is quite the opposite. One reason we had no initial intent to address this issue is that there seemed to be no cause for alarm.

In fact, this might be good news for the HUD Code manufactured housing industry.

How so? What if they are part of an effort to create a specialized – and much needed – MH unit at the CFPB? So suggests a wise soul who has thoughtfully provided us – and thus you – much needed insights.

MHC operator 'Scared to Death'

Are you a smaller operation doing captive finance or lease-option lending?

You should think about what a strong, growing organization did. Call an industry lender, and work out a program to sell all their notes and them so the lender can "be the lender." Why? 'Because making those loans and holding the paper in the Dodd-Frank era scares me to death.'

So sayeth the MHC operator selling off their loan portfolio.

Don't get me wrong – "Go Lending!"

Don't get me wrong. In a truly free enterprise system, lease-options or seller-financing ought to be doable in some legal/moral form or fashion that doesn't break the bank…

…or the law.

Will the CFPB swing the pendulum back? Will Congress press changes?

Time will tell, but the political winds seem to be changing. What is certain is that some regs MUST change, or millions are being penalized. Just one of many issues is the 'steering' one. Businesses are being forced to shot gun applications, lenders must wade through reams of paper they normally don't look at; and the consumer is harmed, not served.

Associations, CFPB and MH Pros Like You

Larger operators can access financing in a variety of ways – including per the experts we ask – complaint captive financing.

But any operation can team up with a local lender willing to learn, or one of the many industry lenders who are already hip deep in providing compliant lending that can make you money.

In the meantime, rather than quake over the CFPB, we should be working all the channels to make ever-more reasonable financing available. Good associations are critical to meet that need.

As noted above, if CFPB is researching and creating a unit that better understands and deals with our industry, that could be a good thing for manufactured housing in the short term.


So you new or prospective investors who are reading this, please don't be alarmed or sweat it. The many experts we reach out to on issues are routinely happy to tell us which way is up.

Let me take a moment to thank those experts as always for their insights and wisdom, for without them, this commentary and news site would not be the same value that it is to you in their absence.

republican-and-democratic-party-symbols-creditpoliticspa-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews0comPolicy Failures – Not Politically Correct

Your Masthead scribe doesn't have to be politically correct. While we work with associations, we are not working for any association, so my thoughts are mine not anyone else's.

As we've said many times, there is absolutely value and the need for associations to have strong ties to BOTH major parties, that is sound association practice.

We should all be pleased that there are Democrats, Republicans and Independents all involved in the MH Association world.

That said, here is the politically incorrect part that we can say and associations can't.

Objectively, the CFPB needs to be aware that the political winds in the nation has been shifting.  IMHO, President Obama is watching his foreign policy as well as his domestic agenda unravel. While a largely compliant media covers the Administration’s 6, the current White House resident is using the mechanisms of government to do what he promised.

To fundamentally change America.

The change that has come is for the worst. People of every racial, gender, social or economic group (save perhaps the uber rich, who also want change, knowing the economy is suffering under the current scenario) are worse off today than 5 years go. Public perception is increasingly getting it on such facts, even with an all-too-often administration compliant mainstream media.

Sorry to those who love the current regime, but my parents were thrilled to come to the U.S. precisely to get away from power-hungry Big Brother socialistic governments!

The CFPB is to finance what ObamaCare is to health care and the insurance industry. Both – as they stand today – are harmful.

  • We have something like half-a-million fewer Americans working today than in 2008.  Ouch!
  • Obama appointee, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, referencing the Congressional Budget Office's report said recently. “There is more work to do to put fiscal policy on a sustainable course. That progress has been made over the last several years, in bringing down deficits in the short term, but that a combination of demographics, the structure of entitlement programs, and historic trends in health-care costs, we can see that over the long-term deficits will rise to unsustainable levels relative to the economy.” (Editor's note, bold emphasis added).

Can they be fixed? Sure, but only when enough people of good will move in that direction.

The View from the Masthead

Our position on the issues are pretty clear.

  • We believe in America,
  • we believe in manufactured housing,
  • we believe in reasonable regulation
  • but are utterly opposed to the federal over-reach that we have seen for many years now.

That over-reach easily dates back to

  • Bush 2 on some issues (example, NSA – and their growing of the Medicare program in unsustainable ways, more) and to
  • Barack Obama on a range of topics from foreign policy, job killing policies, ObamaCare, CFPB, energy policies (think about the no-brainer on the Keystone Pipeline), and much more.

As we shared in our previous Mastheads, our industry is well poised for the future. We need to align the talent to deal with the regulatory issues, and indeed progress is slowly being made. Consider this news alert from MHI:

“On May 7th, the House Financial Services Committee adopted the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (H.R. 1779). The measure, which was adopted by voice vote, won't be formally approved by the committee until a recorded vote is tallied. A recorded vote is expected to occur the week of May 19th – the House of Representative is scheduled to recess the week of May 12th.”

It should also be noted that MHI has generated some 5,000 comments to Congress through their new electronic system!

Yes, the progress is steady, albeit we all wish it were faster. More on that another day.

More to Do, but More Opportunities Too

We've been saying for some years now that our industry must get better engaged with our consumer base and select non-profits. There is no point in rehashing facts shared in Manufactured Housing's Metaphoric Magic, or earlier columns on how energizing our own base in micro-targeting style could make manufactured home owners/businesses a political powerhouse.

I know there are some in the communities world who get nervous about such thinking, but there is no reason to be so, as we or other good MHC operators know from experience.  Happy residents and good management are allies, not enemies.

capitol_hill-congress-masthead-mhpronewsThe Winds are Changing

Richard Cordray doesn't call me for my opinion, but if he did, it would go something like this. Pivot while you can. The political winds are changing in the nation and DC.

The clock is winding down on the Democratic hold on the Senate, and if Republicans don't blow it, they'll have both houses of Congress and perhaps even the White House in 2016.

CFPB, HUD, FHFA, et al, should all pivot now. Make yourselves more of the kind of 'partners in progress' with industry professionals and consumers rather than an opposition to it.

