Posts Tagged ‘Fleetwood’

Affordable Housing – Fleetwood, Champion, Clayton – Genius of the Christmas Story

December 22nd, 2018 No comments


Depending on who’s estimate we accept, there’s some 550,000 to 660,000 homeless in the richest nation on earth, the U.S.A. As rents rise, so does homelessness, says Zillow’s research, which supplied the higher homeless count. With some $22 trillion dollars spent on “Great Society” programs as of a 2014 Heritage Foundation report, one must ask – how much waste, fraud, corruption, and ineffectiveness is there at the federal level alone?


The U.S. homeownership rate doesn’t place us in the top 40 nations on earth, how is that possible?

And it’s almost Christmas.

The genius of the Christmas story is so vast that it can’t be fully grasped in any one article, or book. It can be viewed in a variety of accurate ways. Suffice for now to note that Mary and Joseph were home-owners, not per se ‘homeless.’ Rather, they were traveling when the couple finally found shelter in a stable.

What sparked their journey, so late in Mary’s pregnancy? Because the Roman Emperor Caesar had mandated a census count for tax and other purposes. They had to travel to Bethlehem, because it was mandated by imperial decree – their law.

The carpenter and his family experienced what it was like to be homeless. For what Christians call the “Holy Family,” that stable they sheltered in for the Christ child’s birth may have been in a cave.  For thousands in towns like Los Angeles or San Francisco, it may be tents, a cardboard box, dumpster, or a sleeping bag. The ‘luckier’ homeless in the U.S. are living in vehicles, not designed for residential purposes.

Why is it so in the U.S., two thousand years after the birth of Jesus?

There are many causes, of course. Here on MHProNews we track, research, follow-the-money, and report our findings daily on certain aspects of news and view that routinely relate to the broader issue of affordable homes and public policies.

The Holy Family weren’t Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Green, Socialists, Communists, or any other political or special interest group – which isn’t a slur on any of the member of those groups, just a statement of fact.  But with so many who claim to be Christians, it’s no wonder each of those political groups’ leadership periodically gloms onto the moving Christmas tale, spinning or weaponizing what occurred for their own purposes.

Rather, the Jewish Joseph and Mary were faithful, non-partisan, working-class people.

For thousands of years, there’s been dictators like Caesar, or shrewd (unethical) business people who’ve rigged their scales to give less than what a buyer bargained for.

Before there was Clayton Homes in contemporary manufactured housing, there was what we should clearly state is the OLD Fleetwood Homes and PREVIOUS Champion Homes that were affordable manufactured home builders. The old Fleetwood and Champion of the 1990s were in a race to buy up chunks of the industry in their day.  The two firms often paid hefty premiums for retail locations, hoping thereby to increase their market shares, also thereby narrowing the distribution networks of competitors products.

As Warren Buffett observed in an annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders that in 1998 Fleetwood, Champion, and Oakwood – then the Big Three of manufactured housing – has some 44% of the market. According to data from the now defunct Manufactured Home Merchandiser Magazine, the top three that year – Champion, Fleetwood, and Oakwood – produced 172,723 of the 372,843 total HUD Code manufactured homes shipped that year, or 46.3 percent of the total.

By 2017, it was Berkshire owned Clayton Homes that had some 50 percent market share, although they claim in their annual report that it was ‘only’ 47.7%. Unlike the old Champion and prior Fleetwood, Buffett’s brand Clayton Homes didn’t overpay for retail outlets, factories, or anything else.  Rather, Berkshire’s subsidiaries bought locations, loans, and businesses at a discount – a ‘value’ – as investors understandably call it.

There are numerous questions that should arise from this outline.  For example, two decades ago – when it was Champion and Fleetwood that dominated the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – how different was it from how the Berkshire brands in manufactured housing dominate MHI today?

