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Rope-a-Dope – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, Mom, Dad, & You

May 13th, 2019 No comments

 RopeADopePreservingAccessManufacturedHousingActMomDadYouMastheadLATonyKovachMHProNews

 

There may be no one analogy that is entirely precise enough to make the point that the promoters of the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act purportedly hoped to accomplish with their bill. All analogies limp at some point, but those disclosures made, let’s begin with the ‘rope and dope metaphor’ from boxing.

 

Per Google and Bing:

 

rope-a-dope

/ˈrōpəˌdōp/

nounINFORMAL•US

  1. a boxing tactic of pretending to be trapped against the ropes, goading an opponent to throw tiring ineffective punches.

 

RopeADopeWikiGoogleMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryMHProNewsLATonyKovach

 

It is fair to say that most if not all of us have been wrong or misled about several things or people at various times in our lives. To make the point relevant in manufactured housing, let me hereby point the finger at my own chest, by hereby admitting to being misled myself.

In 2015 and before, this writer in word and deed supported and encouraged others to support the Preserving Access bill. While the bill was technically correct – a point that will be made further below – in hindsight, Preserving Access was doomed from the start.

In retrospection, the bill was arguably part of a hoax perpetrated on manufactured housing independent retailers, community owners, lenders, and others who supplied or provided professional services to the manufactured housing industry’s businesses. We’ll briefly make the case that the goal was to wear out marginal players, to cause them to sell out their business interests for less than the intrinsic value of their operation, and/or to fail entirely.

Rephrased, Preserving Access fostered consolidation and reduced values.  To see a current left-right snapshot of that issue more broadly, consider the Daily Business News on MHProNews report posted earlier today.  Senator Booker is one of several voices, on both sides of the two major party aisle, that has pointed to consolidation and monopolistic concerns.

 

Senator Cory Booker – ‘We Need a President…to Enforce Antitrust Laws,’ Digging Warren, POTUS Trump

 

In teeing up the notion that Preserving Access was a hoax, that’s not to say that it was a grand conspiracy involving scores of people.  That’s not necessary, as will likewise be revealed further into this fact-check and analysis. Literally a mere handful of professionals could have arguably pulled this ploy off.  The precise numbers and names – who knew what, and when – are for legal investigators to determine.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethical Conduct encourages several useful principles.

  • SPJ says that media are to be candid about errors made by journalists,
  • another is to hold the powerful to account.
  • This column aims to do both, and more.
  • Because not only where myself and thousands of others in our industry apparently fooled, the evidence and logic reveal that the rope-a-dope nature of the Preserving Access hoax has morphed and is ongoing.  Rephrased, this isn’t one and done.  It’s an ongoing ‘enterprise.’

 

SPJSocietyProfessionalJournalistsCodeofConductMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryMHProNews

 

We are among the billions who believe that we are given our talents and gifts from above.  There are both a healthy and unhealthy kinds of pride. Not many would say this writer lacks intelligence, so it wounds pride to to admit that I was as fooled as thousands of others were by the Preserving Access ploy. As the managing member for the parent company of this – the single largest audience in all of manufactured housing professional trade media – I’m hereby saying I’m sorry for falling into the rope-a-dope trap.

At the same time, to maintain integrity and credibility, one must lay out the facts that are known, as the realities become evident.

 

HowardWalkerJDViceChairEquityLifestylePropELS-ManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoViceChair-postedMastheadManufacturedHomeIndustryResearcMHProNews

 

That said, it is important to explain how it occurred, why the lessons from Preserving Access still matters, and the steps useful in avoiding the ongoing usefulness of the ‘Rope-a-Dope’ to a powerful few.

Rephrased, what took place with Preserving Access arguably continues, only under a different banner.  It could happen over and over, so it must be understood, exposed, and appropriate corrective measures taken to stop it from occurring again. Furthermore, those who’ve deployed this stratagem should be held to account. With that prologue, let’s look deeper.

 

Examples of Who Were Harmed by the ‘Rope-a-Dope’

In one of numerous state or national association meetings over the years arranged to promote Preserving Access, I vividly recall a man who had been successful for decades in the manufactured home land-lease community business.  He was standing in the doorway to the association conference meeting room, returning from a break between sessions.  He wasn’t a young man; rather, he was an industry ‘veteran.’

That long-successful professional had a deer-in-the-headlights look to him.

  • He indicated that he cared for treated his residents fairly and that they were happy.
  • That used to be part of the recipe for success in any business in America. Identify and serve a need, develop happy customers, and let them tell others, so your business can grow.

But that perplexed gentleman who owned that land-lease manufactured home community, in a fairly short period of time, watched as the business-model for his enterprise – along with tens of thousands of other manufactured home communities like his – was significantly transformed.  There was a loss of thousands of independent retailers.  There were fewer lending options. New regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and others.  Lower net-inflation/adjusted revenues was the rule for thousands of independent retailers and communities.

There were no easy fixes in sight.

That community owner was tired.

Another professional community owner that comes to mind, whom I knew better.  He too fought the regulatory fights, attended the association meetings, made the move into selling homes in his communities. His firm got the new licenses, and did most of the things his state and the national umbrella association told him that he should do.  But he too finally wore out, and he too sold out.  He likewise grew tired of battles that for decades before previously didn’t exist.

It was just those sorts of once-successful professionals – and thousands of others like them in retail, communities, production, or you-name-it in manufactured housing – that the rope-a-dope tactic was purportedly deployed to knee cap. Consider the thousands of communities that have changed hands in recent years, as smaller operators sold out to larger ones. Wear the little man out with regulations, a lack of access to financing, or by putting out of business the retailers and factories that once supplied them.

 

Examining Derek Thompson’s Atlantic Report on ‘Mobile Home’ Retail Market as Fastest Dying Business In America

 

ICYMI, or need a reminder, the reports linked above and below in the hot-linked text-image boxes provide a sense of how many firms and how much this rope-a-dope tactic harmed independents.

 

Manufactured Home Community Case Study, UMH Properties, Lessons for Independent Community Owners, Investors

 

In pondering the scheme, in hindsight, here was the obvious goal.  The aim was arguably to slowly consolidate an increasing number of manufactured housing’s independently-owned operations into the hands of a few ‘big boy’ players — or drive the independents out-of-business altogether. Wear them out, and then sucker-punch them.  Only the knock-out blow might come in the form of a smile, friendly handshakes, and a check at a closing table.  The victims may have been paid, often thanked by their buyers, and it may not be until this moment that some who fit into this scenario will realize just how much they and others were ripped off.

That a small sense of the Rope-a-Dope in action in manufactured housing.

That was years before MHI award-winner Marty Lavin told MHProNews the following in 2018.

 

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Elements of How Its Done

That outlined, let’s step back a bit more.  Because there are subtle psychological forces at play that can harmfully be duplicated.  Thus, this must be exposed, or the dirty tricks and related errors will continue.

With politics, associations, a church or charity, if you get someone to:

  • Give time, even if it is only a little,
  • Give money, even if it isn’t much,
  • Take a stand, even if only briefly,
  • Go to a meeting, and enjoy pleasant networking or conversations with peers,

and you are subtly training them to do that again-and-again.  Why are we seeing political campaigns ask for as little as $3? It is for the reasons those bullets outlined.

Big boy companies operating in the manufactured housing segment of the affordable housing marketplace are purportedly using trade associations to do the same.  It’s tragic, but one can make the case that trade groups are working against the interests of their own dues payers.  Needless to say, if professionals understood that to be so, they would not normally do that of their own free will.

 

Congressional Efforts

That said, this writer made the correct technical arguments on issues framed by Preserving Access. I personally spoke to congressional staff and politicos from both major parties, as well as the public at large. My Congress blog post on the closely followed in Washington, D.C. The Hill website on the topic of Preserving Access was praised by Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams 21st Mortgage Corp President, CEO and then Manufactured Housing Institute Chairman, and scores of others, as the linked post below reflects.

 

https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/248665-regulations-for-manufactured-home-loans

 

Perhaps Kevin and Tim laughed their heads off.  But time will tell who gets the last laugh.

Beyond admitting to being duped, and explaining how this ploy operated, this is an example of why on MHProNews is using the maxim, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me.”