We are the Future!

Manufactured and modular housing are the wave of the future. It is utterly needed for all the right reasons. As we continue to step up more, and the regulators and politicos realize how much they need us, we will see a new era born.

When that happens, let's not blow it like we did in the mid-to-late 1990s. Consumers, lenders, professionals, associations –hms_vandal-wikicommons-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com everyone can benefit by having the right policies and good, professional, sustainable practices.

Let's leave the proverbial screen doors off the submarines.

Let's serve the public well, and with enough people of good will pulling together, we can together create the bright future our industry and the home buying public deserve.

We'll likely pivot on topics mid-week, see you back here then! ##

(Image Credits: Politicspa, WikiCommons, Plus1 Properties,)

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach | | Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking: | | Office 863-213-4090 Connect on LinkedIN: 

Getting Past Mole Hills and Fabulous February!

February 2nd, 2014 No comments

Obviously businesses tend to start little and when successful, they grow. Regrettably, some little things can become big things, as when the proverbial mole hill is made into a mountain.

I was listening to comments from someone Danny Ghorbani, President of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform or MHARR, talks with. According to this source, Danny is convinced that Lois Starkey at MHI deliberately torpedoed the non-career administrator appointment effort that MHARR and MHI agreed to work together on. Was this one of the “reasons” for the broadside on HUD and MHI in Danny's latest MHARR missive?broadside-darius-danny-ghorbani-president-mharr-salvo-on-hud-logo-manufac ... r-regulatory-reform-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronews-.jp_-557x430.jpg

What do you think?

What was a bit funny, was that as this person was about to tell me why Danny was mad, I (sorry, but true) interrupted the called, and told him what I thought Danny said. “Hey, you're right. How did you know that, Tony?” Answer. Your Masthead commentator asks questions, then reads or listens. We've heard this same complaint – allegedly made by Danny – time and again since last summer, so it was no surprise to hear it again.

I happen to think that Danny is a very intelligent fellow, knows tons about the HUD Code and has expertise in many areas; although word has it (from multiple sources) that the MHARR CEO doesn't think so much about moi. No worries, we're still a pretty free country!

But let's think, can we all learn to get past some harms – real or perceived – encountered in our life? In fact, isn't letting go of some past whatever absolutely necessary for a civil society, for families and for any organization that wants to succeed?

If we practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, 
soon the whole world will be blind and toothless.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Now perhaps to some, there is a big difference between a career or non-career administrator to be in the manufactured housing program role at HUD. Let's say for the moment, for discussions sake that this really is a bigger deal than first meets the eye. Even if so, is that sufficient reason to later blind side MHI, the organization you are “working with?”

Mahatma Ghandi would answer that with a “no.” Ghandi succeed in getting the Brits out as the de facto rulers of India, peacefully. I'm not saying that we all go sing kumbaya, we also believe in accountability! But an eye for an eye, let's get even? Nope. me whisper the open secret that, IMHO, ought to be a wake up call for a certain someone on MHARR's staff. Your members need the companies that are in MHI. Can't survive without them. Your members need HR 1779 and S 1828 to pass. Undercutting the good efforts of MHI in public, is like shooting your own members in the foot.

That said, there are some equally powerful reverse truths. The suppliers in MHI need MHARR's business too. The Louisville Show would never have come back without MHARR members. The Tunica Show Chairman is a MHARR member.

MHARR official positions are often right from a broad industry perspective, even if someone makes that periodic mistake on public tactics.

The point is, we are too small an industry to publicly spit ball one another. Frankly, I'm glad MHI 'turned the other cheek' and didn't respond officially to Danny's questionable public and written outburst.

Jumping to Conclusions

The other thing I've seen happen – all to often – in our industry is people who jump to conclusions. What happened to asking questions? Let's say, you suspect something. Why not ask questions, before making an accusation?

Speaking for myself, by doing so – asking questions vs. making accusations – there are times when what was suspected was simply not the case at all.

FYI, there are plenty of examples well beyond Danny, he just happens to have made himself via his release a recent topic of conversation. We routinely work well with good folks inside MHARR, those in MHI and those aligned with no groups or associations at all.

Florida's respected state executive, Jim Ayotte, made a solid case last summer for being united in our efforts.

Let's try to get along, because we will all get further, faster working together than working at odds with one another. That's the a big lesson learned from Louisville! We hope it will be the lesson this year in Tunica too, and well beyond.

Cautious Optimism

We are pumped about the possibilities for our industry's future. Clearly, there are challenges. A number of top flight pros (whose names you'd know) told me privately that this year could see a swing of 20% DOWN or 20% UP in new manufactured home sales. The wild card? Among them, four letters. CFPB.

Given the CFPB regs, there are those who think we will LOSE lower end sales – thanks so much Richard Cordray – and home owners with low priced homes will suffer as a result. Cordray's regs makes low balance loans too risky and costly to make. Its simple math.

In spite of that, the reason some are 'cautiously optimistic' is because we have an opportunity due to the economic malaise, rising rents and other factors to GROW our upper end sales.

Please come to the Tunica Show Seminars and see why we are among those who believe that we can grow more than 20% this year. And yes, we very much agree that we still need to get the CFPB regs changed. We would grow much more if the CFPB modifies the regs as needed, or if Congress passes HR 1779 and S 1828.

Enough said, on to the next topic.

Fabulous February!

We can't tell you how utterly motivated we are about this February issue of!

First, we have the STRONGEST line up of Featured Writers in our industry, period, end of story. Just compare! That's one of many reasons we are the most read, largest and still rapidly growing trade media platform in our industry's history. We are bring you an amazingly insightful, cogent and useful line up of featured articles by a range of industry experts, pros and guest writers!

Next, we have the first and only “A Cup of Coffee with…Nathan Smith” exclusive interview, and this is a DOUBLE first, because this interview is mostly by video!

Then, we have lots of post Louisville Show, pre-Tunica Manufactured Home Show and pre-MHI Congress and Expo commentary. Don't miss a word of it. Also, don't miss those upcoming events! We will do both, just as we did Louisville.