Community owners didn’t feel well represented in the old MHI.  So, they forged the National Communities Council (NCC) side of MHI. There are MHI/NCC members – some from the large companies – that tell MHProNews that they still don’t feel well represented. Is it a surprise that a new national MH Communities association is coming to birth?

Among resident groups, there are squabbles and contests too. GSMOL, for example, wags a finger at MHAction, saying the later are taking credit for things that the GSMOL accomplished. On the professional side of MHVille, the independent producers’ Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) similarly asserts that MHI often takes credit for things that MHARR or others accomplished. Interesting, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, there are thousands of professionals – and millions of residents – all trying to earn an honest living. Their struggle is often more about battling systems that are often arguably “rigged” by the “big boys” against the smaller businesses and the masses of workers and retirees whom they seek to serve.

Then, millions more trapped in rentals that one protest leader said was “too damn high.”

But negative media like the problematic Netflix series the “Trailer Park Boys” fuels stereotypes that cause many to never consider what the GAO, NAR, Fannie Mae, Ford Foundation, HUD, and other third-party researchers called the most affordable, permanent, and safe – yes safe – new homes in America.

Inaccurate stereotypes, the propagation of misleading information, stigmas, and corrupted, rigged systems all are contributing factors to the tragedy of over a half-million homeless and relatively low rates of home ownership in the U.S.A. today.

Scales, information, and systems are usually rigged in order to cheat the many to benefit a few. It was so thousands of years ago, and it is similar so today.

But angels reportedly sang at the birth of the child Jesus whose birth into a sinful and corrupted world we celebrate on Christmas.  Wise men came from afar bearing gifts to curiously see first-hand what that star over Bethlehem was all about.

We are wise when we ponder the deeper meanings of the Christmas story too.

As we bring or open our gifts for each other, let’s remember that a greedy and power hungry few are working to manipulate scales, information, and the masses, for their own benefit. That’s arguably why there’s still so much poverty, and why millions in America are trapped in Mr. Potter’s rentals, and don’t own a home.


Affordable Homes, Warren Buffett as Mr. Potter in Christmas Classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”


May the inspiration of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus enlighten our minds, hearts, and hands to do whatever is just and good. Because the honest actions of the few – then and now – can uplift the many, inspire the wise, and bring out the good in others.  The honest truth always what sparks change for-the-better in our world.

Merry Christmas to all. ## (“We Provide, You Decide.” © ## – (News, Masthead commentary, and analysis.)

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It’s Your Profession – Investment of Time, Talent, Treasure – So What’s Next?

Back to Basics – What is Classical Liberalism, and What Can It Mean for Manufactured Housing Growth?




Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) 2014 Summer Meeting Pensées

June 6th, 2014 No comments

Blaise Pascal, who penned the original Pensées (French for 'thoughts'), would likely be disappointed in part of what follows; for that this scribe takes full responsibility. As we approach the 2014 MHI Summer Meeting Sunday-Tuesday, what should we expect? What should be our hopes following the event?

What should we be talking about while there?

A very thoughtful message went out from a state executive to others, so the Masthead has been told; it is encouraging MHEC execs to avoid a certain “…distraction…” so that the attendees would focus “…to our number one priority, securing financial reform for the manufactured housing industry.”

Certainly, focusing on financial reform of Dodd-Frank is critical!

Non-Partisan Issue

That Danny Ghorbani and yours truly have disagreed at times is no secret, but one thing I would have to concur with him on is his statement that manufactured housing is a non-partisan issue.

We as industry pros ought to be warmly embraced by Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We ought to be embraced as a necessity that should bring cheers by HUD, CFPB and a host of other alphabet soup agencies in DC as well as in every one of the United States.