It is not my intent to be fooled again.  To the extent possible, we hope to utilize MHProNews and MHLivingNews to prevent as many others as possible from being fooled, while holding those who did the hoodwinking accountable. Because now having confessed my error in falling for the rope-a-dope ploy, the focus must now pivot to holding the responsible parties to account.

If there was a scheme:

  • how did it occur and operate?
  • Who benefited from the maneuver?
  • Who was harmed?

We’ll aim at addressing each of those questions plus more herein.

 

 

How Rigging Preserving Access Was Accomplished

The system in MHVille was arguably rigged so that the Preserving Access bill would never pass at all. The truth was hiding in plain sight, and not enough of us understood that at the time. Let me stress that while some of the key players were clearly Democratic supporters, this was a bipartisan manipulation. As an independent, if I were a member of either party, I’d be incensed. Once more, let’s hold those who did the manipulating to account, rather than fall for the red-herring trick of blaming the messenger or whistleblowers.

Here are the factual elements of the rope-a-dope at work in Preserving Access.

 

  • Warren Buffett was a prominent supporter of 2008 candidate – and later the 2012 re-election campaign of – former President Barack Obama.
  • Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway has several of the largest brands in manufactured housing, including Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), a big stake in Wells Fargo, and ownership or stakes in several others.
  • Buffett’s brands arguably dominate the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) along with dozens of state associations, through dues, board positions, select allies, and other forms of influence.
  • Buffett – often though so-called “dark money” channels – has been a financial donor, has ties to, and/or is influential with organizations that opposed Preserving Access in word or deed. See the report with evidence and details, linked here.

The article linked below outlines the numerous voices in MHVille that raised concerns that point to specific players and their surrogates.

 

Joe Stegmayer, George F. Allen, Manufactured Housing Institute Slogans, Slump, Slurs, Solutions

 

On the one hand, Buffett and others supported those who passed Dodd-Frank, which had onerous regulations harmful to the interests of manufactured home retailers and consumers too. That’s is why it was technically correct to support the bill, for an example, see one of several reports we published that explained why and how consumers and independents were being harmed linked here.

But as another report at that time also reflected, zoning/placement were as big or an even bigger issue.  Failure to deal with that placement/zoning issue is another element in the current downturn, per the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform.

 

GaryAdamekFayetteCountryHomesQuotesZoningPlacementDoddFrankPreservingAccessCFPB

 

CFPB regulations harmed the industry’s independents and consumers alike, but as the above suggests, it was one of several issues that impacted the industry. Preserving Access was fueled by MHI’s leaders in a way that it was sucking up the oxygen of the bulk of the industry’s lobbying efforts.

That said, with Barack Obama pledging a veto of any change in Dodd-Frank, the hope of passing Preserving Access law was near zero.  Who said? MHI’s own SVP of government relations.

 

JasonBoehlertPhotoManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHISVPGovtAffairsQuotePreservingAccess

It was the truth hiding in plain sight. 

 

The Truth Hiding…

The panel discussion I established for the Tunica Show, where the video below was captured and later produced, was part of my evolving awakening to the farce that Preserving Access was.

In citing Frank Rolfe, it should not be construed that I’m endorsing the controversial practices of he and/or his partners. There is wheat and chaff in us all, and I firmly believe in the principle of finding the wheat and separating it from the chaff. Rolfe may arguably be wrong on several things, but on Preserving Access, he was proven to be quite correct.

Thus, Rolfe’s commentary on Preserving Access in 2016 was and still is useful.

So too were the insights shared by Bob Crawford, the President of famous Dick Moore Housing, one of the oldest and highest performing retailers in all of manufactured housing history.  Dick Moore’s business has a fine A+ Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. He has owned retail centers and land-lease manufactured home communities, which some errantly call ‘mobile home parks.’ With that introduction, here’s the video.

 

 

 

MHI’s Chairman Tim Williams, per state association sources, exercised raw power over numbers of state executives in mobilizing them to support Preserving Access. See the report, linked below. Williams pushed state executives into supporting the 21st/Clayton and Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) promoted legislation, even though many execs had concerns about its viability.

 

 

For several years, millions of dollars were spent in the effort to supposedly get Preserving Access passed. Meanwhile, problems of local zoning, issues at HUD, or other concerns festered. As manufactured housing industry success story Gary Adamek and others put it, zoning was a far more vexing issue.  Adamek wasn’t alone.

 

 

JayHamiltonZoningPlacementAffordableHousingCrisisManufacturedHomesGaManufacturedHousingAssocPhotoMHProNews

 

Despite the assurances of Nathan Smith, MHI’s prior Chairman to Williams, that the industry – often a euphemism for MHI – would be more pro-active instead of reactive, MHI in hindsight emphasized Preserving Access so much, that other issues arguably slipped.  It was as if MHI could only chew gum but couldn’t walk or talk on other pressing or festering issues.

 

 

The point is that Buffett and a few key people had arguably rigged the system in a way Preserving Access would never pass. Yet MHI continued to pursue it.

That disconnect should have been obvious to MHI.  Indeed, as was noted above, it was MHI’s  SVP in charge of government-relations Jason Boehlert said as much in 2012. Yet for four more years, MHI pursued a hopeless bill?

That begs the question, why did MHI continue to pursue a plan that was a dead end?

Seen through the lens of rope-a-dope, a plausible picture emerges.  It was done to foster the consolidation of more businesses into fewer hands, and/or drive more competitors out of business.

That concern raises other problematic issues, such as this.  Is MHI’s leadership so corrupted that the Arlington, VA based trade group has and continues to deceived hundreds of their own members?  As the evidence began to reveal itself, what to do?

 

Mom and Dad

It’s Mother’s Day as I’m drafting this article. My mother and father were both intelligent, well educated, informed people. They survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary.  They lived in the shadow of Soviet Russia for years before that tumultuous time.  When the Soviet Union’s brutal armies were pressing into Eastern Europe near the end of World War II, my parents abandoned virtually everything, took their children, and fled West to the Allied lines. They endured harrowing experiences in that trek. They finally made it to an American controlled zone. They spent years in a Displaced Persons, or DP Camp, educating others. After years of waiting after they applied to come to America, they were sponsored into the U.S., where I became the first of my parents 7 children to be born in the USA.

Two of my siblings didn’t survive the war, what my parents went through was that bad. That speaks volumes, as does what follows.

My parents faced life and death decisions. They did what they could under difficult circumstances in an enemy occupied land. Intelligent, motivated – yet they still learned only later how official deceptions – such as how the war was going for the Nazis – were just that, lies. Propaganda. Hold that thought.

When they came to the U.S., the civil rights movement was on. My parents were known supporters of civil rights for all. Later, when pro-communist speakers came to campus, they went to publicly dispute the false communist claims.

My father was a university professor.  Years after the war, he returned to Europe and was the first Ph.D. to earn his doctoral degree in philosophy “summa cum laude” – with highest honors – in the five century history of the respected University of Cologne.  My parents sacrificed as a couple so my father could return to Europe to earn that degree, and thereby make a better life for his family, while teaching others too.

During the Nazi occupation, my father had a minor governmental position. Reflecting on WWII and the Nazi occupation, several points he and my mother shared stand out. One, while Christians, they secretly helped feed hungry Jews during the Nazi occupation, at their own peril. Two, my parents said that while they knew the population was being propagandized, it wasn’t until after the war that they realized how extensive the Nazi propaganda was. 

The point is that even highly intelligent people can be deceived, but once a deception is grasped, the moral thing to do is right the wrong as best as one’s station in life allows.  They also demonstrated that you do the best you can, based on what you know and can do.

We each learn from a variety of things. Ultimately, in the natural order – meaning apart from Divine intervention – learning comes down to just two prime sources. We learn from the experiences of others, and we learn from our own experiences.

Books, articles, teaching, videos, discussions, or other forms of learning are the related experiences of others.  The simplest child can teach us something, if we are open to it, while one learns from the most profound wisdom of the greatest minds of all time.

Looking back to 2016 and that Tunica Manufactured Housing Show panel discussion, Frank Rolfe – however controversial he may be, and however much I disagree with some of his terminology, etc. – taught me something valuable. Bob Crawford did too.