Here is our stellar line up of Featured Articles, from and for the rank and file on up to the C-Suite! Thanks as always for being here, and your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Featured Articles and Reports for Vol. 5, No. 5, 2014

Alphabetically by Category



• Things Your Lawyer Should Do For Free

by Robert Coldren, JD

Robert-Coldren-JD.jpgManufactured home community owners face many legal challenges. In all states, regulations can take quite a toll on typical community owners operations.

Read more…


• Aimee and Belle

by Nadeen Green, JD



You may have been following the story of Aimee Copeland, an amazing young woman who first garnered national attention in May of 2012 when she fell from a zip line into a North Georgia river.

Read more…


Promoting Your Community: Design a Calendar

by Chrissy Jackson, ACM


Calendars can be used for a wide variety of purposes, and the topic this month may be different than you think!


Read more…


• The Story of Colonial Heights

by Terri Lynn Prokorym

Terri-Lynn-Prokorym-umh-properties-colonial-heights-mhc-mhpronews-com-cropped-50x50-Colonial Heights is beautiful, newly renovated manufactured home community located in Wintersville, Ohio. The community is set in a quiet and peaceful environment yet just minutes from schools, shopping plazas and major attractions.

Read more…


• ROCs: The Resident Point of View on Buying their Manufactured Home Community or Park 

by Deane Sargent

deane-sargent-resident-owned-community-conversions-posted-manufactured-housing-pro-news2-50x50Tony asked me to write another article on resident park ownership. What he suggested, however, was the viewpoint from the residents – why they want to do it, what they expect, and what model they might choose – a Limited Equity Cooperative (LEC) (the ROCUSA model) or a Mutual Benefit Corporation (MBC).

Read more…


• Manufactured Home Community Project Focus Series, Andover at Grass Lakes 

by Don Westphal

don-westphal-associates-manufactured-home-land-lease-community-planing-mhpronews-com-50x50.jpFor nearly fifty years, our firm has been preparing plans for land development projects of all types, but primarily in the field of residential community design.


Read more…


• The 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show March 26 – 28, 2014

by Keith Bennett

Tunica-Manufactured-Housing-Show-201450x50Some things improve with age, and one of those is The Tunica Show. Now well into its 2nd decade, it has prospered during good times and difficult times. It becomes extremely important for all of us in the industry to stick together and lend support.

Read more…


• Louisville 2014 From the Eyes of an Industry “Newbie”

by James Cook

james-cook-mhc-manager-ma-posted-industry-voices-mhpronews_com-50x50pxl-(2)After seeing three Louisville shows pass by without attending one since entering the Manufactured Home Industry, I thought it might be interesting to finally go.


Read more…

• Pulling It All Together For Manufactured Housing and Pros Like You – See more at:

by L. A. 'Tony' Kovach

tonykovach/wp-content/uploads/tony-kovach(15).jpgSince the first time I heard Ron Thomas, Sr. talk about the Manufactured Housing being a “Phenomenon,” it was a powerful insight for me which I've repeatedly shared with others.

Read more…


• Shopping with Soheyla! America's Kids Have Talent, plus More! 

by Soheyla Kovach

soheyla-kovachAre you a parent? Love your child or children? Of course you do! So you know first hand that our children have talent! Have you ever dressed your child 'to the 9s' and showcased their talent at work? Don't just think about it – do it!

Read more…


• 2014 National Congress & Expo for Manufactured and Modular Housing April 29 – May 1, 2014: Creating Opportunities – Building Success 

by MHI Staff

manufactured-housing-institute-logo-posted-mhpronews-com-50x50You won’t want to miss the 2014 National Congress & Expo for Manufactured and Modular Housing to be held on April 29 – May 1, 2014 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Read more…


• The 2014 Louisville Manufactured Housing Show recap, a Community Owner's Perspective 

by Rick Rand

richard-rand-50-50For the 2,260+ professionals who braved the winter weather conditions in the Midwest and made it to Louisville, the trip was certainly worth the effort! I do not think that this year’s Show left anyone disappointed.

Read more…


• A Cup of Coffee with…Nathan Smith

/a-cup-mhmsm-com(17).jpeg1) Who, What and Where: (Your name, formal title with SSK Communities and at the MHI and where you are based).

Nathan Smith, Partner, SSK Communities, Erlanger KY.

2) Background: (Educational/Professional snapshot before entering the factory-built housing arena.).

Read more…




• What Kind of Manager Are You? Employee mistakes, errors and failures. 

by Tim Connor

tim-connor-mhmsm-comWhat are your attitudes and/or responses when an employee makes a mistake or fails at some activity or project?  Here are some of the choices. You can:

Read more…





• Why You Still Need A Website – Back To Basics

by Joe Karns


In today's social-media-rich world we all live in, you may be asking, "Why do I even need a company website anymore since I'm doing everything to drive traffic to my social media pages to try and build a community there?

Read more…


• Louisville, Tunica and the Future of Manufactured Housing Marketing and Sales 

by Jason Brady

brad-nelms-manufacturedhomes-com-posted-mhpronews-com-50x50 If you are one of the thousands of individuals who didn't let the worst winter in 20 years keep you from going to the 2014 Louisville Show, then you were in for a huge treat!

Read more…




• ZigOn Vision

by Zig Ziglar


In a major university a professor of economics gave a test to his class. The test had several sections of questions, each of which contained three categories. He instructed the students to choose one question from each section.

Read more…




• Are honesty and integrity your mantra?

by Tim Connor, CSP


Too many salespeople today will say or promise anything just to close another deal.  Not only do these people cause them to eventually to lose the trust and respect of their clients, they also contribute to the overall general perception that prospects, customer and consumers have of the sales profession in general.

Read more…


L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach | |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking: | | Office 863-213-4090

Connect on LinkedIN: 

Through the Looking Glass

September 6th, 2013 No comments

In literature, phrases and words can have various meanings. In the case of through the looking glass, it may mean a window, or a mirror. Let's talk today about mirrors and a valuable, proven Good to Great concept.