When the Boston Globe, CBS News, the Atlanta Constitution Journal and more in the mainstream media are starting to 'wake up' to modern manufactured housing (MH), it only makes sense that elected and appointed public officials get fully up-to-speed on the latest on this subject.


fleetwood-plant-tour 6-2-2014-for-congressional-representative-flores-550x512- (1)

Because MH offers an option that could make tens of billions of dollars a year in difference to government budgets, and could make a similar difference to our industry! As D. J. Pendleton, Karl Radde, Gay Westbrook and others observed in this article about the plant tour that Congressman Bill Flores was given this week, MH means thousands of jobs, and could mean tens of thousands more, so long as we play our cards right.

Furthermore, we must not allow ourselves to be marginalized into being viewed as solely for the "poor and lower-middle income," as noble as serving those groups is. If you've not watched that CBS News Sunday show video carefully, then please do so today, it is linked above.  We offer quality home options from the ultimate in entry level all the way up to those who are millionaires. 

We have huge opportunities, so long as we embrace them. There are savvy ways to do so!

Which leads me to Bill Matchneer's important pensées.

The Bill Matchneer, JD, MH Initiative?

bill-matchneer-hud-manufactured-housing-division-cfpb-mhpronews-com-100x100 (1)If I could wave a magic wand, and get industry pros to focus on a subject long enough to start the movement, I would encourage them to read, ponder and act upon a suggestion from a previous HUD manufactured home program director.

That man is Bill Matchneer, who has also been "…on the elevator with Elizabeth Warren…"

Please. Don't miss it. Bill is onto something, and it's an understatement to say that is “big.”


The Trans-Associational Trans-Corporate Profit Plan?

If I could get a discussion topic apropos for the various mixers and meals, it would be the one an actively retired gent has soundedbob-vahsholtz-author-dueling-curves-battle-for-housing-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews-com-manufatured-housing-professional-news-50x50- (1) off on here in the Industry Voices guest blog, which I'm told is drawing early support among some state and corporate leaders.

rick-rand-great-value-homes-manufactured-home-pro-news-industry-voices-guest-blog-Bob's comments are just the tip of the iceberg shared privately with me or others.

Let me commend Rick Rand, who will be at this meeting, for taking another public position that when enough truly forward-thinking leaders make this their own and act, it could transform our industry, attract more new capital and make all of us able to earn more while serving millions of more Americans. Please check out Rand's

Advancing Manufactured Housing Intelligently.

As You are Waiting at the Airport…

There are a few who pilot a plane to meeting like the one in Indy. Based upon geography, some will make drive. But dozens will fly, and for those waiting at the airport, let me suggest you consider watching the videos or reading the new featured articles linked here.


As an aside, we guessed this June would be Read Hot. It has been!  We are off to record pageviews this month.

But what I want to draw your attention to are the select videos below. The reason?  They represent views from savvy pros that ought to be considered on topics that include financing, government's role in our industry and much more!  These two merit conversation in Indy, from border to border and coast to coast.

Video Comments that include content of importance to topics MHI is engaged in

Eugene Landy

Chris Fisher

Ron Thomas Sr.

Dick Ernst

HUD's Pam Danner, Esquire

HUD's new manufactured housing program director – Pam Danner, JD – is planning to attend the MHI Summer Meeting. It would be interesting to chat with her, don't you think?

If you happen to be going, I'd make the effort to talk to her one of my priorities.


We aren't going to comment – not yet, anyway – on the stuff in the background. There are plenty of far more important topics to focus on!

If you are going to the MHI Summer Meeting, I hope we get a chance to say 'hi' to each other.

If you aren't going to the summer meeting…why not? ##

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Manufactured Housing’s ‘Peace Talks’

September 11th, 2013 No comments

Manufactured housing is bigger than any one of us who are in it, but relatively small compared to so many other industries. Outreaches and Inreaches are thus essential for our industry to accomplish its political, media, regulatory, public, marketing, sales and other goals. Let's look at (1) Outreaches, (2) Inreaches and peace talks.


At both of the congressional 'field hearings' held on manufactured housing issues see link and link, opponents of manufactured housing industry interests appeared. These were aligned and/or directly connected with the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (MHOAA), led by their hard working executive director, Ishbel Dickens.

Having failed mind reading, it is not my purpose to question Ms. Dickens' sincerity or desire to somehow benefit manufactured home owners. But there is a practical question that we can ask. Does some of Dickens' and her followers attempts at leadership in fact harm the very constituency she seeks to represent?

There are efforts at play among various industry leaders to work with groups like Dickens' led MHOAA. The efforts are worthy ones, as the industry and groups like these indeed need to work together.

That said, as pro-industry trade publishers, we see another path that we can uniquely take, a parallel path to association efforts. Let's call it analysis and accountability.

Whenever Dickens or those aligned with her take positions that are at odds with the interests of manufactured home owners and professionals, MHProNews intends to showcase that just as we do the questionable or bad acts of industry professionals.

Examples of both are linked below.

We ought to stand and cheer the Canadian news crew that sought a more balanced televised report of how rent control harms the very people – and businesses – it is supposed to protect, as you can see in this video and news brief linked here.

The Canadians are right. Rent control rapidly harms the interests of those who provide affordable housing and residents who benefit from affordable housing. Is that what Dicken's wants? Does she want to see more manufactured home communities closed and turned into some other use, because it may be the perceived 'only way' for owners to generate the reasonable returns they seek on their property?

The Canadian TV news report ought to be required viewing for Dickens, MHOAA, MHPros, the U.S. media and public officials. If you've not seen it, please do and share the link with others.


A pithy, impassioned commentary came in from Fleetwood management veteran and Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA) executive director Jay Hamilton, excerpts of which follow, calling for a vigorous outreach that begins with inreach.

"We are an industry that for years has desired the best for our industry representatives, our customers and our distribution system but for all these years have been hesitant to:

  • invest financially in training our people,
  • marketing our product's image,
  • updating our technology,
  • improving our delivery system, etc…

jay-hamilton-posted-on-mhpronews-com"…We are an industry that has the need for all of our profits to be immediate. Future growth and maturation always loses out to the need for immediate results and immediate profits. 

"Until we are willing to train our people well, invest in technology, invest in customer service, invest $ in creating a brand image with the understanding that it will cost a percentage of our industry profits and will not necessarily produce immediate results we are doomed to keep repeating our same mistakes over and over."

Ladies and gents, Jay hits nails on their heads. We need more professionalism among our ranks, coupled with image building. See Jay's thoughts above in full context here:

Let me voice one nuanced difference with Jay. We know from experience that properly investing in training and image building can provide rapid, profitable results. But different people learn at different paces, so Jay is correct in saying you can't count on an 'instant' return on the training investment. As with all learning, training routinely takes some time. 

Peace. Talks.

There are 'peace talks' needed within and without manufactured housing. We need to:

  • connect better with each other, within our industry's ranks. Let associations and pros handle black-eye causing issues behind close doors as much as possible, and let the public view a vibrant, professional, united and motivated industry.
  • Dust ourselves and each other off for past mistakes, while learning from and seeking to avoid future errors.sam-landy-umh-posted-on-mhpronews-com.jpg
  • To invest properly in our people, products and image, as Jay and other savvy pros realize.
  • To follow the lead of leaders like UMH's Sam Landy, who understood before Jay wrote it what GMHA's exec said is smart business.
  • That we are better off working together, as Jim Ayotte reminded us.
  • That image building is what has made RVs 5x the sales volume of MH, as Leigh Abrams' success record reminds us in his linked, exclusive interview.

Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is not “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Peace flows from justice, mutual understanding and respect.

Accountability? Yes, respectful accountability for the consequences of one's actions and inactions.

We must learn from the past, and then use our best efforts to create a brighter future.

Manufactured Housing. Peace talks. ##

(Photo credit of Ishbel Dickens, SCMMHA. Photo credit of Sam Landy,

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
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking: | | Office 815-270-0500 |

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Be sure! Make More MH $ale$ in 2012!

December 28th, 2011 No comments
Manufactured Home Community Operators!
Manufactured Housing Retailers!
Manufactured and Modular Builder/Developers!
If there is only 1 event you can attend in 2012, make that one the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show. Why?

It will provide you with THE Tools and Methods that will yield MORE home $ale$ in 2012. Learn more and read all about it below…

Dennis Hill and the registration company report that pre-registrations for the 2012 event are already running ahead of the strong 2011 pace. 970 attendees and some 500 exhibitors came in Jan 2011. Over 1400 strong!

Movers and Shakers!
January 11 AM Jan 12th, Joe Stegmayer CEO of Cavco/Fleetwood and MHI Chairman will be addressing the attendees at a special presentation. Mr. Stegmayer will bring us up to date on MHI news and forward looking industry thinking, including the plans for Thayer Long's replacement.
Game Changer for Manufactured Housing Communities seeking infills for vacancies

We won't be surprised if a new modern record is set for the Show. Why? Community owners/operators/executives alone could bring the 2012 event to new highs. See #4 below.

This amazing retail finance option for manufactured homes sold in land-lease will give forward thinking community owners a game changing tool for all who get involved. This program can allow communities to compete 'head to head' with land/home sales and win!

Retailers, Lenders, Vendors, Builder/Developers

Retailers, suppliers and builder/developers will all have their strong motivation.

More homes, more factories, more exhibitors, more business and profit building seminars too!

See the strong line up of seminars below. There is something for everyone who wants to grow in 2012.

1) Get the Best Third Party Manufactured Home Loans & Financing Available! Learn what’s available TODAY to sell more manufactured homes at your retail center, community or development! All of the top manufactured home retail lenders will present their best programs in this fast paced workshop. In alphabetical order, 21st Mortgage, CU Factory Built Lending, Triad Financial and US Bank will present their best chattel and other finance programs as part of panel discussion on industry. FHA Title II and other speciality lenders also plan to attend. Get the financing you need to sell more!
(Jan. 11th – 10:00 am)
2) No Down Financing on Fee Simple Sales! Yes, you can really legally get low interest, no down payment, low closing cost federal loans legally on manufactured homes sold in fee simple sales! This may sound like a dream come true to those who don’t know or use it, but this is a real loan program that a federal official will present exclusively to 2012 Louisville Manufactured Home Show attendees!
(Jan. 11th – 1:30 pm)
3) Get the Best of the BEST MH Retailers business strategies! Learn what works for real MH Community Operators and MH Retailers in Sales and Profit Centers Today. Get the “Best of the Best!” ideas from the recent 3 day National MH PEAK Retailer Summit held in Chicago. Learn the profit building secrets from real world top selling U.S. Manufactured Housing Retailers who attended. Chad Carr from Rainmaker Software will do a fast-paced recap among the best, most profitable strategies.
(Jan. 11th – 2:30 pm)
4) Yes You Can! Get 5% rates on 30 year loans for your MHC retail customers with 5% down! This is a speciality program that is NON-Recourse and will be available for in community sales. Are their qualifications and conditions? Of course! But for those MH Community operators who are ready to do what it takes, this special program can jump start your in MH land lease community sales in 2012. You could be the FIRST in YOUR Market(s) to fill vacant home sites with this program! L. A. 'Tony' Kovach and the FGM corporate finance team will be unveiling and presenting this power-packed program.
(Jan 11th – 3:45 PM)
5) Home Inventory Financing made easier! Have you struggled to get good floor plan financing? Then check this out! SBA backed loans for floor plan or inventory financing on Manufactured Homes, Modular Homes, and Park Models. An SBA official will talk about other kinds of government guaranteed business loans, such as revolving lines of credit.
(Jan. 12th – 10:00 am)
6) The Best Community Financing and Refi Options Available Today! Big name lenders and community specialty mortgage brokers are planning to share their best programs available to finance or refinance your manufactured home community!
(Jan. 12th – 1:30 pm)
7) How to Attract More Manufactured Home Customers with Cash or Good Credit. This seminar was a big hit in Indiana last fall, where dozens of community operators and manufactured home retailers came to learn proven strategies to sell more homes and fill vacant sites that work TODAY. Presented by popular speaker and MH marketing and sales boosting veteran L. A. 'Tony' Kovach, from ( and
(Jan. 12th – 2:45 pm)
8) How to Increase the Value of your MHCommunity and Prepare it for Sale
or Refinance – Hundreds of MH community owners plan to sell or refinance in the near future. Learn from industry veterans Mac McClanahan and Mark Wisely how to get the most value from YOUR community from their proven strategies!
(Jan. 12th – 3:45 pm)

Pre-registration is free, but the online registration is scheduled to end Jan 3. So take 60 seconds and sign up today!
For more information on the Show:

There is only one Louisville Show. And only one event in 2012 is scheduled with all that you see in this post and at this Louisville Show link above. Our team and I will be there, we hope to see YOU there too. Together, we can make 2012 the “Start of the great MH Turn-Around.”
Stay tuned for all the latest!##

post by

L. A. “Tony” Kovach, MHM or
Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals

Office – 815-270-0500 or


Reading the Tea Leaves of Manufactured Housing News – Out of the ashes, Phoenix Rising revisited

June 10th, 2011 No comments

I just reviewed a housing news item for our Daily Business News blog.  In the next decade, we need 16 million new housing units in the U.S.  So, even though we are in the midst of this great foreclosure and housing finance debacle, we are on the brink of a boom driven by what every truly sound economist wants…

…necessity!  Market forces!

There are indeed a lot of seemingly complex signs, so ‘reading the tea leaves’ of manufactured housing news may seem to be a daunting task.

In fact, with a little time and perspective, things can come into sharper focus.

There has been and will be a shakedown and shake out.  Some will survive, and then thrive, as many industry pros predict in the Manufactured Housing Revolution.

There will be more consolidations.   It may be like Cavco – Fleetwood – Palm Harbor, or it may look like ELS and Hometown America, etc.

We see Dodd-Frank as a dagger in the heart of below $78,000.  BTW, I’m told that number is being double-checked by members of the MH Lending Dodd-Frank task force.  That said, based on my understanding of the formula for arriving at the number $78,000, that number is likely to stand.  You can see that covered in my two last Masthead blog posts. If you missed it, click here for the last one, which links to the prior on this topic.

We see interest and motivation for a national image campaign.

Many – including this writer – believe it should have national coverage and some common elements, but that such a PR/marketing campaign should have localized (state, regional) market focus.  All business is done locally!  The homes sold in Texas are not those sold in the Pacific Northwest, or like those in FL or Chicagoland, etc.

We see interest in aligning.

This industry today is a puzzle with a lot of moving pieces.  It is no longer a simple picture.  But that doesn’t mean there are no profits to be made.  There are.  Some are making them.  Some are selling out.  Some are closing or winding down.  Where will you be in this mix?

What will you say to yourself in 5 or 10 years?  Your plans and actions now will determine that answer.

Over a year ago, you may have read – Out of the ashes, Phoenix rising. That is how things happen in the market place.  Death is followed by a kind of new resurrection.  A flame-charred forest is followed by new growth.  The horse and buggy business essentially died. But the automobile business is still with us today.  How phones looked a century ago is radically different than the hand-held Smart Phones of today.

No other form of permanent housing can hit the range of manufactured housing.

As the Harvard study brief in our factory built housing Daily Business News stated, there is a lot of latent housing demand.  But there are a lot of builders gone for good.

So those who remain, those left standing – they will reap the benefits of what is to come.

Marty Lavin and Al Cole have shared some key points.  Marty is right, we need a change in our business model; the old one is broken.  Al Cole is right.  We have to ‘partner’ with lenders.  We have to team up with our home owners, too.

You and I need good information now more than ever.  You can find that here daily, with Erin Patla’s News at Noon podcasts of Matthew Silver’s Daily Industry Business News.  With our editor Catherine Frenzel rounding out our news team, they bring you what no one else online serving manufactured, modular and pre-fab home building does.

Our new website look and navigation is coming, to make it easier to keep you informed.

A new day is dawning, just as sure as the darkest of nights is followed by the day.

But are you and your associates going to be a part of it?

Will you rise – Phoenix-like – out of the ashes of what has burned and died?

Will you engage with your association(s) in the political action needed to navigate these difficult times?

Will you market, sell and manage your way to business success?

Some are working with government, as Spencer Roane and David Roden are doing with FEMA and their state emergency management organization (GEMA).

Some are working at their own captive finance programs,  or are partnering with lenders.

Where there is vision, will and planning, followed by sound execution, there is a way.

Stay Informed.  Stay focused.  Stay inspired. If you need help, line your solutions up.

Heads in the sand have never worked in any Industry.  Those who prepare, plan and adapt are going to be the winners tomorrow.  Those who do not plan, prepare and execute look back, and say, what happened?

Times change.  Technology changes.  But solid values, honest work, business wisdom…

….those are timeless.

What will you do?  What say you? # #

Why Buffett Bets Against IBISWorld on Manufactured Homes

April 15th, 2011 3 comments

Attention getting headlines vs. a true analysis.  This sums up what many in the factory-built home world believe is the heart of the issue with the IBISWorld report on the ‘top ten dying industries’ in America.  IBISWorld named manufactured home dealers as one of the top ten, and publications such as The Atlantic , Huffington Post online, Business Insider are among the many that picked up the story line.  If IBISWorld is correct, why does Warren Buffett, the sage of Omaha, bet against them?

Because the future of homebuilding is in factories.

So called conventional ‘on-site stick building’ is already a misnomer in the majority of cases.  Production builders get their name in part because they source their components from factories, and assemble factory-built components on site.  Manufactured housing, modular, panelized or core-building takes that a few steps beyond, by doing most precision work in the controlled environment of the factory.  By doing the work in a factory, the process is greener, the home built is more precise and can save money as well.  The factory-building process is greener, the home built is more precise and can save money as well.

As we have cited many times here at, experts such as Dr. David Funk from Cornell University’s Real Estate department and Chuck Shinn, a consultant with ties to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), both project growth for manufactured homes.  Does anyone seriously think that those experts know something that Warren Buffett and his associates do not?

The essence of Dr. Funk’s study is the fact that once the foreclosure glut passes, there will be a strong pent-up demand for new home construction.  With incomes in the U.S. down, manufactured homes are priced right.  Population growth in the next 50 years is going to continue.  Manufactured housing is well poised to take advantage of these factors.  While building today is at record lows, the demographics suggest this must reverse in the near term, perhaps starting in the next 24 months.

Knowing the advantages of factory-building and the looming housing boom is doubtlessly what keeps Berkshire Hathaway purchasing companies in the manufactured and modular home building sectors.  Similarly, why else would Joe Stegmayer who leads Cavco Industries purchase first Fleetwood’s homebuilding enterprise and then more recently move to acquire Palm Harbor Homes?

As Thayer Long from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) recently said in an exclusive interview with, “It is kind of like this whole IBIS thing; who are they?…Okay, fine, they [IBISWorld] publish this report. Okay, it makes a headline; it will circulate around the Industry for a while.”

Long added: “That said, for ‘a dying industry,’ the numbers for Vegas [the annual MHI Congress] are looking outstanding. We are looking great. For ‘a dying industry,’ I heard from manufacturers that the Tunica [Manufactured Housing] Show was good. Show me ‘a dying industry.’” (Editor’s note, see the entire Industry In Focus report, with all of Thayer Long’s comments here. If you are not registered for premium content to access this excusive and in depth report, please click here for a free sign up.)

Long’s point on the uptick in event attendance and activity and its meaning has merit.

Information from the MHAO’s Deanna Fields about their 2011 Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa, OK suggests they will have their best show ever.  There are more attendees registering, more exhibitors and more homes on display.  They have a robust line up of seminars.

The PMHA’s 2011 HOMExpo in York PA is set to return in style as well.  The numbers from the Louisville and Tunica Shows both suggested that there is plenty of interest among retailers and manufactured home community operators, even in these challenging times.  With some 970-1100 attendees at these two prior shows, the forecast for HOMExpo 2011 and the  2011 Great Southwest Home Show look bring indeed.

What this IBISWorld report underscores is the fact that the Manufactured Housing Industry needs to do a better job in working with the media!  Industry veterans already know about the 12 year industry slide.

Manufactured Housing retailers, communities, manufacturers and others in our business need to do a better job of communicating our message to the public at large!  While it would be grand if we had a national campaign, there is every reason for individual firms or perhaps state associations to make such a local or regional campaign a reality. in conjunction with the respective associations has organized two image and business building workshops for industry professionals with such goals in mind.

The first pair will be held in Las Vegas at MHI’s annual Congress.  The next set will be at the 2011 Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa OK.  Here are the locations for our booths and the schedules for the workshops:

MHI Congress & Expo, Caesars Palace – Las Vegas, Nevada – BOOTH 610

>Engaging the Media Workshop, Thursday, April 28, 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

>“Dominate Your Local Market” Workshop, Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 1:00-2:30 PM

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Great Southwest Home Show, QuikTrip Center, Expo Square – Tulsa, Oklahoma – BOOTH 101

>“Dominate Your Local Market” Workshop, Friday, April 30, 2011, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

>Engaging the Media Workshop*, Thursday, April 30, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

(* Editor’s note, the speaker lineup for the free “Engaging the Media” workshop in Tulsa will be somewhat different than in Vegas – stay tuned for final speaker details.)

Which brings us back to the question…

Why does Buffett or thousands of other professionals and owners bet on manufactured housing?  Think about it. strongly believes in the future of this industry.  We are betting on it the same as independent and corporate manufacturers, retailers, community operators, lenders, vendors and suppliers do.  If the ‘big boys’ keep investing in factories and communities and other parts of our industry, why shouldn’t we?

I get calls and  messages from some who lament the fact that others in the biz still say things like, ‘but that is the way we have always done it.’ The way we always made phone calls in the 80s was with a land line, not a cell.  We adapted.

We used to type with typewriters, then word processors, followed by computers, then laptops, notebooks and iPads.  We changed.  We adapted.

We didn’t text a few years ago. Email has been around for a dozen plus years.

So what is certain is that WE MUST BE WILLING to adapt to the changing times.

Look at the newer, nicer retail centers and communities.  They are looking more and more ‘residential.’  That’s a clue.  We still offer – wisely – ‘entry level’ HUD Code home product that is VOG style, but we also see more and more designs that are ‘residential.’  Another clue.

Those who fail to change and adapt risk extinction, as IBISWorld reported.

Likewise those who fail to serve their customers properly are at risk.  But there are those who have and will adapt successfully.  They will be the ones to enter a bright future.  Those who do not, will not.

It is our mission to provide you with the tools, information and resources to be successful.

Our tag line says it:

Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals

For those who refuse to change or adapt, the gloomy IBISWorld report could be their future.

But for those ready to be informed, inspired and innovative, the future can indeed be bright.  Stay informed here every day at   But also go to the upcoming events.  Attend business building seminars, including our seminars, and see for yourself why you can not only survive, but thrive during these challenging times.

We are betting on it, Buffett is betting on it – why don’t you bet on it, too?  # #