Tim Williams and MHI President Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison taught me as well, albeit in an oblique fashion.  In hindsight, Williams and Jennison revealed parts of the game in manufactured housing has been played.  At the time, it made no sense, in hindsight – with the rope-a-dope in mind – the ploy and what it was used have become quite clear.

Manipulating others becomes easier, given certain dynamics. Get a group going in a certain direction, and momentum makes it easier to keep them going that way. Busy independent business people don’t have time to dig under the surface. That’s why they pay a trade organization.

Independents trusting MHI or other weaponized trade groups has purportedly been part of the rope-a-dope scheme.  There is in hindsight, as Mark Weiss, JD, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, an ‘Illusion of Motion.’ That illusion of activity – that MHI claims is to improve the industry – is enough to fool busy professionals that trusted the Arlington, VA based MHI trade group, while their members are focused on their business.

 

 

“The Illusion of Motion Versus Real-World Challenges”

 

Not only for this writer, but for others in manufactured housing, the evidence of in hindsight of deception by leaders connected to MHI began to crop up. One big clue was an email from MHI to its own members, shown below in its entirety. A source in MHI’s organization told me that the “Housing Alert” – shown below under fair use guidelines – were only giving part of the story about a Senate hearing on Preserving Access between Senator Joe Donnelly and the CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Rephrased, that source claimed MHI was at best giving their members a half-truth.  Going to the CSPAN video, that MHI source proved correct.

 

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We produced the following video – shown a few paragraphs below – during that time-frame.  But frankly, the full meaning of what occurred only become clear in the rear view mirror, years after these events referenced by MHI’s message.

Let’s note, Senator Donnelly or Director Cordray may have been oblivious to what was occurring. MHI no doubt provided Donnelly with certain questions, they indicated as much at the time. Nevertheless, Donnelly or Cordray could well have been obvious to the fact that each were playing a part in a costly and harmful drama.  If Donnelly and Cordray were figures in a staged play, they should desire a federal investigation into these events as much as tens of thousands of industry professionals should want it.

MHI’s Senior Vice President Lesli Gooch, Ph.D. sent that message, as the email above indicates.  It was obviously with MHI President Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison’s okay. As such MHI “Housing Alerts” were sent to their own members.  Because affiliated state associations would resend MHI messages, this kind of ‘alert’ was distributed to thousands of others in manufactured housing.  The quotes used by MHI were accurate, but they were a half-truth.  It was arguably meant to deceive, as their own headline indicates:

On Capitol HillMHI Advances Manufactured Housing Finance Reform.”

There was no advance of Preserving Access. Barring Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate acting against their stated positions, no advance was possible.  The bill never, ever passed into law.  How could it?

MHI’s omissions changed the entire tenor of the Cordray-Donnelly Senate hearing discussion. That’s arguably why that MHI source sent us the tip at that time; that insider source wanted us to know that MHI was telling a half-truth that had so much spin, that it was arguably a lie.

Once more, at that moment in time, I still didn’t get it that Preserving Access was a rope-a-dope head fake. But I knew that morally, it was wrong to deceive their own members. The why behind the deception took time to uncover.

So, about 3 years ago – based on what looked like clear evidence of deception of their own members – this writer publicly called for the resignation or termination of Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison and Lesli Gooch, Ph.D.  Not knowing more at the point in time, there was nothing more that could be done.

 

RichardDickJennisonLesliGoochManufacturedHousingInstittueMHI-postedMHProNews-

This report was in 2016, and the evidence kept mounting.

http://MHProNews.com/industry-news/hot/why-richard-dick-jennison-and-lesli-gooch-at-mhi-should-resign-or-go

 

That said, their deceptions made me look deeper, and ask, why wasn’t MHI using the best arguments with the CFPB and Richard Cordray?

Still supporting the logic of the bill, while opposing the tactics being used, our operation paid for the following production.

 

 

 

As this writer acknowledged in a Clayton Homes related report, linked here, our videographer wasn’t the greatest. That’s my bad, for not doing a better review of that person’s claimed credentials. That said, the videos he produced are useful. Perhaps videos and articles we produced at the time are more useful today in hindsight, then they were at that time.

Our graphics and videos have improved since.  But at a minimum, what we produced should have inspired MHI to do something similar and better.  They had the budget and they had the responsibility for advancing their own agenda.

With those disclaimers and logical points, we made this summary of statements made by CFPB Director Cordray to Senator Donnelley (D-IN).  Those pull quotes were and are revealing.  Because not only were Gooch and Jennison failing to be honest about the breadth of discussion at that Senate hearing, but MHI was also failing to use their best arguments.  Why didn’t they take Cordray’s own logic, and show him why Preserving Access could and should be done by Cordray by agreement?  After all, Cordray had that authority to change CFPB regulations himself.

 

RichardCordrayCFPB-ManufacturedHousingRegulationsCSPANstill-InsideMHvideoPostedMHProNews-com-

A prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney builds a case with one fact laid next to another. That’s what this article is doing, laying facts out, and showing how they relate to this issue.

 

Rephrased, if MHI’s leadership were serious about getting their bill passed – or the actual intent of the measure was to get Cordray to relent and place the same regulations  into effect – then why didn’t they do some similar or better efforts to what we provided our readers and viewers?

Or even easier for them, why didn’t MHI actively support and promote our efforts to help them pass their measure – given that we were MHI members, and that we were promoting what they say they wanted?

Bear in mind, that MHI’s then chairman praised this writer, and our publications.  He did so precisely in the context of thanking us for our support of Preserving Access. The disconnects with MHI’s actions where all over, but it they only became clear in hindsight.

 

TimWilliamsToRephraseMHITonyBothCorrectThereisNoDaylight21stMortgageCorpMHIChairmmanufacturedHousingProNews

 

Do you see how the logic and evidence that MHI leaders were shadow boxing, playing rope-a-dope, mounts in the enhanced clarity of the rear-view mirror?

 

 

What Then MHI Chairman Tim Williams Did

As the linked report documents, MHProNews and I personally had called Jennison and Gooch out for their deception publicly. Tim Williams response?  Williams backed them after their apparent deception was revealed.

At a subsequent MHI meeting, Williams held a vote of confidence, which given ‘how gold rules‘ of course passed, in favor of Jennison.

These events took place in the view of thousands of readers, and dozens of MHI member event attendees.  Bear in mind that Williams, Jennison, and others had long praised our work.  Of course, for a time, we were useful to them.  Ouch, if so, but there it is. However one looks at it, what looks bad is that the perpetrators of these deeds were arguably part of a purported fraud.

Yes, not just deception, but fraud is a plausible argument.

FraudLegalDefinitionManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Yes, this article is laying out evidence that supports a possible case for fraud committed by specific Berkshire Hathaway and MHI leaders.

 

Given that MHI’s efforts were ‘ongoing,’ used ‘the wires’ – i.e.: the internet, and the U.S. mails too, that can all be elements of RICO.  “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a U.S. federal statute which provides criminal penalties and civil action for any act performed as a part of an ongoing criminal organization,” per US Legal.

 

IllegalLegaRICOWireMailFraudManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

Yes, this article is laying out evidence that supports a possible case for RICO by specific Berkshire Hathaway and MHI leaders.

 

 

Once more, at that time, RICO or fraud were not on my mind.  But in hindsight, there is an argument to be made that those who’ve participated in this alleged fraud could be subject to federal, state, and civil actions.

That noted, let’s flash back again.

YouMHProNewsSeemToHaveConceptualIQThatIsMoreImportantThanSpellingAbilityQuoteMastheadMHProNews

Quote from an MHI member, business executive. We do have our typos…

The Williams ‘vote of confidence’ and related fueled my interest in peeling back the layers of the onion.

I won’t go into much more, other than to say that there were numerous voices inside and outside of MHI that helped me arrive at the point that I am today.  At the time, I was so behind Preserving Access, that I pressed MHARR to support the bill.  They calmly told me that if anyone called, they said they were for the goal of the measure, meaning more access to more lending.  But MHARR’s leaders apparently had a better sense that the bill was going nowhere, no matter how many meetings MHI held, or how many emails they sent out to the industry.

That noted, let’s pivot to a related point to the issue of consolidation.

For example, a source provided MHProNews with documents in 2017 that reflected an apparent violation of antitrust law, aimed at eliminating independent retailers and others they did business with.  Put differently, this was a more active move vs. the more passive ‘rope-a-dope’ ply.  The evidence provided us involved letters from 21st Mortgage’s Tim Williams.  That caused us to research what Kevin Clayton at Clayton Homes, and Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway said during that same timeframe.  The documents, direct quotes, and video linked below are perhaps the definitive report on that topic to date.

 

 

We’ve asked Clayton, 21st, and MHI leaders to respond to these concerns several times. Silence.  They’ve not confirmed or denied the allegations of market rigging done in a fashion that is arguably a violation of antitrust laws.  If they rigged the market in bold ways, why not in more subtle ones?

 

What Does This Mean For Investors and Manufactured Housing Professionals?

What Does This Evidence Mean for Affordable Housing Advocates?

First, this pattern of behavior took place over a period of years.

Second, while experts on the topic are useful, the elements of the case are laid out from this report.

Third, while we believe the evidence and its elements are compelling, the accused are deemed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, or by a plea/settlement.  These are allegations at this point, although they are arguably logical points with solid evidence and patterns of activity provided herein.

Fourth, this arguably impacts virtually every independent business, not to mention, home owners, workers, investors, home seekers, and tax payers.  The economic harm is in the billions annually.

Fifth, initially, some of these players – for example, Richard Jennison or Lesli Gooch – could well have been mere pawns initially. They may at first only have been following orders. But as certainly, as we published various fact-checks, analysis, and research, it becomes harder for them to argue that they lacked knowledge. That’s problematic for them, if legal action occurs, unless they use their insights to flip against those who pulled their strings and ordered various actions.  It should be stressed that sources at MHI have already provided MHProNews with useful information that helped unpeel layers of the onion.

Sixth, several state association executives arguably have a similar problem at Jennison and Gooch have.  Some of those executives publicly praised our work, and they praised that letter to the Hill that this author published. Once more, similar to Jennison, some state executives may have begun as mere pawns. But with MHI staff or state association staff, there is evidence that they are routine readers.  Their own emails to others will reflect their knowledge.  Failure to report a crime can lead to a charge of being an accomplice after the fact.  It should be noted that state execs are among our sources for tips.  When the time comes, we can testify on behalf of those that did what they could to battle the corruption, through their news tips.

 

SubmitNewsTipsManufacturedHomeProNewsMHProNewsLogoMastheadMHProNews

Submit confidential or on-the-record news tips, or comments at this linked email mailto:iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com.  Put “MHProNews Comments” or “News Tip” in the subject line.

 

Seventh, while legislators often support bills and make speeches in favor of legislation that they know will go nowhere, that is arguably different than being part of a fraudulent scheme.  For 2020 and other motivations, legislators and other advocates may be motivated to do what is right with respect to the Rope-a-Dope and related schemes to consolidate manufactured housing into ever fewer hands.

Eighth, as some linked articles reveal, there may likewise be connections between non-profits that benefited from Warren Buffett’s largess – directly or obliquely – that these same numbered points apply to from a legal perspective. One may begin innocently as a mere tool or pawn in a fraud.  But as realization hits, there are legal and more reasons for them to step forward.

Ninth, advocates and unelected public officials also have a role in acting as they digest this.

Certainly, once an allegation is made, evidence is presented, and reason is applied, a reader can and should double- check the claims.  We don’t ask that any of this be taken on blind faith. I’ve routinely invited key people in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis to debunk or explain away previous reports, some of which are linked in this one.  In the past two years, they’ve largely been mute directly.  Indirectly, they’ve arguably taken several steps, including hiring an outside attorney for MHI to threaten this writer and our publication. If we were mistaken, why didn’t they simply point out our fact error or any misstep in reasoning?  Instead, MHI used threats and other tactics.

 

Lanham Act, Monopolistic Housing Institute, err, Manufactured Housing Institute, Legal Bullies, and You

 

This writer has already taken certain steps with state and federal officials, and will plan to take others. So while this is a mea culpa, it is more.

Tenth, one or more individuals in this circle have purportedly misused the mails in an effort to threaten and/or embarrass this writer via a form of extortion. They perhaps didn’t realize  that every such step only confirmed that we were on the right track. As our team or myself have said before, sure, there are some things that would be embarrassing for me, but it could be explained in 60 seconds.  There’s a keen difference between an embarrassing moment, vs. fraudulent or criminal activity.

Why would someone engage in such a fraud and use the ‘rope-a-dope?’

Let’s let Warren Buffett help us explain the answer to that question.

 

How Warren Buffett Sheds Light On This Issue

Hindsight isn’t always 20/20. But Buffett, whom I disagree with numerous points of his purported business or other (lack of) ethical practices, has nevertheless said some things that were useful to me in understanding what occurred and why.

Paraphrasing the Oracle of Omaha:

 

  • The rear-view mirror is clearer than the windshield.
  • The lesson of history is that most don’t learn the lesson of history.
  • If you take a long view of an investment in an industry, you can do more than those who only take the short view.
  • Buffett stresses that he only invested in industries that make good sense. That was confirmation of the value proposition of manufactured housing.
  • Reputation is important.

 

But oddly, Clayton and their related lenders have behaved in ways that arguably stoked problematic reputational issues. ICYMI, or to see the connections, please check out the related report, linked below.

 

Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance – Investor Lessons Learned

 

In hindsight, looking at the evidence, the case can be made that Buffett had the goal of monopolizing a big part of the industry.

Buffett did so by manipulation of access to financing and capital. This is a realm where the advocacy of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was useful to me and others in the industry.  The Duty to Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became law in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), a measure MHARR successfully backed.

But a decade later it is still not being fully or properly implemented. What can that lack of implementation be traced back to? MHARR has argued that fingers point to GSE foot dragging, Berkshire Hathaway lender’s that de facto foiled its earlier implementation, and MHI working to re-direct DTS to an untested and more expensive so-called ‘new class of homes’ built under the HUD Code.

 

Buffett and his fellows in MHVille, in hindsight, has been both revealing and concealing.

What’s arguably occurred is often done in plain sight.  If someone had checked the records as we have, they could have come to the same or similar conclusions. Buffett’s merry band of leaders in MHVille have purportedly played rope-a-dope for years. Thus, the ongoing nature of this matter, which is why RICO – IMHO – can and should be applied.

Cutting off lending to thousands of retailers who didn’t buy Clayton products harmed many, causing numbers to fail. That in turn tipped some factories out of business or caused them to sell out later at a discount.  It also harmed independently owned manufactured home communities, that for decades counted on retailers to fill their vacant sites.  So much changed after the events in this linked report.

More recently, Buffett’s money apparently funded the underlying research used by Oliver’s video, linked here.

These are arguably slow-motion methods of getting ‘undervalued acquisitions,’ and do so in a manner that could easily elude federal antitrust regulators and/or their victims.

The linked reports are crucial for grasping the evidence of how this purported plot has been carried out. Let me stress that initially, only a few would have had to know. But as our reporting has unpeeled the layers, plausible deniability has slowly escaped their various tools and pawns, as those individuals have gained understanding of the elements of the ploy.

Ronald Reagan said his 80 percent friends are not 20 percent enemies. That’s an important principle in manufactured housing for those NOT in on the rope-a-dope.  There have been useful tips from past and present MHI staff and members, MHARR leaders and their members, independents, or others who have since broken with MHI as the rope-a-dope became clearer to them.  I’d like to think we’ve been helping each other against the threat of still more costly market manipulation.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has arguably done the industry a big favor in his recent statement. See that, linked below. Ask yourself, why doesn’t MHI have the entire speech on their website? Once more, just before publishing this, we’ve verified that this isn’t on their website.  Are they that lazy and incompetent? I’d say, no.  So, is there something else – like the illusion of motion and the rope-a-dope – at work at MHI?

 

 

Dr. Ben Carson Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Manufactured Housing Conference Remarks New Orleans, Louisiana, Hyatt Regency Hotel, May 7, 2019

 

Imagine a candidate pondering replacing MHI president Dick Jennison, other than say Lesli Gooch.  Imagine that a candidate uncovers a report like this. Who would want to go work for an organization that one of their own prior presidents effectively dissed as he exited?  Who would want to fill the role of an allegedly corrupt organization?

  • There is evidence that supports the reality that MHI has been shadow boxing as well playing rope-a-dope.
  • Buffett has demonstrably been funding opposition to manufactured housing interests, including Preserving Access.
  • The industry’s members were getting purported propaganda, spin, and weaponized half-truths directly from MHI and indirectly from state associations.
  • More recently, weaponized information has come from a new publication launched that largely is a purported MHI propaganda tool, aptly named MHInsider. Berkshire brands and others who are benefiting from consolidation are among their sponsors. MHInsider isn’t alone, consider the head fakes from purported pawn and rewarded surrogate, George F. Allen. For still more, see the below.

 

B2B Statistics, Trends 2019 – April 2019 Snapshot of Manufactured Home Professional Readers

 

ManufacturedHomeMHShipments1990-2017MastheadManufacturedHousingMHProNews600

20 years ago, manufactured homes outsold RVs by about 3 to 2. Today, RVs outsell manufactured homes by some 5 to 1. Manufactured homes are normally purchased for full time living, many RVs are for recreational or part time living. Many RVs – which are towable as well as motorized – can be higher than a manufactured home. The cost per square foot for a manufactured home is routinely lower.

 

 

How Manufactured Housing Has Been Manipulated and Stunted During an Affordable Housing Crisis

There are at least 4 principles that have been at work.

  • The power to tax is the power to undermine value and potentially to destroy a business or industry.
  • The power to regulate is the power to destroy.
  • The power to manipulate, limit, or cut off capital and financing is the power to undermine or destroy a business’ value.
  • Last for now, but not least. The ability to artificially generate opposition in media, politically, and otherwise can limit, undermine, and destroy a business’ value or potential.

Buffett’s donations can be traced to a nonprofit called MHAction. MHAction was part of a group of three nonprofits that did a white paper on problematic business practices by manufactured housing brands that provided key material in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s viral and errantly named “Mobile Homes” video. That video attacks Buffett’s own companies.

But so too did the Center for Integrity, whose journalist co-authored the first Seattle Times attack on Clayton, their lenders, and de facto the Preserving Access bill. Buffett’s money found its way to that nonprofit too. See the third-party research, linked here or above.

So, there is an ongoing pattern of activity. This is why we believe that their is a case for RICO, fraud, as well as antitrust.

 

 

Summary

We are left with a picture of Buffett and his key henchmen in MHVille apparently playing rope-a-dope with the industry. Initially, only a few people had to be involved in the sense of being ‘in the know.’ Later, plausible deniability arguably faded for certain people, say MHI key staff, as our reports on the issues became more focused.

There’s more evidence to unpack in related reports linked from this one. But the essential points are undisputed at this point by Clayton, 21st, VMF, MHI, and that MHI outside attorney – all of whom have been directly asked and asked again to respond to the evidence, concerns, and allegations.  They have the right to remain silent.

Perhaps they have no good response to the evidence?

Freedom isn’t free. My parents taught me that me that in word and deed. You resist and fight back any way you can, based upon your circumstances in life.

Economic freedom is as important as free speech, free assembly, the right to vote, and so on.

Antitrust, RICO, and other federal or state corrupt practices investigations must be made and done as publicly as possible so as to deter others from such ploys.

Millions of lives have arguably been impacted, using Secretary Carson’s logic. Tens to hundreds of billions of dollars a year are arguably being lost in our industry, with a ripple effect in the country that makes the total economic harm far worse.

Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act  – under this premise – was a head fake, and the record is now being set straight. My apologies for not seeing it earlier. Now, help us help you be sharing this with others, and then acting accordingly.

That’s a lot to digest. But by laying it out, step-by-step, dotting i’s and crossing t’s, and linking the evidence, it provides those looking in and those within the industry to follow the evidence.  That is the start of fixing what has artificially suppressed manufactured housing. See the related reports below.  “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, commentary, fact-checks, and analysis.)

(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

LATonyKovachQuoteManufacturedHousingIndustryWontReachPotentialAddresscoreIssuesArtificallyholdingitback466By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

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Related References:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which an be accessed by clicking on them.

Ross Kinzler Confirms Allegations, MHEC Peer Claims “Association Malpractice;” Member Backstab, MHI Failure Concerns

“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”

HUD Code Manufactured Home Production Decline Continues, May Updates

 

HUD Study, Analysis of Zoning Discrimination Against Manufactured Housing Sought

 

MHARR Releases Study Recommending Independent Collective Representation for Post-Production Sector

Independent National Manufactured Housing Post-Production Association Takes Major Step

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finance, Fire Safety, Fines and the Future

November 30th, 2014 No comments

Besides the rapidly approaching Louisville Show, all of our other duties, etc., we are swamped with the upcoming new December issue! The December 2014 featured articles will be live on the home page by close of business December 1, 2014.

As always, here on the Masthead,  you’ll find a handy, full run-down on the new issue in a start-of-the-month blog post. You can circle back here for that after the new issue is live.

Historic?

For the next few moments, let me give you what media and news calls ‘the tease.’ The word historic is often over-used.  But once the new December issue is live, please make some mental notes. There will be topics in it that when you look back in a few weeks, months (or maybe, even in a few years…) you will find yourself agreeing are historic for manufactured housing.

In the strictest sense, we cover housing history on a day-by-day basis here at MHProNews. The Daily Business News  readership continues to rise, as does our readership overall.  Webalizer’s report on MHProNews  documented the fact that visits by professionals like you continue to grow year-over-year. When you are reading here, you are far from alone! You’re in the good company of other owners, executives, managers, investors and public officials, plus the educators and non-profits that do their research on MH here too.

shutterstock-ipadcredit-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com-774x466-a-575x346

Please take a look at our newest feature on the Daily Business News (DBN). The Sunday Morning Weekly Recap. We produced this based upon reader input for an easy place to scan DBN headlines for the stories most important to busy professionals.

In the last 3 weeks, we’ve seen close to 100 news stories in the DBNs, all of which relate directly or indirectly to your business.

For example,

MHProNews knew about all three of the above staff changes before they were announced, as officials with each organization know we knew. We wanted to respect their making their own announcements. There is some news you run with when you first hear it, others that you wait on. More on that in the new December issue!

sunday-morning-manufactured-housing-weekly-pro-news-recap-mhpronews-com-

Sunday Morning – 3 weekly ‘headline news’ recaps!

http://www.MHProNews.com/blogs/daily-business-news/sunday-morning-recap-for-week-november-23-29-2014/

http://www.MHProNews.com/blogs/daily-business-news/sunday-morning-manufactured-housing-daily-business-news-weekly-recap-11-16-22-2014/

http://www.MHProNews.com/blogs/daily-business-news/sunday-morning-manufactured-housing-daily-business-news-weekly-recap-11-9-15-2014/

FYI – in one of the recaps above, you’ll find a story on fines and the CFPB, one that MH pros should know about.

That is where we will wrap this up today, by pointing you to the most robust summaries of the news that impacts housing and thus manufactured housing. If you haven’t already checked out the 3 weekly news recaps, they’re each linked above. In the matter of minutes, you can scan nearly 100 headlines that impact our housing world!

Thanks for checking in, and for making the Masthead a top read blog too. ##

(Image credits: Shutterstock/MHProNews)

la-tony-kovachby L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

Arlington National Cemetery and MH DC Talk

February 12th, 2014 No comments

The words 'freedom isn't free' can't be more eloquently expressed than when you see Arlington National Cemetery.

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lincoln-memorial-credit-wikicommons-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-.jpg

 

In and around DC, dead soldiers and dead presidents are among the many monuments and reminders of the difficult, tumultuous, yet noble tale of our American Republic.

Freedom isn't free, and that includes our economic freedom, which we as members of the manufactured housing industry must fight for, daily. As in "Now."

Starting Sunday afternoon and on into Tuesday morning (2/9 to 2/11), the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) staff and sponsors have put on an insightful event for members that combined informed and insightful speakers, division meetings, issues updates and briefings, meals and networking opportunities.

A hearty pat on the back for all who helped make it happen!

 

 

 

 

mhec-manufactured-housing-executives-committee-westin-arlington-va-2014-legislative-session-mhi-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-.j.jpg

Manufactured Housing Executives Committee – MHEC – Westin Arlington Gateway 2014

One Industry. Many Faces.

During the many meetings, you can't help but notice that we are an industry which literally has many faces.

When you put 100 people in a room, you are going to have a wide variety of opinions about many topics. This was certainly noticeable in the many side discussions apart from the formal meetings at the Westin Arlington hotel where the event was held.

We plan to bring you more faces and insights in the days ahead, here on MHProNews.com, but perhaps also in ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com. For now, we will just mention that builders, land-lease communities, suppliers, lenders, retailers, associations and others were all part of the mix.

Mark Weiss, Vice President for the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was present during the Manufactured Housing Executives Committee meeting. Always good to see Mark – a cool and congenial head for MHARR – and it is helpful to have that level of interaction between the two national groups.

charlie-cook-jennifer-hall-2014-mhi-winter-meeting-legislative-session-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-.pn.pngNo one bats 1000, but Charlie Cook was among the speakers at this year's function. Cook has been called the “Picasso of election analysis,” and his Cook Report is widely read by inside the Beltway types.

More on the speakers and topics in the days ahead, but here is a tip of the photographic hat to Jen Hall, state executive director from MS, a prior chair of MHEC and a hard charging fund raiser for the MHI PAC, with Charlie Cook.

Again, look for more such photos of the people at the event will be showcased in the days ahead. We invite guest commentary from other attendees as well. 

Up The Hill

The fight for economic freedom for millions of our home owners and residents is well underway. With 108 co-sponsors for HR 1779 and routinely growing, there is good momentum on the House side of Congress.

On the Senate side, the bill S 1828 dropped late in 2013, but there is bipartisan support there too.

Further, 11 U.S. Senators have written Richard Cordray at the CFPB in favor of our industry's fix efforts to protect financing and provide bright line guidance on issues.

Your Masthead scribe made 3 visits on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, February 11. What follows below is the guts of the follow up sent to Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Chairman Nathan Smith, MHI CEO Dick Jennison with cc's to MHI's Jason Boehlert, Rick Robinson and Jenny Hodge.

The below has edited out those visited, until the results of the discussions are in.

Gents,

First, good pre-Hill visit meetings, well done.  But my focus in this message is to say that this year the visits I was involved in, there was already good leg work done in advance.  

The legislators offices were already 'aware' of the issues, unlike prior years.  

Rick's name came up a number of times, which clearly suggests he's been in touch with them. Jenny Hodge had a great handout for a meeting that Dick wanted her involved in. One office I spoke with used Jason's name, as if they too had spoken before.

My point?  Nice prep work, good synergy, it made my part of the efforts easier.  Keep it up!

All the Best,

Tony

The above sums up a lot. Good reports have been coming in from others who were present to make their Hill visits.

Problem or Solution?

Each person decides day by day if we are going to be part of the solution, or if we will let apathy or another excuse stop us from acting, which can make someone a de facto part of the problem. Some attack an effort, without offering a serious alternative they will lead the charge on.

Let's be solution oriented. Let's work for what's moving.

l-a-tony-kovach-u-s-supreme-court-2-11-2014-building-equal-justice-under-the-law-.pn.png

Normally your scribe is behind the camera, but this shot was so filled with symbolic meaning! 
The U.S. Supreme Court is in the background, in this photo take 2.11.2014.
There is construction taking place out front. The inscription on the Supreme Court building
reads “Equal Justice Under Law.” That's what we are working to build. We are working to
level the playing field, to create equal justice for our industry and our home owners!

In meetings with offices of both major parties, the reception was good. We can do this. We are affordable quality living that is not subsidized. We have great issues both major parties can embrace!

Our manufactured home owners customers/residents need us, and we as business professionals need these reforms of the reform to get done too.

Speaking of lending…Tunica: Manufactured Home Financing Available NOW Insights!

At the upcoming 2014 Tunica Manufactured Home Show, we will showcase our industry's major lenders in a panel discussion led by the Industry's top independent finance pro, Dick Ernst.

Public officials, associations and companies big, small and in between turn to Dick Ernst. He's been in the meetings with the CFPB, with FHFA and a number of other events and key meetings in DC and from border to border.

Dominate Your Local Market! Upgrade Your Customer Base!

Learn modern marketing that drew rave reviews and a packed house in Louisville! Yours truly will present. The bottom line in this is a simplified means of creating an image campaign in your market, that helps you sell your homes. Learn how to tap into this process with low or no out of pocket costs! Sell more homes fir cash or to financeable customers.

Customer Relationship Management Panel

At Louisville we added a last minute panel that was well received by attendees who see the value if selling more homes. At Tunica, this will be a formal part of our line up! Scott Stroud and Brad Nelms will share their expertise in this field. Don't miss it, unless you want to pass on more sales to better credit worthy customers.

MH Land Lease Community owners and operators, unite!

1) Will you be buying, selling or refinancing your community/commercial property in the next year or so? Then our popular Commercial lenders panel is for YOU. Moderated by Dick Ernst of FinmarkUSA.com.

2) MHC Lesson's Learned! Get tips from your peers in the community world, and a great inactive discussion, moderated by Jenny Hodge from the National Communities Council (NCC). The NCC has become vibrate once more with David Lentz as Chair, and Jenny as their VP and Executive Director. Come see why!

See the complete seminar line up and schedule at this link here.

http://www.mhpronews.com/component/content/article/121-national/6969-2014-tunica-manufactured-housing-show-business-building-seminar-series

More Educational, Business Building and Networking Excellence!

The MHI Congress and Expo is coming in this April. Frankly, we think that the educational opportunities in Louisville and Tunica whet the apatite for the broader offerings at MHI/NCC/MHEI's flagship event held annual in Las Vegas. Learn more about the 2014 Congress and Expo or sign up at this link here.

As Nike says, “Just Do It.”

We go to these events and more every year, about 8 a year in all. Some people ask, isn't that “meeting overload Tony?” My reply is that at every meeting I come away with more than what I went in with. Other industries and professions do this, of course ours should too!

But here is the secret. Those that go, tend to grow.

Think about that statement, those that go, tend to grow.

Come to these events. Invest the time and effort. Get engaged in your state's efforts politically to protect and promote our great industry. Freedom isn't free. Business isn't free. It takes effort, time and talent. But it is worth it.

Spoiler Alert. We might lob a heated topic in this weekend, please check in again to the Masthead then. ##

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

MHProNews HQ Moved!

September 22nd, 2013 No comments

We announced in the ever popular Daily Business News on Labor Day that we would be moving our base of operations (HQ) to Florida. While there is still much to be done, the first phase of that move is complete. My new office number is 863-213-4090, Soheyla's is 863-213-4077, other team member numbers remain the same. The new address is 4210 Arietta Lane, Lakeland, FL 33813. Lifestyle Factory Homes, LLC (the 'parent' for all of our publishing, consulting, training, website and marketing operations) is now a registered Florida based entity.

Please update that info in your contact for us, thank you.

As a forward looking statement, we plan to be here for roughly a year, get the lay of the land, and then build a custom factory-built home. It won't likely be much like the one my better half wants, which would be like Saw movie actress Betsy Russell's $1,999,999 stunner.  But it will be nice. ;-)

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4kitchen2-29500-heathercliff-rd-189-malibu-ca-90265-point-dume-club-betsy-russell-manufactured-home-living-news-

 

If you haven't seen the photo spread and related article, please check it out at the link below, and pass it onto your circle of influence. It is part of the image changing effort we must all make our own to grow our industry anew!

http://ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com/saws-betsy-russells-2-million-dollar-manufactured-home-a-bargain-but-tmzmedia-dont-get-it/

Besides a move, the last few days were spent jetting to and from Freehold, NJ, where UMH had their annual meeting. Eugene Landy, Chairman of the Board, Sam Landy CEO, VP Chris Lindsey and the UMH's senior management team were kind enough to have me as their guest speaker. It was an energizing experience for me, and it looked like one for their very fine team.

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We all got to know each other better, which is a good thing! We plan to do a column on their event, the parade that CEO Sam Landy led UMH was a key part of and their displayed show home in the days ahead.

With two more trips looming, ongoing client work, the HQ move details and much more to do, let me draw today's blog post to a close by suggesting you browse the Daily Business News, Industry in Focus, MHI and MHARR news modules for the latest.

Also, please check out the article by Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) VP Jason Boehlert in our Industry Voices guest blog on the progress being made with the CFPB and related HR 1779 efforts.

My fellow industry pros, our industry is advancing. The needed changes are not easy for some to accept, but they are necessary. So we all have plenty of work to do, let's learn our lessons, work smarter and make legislation like HR 1779 come to pass. ##

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

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Phenomenal Solution!

February 27th, 2013 No comments

Manufactured housing can solve America's affordable housing challenges without federal subsidies. To do that we must have legislative and/or regulatory fixes to laws that choke our industry. Doing so would create jobs and protect the value of some 20 million who live in factory-built homes. Last year's HR 3849 and S 3484 bills will be renamed, tweaked to marry up language and will be reintroduced soon on a bi-partisan basis.

Ron Thomas, Sr. – Chairman of the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation (MMHF) and Louisville Manufactured Housing Show has rightly called our Industry "a phenomenon!" Until someone experiences first hand the new quality, durable energy savings homes that U.S. Census Bureau statistics says sells for an average of half the cost of conventional construction, it is hard for those we visit in DC – officials, staff, Senators or Congressional Reps – to grasp how amazing our product truly is.

We created pages like this photo gallery:

www.ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com/gallery

or the shorter URL: MHLivingNews.com/gallery to introduce our product to those who don't fully "get it" about the phenomenon of manufactured homes. Please share the link with your congressional staffers.

The Opposite of Budget Busters

With the three big lifts of sequesters, CRs and the debt ceiling all on people's minds in DC, we need to stand tall and say, "We Have Solutions!"

When a Senator like Sherrod Brown or a Congressman like Stephen Fincher – polar and party 'opposites' in millions of minds – agree we need to fix the unintended consequences of legislation and regulations harming us, that means something.

Ask your Congressman and Senators to get on board with a piece of legislation that members of both parties say, as Senator Joe Donnelly told the Manufactured Housing Institute's (MHI) members on February, 25, 2013, "is a truly bi-partisan issue."

You can have your U.S. Representative's or Senators' staff contact:

Jason Boehlert, MHI Gov't Affairs VP – jBoehlert@mfghome.org – for more details.

Congressman Stephen Fincher told me before going into his address to MHI members that we "can fix this for you." He too spoke of bi-partisanship on the issue.

We don't need to beg, we need to express with pride that we are a uniquely American

phenomenon! Let those elected let us do our jobs. That job is serving millions of Americans – and potentially millions more – with a fine housing solution that benefits the federal budget too. I hope to see you at the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for February and see the

other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

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Hospitality & Class; Power for Manufactured Housing Professionals

October 16th, 2011 No comments

A nice snapshot of the hospitality and class shown during my trip last week to New York would start at the airport.  A limo from the resort was arranged for my pick up.

Turning Stone Resort, site of the NYHousing Associations 2011 Annual meeting credit MHProNews.com

Turning Stone Resort, site of the NYHousing Associations 2011 Annual meeting

 

The resort’s room was great, as was the view and the meeting facilities.

At each stage, with each meal or meeting a quiet, thoughtful grace and good planning was on display.

This was evident for the generous and pleasant treatment of a ‘guest speaker’ like myself, but also to Claire Lammerts who was presented with a spectacular  bouquet of flowers and a sealed gift as a thank you for her service to the NY Housing Association membership.

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Lammerts receives bouquet from Chip Ray, outgoing board president NYHousing Oct 2011 annual meeting posted on MHProNews.com credit Tony Kovach

Claire Lammerts receives bouquet from Chip Ray, outgoing board president NYHousing Oct 2011

Look at Claire’s smile as Jim “Chip” Ray Jr. presents these tokens of appreciation.

The memory of Class lasts!

While all of us enjoyed the camaraderie, the power and benefit of association membership was in full view for the 2 day event.

Association members were briefed on a wide array of national, state and local issues.   This is part of the power and value of association membership.

The information shared would have cost far more than the modest investment in membership.  Members gain info, not to mention access and lobbying power they would pay many times the price to do  on their own.

Annual Meeting Highlights included state and local information on the following :

– Modular briefing by Mark Glaser, of Greenburg Traurig, LLP.

– HUD Code briefing by Mark Glaser.

– Manufactured Home Community briefing by Mark Glaser.

I was impressed by Glaser, and have requested that he consider writing a column on what it is like working ‘in the trenches’ as a lobbyist for the New York Housing Association.  My hunch is that thousands of Industry pros do not realize the importance of the work that professional lobbyists like Glasser do for the associations they represent.

Jason Boehlert, MHI VP of Govt Affairs, addressing NYHousing credit MHProNews.com

Jason Boehlert, MHI VP of Govt Affairs, addressing NY Housing 2011 Annual Meeting

 

National issues briefing by Jason Boehlert, Vice President of Goverment Affairs at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).  Boehlert spoke with candor about challenging issues such as the SAFE Act, Dodd-Frank and much more, as MHI seeks to navigate those waters in partnership with state associations.

Jason’s delivery was impressive, having perhaps 16 months under his belt at MHI.   Boehlert answered questions from attendees as if he had been doing his work at MHI for many years.

If Jason is an example, then it is obvious that the MHI staff is indeed solid, as Joe Stegmayer, MHI’s Chairman, has said.

– Well water compliance by Jaime Herman, New York Water Association.

Heather Dougherty, President, The Flanders Group addring NYHousing Annual Meeting posted MHProNews.com

Heather Dougherty, President, The Flanders Group addring NYHousing 2011 Annual Meeting

 

 

– Worker’s Compensation issues, managing costs while benefiting employees, by Heather Dougherty, The Flanders Group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timothy King NYS Bldg Standards addressing NYHousing Assoc 2011 Annual Meeting posted on MHProNews.com

Timothy King NYS Code Compliance addressing NYHousing Assoc 2011 Annual Meeting

– New York State Building Code and Energy Code Updates by Timothy King, NYS Code Compliance Specialist.

Meeting Tim was a treat, as he and I have exchanged emails in the past.  Tim is a reader at MHProNews.com, as are others from coast to coast involved in the political or regulatory side of manufactured housing.

King certainly is a common sense public official, who clearly wants to work with the Industry for the good of all.

These information sessions saved time and money.  Where else would you get so much inside information on past, current and upcoming events at the state and national level?

Plus the networking and social value of association membership.  In addition there was the opportunity to meet with suppliers and vendors between sessions, to discuss ways that their products or services could help grow profits and performance.

L A Tony Kovach - Dominate Your Local Market presentation at NYHousing Assoc 2011 Annual Meeting posted MHProNews.com

L A Tony Kovach - Dominate Your Local Market presentation at NYHousing Assoc 2011 Annual Meeting

 

New York Housing Association members responded warmly to the Dominate Your Local Market presentation.  A lively Q&A followed.

My thanks to all who said hello, who shared their kudos or a kind word and who engaged in discussions on industry issues during meals, breaks and at the Awards mixer.

Off the Record: an Example of after hours ‘entertainment’

Nancy told me that her members ‘work hard and play hard.’  There is one story from the meeting that I’ll need to share, while leaving the gent’s name out, for reasons you will quickly understand.

This multi-year pro had finished a long day, and had some entertainment that took him into the night.  He ordered room service early in the morning (meaning, well after midnight).  The cobbler, he said, was spectacular.  Wanting to be thoughtful, he stepped out to put the plate down where room service could easily collect it the next day.  The room door, of course closed behind him.

Standing in his skivvies without his room key, he quickly rejected the idea of going downstairs to the front desk.  His room and another shared an entrance alcove with a common door to the main hallway.  He first tried to get attention by quietly waving at a security camera.  No dice (pardon the casino pun) after 20 minutes of arm waving.

Next, a woman came walking down the hall, so he cracked the door, and asked her for her help, while attempting to assure her he is ‘not a pervert.’  Unsure, the woman waited a bit, until her gentleman escort came along.  Our late night, cobbler eating manufactured housing hero managed to convince him that he indeed was no pervert, merely an unlucky fellow trapped without a room key in his undies.

What a story for him to tell his grand kids. Imagine the fun that security had the next day watching that video clip.  Maybe we should look for it on YouTube?

Cultural

The cultural evening entertainment was super, and the dinner/mixer/Hall of Fame awards presentation was also classy.  If the video lighting can be adjusted, we plan to post a sample video of the fun and educational surprise  Nancy Geer shared with her members!  Nancy has done another fine job of providing an informational and inspirational event.

Jim Fryer, Jr  Master of Ceremonies, Mark Glaser, GreenBerg Traurig, The Honorable NY State Senator Catherine Young, Nancy Geer, Exec Dir NYHousing posted MHProNews.com

L-R = Jim Fryer, Jr Master of Ceremonies; Mark Glaser, GreenBerg Traurig; The Honorable NY State Senator Catherine Young; Nancy Geer, Exec Dir NYHousing

State Senator Catherine Young addresses the NY Housing Association

One of the highlights for me was the Honorable State Senator Catherine Young.  State Senator Young chairs the NY Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development.

 

NY State Senator Catherine Young posted on MHProNews.com

NY State Senator Catherine Young addresses NYHousing 2011 Annual Convention

Senator Young sponsored S.4126 during the 201–2011 legislative session, which would prohibit zoning discrimination against manufactured homes on single lots.  We will do a separate write up on her informing and inspiring speech, which appeared to be delivered without notes!

Young knew the leadership and the Association’s issues.  Michelle Bachman, look out!  This articulate, confident knowledgeable New York legislator seems poised for a future as a states-person, not just another pol.

The access to such business friendly, key housing state legislative leader is another clear sign of the good that the NY Housing delivers to their members, and the value if association membership in general.

As our follow up report on State Senator Young’s address will reveal, this lady ‘gets it’ that small business is the economic driver for jobs, that high taxes and over-regulation harms the economy and that manufactured housing offers solutions that benefits millions of Americans.

Tom Alvarez - center - receives the Hall of Fame Award posted on MHProNews.com

Tom Alvarez - center - receives the Hall of Fame Award

Senior members of Haylor, Freyer and Coon, Inc very thoughtfully took Nancy Geer and myself to lunch after the wrap up, where we enjoy a lively industry discussion over lunch while sipping “Arnold Palmers.”  Then I was driven to the airport by Bob Capenos, one of their veterans who shared personal Industry experiences as we compared notes on how our Industry can move ahead during the drive.

Hospitality.  Class.  New York Housing’s Annual meeting was a memorable and informative experience for those who attended, if you are in business in New York and are not actively taking part in their meetings and association function, discover what you are missing, and stop missing it!

Working together, we can move farther and faster than working apart or at odds with each other.

My sincere compliments and thanks to everyone at NY Housing!

Next up, I look forward to seeing all the good folks in Indiana at their Annual Meeting this Wednesday.

I’d like to close by wishing Mark Bowersox and his family my personal condolences and that of our MHMSM.com team, as they suffered a personal loss this past week.# #

L. A. “Tony” Kovach
MHProNews.com Publisher and MHMSM.com Marketing Director
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

 

Holiday Reflections for Manufactured Housing Professionals

December 22nd, 2010 5 comments

Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year’s. These are times that we gather with friends, family and associates. We celebrate, party and feast! We eat (and sometimes drink ;-) ) too much! To those distant, we send warm greetings by phone, mail, text, via Facebook, Twitter or email. FedEx and UPS certainly celebrate all the packages that reflect the love and caring that this season brings. These are for most of us bright, grand days during the seasonal darkness where we Americans live.

This is also a time for reflection.

Many companies and individuals use this time to review what has transpired in the past year. To see where they have been and what direction they have moved. To ponder and advance what has been right, and also to learn what needs to be set right that was wrong. That is an important process. Just as a star once guided the wise during the dark of night, so too there are lights that shine for us during these darker days. IF we are willing to focus on the light of wisdom and follow, then we too may find what we seek…

As part of my personal reflection, let me pause and thank you for being here. It is a privilege to serve.

It is also quite humbling to see who we have shared these pages with at MHMarketingSalesManagement.com (MHMSM.com) in this past year. We have an amazingly dedicated team of fine feature writers! They have shared with you and tens of thousands of others their time and insights on our pages and in our podcasts. The best among us understand the fact that sharing valuable time, insights and experience is a wonderful form of giving back! Many of the best are found right here. My thanks to each of you.

Warm thanks also to those who have written for the Industry Voices Guest Blog and participated in A Cup of Coffee (or Cocoa)… interviews or Industry In Focus interviews with Eric Miller.

We have a great team on the staff of MHMSM.com as well. Unless you work behind the scenes, it is not easy to imagine how much effort it takes to pull off the business daily news and information, monthly feature articles, and weekly blogs and emailed newsletters. Plus the daily business news podcasts, too! My hats off to the fine folks who make MHMSM.com possible through their daily efforts.

Let me share those names with you below.

MHMSM.com Christmas Card 2010

MHMSM.com Christmas Card 2010 - Created by Bob Stovall, IT and Productions Manager at Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management

Joe Adams

George F. Allen

Michael F. B. Barnabas

Rachel Biermann

Beth Monicatti Blank

Jason Boehlert

Chad Carr

Tim Connor

Maria Cucchiara

Congressman Joe Donnelly

Mike DuPure

Dick Ernst

Marc Faulkner

Suzanne Felber

Sue Frost

Danny Ghorbani

Doug Gorman

Nadeen Green

Jamie Hammons

J. D. Harper

Edward ‘Eddie’ Hicks

Dennis Hill

Mike Hourigan

Chrissy Jackson

Congressman Walter Jones

Joe Kelly

Ross Kinzler

Susan Knowles

Steven Lefler

Thayer Long

Bill Matchneer

William P. McCarty

Greg McClanahan

Eric Miller

Mike Moore

Shawn Mullins

Greg O’Berry

George Porter

Dan Rinzema

Kenneth Rishel

Tim Saville

Ray Schmitt

Dave Shanklin

Joanne Stevens

Kent Stichter

Bob Stovall

Congressman Bart Stupak

R. W. Thiemann

John Underwood

Heather Vela

Richard Weinert

Don Westphal

Stephen Wheeler and Marilyn Kuntemeyer

Zig Ziglar

Privacy policies – and space limitations! – prevents us from sharing the names of all those who are our readers. From associations, to government officials, to the “Mom and Pop” firms that are the backbone of this great nation, to the mid, large and giant companies of our Industry – you will find our readers and listeners.

We have all learned from others, and it is by passing along lessons learned and sound insights that society – or an Industry! – can advance. Unless we are willing to adapt and grow, change will pass us by. Thus the importance of a place like MHMSM.com – where minds come together, to share, learn, adapt and grow! Corporate and association meetings are important. So is the meeting place of the mind online or via our podcasts.

As we ponder the deeper meaning of these and other seasonal holidays, let us allow the spirit of giving and receiving well to inspire us to be our best.

You or others readers and listeners like you have shared thoughts in person, by phone or electronically. My sincere thanks for each thought shared. Many of our tips come from you. Some want to be kept anonymous, and that is honored here. In the ideal, we have an exchange, a deeper encounter than may at first be obvious. It is naturally our desire to listen as well as share back with you, and thus the reason we are all here.

No one in their right mind denies the challenges we face. But neither should we let those challenges daunt or deter us! Americans have overcome much greater challenges than we face, so we can do what needs to be done today and tomorrow.

Let us learn and apply those insights we gather from one another to improve and grow personally and corporately, and thus as an Industry.

Let us make 2011 a year for true advancement.

Let us do what it takes to make our better days ahead a reality.

There is a star that shines in the darkness of night. This is a metaphor that can inspire us if we allow it to do so. We have star power on these pages, and we have star power in you and some 35,000 others like you in various parts of this Industry. Together, we can advance and grow.

My thanks to all who visit, read, listen, write, podcast and meet in this modern fashion on our pages. My sincere thanks to you. We hope our work is our gift, symbolized by our e-card above.

Merry Christmas! Let’s catch up with each other again this weekend and we hope to meet with you again next week. # #