When something goes wrong for a person or an organization, Good to Great author Jim Collins says that the first thing you do is look in the mirror.

Great leaders – coaches, elected or public officials, business owners, managers, professionals, etc. – all should start by looking in the mirror when an issue exists.

Yes, there are times when circumstances or this or that person on the team may have hampered an outcome. But where does the buck stop? Obviously, with the leader.

If you happen to be that leader, then that look in the mirror is very important to advance past the problem and turn a temporary failure into some future success.

In terms of leadership, ask yourself this question. Does the leader make excuses or take responsibility?

If a job isn't getting done, look at the top spot, and the person at the top spot has to ask her or himself, “What did I miss? What did I fail to do?”

This look-in-the-mirror is the polar opposite of the “blame game” or of scapegoating.

mirror-wikicommons-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-.jpgWhen something goes wrong in a career, the same process should take place. You start by looking in the mirror.

The Manufactured Housing Industry Looking Glass

A one legged stool is not easy to balance. A football team that only plays defense will eventually lose.

We believe that stating the obvious can bring clarity to many topics. An association executive stated the obvious to me by sharing, 'as industry new home shipments have gone up (the past two years), the association has done better financially. This has allowed us to tackle items we simply could not afford to do before.'

For those who don't know, associations get floor fees from participating manufacturers, so more sales generates more revenues for state, regional or national associations. So right on, association executive.

We are happy for that exec and ALL execs that can say the same, that shipments are rising in many places.

But let's ask:

  • was there a lack of strategic vision that might have avoided such a steep down turn in the first place?

  • Is there a lack of strategic vision today that might fuel a farther, higher and more sustainable upturn now?

  • Couldn't we do more that would produce even more revenues for members and associations alike, while creating more happy manufactured home owners and residents?

When any organization is putting more sales up, that obviously ought to be good for all involved. The same is true for trade associations.

When associations are putting more points on the board – by helping their members drive more sales – would that association then have the same financial challenges they've experienced in recent years?

Part of the point is that the crunch was in part avoidable. Not that we have to cite anyone else, but there are many who feel this is true. Let's mention one that has been a periodic contributor here, Marty Lavin. If you read Marty closely – this is my paraphrase and thought, not necessarily his – it isn't that Marty wants to sing 'gloom and doom,' what he is doing is saying, 'Hey! Make the changes needed to raise the industry back up! Or suffer the consequences.'

For those who don't know, Marty was a long time supporter of an image campaign. Why? Because it could help. But Marty also called for the systemic changes needed to move the industry ahead.

Another such voice is Green Courte Partner's chairman Randy Rowe, with his well known 5 Point Plan for Industry Recovery. Or UMH's CEO Sam Landy, who urges businesses to invest in marketing, but who has also recently invested in the industry's budding image campaign. Others we've interviewed in our A Cup of Coffee interview series have in their own words said similarly, see what this month's interviews had to say on this topic!

We can't change what happened, and this isn't about blaming anyone. It is about saying, let's look in the mirror. Let's learn the lessons, and triuly move on – ahead!

Grow Associations Via Member Victories

We get association leaders who tell us they are routinely looking for ways to grow their membership. Of course, it is wise to do so.

But the biggest no-brainer of all for associations is to make their value proposition to current and potential members so powerful that you'd have to be an idiot not to be a member.

To accomplish that, it has to be about true win-win-win. Most manufactured housing associations count their member companies in the hundreds. Many get only 20-25% market penetration in some segments of their membership (I do know a state that has 100% HUD code retailer membership, so there are exceptions). Everyone involved in the association should benefit.

An association should strive to offer or facilitate what the members can't do for themselves solo as well. That makes it easy for big, small or in between to WANT to be a member, because it is a no-brainer. This isn't new thinking, associations do this. But why not do this in a way that puts more points on the board?!

But there are certainly other things to do too.

An Actual Example

I'm thinking of one of the over 50 associations in our industry. They facilitate an insurance program for their members. The insurance plan is so good, it more than saves the cost of annual membership for most who join. That's one example of a “no-brainer” to become a member.

Another – and perhaps the best example of all – would be for associations to facilitate the sale of more new homes. More new homes sales means more loans, more installations, more insurance policies, more AC's, anchors and foundation enclosures (skirting), more homes built and…

…because of floor fees paid to associations, it means more revenue for the association as a bonus!

Many associations have the mantra – protect, educate and promote. Perfect! We agree.

  • Protect: That's defense (protect against or promote agendas that are legal or regulatory issues).

  • Promote: That's offense (scoring points – measured by the sales of more homes).

  • Educate: education (coaching) can actually be helpful on offense and defense.

Let's be clear. One reason that mom and pop operators flock to Louisville is to get some information that may help them grow sales. Bob Crawford, with famous Dick Moore Housing is hardly in a 'mom and pop' operation, but they are at Louisville and Tunica to learn routinely too, as the article linked above that Bob shared recently mentions a lesson learned at a show that profited their business.

Again, associations are doing this too. But there is a big difference between an association bringing in a speaker for an hour or two or even for a day, vs. providing ongoing training that could be done nationally year round with modern online technology as reasonably as the periodic state meeting cost would be.

We aren't saying, drop one for the other. We are suggesting, that strategic plans can be crafted and implemented that could drive business in a state, region or the country.

Doing so would help big boys, small and those in between. Why? Because professionalism is part of the image issue. After a couple of years, we now have some associations privately admiting that their members need professional training. Let's think, if Best Buy makes you study for two weeks before you hit the sales floor, why do we think that a one day (or two hour…etc.) course on manufactured home sales is going to last someone a lifetime?

Clearly, it won't.

So just as obviously, something ought to be done to correct it! Create a win-win-win, one that includes home buyers, and watch the Industry's sales soar!

Football: Offense, Defense and Special Teams

The return of football season makes it a good time to use this sports analogy. Let's look at some well known coaching maxims.

  • A good offense is the best defense.

  • Special teams can make the difference in a close game.

  • Training is a focus for every major sporting team, without exception.

Ladies and gentlemen, arguably in part because manufactured housing failed to pull off the much-ballyhooed image campaign in the mid-2000 (or earlier...), we failed to put the points on the board that would have made fighting the frightful unintended consequences of the SAFE Act, Dodd-Frank easier.

Because we have not maximized positive relationships with enough home owners, a vacuum exists that allows groups like Ishbel Dickens' to flourish.

Let's look for a few moments at Dickens' very committed group, and see what we can learn from it.


First, all you have to do to know that we don't see the world the same as Ishbel Dickens does is to click on this article; mindful that the same facts were spun quite differently by the local media that presented those same facts. This is one of many things that trade media can do for a story, re-frame an issue to be more balance and thus more pro-industry.


That point shared, let's compare Ishbel's group's results with the two national MH trade associations. Before doing so, let's underscore again that this is a clinical, factual look. This is NOT meant to embarrass anyone or any group, as should be clear from the fact that we are active and engaged MHI members and routinely share MHARR news items unedited.


Now, let's look at Richard 'Dick” Jennison's results. We need to emphasize that this isn't apples to apples in any way, because Dick has been on the ground for about 18 months, while Dicken's has been for many years.


Next, lets look at MHARR's CEO, Danny Ghorbani. Since Danny has a unique name, not unlike Ishbel's, the only quotes needed are around the name itself.

The tally is like this:

  • Ishbel Dickens = 3,250 results

  • Richard Jennison, MHI = 198 results

  • Danny Ghorbani = 4,330 results

We could dig deeper and show that the search for:

  • “Manufactured Housing Institute MHI” produces per Google= About 48,700 results

  • and a search for the “Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform” = 33,100 results.

The point is that Ishbel's relatively small, and tremendously outgunned group in terms of funding has drawn a disproportionate share of links online. Why? A simple three word answer.

Committed volunteer members.

Let's park that for a moment, and turn to a related topic.

Association staff can't do it all alone!

Another set of comments being heard from grass roots association pros is that there has to be an understanding that with limited staff, associations can't do it all alone. There is a need for direct, personal member engagement.

While two states – Oklahoma and Mississippi – have 100% buy in by their Congressional representatives on HR 1779, what about the other states?

We know that Jim Ayotte has a strategy, he spells it out beautifully in his interview, among other points that tend to dovetail with the offense-defense topic here. Let Florida's executive spell out there strategic vision in his own words at the link above.

Other states do an often terrific job on their state issues, but seem to be lagging on this 'national' issue that clearly has a state by state impact. I see emails from many of these associations, they are calling on their members to jump in and call their elected officials. Do those members expect the exec to do it single highhandedly?

If so, those members who think that need to look in the mirror!

If it is to Be…

My training (much of it came from sources outside our industry) was blessed by people who may have seemed tough at the time, but who made me internalize some helpful maxims. For example, “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

One fine boss I had as a young MH salesman (also demanding, but he was honest and I learned a ton) in this business, told me “It's the Man and not the Land.” What that meant was the person makes all the difference in the world, so long as the person is motivated to do what it takes to make it happen.

Wisconsin's respected Ross Kinzler sounded off some weeks ago, on that theme, “Are you ready to Grow? Are you ready to do what it takes?”

Are you? Are your peers and team mates and association members?

Let's not fall into the trap that someone will do it for you. Sure, they might, but far more likely that they don't.

Click the link above, and see how little money Ishbel's group are working with, and by implication, how much of a bang they get out of so little! Look at the link above a tab that says, IRS Form 990 and see for yourself.

Dicken's group is admirable in the following respect. They have dedicated volunteers who in many cases work their hearts out for their cause. Those volunteers get trained and they are held accountable.

There are MH associations that have 10 to 20+ times Dicken's budget. But dollar for dollar, Dicken's gets more free media inks and links. Why? Looking in the mirror, in a phrase, because of committed volunteers.

We as business people and associations have to look in the mirror and decide to do better.

We have to follow Strategies that will Win

Our industry has to have offense, defense and special teams.

  • We have to defend against bad legislation and regulation. Many associations do a fine job on this.

  • We have to 'market, image build and sell' (offense, points on the board, selling more homes). Sorry folks, but most states and both national associations get a failing grade on this one.

  • Special Teams. This can be the coaches and volunteers who can engage consumers, engage the media and put points on the board that can turn a game around in a flash!

Jeers and Cheers

Jeers: there are a handful who think that Tony preaches this stuff because 'it will make him money.'  It is fair to raise that topic, so let's dig into that thought for a moment or two.

As a download on a column on this page linked here, is an article from 25 years ago that I wrote then for the Merchandiser. Please read it carefully, because this was years before I sold my retail center (at a profit).  I was preaching the same basic things then as now!  

More to the point, I didn't make me a dime to write those articles, in fact, it cost time so it cost money.

But that was – and is still today! – my give back to an industry that I totally believe in has the ability to be first choice housing for millions! But becoming first choice housing will ONLY happen if enough of us do the right things, starting right away. Not easy, but the rewards for change make it worth it. My old article linked above said many similar thoughts then, and they still apply today.

Cheers instead of jeers:

For everyone that tries to disrespect our efforts (and this is team work here, as I say routinely, we get input and support from industry pros routinely that allow this all we do here to happen), there are a hundred that get it.  Below is the proof.

Many of the Linkedin "endorsements" and all of the recommendations come from people who know/experienced our work. But there are dozens of others, some of  whom I've never personally met, who are also endorsing us.  We are now getting DAILY connecting and/or DAILY endorsements. These are votes on Marketing, Strategy, Vision, etc. See this screen capture – 475 endorsements as of 9.4.2013 – at my Linkedin profile.


What this reflects is the fact that the grass roots (and not a few leaders) in our industry are HUNGRY for what we are 'preaching' here, and the proof is in the growth in readership seen in the chart below. Pros like you from businesses of all sizes are 'voting' with their time and browsers.


You don't have to love me or anyone involved here to love the vision we are trying to build as a team that is pro-MHIndustry. A boat load of these visitors don't come on my blog, but they are reading our news, reading expert tips from others, etc.

This isn't about personalities or egos. It is about getting results that will benefit all involved. Please do read, the Thing Needed and see the free download attached!

We MUST work better together, and we MUST be more motivated, more willing to get our own hands involved.

leigh-j-abrams-drew-industries- (1).jpgI'm going to start wrapping up by encouraging those readers who are not among the thousands of who have already enjoyed Leigh Abrams' interview, to read it.

Success is rarely an accident.  Warren Buffett, Sam Zell, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Dave Thomas, Colonel Sanders, Henry Ford….name the success story, and they happened because of vision, planning, dedication, adaptation, effort and follow through.

I want to close with one more word about Ishbel Dickens and her dedicated followers.

If we industry pros were doing a better job of reaching out nationally and locally to engage those residents and home owners, would we have the same headaches we do today?

And wouldn't we as an industry be better off if we were as committed to our cause as Dicken's unpaid volunteers are to their cause?

Want to fix what keeps us under the very doable 100,000 a year annual shipments, or 300,000 or 500,000 shipments?

Start with the looking glass.

Then, lend others a hand up, as our volunteer writers and sponsors do. The rising tide will raise all boats. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for September and see the other new stories at too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach | |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
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Failure to Report

July 13th, 2012 6 comments

I confess there are times that we at have failed to report on a topic. An example might be my sitting in a room where former MHI President Thayer Long sat and was politely told by a respected state executive director that MHI was not getting their job done. Would it have been a great headline? Oh, yes. Did I report it? We touched on this in other ways, but did not report this incident until now. Why? Therein lies the topic for today's column.

If this post causes a few to furrow their brows at what follows, it won't be the first or last time. If trade journalism means something, it ought to mean reporting and commentary that will at times make some uncomfortable. Doesn't the truth have a way of doing that?

It being Friday the thirteenth and not believing in bad luck, my thought was that this would be as good time as any (okay, I'm kidding) to bring the subject of "failure to report" up, as I do get asked – why we cover this and why we don't cover that – so here goes.

What needs to be expressed first are principles. The principles we strive to adhere to could summarized in the three points as follows:

  • We are unabashedly pro-Factory Built Housing Industry. This is from experience, being a veteran 'true believer.' We have the best housing value in the country, and it is sadly not generally well known or seen that way. While most of my work in sales, marketing, ownership and management has been with HUD Code Manufactured Homes, my experiences with modulars or other prefab houses date back to the 1980s as well. The Industry has more than its fair share of detractors. We are not likely to be named among them. Quite the opposite, we want to improve the image of factory built homes and are for positive efforts that will accomplish that goal.
  • MHProNews is pro-Association. It pleases me that we have good relationships with most state or community associations and get along just fine with the national ones too. We are told from time to time that someone joins or re-joins an Association as a result of our writing. Before you frustrated, un or anti-Association types sigh or shrug, more on this later. For now, let's say, association membership is important and valuable. We have associations under our resources tab, it is visited often and we are pleased to mention that fact.
  • We believe in Best Practices professionally and principled service to our customers, consumers and the public at large. Whenever someone fails to take good care of their customers, they are arguably failing the customer and our industry too. When someone gets arrested or imprisoned for breaking the law, we report it as fact in our Daily Business News when we learn about it. So we do report 'bad news.' But we don't report personal stuff (eg: so and so is married but slept with this other person anyway). We know what some people earn, but we fail to report that too. In short, we focus on news and commentary relevant to a professional. With that in mind, my thanks to all of you who use the for sending us news tips or story links, R.I.P.s (obits), new appointments or any other news items of general industry interest. To dot the i, we report 'good and bad' news, but we don't publish the sort of sensational stuff that as a rule ought to remain private.

As a subset to the above, we are routinely told things off the record. We don't name a source unless that source wants to be named. Some of those off the record statements made to us come with the idea that we will not report them. We have a strong record of honoring those requests.

While even some of our friends disagree with our policy of allowing the use of pen names to protect the identity of a writer in an article, when I know or talk with a writer who wishes to remain anonymous, that policy will stand. Newspapers publish letters to the editor from "anonymous" writers. Why should MHProNews be different? There are good reasons to do this, but we won't go into them beyond saying this is smart and opens up doors that would otherwise be closed. That would rob us all in the policy's absence.


There is nothing unusual in an industry having dual national association representation. The strongest example is housing, where you have the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), along with mortgage and a range of other housing related interests. From early on, we had the policy of providing both MHARR News and MHI News. For those of you who don't go beyond a once a month column from a national association president or a periodic missive by another commentator, well, you are missing too much!

The differences between the two national trade body's respective reports can be quite insightful. You can read them virtually side by side at the link above, something you won't find on another trade media site. We Provide, You Decide.

As an MHI member, I am happy MHARR exists. MHARR President Danny Ghorbani and I disagree on some things, some strongly. Among them, is their mode and manner of communications. We have run columns critical/analytical of Danny at times.

That said, we have to give Danny his dues. He is often correct on an issue as being in the Industry's best interests; yes, even when he may not deliver the MHARR message in a way that you or I may like. MHARR members understandably believe their organization helped keep Independent Manufacturers going while also benefiting the industry at large. It may seem shocking to some, but free enterprise believers know that the competition MHARR member manufacturers provide vis a viz the larger HUD Code and Modular producers is arguably good for all, including MHI members, or other competing factory home builders.

As examples of the benefit to our Industry in having MHARR, MHI's approach on the 'voluntary' fire sprinklers issue comes to mind. The policy MHI adopted is seen as flawed by a number of MH Communities and Retailers, while MHARR's stance is far more logical. The same holds true for the often misunderstood importance of the independence of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC). Under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA 2000 law), that independence should be a check against a run-away regulations by HUD's manufactured housing program.

Many of these stances where in place before MHI's new President, Richard "Dick" Jennison, came on board. It will be very interesting to see what direction he takes MHI on topics that pre-dated his arrival. One hopes to see MHI and MHARR working together on topics like the MHCC, strengthening and protecting federal pre-emption, fire-sprinklers, Congressional hearings and a range of other legal and regulatory topics.

FYI, the reports on Dick Jennison – as well as my personal experiences – have been positive. But the honey moon period (100+ days in office) is now over. His leadership will now be increasingly examined by all.

So while many – including myself – are supportive and hopeful, time will tell. There are a few things which have already come up worth watching. So more on those later…

Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

I frankly don't agree with some tendencies in MHI's PAC in the 2010 congressional election cycle. As we reported then, MHI did a good job picking 'winners and losers.' So they deserve 'credit' for that accomplishment. But some of the candidates backed struck some industry and MHI members, including myself, as questionable choices.

For example, there were cases when MHI PAC backed candidates who may say they're pro-MH Industry, but those same candidates gave us 'gifts' that keep on giving, like SAFE Act and Dodd-Frank. Meanwhile, HERA's Duty to Serve manufactured housing languishes, essentially forgotten.

That sort of PAC support to me was hard to imagine. In fairness, some association leaders have taken the time to coach me on such matters. They have explained why it may be wise to some support this candidate over that one, even if politically the party label may not seem to fit pro-business attitudes at first blush. To rephrase, sometimes an association may support someone they may not otherwise be crazy about for strategic reasons.

With that statement, it still seems wrongheaded to back someone who is threatening to regulate a sizable number of you out of business!

Not yet knowing which direction Dick Jennison and a re-forming team at MHI will go this election cycle, some of us have not raced to return even a dime in MHI PAC contributions. I say this with no joy, as I happen to like and respect the MHI PAC Chairman, Rick Rand. I hope MHI re-evaluates the 2010 picks and goes with candidates this year that are clearly pro-Industry and pro-business.

The Third Rail in Manufactured Housing Today

The third rail federal politics is Social Security and Medicare. The third rail in the MH Industry today is Clayton Homes and Berkshire Hathaway. When Kevin Clayton speaks, everyone listens. When Warren Buffett speaks, we cover it in the Daily Business News. When you control about half of an industry, you are the elephant in the room.

I own and enjoyed a copy of the book, Thoughts of Chairman Buffett: Thirty Years of Unconventional Wisdom from the Sage of Omaha, by Warren Buffett. We cover a lot, but we do hear things about them and others – that at times – we fail to report.

That said, it is obvious that Warren Buffett publicly backed Barack Obama for president in 2008. To me, this is a sad reality for manufactured housing. It may be good for Buffett, but not for most of the rest of us. Many communities and retailers buy Clayton family of companies product or finance with a Berkshire Hathaway owned lender. Some tell me they do so, not because they like the Buffett-Obama link, but in spite of that reality.

This is a slippery slope indeed.

During the Republican primaries, we heard a lot about 'crony capitalism.' This is not new in our nation. There is an ebb and flow of government-businesses influence that can be subtle or direct and dramatic.

buffett-obama-mhmsmWhen you are sitting with the president, as Warren Buffett is in this photo, well, it's obvious you have a level of access that most of us do not enjoy.

Just look who is talking and who is listening in this photo of Messrs. Buffett and Obama.

Has our industry in general benefited from this?

President Obama cites his call for the "Buffett Rule" on tax policy, even though Mr. Buffett has said recently that said rule would not balance the gaping federal budget deficit.

It is obvious that President Obama has been a tax and spend president, cut from a different bolt of cloth than Democratic President Bill Clinton, who famously said the 'era of big government is over.' Clinton was shrewd enough a politician to work with the same Republicans who wanted to impeach him for lying under oath to balance the budget and reform welfare. Tip your hat on that.

Some opine that Barack Obama may still track to the center before the election. But the president has shown a remarkable ability to spit in the eye or ignore some people and groups – like finance, Jews, Catholics, or even minorities – that supported him in 2008.

The point here is that our Industry is locked in what for many of you is a life and death struggle to survive. And Warren Buffett, with all due respect, has been backing a president whose administration has been anything but helpful to the millions of home owners and most of the business professionals in our Industry.


That too can be another column. Buffett's support for the upcoming 2012 presidential race deserves scrutiny, third rail or not. One would hope that arguably the most anti-business president in U.S. history would not be backed by the largest player in our industry. We may be enjoying rising shipments for now, but our Manufactured Housing Industry is still struggling with the worst years since the 1950s. Different policies in Washington would rapidly change that fact!

So let's keep our eyes on such matters together, shall we? It may be politics. But politics and policies impact our livelihood daily.

Political Principles

Publishers endorse candidates. I will admit I voted against candidate Obama for president last time and plan to do so again, based on principles, not personalities.

I think Senator John McCain was one of the weakest candidates to run in many years. I cast an unenthusiastic ballot for that man, applying the principle of the lessor of two evils.

Mitt Romney is not my first choice either. But as one professional pointed out to me, Ronald Reagan was seen by many as a moderate before he came into office. Should Mitt Romney be elected in November with a conservative House and Senate and if fiscal and other conservatives hold his feet to the fire, Romney could well be the most conservative president since President Reagan.

This is not an endorsement, but a statement of fact.

The facts are that President Obama's policies have been anti-jobs and anti-business. His "solutions" for housing have arguably kept the housing recovery from being accomplished. We are over five trillion deeper in debt than when he stepped in, after he criticized his predecessor for deficits less than half the size of his as being unAmerican. He ran on the message in 2007-2008 that this was the worst economy since the great depression. So the president can't hide behind that now, when he himself said he had one term to clean up the mess or not get a second term.

ObamaCare is an ongoing disaster waiting to happen that – combined with other policies – hastens the loss of personal liberty, religious liberty, the quality of health care, jobs and our economy. 83% of doctor's in a survey covered on the Drudge Report have said they have considered quitting due to the new health care law.

How can that be good public policy? How can underestimating the costs of ObamaCare by 50% – per the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – be good stewardship or policy?

Answer, it can't.

Just Vote No on O

My opposition to the ObamaNation is based on principles. Those principles would be summed up in two words: Solidarity. Subsidiarity.

President Obama violates both principles daily. He plays divide and conquer, rather than being the unifier he said he would be. Whatever the rhetoric, he supports the creation and existence of the biggest federal government with the largest debts in history.

Larry Hahn's Industry Voices guest column outlines in less than a page – without naming a name – why President Obama's principles are NOT fair at all. We turned that into a political cartoon, linked here.

I have industry colleagues whom I respect that voted for President Obama. At least some of those who voted for O now regret that vote.

I would join with those who say, it is great that our nation was able to elect a non-white president.

That said, I would not vote for or against a man based on his skin tone. That is just a different form of bigotry. We should vote based upon principles, not party, personalities, sex or race. Alveda King, niece of the famous civil rights activist, has publicly said she doesn't think that Dr. Martin Luther King would say 'his dream' was accomplished in the Obama presidency. Ouch.

President G.W. Bush was not my hero. I strongly opposed the notion of going to war against Iraq, for example, before we dropped the first bomb or sent the first soldier to spill their blood or that of Saddam Hussein's defenders. I won't go into a long history of U.S. policy fiascoes overseas. Ask Marco Rubio what his parental homeland's countrymen think about how Castro came and stayed in power. Ask yourself why we so strongly oppose Iran – who have no nuclear weapons – when we have shipped millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to China, that has nukes by the thousands and has said they can reach our West Coast with their nuclear warheads. Obama was silent when Iranians protested their Islamist government. Wasn't that our chance to see change happen there that would have been good for Iranians and for the U.S.? Our foreign policy has been a disaster under Obama, but Republicans and Democrats share that sad reality of ill advised foreign policies.

Much of the above may not sound like it matters to manufactured housing pros. But even on the practical level of oil prices, the Obama administration's policies have arguably caused spikes in oil due to Iranian-U.S. tensions, along with failure to support the Keystone pipeline and more domestic drilling. All of that and other misguided federal policies costs us potential home sales! All of the anti-oil policies up the cost of our products, which have to be shipped to a market.

Obama may find Democrats in West Virginia, Kentucky and other states that produce coal voting against him. Other Democrats in Pennsylvania or Ohio may vote against Obama for not robustly supporting more domestic oil development, which sparked a surge in manufactured home sales in the states like ND and TX.

The George W. Bush Presidency years heaped too many regulations on our nation, as did the Clinton years. But by comparison, we may look back and say, W was a better president than Obama.

The point is that when we support principles, we can see past personalities. It isn't about this or that party. It is about common sense in government, business and life.

Principles shed light when political correctness does not. If the truth has value – and I believe it does – we can't risk four more years of the same nonsense that could get worse since he will no longer be accountable to the people.

Big government is not the answer. Limited government under principled leadership that protects our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is. America became the world's industrial superpower before the era of big government.

Is it a coincidence that as the post World War II and Korea era of big government hit, that our industrial base has increasingly suffered?

I listened to all of Mitt Romney's speech to the NAACP. While former MA Governor Romney was booed at times, I was impressed that over half the crowd in attendance stood at the end an applauded him.

Living near Chicago, where the murder rate has soared and unemployment among blacks – especially youth – is sky high, one can only say that the president's policies have not helped blacks or most other Americans, but only a select few. If you haven't read the cartoon and the link by Larry Hahn above, please do after you finish reading this post.


What the 'right balance' of regulations and laws regarding business is too long a topic for today, but the fact is that we are over that line federally at present. That is not to be blamed on most of the individuals who work in those offices. I've met and communicated with some of our industry's regulators – federal, state or local – personally. I value the relationship with them. My impression of many of them is that they are doing their job as best they can.

Opposition to over-regulation doesn't mean we should think less of regulators, that too is a form of division. Armed with the truth – we need bridges, not bombs – when it comes to dealing with regulators or others.

But one regulator I've met was totally disappointing. The man was a robot for big government and couldn't see the truth of the negative impact of their policies if it hit him with a 2×4; which he has likely never seen.

Government does not create private sector jobs. Public sector jobs exist because the private sector pays for them. Too many in elected and appointed office in government today act more like autocratic rulers than accountable public servants.

Regulators and public officials must work hand in hand with people of good will in our industry or any other.

HUD's Manufactured Housing Program is in need of a shakeup. How are they helping the public or the Industry?

Failure to Report

We track Berkshire Hathaway's stock's daily, along with AMG, Cavco Industries, Champion Enterprises, Deer Valley, Drew Industries, Equity Lifestyle Properties, Liberty Homes, Louisiana Pacific, Nobility Homes, Palm Harbor Homes, Skyline Corporation, Third Avenue Value Fund, Universal Forest Products Inc and UMH Properties.

But we fail to report all that we hear or see. In a sentence, Why? Because some things would arguably do more harm than good to report.

We are not a tabloid. We are not into shock journalism. Some people get read because they are a little like a drunk driver on the road; you have to keep an eye on them, even if you don't like it.

We want MHProNews to be read because we provide the best and the most comprehensive News, Tips and Views Industry Pros can Use.

We are no one's house organ. We believe we serve our Industry and are good for your organization or business, because we strive to be accurate and the truth is liberating.

We are independent in our coverage, but share the views of any who wish to sound off on topics of industry interest. Don't like something here? Including in this column? By all means, please do post a comment or send me a message and sound off.

We invite anyone to share written or video commentary for Industry Voices. See the about us pagefor more details.

So we do report, more than any other trade media in Industry history.

What we fail to report is akin to the reverse of the NY Times slogan, all the news that's fit to print.

We believe that there are Dark Clouds, but that our Brightest Days as an Industry could lie ahead. But those bright days will not happen without enough people like you and me putting our time, talent and treasure where our mouth is.

We have changes within our Industry and in government that must be made.

You read about more of them here than any other industry news source. If I didn't end by challenging you to give your best every day to the public, your customers and our great Industry, I'd be failing to report the truth. ##

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L. A. 'Tony' Kovach or
Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals

Office – 815-270-0500 or

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford