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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profitably Defeating “the Long Knives” – 2019 New Year’s Resolution for MHVille

January 2nd, 2019 No comments

 

ProfitablyDefeatingLongKnives2019NewYearsResolutionMHVilleManufacturedHousingMHProNews600

“…Tony, these guys have long knives…” read part of a message from a former, high ranking, MHI member.

Here’s a longer quote from another company president.

“…See you in Louisville.  I just finished a book on [name of book withheld]. One of the sayings from that…comes to mind: “Don’t give up the ship!” Tony, You are so correct about this [Arlington-Knoxville-Omaha Axis].  I always knew you were gonna get attacked.  Don’t give up the ship! (or never quit-something like that)…”

 

Something Different in 2019 on MHProNews and for Manufactured Housing

We’re going to do something different in 2019, but never think for a moment that 2018 and the prior years weren’t necessary.

For those who look back, 4 years ago, we named no names of who were at the root of the industry’s internal problems, we simply pointed out the problems.  Later, we began naming the names, while also citing the evidence. IMHO, these predicate steps were essential as a foundation for what comes next.

Let’s start by setting tonight’s table, then we’ll lay out the logical next step.  By the way, we’ll use a phrase once this post and the content linked from this column cover for simplicity.  We believe that the evidence suggests that the manufactured housing market has been manipulated in a fashion that violates several state and federal laws.  We will say ‘alleged’ to cover this topic, so that any attorney for operations based in Arlington-Knoxville-Omaha, their surrogates and allies, won’t have anything they can use against us in court.

That said, use your common sense, look at the linked and provided evidence and here’s the view from the Masthead.

We became a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member close to a decade ago, based on the advice and encouragement of Ken Rishel and George Allen. If we at MHProNews and our affiliated operations wanted to see the industry advances, Rishel and Allen said that joining MHI was how that could best be accomplished.

Perhaps Ken and George meant well.  Maybe they didn’t, I’m not going to belabor that either way.

TheMastheadEditorialCommentaryLATonyKovachMHProNewsWhat your Masthead writer slowly learned as an MHI member, then as an elected MHI board member for their Suppliers Division is this.  The powers that be at MHI picks winners and losers. Literally. That’s not just winners and losers for ‘contests.’ It is also for who they will support or undermine at MHI, and within the broader industry.

We believe in what we have provided evidence for these things.  So, in fairness to George we’ve often said that with him, one must separate wheat from chaff.  There are things that myself and every human does or has done that is chaff, and is best tossed out.  Some things you, I, or all mortals do are wheat.  Wheat properly prepared, for those whose diets permit it, is worthy of our tables.

The very people and/or organizations that we are exposing are some of the very ones that publicly praised us for some time.

Ken, George, Richard [the] ‘Dick’ Jennison, Jim Clayton, Tim Williams, Kevin Clayton, Darren Krolewski, and we could go down the list of those who publicly, on video, and/or in writing have praised our pro-industry, pro-growth work.

 

HowDoesMoatStrategyWorkOutInOpenGreatQuestionSmallBusinessesBusyTradeAssociationsMHI600x793Masthead

But even while some of those where praising our pro-growth efforts, there is evidence that at the same time, our operation – as a member – was being undermined by MHI, and by some of their members.  I frankly wasn’t seeing it at first.

Nor is ours the only such case, as we noted some time ago that George Allen discovered that after years of membership, MHI’s NCC division went into competition with him on several items that he had previously done, like his annual list of the largest community operators. Allen charges for that, MHI gives it away for free. Note too that MHI did so after negotiating with Allen about buying his assets and lists. They reportedly entered into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), reviewed what Allen had, and ‘failing’ to come to terms, began to compete on some of those same ‘services’ that Allen rendered.

What message does that send to others in the industry, when the trade association you are a member of, suddenly becomes your competitor?

So it wasn’t that I didn’t have clues.  Another MHI board member told me that he didn’t trust the Dick Jennison from the first time he met him. Someone connected with the Louisville Show said the same thing to me, “Tony, I wouldn’t trust Dick Jennison any farther than I could throw him.”

KevinClaytonVideoInterviewHowDidWarrenLearnTheseMoatBuildingstrategiesMHIBehavioralExpertsMasthead

 

I was wrong about Jennison, they were right.

What the Arlington-Omaha-Knoxville (A-OK, but not okay) Axis do is a bunch of BS, and I’m not one to curse very often.  Tim at 21st attempted to deceive thousands of industry independents with that letter of his, posted below.

21stMortgageCorpLogoLetterheadJan302009TimWilliamsRetailersBrokersCutSpecifiedLendingMonopolisticConcernManufacturedHome

The letter was window dressing for a bold plot to put hundreds of retailers out of business.

HowDoesMoatStrategyWorkOutInOpenGreatQuestionSmallBusinessesBusyTradeAssociationsMHI_Masthead

Consider these satirical cartoons to be summaries of what you can in fact find comments on by Kevin Clayton in the video posted on this page. He stated it differently, but it points to these cartoon paraphrases. Those who’ve watched the full video after reading the direct quotes from 21st President Tim Williams, and Warren Buffet’s annual letter in Smoking Gun 3 say that the and report are eye opening.  It is arguably clear evidence of antitrust style action. Who says?  Some attorneys who have reviewed the 21st letter above, the video, and linked article above.

We’ve documented before at the links below the byline and notices that Warren Buffet, and later Kevin Clayton, each contradicted what Tim’s letter claims.  They – 21st – in fact had access to what Kevin said in the video was ‘plenty of money,’ which Kevin said they used to buy other lenders loans plus more industry acquisitions.

So it seems apparent that Berkshire Hathaway simply didn’t want to use those funds to support independents that didn’t buy Clayton products or sell 21st repos.

That’s a manipulation of the market. IMHO, since there were multiple parties involved, that’s collusion.

CollusionAntitrustLawWikiDailyBusinessNewsMHPronews

 

Collusion – per attorneys in or familiar with antitrust law – is one of the possible triggers for antitrust action.

 

KevinClaytonInterviewMHIPacDonationsEItherMajorPartyDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMasthead

 

We know for a fact that federal investigators are on these matters, because I’ve personally spoken with some of them.

So, we don’t need this mainstream news video below.  But for our growing number of new readers – that add to our already industry leading audience size – it’s a placeholder and reminder that Clayton’s Knoxville metro’s home town media has said some of the same things we’ve reported.  But mainstream media normally does a story like the video posted, and then they move on. Trade media – like ourselves – can spend more time to focus on such concerns.  Industry comments – like the on near the top – and third-party data tell us that our audience eats it up.

 

 

But the purpose for doing any report isn’t click-bait.  The goal or purpose is to get to the root of what holds manufactured housing back from achieving its true potential. This writer began in this industry in the early 1980s, and I’ve been a true believer ever since. That potential for manufactured homes is arguably in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year for several years. That’s why Warren Buffet and several tech giants are keenly into factory-built housing, and/or are exploring it.

Professionals want to know.  Professionals, investors, and those outside our industry who are researching manufactured homes or factory-built housing have asked me for years a variation of the following question.

 

 

With the value so high on a HUD Code manufactured home, why isn’t the industry doing much better?

 

 

It’s an obvious and logical question.

 

ManufacturedHousingSHipmentsBloombergQuintFactoryBuiltRebuidRecoveryMashteadLATonyKovachMHproNEws-756x768

Both a plank in the Democratic Party’s ‘new deal’ plan and a draft by the Trump Administration for antitrust action – each on paper at this point – are in theory aimed at the problem of growing monopoly in America. #OpenMarkets. We plan in 2019 to press both Democrats and Republican leaders on this issue, especially as it relates to manufactured housing. Watch for it.

ClaytonHomesOakwoodHomesBerkshireHathawayMarketShareofManufacturedHousingEndof2003MHanufacturedHousingIndust

Clayton Homes, 2003. After the Buffett Berkshire Buyout.

The answer, once one sees and ponders the evidence, becomes clear. Market manipulation. Or to borrow a phrase from the political left (Senator Bernie Sanders VT-I, who caucuses with Democrats) or the GOP’s President Donald J. Trump, it’s a “rigged system.”   The rest are details and commentary.

ClaytonHomesBerkshireHathawayMarketShareofManufacturedHousingEnd2017MHanufacturedHousingIndustryProNews

While several allegations of monopolistic practices have been made against Clayton Homes and Berkshire Hathaway, this website is the only one to date that is known to have produced evidence of how that was actually accomplished, and provided with that evidence, this kind of logic, and related data.

 

 

While we as an LLC are responsible for our own work product, nothing we’ve done in the past 3 years has been solo.  We’ve had thoughtful and tangible support from numerous industry professionals. The number of news tips from within Clayton, or from withing 21st, or MHI, et al are growing.

 

ConfidentialNewsTipsOKTipsIreportMHNews@MHMSM-comGraphic

To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.

 

The Long Knives…

So, while MHI, their surrogates and allies have tried to:

  • Chase off our advertisers,
  • Try to cast doubts or dispersions about my personal life, character, or work,
  • Try intimidation tactics, from more than one attorney/law firm,
  • Try using part-time surrogates – like George Allen, Suzanne Felber or others – to attack or undermine us,
  • What they didn’t do is try to refute a single allegation we’ve laid out.
  • George claims to be this big supporter of independent communities. Pardon me if I’m not buying his BS. If he cared about them as much as he cares about himself, he’d be working with us to expose this manipulators, rather than acting as their surrogate against us. Whatever MHI and the ‘powers that be’ are doing for Allen, I hope he enjoys it, because it arguably won’t last. Some of George’s followers are now also among those who send us tips.
  • If we were wrong about any of this, why don’t Kevin, Tim, Dick, Lesli, Rick Robinson, Joe Stegmayer, Nathan Smith, or any of the others in the mix take me up on the offer of discussing this live in Louisville or Tunica in 2019? Why not do a third-party moderated discussion on stage, in front of hundreds of industry professionals? Why not do so with their ability to call witnesses or experts, and our ability to do the same?  Why not video record the whole thing? Then, why not provide that video and its content to HUD, DOJ, SEC, FTC, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal or state agencies?  We’d of course post the video, so that MHPro readers from coast to coast and from Texas into Canada could watch it for themselves.

If they had the guts and the wisdom, they’d take me up on that often extended offer in a New York minute. But IMHO, these are white-collar con-artists, being called out publicly – with evidence being provided – for their confidence job.

DeceptiveTradepracticesDailyBusinessNewsMHPronewsMastheadTonyKovachcommentary

 

When Clayton team members start telling us some of what will come out in planned reports on MHProNews in the days ahead, you’ll see that a number of our readers are ‘getting it.’ Of course, others are still pondering the matter, while some naturally back MHI. That’s life.

When consumers find us on MHLivingNews and call to tell us their Clayton-21st-VMF ‘tale of woe,’ we listen.  It won’t be long before a report on MHLivingNews will be published, and that will further set the stage for the general public on Clayton’s business practices that we began laying out for the industry’s professionals. Of course, we’ll use all of the proper disclaimers.  Clayton won’t like it, but the law arguably is on our side.  If they try a legal maneuver to stop us, we’ll take it to mainstream media contacts we have already been cultivating.

 

Transparent vs. Opaque

We’ve been highly transparent, because it is the right thing to do.  A federal investigator told me that the A-OK Axis (he referred to “the Oracle of Omaha,” meaning Warren Buffett) is “trying to show you that if you investigate them, that they can investigate you.”

That Fed said it was a clear intimidation tactic.

I’ve looked in the eyes of independent community owners, retailers, producers, and others who lost their businesses, and/or others who Clayton tried to put out of business. That’s their “moat strategy” in action. To me, it smacks of RICO, and the reason it does is a former prosecutor who is an attorney advise us that it looks to him like RICO.

RICO-RacketeringInfluencedCorruptOrganizationsActRICOWikiDailyBUsinessNewsMastheadManufacuredHOusingINdustryProNews

If that former prosecuting attorney, and our suspicions, are correct, these are not only immoral practices by the A-OK Axis, they could be criminal practices.

I’ve spoken with attorneys in and out of MHI, and in and out of our industry. We have a working plan.  While we’ve been very transparent about many things, we will play a few cards later, and hold them closer to the vest.

ManufacturedHmeIndustryAchieveGreatPotentialAddressingResolvingCauseCorePerceptionIssuesLATonyKovachQuotePresentationPhoto

There are several things needed for the industry to advance and for independent operations of all sizes to embrace for their own sake, if they care about the future value of their business.

1)    A new post-production association.  MHI is hopelessly corrupted, inept, lies, and has repeatedly failed our industry’s consumers and professional members.  See the graphic below as but one reason why no one should logically take them seriously.  Keep in mind that MHI’s own prior president, Chris Steinbert, used his exit message in the Journal to politely slap them for a string of misses and failures. So George, in saying what you have – you’re either ignoring reality – and/or you are showing your true colors.

2)    As part of the above Post Production association and/or a body that works with the above, there needs to be an ADL of manufactured housing. As part of that concept:

– Every time a city, county, state, or other group tries to block the placement of a HUD Code manufactured home from being properly installed on a home site, they would get contacted by an attorney representing that ‘ADL of MHVille.’

– Every time media, a researcher, or any other public figure misuses terminology or makes a claim in a manner that is inaccurate, they need to be called out first privately, and if needed, publicly by the ADL of MHVille.

– the NAACP and the ADL for years were successful with a similar approach, and that’s not a commentary for or against their organizations at present.  The point is our industry needs that in order to break through to our full potential.

– We’ve had some MHI semi-supporters say words to the effect, ‘Tony, MHI has tried a few similar things in recent months.’ Of course they have, but what more have you heard about it? That’s part of the MHI-MO. We published about a year or so ago that MHI didn’t meet with the new acting director of the CFPB.  What was the next thing they did?  Meet with the CFPB. MHARR or MHProNews calls them out on a topic, and in time, they put up a fig leaf as cover.  It’s part of the MHI con of their own members. We pushed them on image issues, what did they do?  Put up a series of videos.  A fig leaf that was so modest, that Frank Rolfe has videos that totally dwarf the number of views that MHI’s ‘promotional’ videos do. Something similar is true for Clayton Homes.

3)    We’d encourage more members for the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). Yes, they advertise with us, but so have others, including MHI. That disclosure aside, even while I was an MHI member, there were numerous times I publicly took MHARR’s position on a given issue, because they were demonstrably correct.  For example, Kevin Clayton and others were in the MHI meeting room when I took MHARR’s position on the fire sprinkler issue. Dozens where in that room. Kevin just looked, as he has on numerous occasions at shows or whatever when our public position differed from his. I took MHARR’s side on the fire sprinkler topic, because they were correct.  By contrast, MHI’s proposed position was dumb on its face, unless you see that limiting the industry is part of the Buffett-Clayton moat. Something similar could be said about MHARR and MHI on the DOE proposals.  MHARR is consistently right, while MHI is often inept, deceptive, wrong, corrupt, or whatever you want to call them.

– As a footnote to the above, we at MHProNews have no animus towards the vast majority of MHI members, they are often very fine people.  There are some on MHI’s staff that would possibly be worth keeping, but some on the MHI staff are hopelessly corrupted. As with all things, Wheat and Chaff.  In my view, just as I was misled about MHI, many if not most of the current MHI members have been led down an errant path too.  We all catch on to something at a different pace, as I admitted about myself further above.

4)    Local market level marketing, and coaching in sales.  Call it a shameless plug, but we know things that Clayton Homes apparently doesn’t know, or can’t replicate successfully.  Clayton has purchased locations that we worked with on a consulting basis, that’s interesting, isn’t it?  On our consulting/business development side, we have a proven system that works on marketing and selling manufactured homes to those who are thinking about a site built housing. It is based on candor and surprising people with the truth.  It works, whenever it has been properly used.  When it is improperly used, it doesn’t work.  But duh, that’s true of anything else in life.

  • All sales are local.  All marketing in our industry ought to have a local focus.  Manufactured housing is not the RV or automotive industry.  When enough good local efforts are in motion, that will have an interstate reach.  That is how our industry will recover its greatness.  That is how manufactured homes could become a million unit a year industry, honestly and sustainably.
  • Don’t think for a second that Clayton has their own plans to accomplish, once they’ve captured enough of the market and they don’t think they can squeeze any more competitors out via their “Moat.”
  • But Clayton also has an inherent conflict of interest at MHI.  They are into site building. At present, Clayton wins no matter what happens on issues such as the enforcement of the HUD Code’s enhanced preemption, made law by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

–      We do believe in being competitive, but we don’t believe in driving others out of business.  We’ll leave those underhanded tactics to George, MHI, the rest of the A-OK Axis and their surrogates.

A federal investigator told me we needed to notify local law enforcement about the issues we’ve been dealing with.

 

Words of Caution…

Some in MHVille say in their own words, Tony – don’t talk about the ways they have come after you, that plays into their fear tactics.’ Those voices may or may not be well meaning, but I respectfully disagree.  When we spotlight the A-OK Axis and their dirty tricks, they have often paused or backed off, at least on some of their tactics.

That’s not to say that the time won’t come when they will try to take us to court.  People can sue over almost anything in the U.S. We can’t stop them from that, but they know that as soon as they do, we’ll counter and seek discovery.  We get steady dribbles of information from news tips.  With discovery in litigation, there will be reems of material generated.  Even if they try to destroy some material, other material will out. There will also be witnesses that will be speaking via discovery about matters that they won’t speak about otherwise.

So, if they want that legal fray, so be it.  I’ve told their purported attorney – Graydon Law, that asked us to ‘cease and desist’ has been told just how we’ll deal with them and their ‘clients.’ Transparent.

 

 

Putting a Tail On Us?

That said, and we still haven’t determined who this next person is, but law enforcement will figure it all out.  This person may or may not be connected to the A-OK axis.  The man in the car in the photo below (we’ve cropped off the face of the man and his license plate) was following my wife while she was biking.  A neighbor of ours spotted this “dude.” That neighbor is ex-military and has another resume point I won’t mention today.  But he has good vision, and will be a terrific witness if we need that someday.

 

PurportedStalkerFollowingSoheylaKovachLakelandFloridaMHProNews

We are covering this face, for that person’s privacy at this point in time. But we have that vehicles license plate and his face, thanks to the veteran – a neighbor – who contacted us about his concerns about this matter, see the narrative. Authorities will hopefully do their thing well. As this develops, what we learn, we will share as appropriate.

 

That veteran, still a younger man who is fit and has good vision, etc. told that “dude” following my better half that ‘Dude, if you know what was good you’ for him, ‘you’ll never show your face in this neighborhood or follow that woman [Soheyla Kovach] again.’

It wasn’t until the next day that that neighbor caught up with my wife, Soheyla, and we all three got together for a few minutes face-to-face.  That neighbor shared the photos he took of that ‘dude‘ and said he is happy to testify.

The two quotes from industry voices I opened with above – and others like it above – are right. The A-OK Axis have long knives. Some say they will stop and nothing, but why?

Because housing is more than a trillion dollar a year industry, and Amazon’s Alexa fund has said they see a $330 billion dollar a year market for affordable housing.

That kind of money is tempting to Buffet, Kevin, Tim, or anyone else.

But the irony is that in their greed, they’ve put what they’ve done at risk.  In their greed, they’ve forced perhaps thousands of independents out of business and/or caused them to sell out for less.  There has already been one lawsuit against Clayton on that kind of topic.  We’ll talk about that lawsuit another time.

 

Meeting at Louisville, Tunica…

We plan to meet with some select industry pros at Louisville, and against at Tunica.  We want that meeting to be transparent. We’ll post the details before they come out.

The thrust of the working plan is this. If the A-OK Axis won’t do a public discussion and/or debate, well then yours truly is happy to put on a live presentation with or without MHI, Clayton, 21st or whomever. Your Masthead writer is happy do a power point, lay out the evidence, the money trail, invite the media, and take questions live and answer them.

When we schedule and do that planned presentation, we’ll even invite MHI-Clayton-Berkshire brand surrogates or team members to come.  Why? Because nothing will be more powerful or transparent than to have them ask questions, and let me answer them live.  We can video record that entire presentation. We’ll post that for the industry at large.

Let’s be clear.  We are going to cover a full scope of topics that impact manufactured housing.  But Frank Rolfe, who has backed off public criticism of MHI and their puppet masters, was arguably right when he said that the greater threat is from within our industry.

Let’s also be clear on this.  I won’t stop, our family won’t stop until the last stich of this tragic rigging of manufactured housing has been fully explored, and resolved.  If I ever stop, you can bet that foul play was at work.  We’ve taken steps in that event too.

The greatest thing the industry’s members have to fear is NOT standing up to the A-OK axis.  The data in those graphics, illustrations and videos above clearly reflect the trend lines.

If they aren’t stopped, sooner or later, it will be you at some time down the road.  Why not stop them, now?

MHVille is Buffett’s buffet, and the Monopolistic Housing Institute is his buffet smorgasbord. We have, are, and will publicly call them out, supply the evidence, while others are supporting us in calling them out.

We are going to reclaim what’s right about manufactured housing, while rejecting all that is wrong.

That’s how we’re starting 2019.  That’s our new years resolution.  We are going to do our part to make manufactured housing great again, greater than ever before.

How about you?  Want to join us in Louisville or Tunica?  You can use the link above or below to contact me, and we’ll begin the planning and execution of the next steps. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, commentary, 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

Sign Up Today!EmailedMHProNewsHeadlineNewsDailyBusinessNews

Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates.

 

Related References:

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

Manufactured Housing Institute Housing Alert, Affordable Housing Crisis, MHI’s #NettlesomeThings Response

Smoking Gun 3 – Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp Tim Williams – Manufactured Home Lending, Sales Grab?

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

Forbes Focus on Manufactured Home Communities, Spotlights Sam Zell’s Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), MHC Investing

2019 – ‘Don’t Tease?’ RV Horizons, MHI v CSPAN, HUD’s Brian Montgomery, Clayton – New Year’s Spotlights

 

Eye Opening – Manufactured Homes in National, Global Context

 

 

Facebook, Manufactured Housing, and American Drama

June 12th, 2018 No comments
FacebookFossbyteManufacturedHousingINdustryDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

What do you see?

Facebook has a neat feature that reminds you of some post from the past. This morning, that Facebook feature reminded me of a post about MHVille that was from two years ago.

 

We’ve begun to use the phrase – “wheat and chaff” – more often to describe the point that people and sources of information must be discerned. Keep the good, toss what’s not useful or is incorrect.

It’s hardly a new thought. Wheat and chaff are an ancient piece of Biblical wisdom.

When we put together the story early this morning about the outcome of the presidential summit, it was the result of hours of input from a variety of sources. It is an example of wheat and chaff in action.

Perhaps 10 (+/-) sources were checked, before we drilled down what we thought was the meaty items for industry pros and investors to know.

Then, we provided the context of what it matters to manufactured housing. “That news through the lens of factory-built housing,” ©; one of our tag lines that describes what MHProNews uniquely does for the manufactured and modular home industry professionals and investors. 

It’s about American drama at its finest. Check out that report, linked below, compare it to anything else that might be used for an MH Industry pro, and please tell us what you think. 

 

Facebook, Wheat and Chaff 

I recall how Triad Financial President Don Glisson, Jr. gave us a backhanded compliment that we treasure. He said he thought we were crazy when we launched what we call today, MHProNews.  The launch was in mid-October 2009, and was near the industry’s lowest point ever in new home shipments.

Now, approaching a decade later, we as an industry are clearly not heading to extinction, as some then believed could happen.

When asked by the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation (MMHF) to help bring back the Louisville Snow, we jumped in with both feet. The pay was very modest, considering all that had to be done.  But we did it, and the show was a success, the first one in years. 

Tim Williams from Ohio’s association was one of several who praised our work in writing.

TimWilliamsOhioManufacturedHomesAssocExecDirectorRecommendationTonyKovachMHProNewsLouisvilleManufacturedHousingShowPromotion

One of over 1000 endorsements and recommendations, most were given without being requested. We thank each sender for that honor.  

Facebook has wheat and chaff. Pretty much everything and everyone does, starting right here.

We are pro-free enterprise. We cheer all honest and ethical forms of success. We stress honesty, and ethics, because some professions are built on the suffering of others.  From illicit drug pushers, to pimps, pornographers, thieves, racketeering, coyotes, and so on, there are illicit businesses that generate tens of billions annually.  We don’t cheer those at all.  

But if we are fair and objective, even the darkest parts of human nature reveal truths worth learning.

We must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

 

Breaking Up

Count us among those who hope and pray that the Feds break up Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other monopolistic U.S. giants. Think back, if you are old enough, to the breakup of the telecoms. AT&T was charged under antitrust laws. 

Based on Judge Harold Green’s Modified Final Judgement of 1982, AT&T on January 1 1984 became a long-distance company, while seven regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) took control of the nation’s local phone networks,” says the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

 

Some say that the monopoly over the phone business delayed the development of cell phone technologies by a decade.

It is just one of several reasons why corporate giants must be held in check and/or broken up.

To me, it isn’t just about price, which is an arguably flawed standard that antitrust regulators often use.  How many businesses has Walmart and Amazon wiped out? How many jobs has that cost the nation? Would we have seen the shift to buying so much product from China, had Walmart not become so big?  

They too should be broken up under antitrust law.  As NY Stern Professor Scott Galloway has argued, it is how you bring oxygen back into the marketplace for startups and investors.  That’s were jobs are created, instead of destroyed.

England, we’ve read, has a supposed standard of 25 percent market-share as the threshold for anti-monopoly (anti-trust) action. That might be still be a bit too high. Once a firm hits 20 percent of a given market, there are inevitable impacts on consumers, businesses, innovation, the economy, politics, etc.  

Wheat and chaff. We must learn from whatever is good, and toss out whatever isn’t. The prism of the Ten Commandments – which clearly respects private property – ought to be the standard, timeless measure of behavior. 

What Facebook reminded me of this morning is that it has been about two years since I got a tip from a then-fellow Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member. That member pointed me to a CSPAN video about Richard Cordray and Senator Joe Donnelly. When I watched it, I got what that other MHI member as telling me.  

MHI had distorted the exchange, saying only what was good for their narrative, while ignoring what was problematic for their stated agenda.  

It seemed deliberately deceptive. It came from MHI VP Lesli Gooch, but our sources then said that MHI President Richard “Dick” Jennison had to okay it.  

It’s was at best a half-truth, designed to mislead members. As a member myself, I was outraged. We can call these things allegations, because that is what the legal guys say it should be termed. But if you look at the CSPAN video we watched, and then look at what MHI then said… 

Logically, if top MHI staff would deceive members about that, what else have or would they attempt to trick their own dues paying members about?  

They had to be held accountable. I called publicly For Jennison’s dismissal along with that of Lesli Gooch. 

It wasn’t the first or the last news tip. 

Please, we’d rather get a news tip 4 times, than not at all. Don’t presume we have something. We know the generalities, but not always the specifics. Help us, help you help the industry get the most accurate reports by sending association emails, documents, and your own insights. Our default is that we treat comments as off the record, unless you and we specifically agree to make it on the record. 

One step at a time, we’ve seen how MHI has weaponized reports. It was tricky, because no one else in the industry had directly named names and cited examples of what was happening, and who was authorizing it, the way we did. 

That incident from 2 years ago led to a series of events and reports that has arguably contributed to what has brought us to the point we are in reporting in MHVille today.  

Today, we can look back and see MHI, and their debatably Berkshire Hathaway puppet masters as they are. We give them a routine opportunities to comment before, during or after a Daily Business News story. We accurately quote from their own documents. We’ve offered to discuss or debate publicly via video, so all the industry can see. 

They duck, dodge, detract, distract, and defame in response, don’t they? Doesn’t all of that speak volumes?  If the truth was on their side, why don’t they just clear the air? 

It’s been about 1 1/3 years since they have directly responded publicly. We suspended our industry famous Cup of Coffee series for a time, because it was too politically charged for many. We plan to bring that feature back, because more of the industry’s members are beginning to see — that what we’ve been reporting sadly makes sense. 

It’s time to use antitrust laws to break up Berkshire Hathaway, not just Clayton Homes and their lending, retail, and others unit arms. 

MHI must be investigated and/or perhaps sued.  They’ve arguably misrepresented to the industry what they are and what they do. 

MHI award winner Marty Lavin is sadly correct. MHI works only for the interests of “the big boys.” They work for the smaller companies only if their interests align with that of the big boys.

‘Tip of Iceberg’ – Rick Rand; Marty Lavin, Communities have ‘No Confidence’ in Manufactured Housing Institute, New National Trade Group Announced

The rationale and evidence seems to be that smaller companies are there as a meal for the big boys that want to gobble up smaller firms for a cheap price.

The smaller firms are there to also help pay for what the big boys want. Paraphrasing what another member said, ‘the big companies figured out how to use MHI to help get the smaller companies to pay for what the big companies want.’

Manipulation is often an ugly thing. 

No one wants to believe that they were conned.  It’s not fun to have to report about such problems, but it must be done, for the sake of all those who are debatably being victimized.

George Allen Blasts MHI, NCC Ignoring Own, Spencer Roane, SECO, COBA7, Tom Lackey Controversies

These are serious allegations. but there’s also serious evidence. There are several federal investigations already underway, because where there is smoke, there is often fire.

 

For manufactured housing industry professional and investors to thrive and achieve their full potential, the industry must recognize reality.

Then, each company must decide how best to deal with reality. It’s an American drama that you and hundreds of thousands of others are caught up in, like it or not. More on that drama and its solutions in the days ahead. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, 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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HUD Secretary Carson, Advocacy Groups, Politicos, & Manufactured Housing Shock

April 7th, 2018 No comments

 HUDSecBenCarsonAdvocayGroupsPoliticosManufacturedHousingIndustryShockMastheadManufacturedHomeIndustryCommentaryMHProNews

Affordable housing, including manufactured homes, is not a partisan issue.

 

At least, it shouldn’t be.

When HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D., and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) shared the brief exchange below, there was an energy in Carson’s words.

 

 

It’s an energy – “a shock” – that many have experienced over the years when it comes to the surprising realities vs. the unjust, troubled stigmas attached to manufactured homes.

“Trailer House Trauma,” Fresh Look at Manufactured Housing’s Opportunities

 So, why aren’t their more such moments of positive shocks for the manufactured home industry?

 Let’s look at the facts for some clues.

  

MH Cohesion?

Whenever the manufactured housing (MH) industry acted in a rational, and cohesive fashion, it has routinely been able to accomplish in Congress what it needed to do.

That’s true because at its heart, the MH industry has a great, and non-partisan story.

That’s what a dispassionate look at the periodic history of the industry reveals.

For example,

      in 1974, when the HUD Code was first passed into law.

      Or in 2000, when the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) was passed.

      And again in 2008, when the Duty to Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing was passed as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA).

So when the industry acts cohesively it succeeds. So, why doesn’t it do so more often?

 

Big and Small…

Since before the founding of what today is called the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), there’s long been a split between larger and smaller “independent” producers of HUD Code manufactured homes.

MHARR was a breakaway from the body that today is known as the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). MHARR was created precisely because of those differing points of view between bigger and smaller producers of federally regulated HUD Code manufactured homes.

  

“Consumer Groups” and Manufactured Housing 

In several states, there are manufactured home consumer groups that emerged some years ago.

While “resident groups” engage on issues such as finance, those residents/manufactured home owner associations tend to focus on issues relating to land lease communities. 

In California, there tends to be fast and hard lines between the MH Industry and resident groups. 

Meanwhile, in places such as Ohio and Florida, those state MH Industry trade associations have at times meet and worked successfully with resident groups on key issues.

  

Non-Profits, Advocacy, and Manufactured Housing

Foundations and nonprofit groups have a history of positive interest in manufactured housing dating back at least some two decades. 

For example, as a Daily Business News yesterday reported, CFED – which rebranded as Prosperity Now – is largely a serious and positive advocate for manufactured homes. 

 

ManufacturedHousingTopTenTruthsCFEDManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews500

For years, CFED/Prosperity Now worked on projects that taken as a whole, promote manufactured homes as a tool for personal wealth building, especially for minorities, and lower income Americans of all ethnic groups.

 

CFED/Prosperity Now research has produced reams of documentation that arguably ought to be done by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

 ManufacturedHousingTopTenTruthsImHomeInnovationsinManufacturedHomesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews5-10-600

 

Based upon their overall positive work advocating for manufactured homes, it’s a little baffling for outsiders looking in to see conflict between MHI and Prosperity Now.

But conflicts do exist between MHI and Prosperity Now, on issues that include land lease communities, but also on financing. Prosperity Now has been a loud opponent to the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. 

 

Like them or not, consider for a moment the perspective of Prosperity Now on these two issues: 

      the issues of “insecurity” for residents in land lease communities,

      and MHI’s position – notably on higher points and fees that benefits primarily the Berkshire Hathaway owned manufactured home lenders.

Absent those two bullets, Prosperity Now should be seen by the vast majority of industry pros as a strong advocate for manufactured housing.

So why hasn’t MHI – the industry’s self-proclaimed “umbrella” and “post-productionassociation – found a way to work directly with Prosperity Now, when Ohio and Florida have found ways to work with their resident groups? Fair question, right?

So for any who believe that it is only MHI and MHARR alone who ‘can’t get along,’ they are mistaken or misinformed.

 

MHI, MHARR and Consumer Groups

This writer, while an MHI member – perhaps naively – attempted for years to get MHI and MHARR to work together.

MHI's New CEO, Dick Jennison

This was one of the photos taken by MHProNews, reflecting routine behind the scenes effort some years ago to get MHI and MHARR to work more closely together. Richard Dick Jennison, MHI President and CEO, left, Mark Weiss, J.D., MHARR President and CEO, right.

The photo taken by MHProNews of Dick Jennison and Mark Weiss, J.D., shaking hands was just one tiny example symbolic of that effort.

MHI in meetings has reportedly told their members that the consumer groups “can not be reasoned with.”  

Something similar has been said in MHI meetings about MHARR. One elected executive committee member stood at an MHI meeting a few years ago, and proclaimed that the “elephant in the room” was MHARR’s then president, Danny Ghorbani.

Yet as noted above, history shows that MHI and MHARR have achieved good things when they pulled together. 

MHARR seems to have a better working relationship with the resident group, NMHOA than MHI does. 

We’ll pose a question that we will leave dangling for now.

Why is it that MHI can get along with MHARR, but only at times? 

 

Yet for most of the the past 20 years (+/-), the two are at odds, because one association arguably favors larger players, while the other fights for the rights of smaller, independent companies.

It’s against that backdrop of more tension than cohesion that the following undisputed facts ought to be considered. MHI hired a man a few years ago, part of who’s de facto job description was to recruit MHARR members into MHI.

Clayton and Cavco have in recent years both purchased companies that are MHARR members.

Is the trajectory of MHI’s and their larger members’ efforts to eliminate MHARR?

 80PercentClaytonChampionSkylineCavcoMastheadBlogManufacturedHousingIndustryConsolidation

 

Dr. Carson, HUD, and Manufactured Housing

It is against that brief history that Secretary Carson must consider the internal political minefield of manufactured housing.

On the one hand, manufactured homes are just as “amazing” as Dr. Carson said.

The regulations and “guidance,” most notably during the Pam Danner era, have been just as “ridiculous” as Secretary Carson told that Senate oversight hearing, as the video above attests.

If MHI wanted to get along with the industry voices that don’t agree with them 100 percent of the time, logically the Arlington based group would only need to do is what it did at times when cohesion existed.  Namely?

Listen, understand, and compromise.

MHI can posture beautifully, but it is their actions – not words alone – that must be the focus.  Their members are buying up, and they are actively recruiting MHARR members.

There are MHARR members, and some in MHI, that believe that Pam Danner came to be HUD’s MH program administrator as part of a specific MHI team member’s efforts.  If so, that means those  “ridiculous” excesses are courtesy of one or more MHI staffer’s efforts.

Since: 

   Danner was removed from the program a few weeks ago

   Lois Starkey was dismissed from HUD,

   and Danner’s overzealous and “ridiculous” regulatory burdens were put on hold by Carson and the Trump Administration,

an opportunity for a new beginning exists. What will happen next?

 

Absent trust and cohesion between

      MHI and MHARR, or between

      MHI and nonprofit Consumer Groups,

several risks exist.

 

Widely Recognized Fact

In finance, or production, in or out of manufactured housing, there is a simple principle at work.

The heavier the regulations, the harder it is for smaller companies to compete against larger ones.  The following third-party research illustrates the point.

NationalAssocManufacturersNAMCostForComplianceMastheadManufacturedHomeIndustryBlogDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

While MHARR was audibly protesting Danner’s work – and sought her removal from the MH program – by contrast, MHI went through various gyrations that did all — save ask for Danner’s removal.  Odd?  Or shadow boxing?

Let’s consider that as consistent with MHI’s apparent and alleged goal of acting in ways that are more burdensome for smaller companies (see Related Reports, linked at the end, below).

This is why CFED’s Doug Ryan accused Berkshire Hathaway (BH) of having monopoly power in manufactured housing over financing. While MHI all too often fails to respond to negative media, in that case their SVP Lesli Gooch leapt to respond and defend Berkshire brands in manufactured housing. By doing so, the Arlington association reflected anew who’s interests there dominate.  Yet the fact remains, that 3 of the 3 largest MH lenders are owned outright by BH – 21st Mortgage Corp and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), or they have a large stake in their company (Wells Fargo).

DougRyanCFED-MHI2016CongressExpo-ManufacturedHousingIndustryNews-MHProNews

Doug Ryan, CFED/Prosperity Now, credit MHProNews. 

When Democratic Congressional reps target Berkshire Hathaway and MHI – also using the words “near monopoly” – it should make CFPB, more in Congress, leadership at HUD and others in the Trump Administration stop and think.

Nonprofits, President Trump, and political voices across the left-right divide are calling “foul” with regard to giant companies dominating and pushing around smaller ones.  

From as far left as the Nation to as far right as Breitbart, the issue of monopoly has been raised. The Nation specifically cited Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Clayton Homes. 

It’s no secret that Buffett opposed Trump in 2016, by strongly supporting the candidate – Secretary Hillary Clinton – who favored the continued use of heavy regulations.

How many see various movements at work nationally, and in the halls of Washington, D.C.?

 

It’s Not a Vote…

The fact that many inside and outside of manufactured housing have raised similar concerns and issues about monopolistic power ought to be carefully considered by members of Congress and the Trump Administration.

pam-danner-hud-code-manufactured-housing-program-administrator-mhi-2014-summer-meeting-indianapolis-in-alexander-hotel-c2014-mhpronews-com--575x430

Pam Danner, addressing MHI members. Photo credit, MHProNews.

MHI SVP Gooch’s Regulatory Comments Letter to HUD in January were overall good.  But oddly, Gooch failed to mention:

  • who will replace Danner?
  • And what about the harm already done by Danner’s leadership to smaller independents? 
  • Or why did MHI stand mute for years, and promoted Danner on various association event stages?

 

Reenergize?

Secretary Carson and the HUD team have a unique opportunity to reenergize the “amazing” manufactured housing industry in several ways.

The next steps taken at HUD and beyond could tell us who understands the fact that

  • with robust competition,
  • and unleashing the private sector,
  • that HUD could over time do exactly what Senator Tillis and the nonprofits alike suggested.  Save tax dollars by liberating private sector produced manufactured homes. That, argued Tillis, will allow more dollars to be used for others that need a hand up.

That would achieve some of what advocacy groups desire: raising more people out of poverty using modern manufactured homes.

Save tax dollars, give more people a leg up. Learn more in the related research reports, linked below. ## (News, analysis and commentary.) (Third party images are provided under fair use guidelines.) 

Related Reports:

“Move, Open, Live” De Rose Industries & Senator Thom Tillis’ Mobile Home Comments

“Kevin…the Problem of Your Industry…”

MHI Lender Shakes Up DTS and MLO Rule Discussions

 

FactoryBuiltCarsClothingAppliancesElectronicsCellsSmartPhonesHomesItJustFollowsLATonyKovachC2017MHproNewsBy L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, 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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What Tim Williams, Dick Jennison, Rick Robinson, Lesli Gooch, et al, Taught Me About the Manufactured Housing Institute

February 11th, 2018 No comments

 TimWilliams21stMortgageMHIChairmanRichardDickJennisonPresidentCEORickRobinsonSVPGenCounselLesliGoochForCongressMHISVPMastheadDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Warren Buffett doesn’t need to convince me or gain my agreement with him on that point.  On that and the value of history, Mr. Buffett and this Masthead writer would agree.

Buffett and we agree too on the value of research, reading, asking, listening, probing, and understanding.

For the record, people can disagree professionally, without disparagement.

We’ve said not one word against Clayton Homes’ products, nor against the vast majority of their people, nor against most of those in MHI’s membership, etc. In fact, professionals from those operations and 21st are among our sources. That should be obvious from the kinds of insights, quotes, etc. that we’ve produced over the last year or so.

We agree with the Urban Institute’s stated principle that evidence and the facts should guide research.

There must be good reasons why leaders at Clayton Homes, 21st, and MHI won’t engage us in a public, video-recorded discussion or debate forum. One of the reasons why they won’t do so was suggested in yesterday’s blockbuster Daily Business News report on the Urban Institute, linked below.

 

Was the Urban Institute Misled, Duped, or Part of a Manufactured Housing Industry Scam?

But another point to consider in why they won’t publicly discuss our concerns and allegations is this. Logically, if they were correct and we were honestly mistaken, they could prove it, right? Or logically, even if they know they were wrong, they could attempt to spin the truth, etc. But how do they argue against so many of their own facts, documents, track record, and their on-the-record statements, and quotes?  Isn’t that a compelling reason for them to duck, dodge, distract, and delay, instead of engaging?

21stMortgageCorpTimWillamsJune112009LetterBerkshireHathawayWarrenBuffettClaytonHomesManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-704x768 (1)

Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO

 

What They Said, Did, and Didn’t Do That Taught Me About the Realities of the Manufactured Housing Institute

Give MHI credit.  Their mixers are pleasurable.  You’re at some nice resort.  The networking has value.  All of that ‘social glue’ is arguably part of their way to keep people distracted from the sad reality that as a lobbying organization, MHI has failed to advance an agenda that helps the majority of the professionals in the industry.

We’re far from alone in believing that to be true.  State associations have now quit MHI for exactly that reason.

Maybe you have to be an ex-smoker to learn how to passionately oppose cigarettes. FYI, that’s an analogy, I’m not a smoker. Or with the same proceeding disclaimer, maybe one must be or know a former drug addict to realize just how horrible addictions can be.  As an ex-multiyear, MHI member, I’ve learned the hard, painful, and expensive lessons.

Media Should Re-Visit Dodd-Frank Reporting in Light of Congressional Testimony

 

One need not look too far back on MHProNews and MHLivingNews to realize that we supported MHI on several, but not all, issues.

Renters’ Nation: The Dark Side of Dodd-Frank and Its Impact on Affordable Housing

RichardCordrayCFPB-ManufacturedHousingRegulationsCSPANstill-InsideMHvideoPostedMHProNews-com-

While still an MHI elected board member, MHProNews created this graphic. It summarized key admissions by Cordray. Why did MHI never use it?

How Did We Come to Be Members of MHI?

Years ago, MHI members convinced me that if our organization – MHProNews/MHLivingNews/consulting, et al – wanted to be a force for positive change in the manufactured home industry, we simply had to become members of MHI.  Those voices – however well-meaning they may have been – where they in hindsight mistaken?  Or perhaps unwittingly, did those voices lead us into an unsought, unexpected, and undesired – dark grace?

A current MHI member company president told me at Louisville that what MHI has been doing for years ‘has made no sense.’ He reminded me that ‘Tony, you [MHProNews] are challenging people’s paradigms.’ He said what we know: some don’t get it. But others, like him, do get it.

Others are in between.

If that company president had a choice, I’m not sure he would be an MHI member. Why do I say that? Because he thanked me for all that we are doing to spotlight what is actually going on in our industry. As in the case of many companies, he too reports to others…

That MHI member is not alone, others have personally told me similarly.  Clearly, there are MHI cheer leaders too.

RichardDickJennisonManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIPresidentCEOIndustryMHLivingNewsDailyBuisnessNewsMastheadBlogMHProNews

MHProNews and our sister operations spent thousands upon thousands of dollars supporting MHI efforts on Preserving Access. It was a waste – save this. It forced us to look deeper into what was really going on at MHI. The photo is a still from a video, and on that video, Jennison promised – promised dozens in that room that Preserving Access would be passed. It failed. In hindsight, given POTUS Barack Obama’s promise to veto the bill, what where they thinking?  Or was it there as a show of effort, while the industry consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer big ccompanies?

 

With that backdrop, the truth is I had several industry voices telling me – literally from the day they met Dick Jennison – that they didn’t trust the man.  I freely admit to arguing against their view, Jennison seemed like a fine gent to me. But they in time were proven right. I was mistaken.  You may have heard the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  It was Jennison himself over time – by word, deed, and omission – that proved their points.

A different, high profile, MHI member president told me recently that he wished Jennison had never been hired.

But as noted, for some time – I liked Dick, mostly up to the point that:

Ø  women then working in the MHI office made a point of contacting and asking me to help them with a ‘hostile workplace’ issue, and they pointed specifically at Dick.

Ø  and up to the point when on camera, he began to argue for slow growth.

I was stunned at both of those bullets.

I think Tim Williams/21st would not deny in a court of law that I was stunned by Jennison’s on-camera statement, because I took it up with him personally not long after that occurred.  What association president worth their salt – working in an industry where most were then struggling for sales – would argue for slow growth?  Perhaps the most logical way to understand it, was covered in yesterday’s Daily Business News special report.

 

Nathan Smith

I liked Nathan Smith too, he’s an easy to like guy. To this day, Nathan is likeable! But how did it square with his electric personna of his that he didn’t lift a finger to even inquire about the allegations of those women in the MHI office, complaining about Dick Jennison?

In the #metoo era, in hindsight, doesn’t that looks bad?

Sexual Harassment-Not Just Hollywood, Media, Politicos-Manufactured Housing Workplace Claims, High Profile MH Cases Too?

 

Tim Williams, President & CEO of 21st Mortgage, Prior MHI Chairman

Tim Williams and I had several fine conversations over the course of many years. I quite liked the gent. I recall Jim Clayton telling me how smart Williams is.  I to this day, I would honestly agree. Tim Williams/21st is a very smart man. Judging from the kind words he gave MHProNews to publish, he liked us too.

TimWilliams21stMortgageCEOPresident-currentMHIChairman-onValueMHProNews-MHLivingNews-

 

But how did it square with Buffett’s claimed support for integrity, that Williams defended Jennison and Gooch, who had sent out a message to MHI members that was pure spin, deceptive half-truths, and not the full truth?  Why did he defend Jennison, when he arguably should have been removed his MHI president?

Or why would you reward Jennison with a raise and bonuses – a national association CEO – who year after year, failed to accomplish what the assocation said was their goal? Once more, perhaps the best way to understand that decision or those bonus/raise is covered in yesterday’s MHProNews special report.

 

Rick Robinson, SVP and General Counsel for MHI

Rick Robinson is a nice guy too. Rick is witty, clever, and a fine writer. But he was also apparently happy to look the other way when questionable things were happening at MHI.  Perhaps you can chalk it up to doing his job as an attorney for his client?

TonyIWillNotBeTakingQuestionsFromThePressRickRobinsonMHISVPGeneralCounselMastheadMHProNews

The topic was HUD, and Rick Robinson would not take questions from MHProNews, at the very time that the HUD issue was raging in MH industry circles. As a state executive told MHProNews, if they liked their position, why not get as much publicity as they possibly could?

 

These are just a sampling. These and other examples that could be cited took this writer from someone who was pro-MHI, to now, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ vantage point about that same organization.

 

Tim Williams in San Antonio

I didn’t need extra sources to tell me that Tim Williams stated in a room with a few dozen MHI members in it, the following. That neither Williams/21st, nor Vanderbilt (VMF), turned over data that the GSEs wanted to make DTS happen in a more robust fashion. Having sources is arguably often better than relying on yourself. But I heard Tim say as much with my own ears, and I was watching the then MHI chair saying it when he was only a few yards away from where I sat in the same meeting room.

It was a stunning set of statements.

Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$

 

HUD and MHI

There came a point in time when I no longer needed sources to tell me that MHI was shadow boxing.  MHI was posturing that they wanted to modify HUD’s over-regulation. As noted above, having other sources – which we do – is often better.

That said, I personally asked numerous top-level MHI people face-to-face in San Antonio a variation on the following question. Where they going to support the removal of Pam Danner from her role at HUD?

Not one person in leadership would answer that face-to-face question!

LesliGoochforCongressManufacturedHousingInstituteMHISVPGovtAffairsRelationsManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryMastheadDailyBuisnessNewsMHProNews

Think about it. Lesli Gooch has been exactly as successful on getting the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act passed into law as she was at getting elected to Congress…. think about it, because it isn’t a put down. Those are the sad facts.

 

Lesli Gooch, MHI SVP

Lesli Gooch’s otherwise fine letter last summer about Regulatory Reform – re: those executive Presidential orders – missed what is arguably the key point. Gooch never mentioned removing Pam Danner at all.  That statement of her’s is now public record.

How is that possible?  These are intelligent people. I’ve never called them unintelligent.

So, they surely knew that logically, the head of HUD’s MH department had a lot of power, for good or ill. Not removing Danner could make everything else they claimed to be trying, useless.

That’s how shadow boxing works, isn’t it?  All show, no go?

When the most award-winning independent retailer in MHI history told us on-the-record that he supported Danner’s re-assignment – and Doug Gorman considers Danner a personal friend – how could MHI turn a blind eye to that, and so many others who raised concerns with MHI about Danner?

Cowards?

It was after returning from San Antonio that MHI sent me an unsigned letter, with no names on it, saying I’d been removed for membership because it came to our attention that I was trade media. ‘We have no such category for membership.’  What? Don’t they claim to represent ‘all aspects of factory-built housing?’  Doesn’t MHI have (and had) members who publish, not just us?  Hypocrisy?

It was pure farce.  A cowardly fiction.

LATonyKovachMHProNewsDailyBusinessNewsMHCMD-com

Because my last MHI meeting badge – which we’ve kept as evidence – clearly reflected that we are both media and provide other industry services.

 

What These Talented People Taught Me

Talent can be used, or misused.

Rephrasing the above.  It was their own behavior, time after time, plus ongoing feedback from MHI members — including voices within the Clayton-21st circles – that began to compel me to rethink MHI.

Add to that MHI staff action, inaction, and years of failure that forced me one-step-at-a-time to realize what they in fact are doing to this great industry.

They don’t actually fight regulations, do they?  How could they claim otherwise, when in the DOE rule they are on the record as having advocated for them?

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Shifts on DOE Regulatory Rule, Report, Analysis

They don’t fight the CFPB, when their own Government Relations Vice President said that it Would Not get past then President Barack Obama’s veto – if it ever made it that far.  It never made it that far.

Manufactured Housing Institute VP Revealed Important Truths on MHI’s Lobbying, Agenda

It was prominent MHI member Frank Rolfe who told me that his congressman told him that it was a waste of time to try and pass the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act.  Ouch.

 

 

We editorially disagree with Ishbel Dickens on rent control, and a number of other industry and communities’ issues.

MHCs and Rent Control – Cure or Cause for Affordable Housing Crisis?

Candidates, citizens talk rent control, manufactured home community issues at ice cream social

But Dickens told me she offered MHI a compromise – to modify the MLO Rule that harmed everyone – if MHI/21st/VMF would drop their desire for the higher points and fees stance. Others in MHI later confirmed what Dickens said. Her email, is below.

IshbelDickensPhotoNationalManufacturedHomeOwnersAssocNMHOALogoDailyBuisnessNewsMHproNews

No open minded, thinking professional can ignore so many things, without putting a head in the sand.

Remember, these are just a few examples, there is far, far more.

In my own defense, I was never MHI’s yes man. Tim Williams said as much. I thought them wrong on the DOE Rule, and we editorialized on that point. I thought them wrong on the MHI stance on the fire sprinkler issue, etc.  We supported what we could, and asked politely about what seemed to make no sense.

MHI’s 990 claims they want member input, but apparently they don’t mean it?

 

Some Members Have No Choice…

I get it that many MHI members have no choice.  They tell me that they are compelled by fear, and other forces to be MHI members.

As a long-time MHI guy warned me, “Tony, these guys have long knives.”

I heard that, we understand.  But nothing changes until it is challenged.  Besides, frankly, the more public the challenge, the safer you are likely to be, IMHO. Look at Andy Gallagher. He may have committed, in the eyes of some at MHI, a faux pas. But because it was public, Gallagher is still safe in his job.

Andy Gallagher, “Ousting” Pam Danner, MHI, Clayton’s RVP, WVHI – “Transparency”

But Gallagher and Ayotte made just the point that we did, only differently. Pam Danner must go.  They were waiting for some magic green light to say what MHARR, Bob Crawford, Doug Gorman, MHProNews, and numerous others had said for some time.

After months of MHARR, MHProNews, some states and businesses pushing for the change, now Danner – thankfully! – is gone from the job over the HUD Code manufactured housing program administrator’s role that she had held.

But Danner is not gone because of MHI!  Rather, Danner was removed in spite of months of foot dragging by MHI.

Shake Up at HUD Manufactured Housing Program May Stop Industry Overregulation, per MH State Association

Isn’t that what the record reflects?

Are they going to seriously point to their silly resolution in Congress, rather than the obvious ask of directly calling for the removal of Danner – plus add those same concerns, as examples of why Danner needed to go?

Why has MHI so routinely been the last one to take the correct stance?  Even their former chairman admitted that the assocation had made numerous past mistakes.  MHI failure to get it right is why one of the states – see link above or below – dropped out of MHI, and they explained their reason for withdrawing.

It’s a sad, but necessary indictment of the truth about their record. Years of failure for the majority of MHI members, but those years of failure pays off for those big companies looking to consolidate the industry’s smaller companies at bargain basement prices.

That’s why the letter from AZ is so important. One of their points was along those very lines.  They pointed to success by the RV industry battling regulations that MHI failed to accomplish.

State Associations, Companies Quit Membership in Manufactured Housing Institute, (MHI), One Explains in Writing, ‘Why?’

Great point, isn’t it?

 

The End of the MHI Charade?

The

Ø  MHI charade,

Ø  or con job,

Ø  or whatever allegation or terminology one might want to use to describe it,

is not over.

 

But the MHI mask is falling off for many.

No doubt, some big companies benefit from MHI.  That’s why the organization still exists.  The big boys are happy with it.

Pragmatically, we know some who feel that they must stay, because they have no choice. But doesn’t that arguably make MHI more of a protection racket, than a normal trade association?

Extortion? RICO? Allegedly Illegal, and Dirty Side of Manufactured Housing, Exposed

 

But every single small-to-mid-sized member is arguably feeding the hand that bites their own.

MHI is firmly in the Buffett-Clayton outlined moat that uses non-profits and foundations as part of their moat-building process.  Invest the time to hear Kevin Clayton say so in the video linked here, in his own words.

GoodBusinessStrongCastleMoatAroundItUntouchableWarrenBuffettQuoteMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Warren Buffett, “the Moat,” Manufactured Housing, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt, Wells Fargo, NAI…

“Perverse”–Warren Buffett-Dodd-Frank, CFPB, Manufactured Housing, Loans, Independent Businesses Fact Check$

 

The MHI Berkshire Hathaway Challenge

In fairness, MHI only does what their masters allow them to do.

Let them publicly debate in Tunica, on a video recorded discussion they and we can video too.

DebateMastheadblodTonyKovachMHProNews

MHProNews.com/Pixabay.

Let them have a panel of their experts – whomever they want! We’ll bring a panel of industry pros, and our experts too.

Let their panel try to prove our panel wrong, on any of the claims or concerns voice here or elsewhere on this pro-industry trade media site.

WithoutDebateWithoutCritismNoAdminNoCoutnryCansucceedNoRepublicCanSurviveJohnFKennedyManufacturedHousingIndustryMastheadCommentaryMHProNews

 

Do you think they have the guts to do that? If they were in the correct, why wouldn’t they?

 

The MHI Mask

Their act of trying to mitigate regulations, when they routinely fail in that – that’s getting harder and harder for them to say with a straight face.  Their clever MHI mask is falling off, slowly but steadily. Their track record is sad, isn’t it?

We editorially applaud MHAZ and their colleagues in Nevada who had the wisdom and the guts to quit MHI.  Let me assure you, that wasn’t an easy choice for them to make.  I don’t have to ask that, its understood for anyone who understands the tragedy that has been taking place in this industry.

MHCommunitiesOfAZNealTHaneyPresidentWhyTheyQuitManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

As the Trump Administration slowly gains more control at HUD and elsewhere, expect MHI to lose credibility as a result.  That doesn’t mean they won’t have short term connections that still periodically pay off in D.C., for what Buffett called their Moat.

MH Lending, FEMA and False Profits (and False Prophets)

Circling back to the opening headline.

Tim Williams. MHI President and CEO, Richard “Dick” Jennison. Rick Robinson, MHI Senior VP and General Counsel, SVP Lesli Gooch, and others – one-step-at-a-time – helped me to see what’s really going on.

There’s far more.

But let me draw towards wrapping up this analysis and commentary, with the following.

Like Frank Rolfe, it didn’t on its face make sense to me why MHI would so often not defend the industry from media missteps, nor celebrate good news when it came from someone besides themselves.

Weather Expert’s Surprising, Bombshell Statement on Tornado Deaths and Affordable Manufactured Homes

For years, as an MHI member, we promoted the good news of manufactured housing, in the most robust way in the industry’s history, on MHLivingNews.

Why didn’t MHI support those efforts?

We were members for years, why didn’t they routinely draw attention to the good news about manufactured housing we were promoting?

Even now, when we are clearly in different camps, why wouldn’t they call attention to important pro-industry news, like the two examples posted above?

Paraphrasing Rolfe’s parallel point, it made no sense…

FrankRolfeNegativeArticlesOnIndustryNoCommentbyManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIRVHorizonsMobleHomeUniversityPostedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

*** …unless one realizes that MHI for many years has worked with Clayton, 21st etc. to keep industry sales low. *** Why? Arguably, by keeping sales low, that allowed Warren Buffet Moat to consolidate more of the manufactured housing – into the Berkshire/Clayton/21st et al “Moat.”

It’s shrewd.

It’s long term.

It’s exactly in keeping with Mr. Buffett’s and Kevin Clayton’s own words.

We were never alone in being betrayed by MHI. That’s other stories, for another time. Because numerous others have been betrayed too.  I’ve listened to the stories of some, and they are often heartbreaking.

I can picture the faces of some who had that stunned ‘deer in the headlights’ look, as they described their professional plights and tragedies to me.

At the time that some told me, some of that I didn’t understand in its full significance. Now, in 20-20 hindsight, I do.

Later, as the truth slowly dawned upon us here at MHProNews, after all those voices and examples and more added up, it became clear that harming independent professionals by the thousands didn’t matter to these people.

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Gives Written Responses – “Part of a Rigged, Corrupt System”

That in turn hurt millions of Americans, who may – if MHI had defended the industry every time the media or some researcher gets it wrong – have been living in a manufactured home happily for years.

Defining a Problem without Offering a Solution is Just Whining. So, What’s Next?

In no particular order of importance, the following should occur.

Given all that we now know, it is my sincere hope that for the sake of the industry, MHI be disbanded, as a hopelessly tarnished brand.  That won’t happen overnight. They were given many chances to change course and reform.  They declined that every time. So, given all of the above facts, evidence, concerns, failures, and allegations — how could that mess in Arlington, VA seriously be reformed?

It is my belief that MHI’s being disbanded may happen to them,

Ø  through legal actions, started by aggrieved members, and perhaps non-members too,

Ø  as part of anti-trust efforts, that they will likely be caught up in,

Ø  unless MHI disbands themselves, voluntarily, before-hand.

As we noted in yesterday’s report, people are innocent until proven guilty.  But an attorney we asked told us they see anti-trust action as a real possibility.  As we’ve done throughout, we must call all of these matters allegations, because that is what the suits tell us we should say.

But you as readers have the ability to discern fact from fiction, with common sense, and by looking at the facts.  Skimming these facts will never lead you to the correct conclusion. That’s Buffett’s biggest edge, he reads!  He invests the time!  Only for those who make a serious study, a half a day, a day, could do it.  Start with the videos and links, above and below.

Superficiality-is-the-curse-of-the-modernWorldMatthewKellyQuoteFancyInspirationBlogMHProNews720

Seek first understanding. Don’t skim. Don’t jump to conclusions.

I don’t believe MHI can survive the string of alleged abuses long-term. So, the industry needs to prepare another option for the post production sector. Thankfully, for producers, there is already the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

Study Recommending New Manufactured Housing Association for Independent Retailers, Communities, Lenders, Others Released

But all others need their own voice too, as MHARR has long advocated.

Others, like the AZ community owners’ association, are hunting for their own representation in D.C.

These are de facto votes of no-confidence in MHI.  Whatever modest role we may have played in exposing the MHI charade, we’re happy to have done, within the norms of remaining pro-manufactured housing industry.

Because we don’t believe the industry can achieve its great potential, until Berkshire Hathaway’s brands and their allies are at least put into check, and MHI is supplanted.

NewManufacturedHousing1trillion9PercentNew1percentExistingHomeSales2016CreditManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

If any of the above is wrong, please. MHI, Clayton, 21st – show me where, and I’ll modify this post.

If any of this is wrong, then let Clayton-21st-MHI gather a panel, and let us gather a panel  We’ll debate it publicly in a third-party moderated forum, and video the entire discussion, so that the entire industry can see it. There is not a day go by that we don’t pray for them, pray for the honest liberation of this great manufactured home industry, and pray for you too.

ProblemSolutionTiredOfFightingGiantsInARiggedSystemMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews600x2345

iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com Put “News Tips” in the Subject Line.

What more needs to be said today?

AllTruthPassesThrough3StagesRidiculedViolentlyOpposedAcceptsSelfEvidentArthurSchopenhauerQuoteGalleryMastheadBlogManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, fact checks, commentary.)

(Third party images and information are provided under fair use guidelines.)

L. A. “Tony” Kovach is an award winning manufactured housing industry veteran, and is the managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC – the parent company to MHLivingNews.com, MHProNews.com and professional service provider to the factory-built housing industry.

Connect on LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Correcting the Record – MHI, Jennison and Gooch

July 7th, 2016 No comments

There are those who believe that certain MHProNews articles and my editorials or analysis on the “MHI Housing Alert” sent out by MHI’s Lesli Gooch under Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison’s authority are driven by a desire to do a frontal attack on the association or large companies. 

There are those who think that MHI is just shadow dancing in its claims to advance DTS, or to get more lending into the industry, as well as those who doubt that MHI seriously wants to see HR 650/S 682 enacted into law.

Let’s tackle those and other, recently raised and related perceptions.

We’ll start by saying that skimming this article will result in more misunderstandings, rather than clarity. Whatever you skim, might be the key points you need to understand what, in fact, has been and more recently is taking place.

You care enough about this issue to be reading this, so kindly care enough – to Please – Do Not Skim This Article.

Superficiality is the curse of the modern world.
― Matthew Kelly

MHI-MHARR-MHEC-DC-MHProNews-collage-copyright2016WeProvideYouDecide

Image credit – collage of Industry Association logos by MHProNews, each logo is the property of their respective organization, and is used here under Fair Use guidelines.

1) We know from a variety of sources that MHI as an organization – as well as finance-focused operations from across the MH spectrum, which are often members of MHI – are making good faith efforts to get the GSEs to better understand MH and to do chattel (personal property, home only) loans on manufactured homes. For example…

There are

  • detailed disclosures by MH lenders on chattel loan performance, and there are:
  • Trips to communities,
  • Trips to retail centers,
  • Trips to factories,

and other efforts that are all geared toward gaining the buy-in of the GSEs for Duty to Serve (DTS for manufactured housing), and/or to obtain the support of FHFA with the GSEs on DTS, etc.. These facts and insights come from lenders, finance pros, people “in the room,” and others.

  1. Those facts in no way militates the efforts of MHARR or others toward accomplishing the goal of making DTS for MH personal property lending a reality.

2a) So to say that MHI has no serious interest in getting DTS into reality would fly in the face of evidence to the contrary.

2b) That said, is MHI doing the best possible job on that issue?  That’s a different question, and a fair one. For example, why has no one from MHI contacted Titus Dare to see what they might learn from him on DTS?  What causes opportunities by MHI staff to learn from others to be missed?

2c) Mindful of #3 below, why doesn’t MHI ask for transparency in releasing the minutes to its private meetings with the FHFA? That transparency, the Masthead  believes, would be good for all in the industry. Further, FHFA ought to release minutes from other private meetings — for example, those with consumer groups.

2d) The more industry leaders and pros know the full picture, the more likely we are going to come with a happy outcome on DTS. Transparency pays.

2e) That the Masthead  isn’t anti-MHI or anti-large operation ought to be self-evident to someone who actually cares about the facts and are fully informed.  Just this month, support for MHI is suggested by the Jayar Daily Congressional testimony article on the home page this month. More to the point, MHProNews has years of history sharing positive insights on and about MHI, and the same can be said about other associations.  

2f) Properly understood, MHProNews’ calling attention to issues has, as its implied aim, for MH Pros to be goal and solution oriented.  A critical analysis is done to help MHI and all other associations, too, not to harm, and thus to help the industry advance, too.  A close reading – not skimming! – will make that evident.

stock-freevector-boxing-gloves-postedMHProNews-

Image credit, Shutterstock, FreeVector.

3) There are reasons why MHARR and MHI often don’t get along – and we won’t go into detail on that today – we just mention that each organization has their suspicions of the other. That reality is entirely apart from any editorializing we or others may or may not do – that MHI-MHARR tension existed decades before MHProNews published its first edition in October 2009. Our writing about it – or not – makes the tension no more or less real.

  1. We will note for today that it’s in the industry’s best interest when MHI and MHARR are on the same
    don-glisson-jr-triad-financial-service-manufactured-housing-loans-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-

    Triad Financial Services Chairman, Don Glisson, Jr.  For Another Cup of Coffee with…Don Glisson Jr, click here or the photo above.

    page; we agree on this point with Don Glisson, Jr. Because for over 17 years, the only time the industry gets what it wants in D.C. is when the two associations – plus state associations – are working in concert. We’ve made that point numerous times in the past.

  1. In a perfect world, both national associations and their respective interests would be at the same table. At various times, MHI and MHARR have in fact been at the same table. Yes, it’s idealistic, but it has been done before, so there are good reasons to think it’s achievable now.  Industry pros like Don Glisson, Jr. have at various times tried to bridge that gap.
  1. Further, while it’s idealistic to think that small, medium and large organizations – and consumers, as well as businesses – can and should all come together to work for the common good, that, too, is attainable. The MH Industry will never hit it’s potential until we are seen as being very pro consumer, which the vast majority of MH Pros already are!
BobCrawford-left-FrankRolfe-rightInsideMHMHProNewsVideo-postedMastheadBlog-MHProNews-

Bob Crawford – left. Frank Rolfe, right. Still from MHProNews video on this page.

Fair and Balanced…

  1. This month, we have two articles that present differing viewpoints. One is an interview with Frank Rolfe, that defends MHI. Interestingly, Rolfe doesn’t defend Jennison or Gooch, at least not by name. Let me underscore again:Literally no one has given us a cogent defense for the “Housing Alert” or other items linked above. No one.  By contrast, we’ve had numbers of people who think MHProNews has done the industry a favor by bringing these issues to light. There are also those who have chided, or politely suggested, that our coverage on this topic helps no one. We’ve also had those who have asked us to clarify — are we attacking MHI’s very existence?  Are we attacking big businesses? We strive to keep all of these perspectives in mind, and they are in fact one of several good reasons for this in-depth column.  We want to be responsive to our readers and industry leaders, just as we want MHI to be responsive, too.

7a) Readers should consider the fact that the CSPAN video was first brought to our attention by a highly placed pro at a large industry operation. As in many of the issues we tackle, they arise from input or grow from insights from readers and industry professionals who are in the know.  We don’t just start sounding off on a topic, we seek to understand it first.

7b) For those who mistakenly think we are attacking a large firm by attacking MHI, that too is clearly contradicted by the full context of how this issue has been brought to the industry and public’s attention. The video we produced, linked here, includes an article that very clearly calls on the media to correct the record of their previously errant reporting about MH industry lending and related issues. A close view of the video will reveal that Richard Cordray offers a surprisingly helpful defense for the industry’s lending, which The Seattle Times/Buzz Feed and others grossly misrepresented.

7c) Before we published our critiques of Jennison and Gooch and their now infamous “housing alert,” they had ample opportunity to correct the record themselves. They failed to do so.  We routinely ask for input, prior to publishing; if a source fails to respond, isn’t that on them?  Did they think their controversial alert and apparent errors would be overlooked, forgotten, ignored, what?

  1. We also published an article by Bob Crawford, calling for a new independent post-production association. It includes a video where he talks about that topic. He rates MHI’s effectiveness in their work on behalf of independent retail and community operators, of which he is one.
  1. Those two viewpoints – Crawford or Rolfe’s – don’t exhaust such a topic. We’ll gladly publish others on such issues. Once more, We Provide, You Decide. © Let me observe anew that the best way for MHI – or any association – to avoid such issues about division within a membership is to make sure they are, in fact, listening to and serving the broadest possible interests of the industry.

9a) At the core are issues of credibility and accountability.  Part of the challenge for manufactured housing is that too many outside of our industry don’t believe what the industry says.  That’s an educational issue, but it also means that MHI’s communications should always be unquestionably accurate.  When that fails, then doesn’t that cast a question mark on other things MHI says, or the industry attempts to do, in D.C. and beyond? 

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The infamous April MHI Housing Alert isn’t the only such issue, but the housing alert is one that is easy to review and thus easy to see analyze what took place. Its pretty black and white.

10) That, too, is a reason why editorially we believe that both MHARR and MHI serve important and useful purposes. Ideally, they will work together as much as possible. Stating the obvious often brings clarity. Talk of a third or fourth national association would be at zero if there was a wide perception that all needs and perspectives in MH are being addressed.

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JD Harper, photo credit, Linkedin.

10a) Some will recall that Arkansas’s JD Harper floated a balloon a few years ago for a bridging voice between MHI and MHARR that could advance the MH cause in D.C.

10b) All such efforts ought to send a message. And that message is? Clearly, not everyone believes their needs or interests are being heard! If they were, there would not be MHI members who verbally and in writing communicate their concerns to MHProNews about how national issues are being (mis)handled.

10c) We don’t take on that role lightly. We ask questions, gain insights, do research before we publish on a sensitive topic. So a careful read, starting from the headline on the MHProNews home page says that it’s Staffers who are questioned, and that’s a clear distinction between staff and the organization as a whole.

  1. Look at Frank Rolfe’s comments, part of which is almost humorous (ironic…). He says that people should join MHI to find out what they are doing. The irony is, until Dick Jennison pulled the plug – first on the Journal, months later with MHProNews – there was a level of MHI addressing the industry in its own voice on the pages of MHProNews.

11a) It was Jennison who ended that communication to the industry, at his request, long before we raised issues about his leadership at MHI.  So for those who allege that Jennison is only reacting to what we’ve published, sorry, but that’s hogwash.  For whatever reason, Jennison cut publishing ties to the Journal first, and later with us.  It’s all on him.

  1. There are some long-term MHI members – some of whom no longer attend meetings – that say, ‘We don’t always know why MHI does 
    MHI's New CEO, Dick Jennison

    This was one of the photos taken by MHProNews, a behind-the-camera, behind-the-scenes effort some years ago to get MHI and MHARR to work more closely together. Richard Dick Jennison, left, M. Mark Weiss, right.

    what it does.’ Isn’t that an obvious internal communications issue? Who besides MHI caused that? It wasn’t the Masthead, so isn’t that clearly an internal issue for MHI to address? Even their so-called Week in Review isn’t actually weekly. WiR is published roughly 20+ times a year, in the last few years that Jennison has taken over the helm at MHI.  Does anyone sense a pattern there in Arlington, where Jennison’s MHI office is?

12a) Among the callers yesterday was an industry voice that said, we (MHProNews) should be encouraging more attendance at MHI meetings. Fair topic, which at times past, we’ve done just that; so once more, a complete and balanced-by-the-facts viewpoint is needed. We often talk about MHI meetings, before during and after an event, as regular readers well know. That said, the other perspective might be: Why don’t more pros want to come to MHI meetings?  Apathy happens for a reason.  Isn’t apathy a kind of vote of disinterest or lack of confidence that the effort is worth the time and cost?

  1. We publish MHARR news unedited, and we did the same for MHI for years. Let me state for the record: I can send a request to MHARR for comments or follow up or to address a concern.  I’ll get a prompt answer from MHARR. As our email records and text messages would show, we can address MHI staff on questions, and they routinely won’t answer. Why not? Jennison? Some other reason?  

13a) That’s the opposite of how it was between MHI and MHProNews in years gone by. We used to get prompt responses from Jennison early in his tenure, and also from Thayer Long before Dick came on board.  It wasn’t MHProNews that changed efforts at good communications to none, so why did someone at MHI change that past dynamic between us, as the leading MH publisher, and staff at the Arlington-based association?  Who was the whiz kid who decided it was smart to ignore the industry’s trade media?

14) We still do articles in the Daily Business News that report on both associations. Then there are editorials, some by myself or others, on issues relating to MHI or MHARR. Again, We Provide, You Decide. ©

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Are opportunities to get more lending into MH being missed or slowed by mishandling by key MHI staffers?  These are issues regardless if MHProNews chose to report on them or not. Some are thanking us for covering these matters; others think they should be kept out of the public view.  But when off-the-radar efforts fail, the next step is to go public with industry members. This analysis and those linked provide more insights on finance-related topics.

Bottom Lines?

  1. Calling out realities at MHI ought to be seen as MHProNews doing MHI and its leadership a real, sincere favor. Otherwise, issues will fester until there is a rupture.
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    MHI logo is their trademark, and is used here for editorial purposes only. MHProNews Spotlight, credit, MHProNews.

    15a) Some members get great attention, while other members feel ignored. That’s a fact we hear from members often.

  2. Calling on MHI’s top staff to speak to members in a candid, forthright manner is Ethics 101. I make no apology for holding them accountable — that’s a valid role of objective trade media. Before this issue burst on the scenes, MHI Chair Tim Williams defended that value of MHProNews precisely for our independent perspective. 

16a) If we, as an industry, are to showcase our amazing value – if MH, as an industry, is to be seen as the caring professionals most of us strive to be – then collectively, the MH Industry has to be willing to look at allegations like the Jennison/Gooch issue for what they are — more on that, linked here.

  1. That we are pro-MH or pro-association ought not to be doubted. That we are only for small businesses would be a wrong interpretation of reality, as noted above and by the fact that we serve a wide spectrum of MH-related firms and firms in MHI, MHARR, state associations or those in no association, too.  
  1. As further proof of our years of balance on MHProNews, we’ve done interviews with mom-and-pop,
  • consultants,
  • large, medium and small operations,
  • and those in between. We’ve published hundreds and thousands of statements and accounts we don’t necessarily agree with, but it was what the speaker said.  Some industry pros completely get that we are doing what other trade publications in other industries do; some just don’t see that yet. 
CollageofVideosInterview-MHProNews-LATonyKovach

Mostly stills from videos in our industry-leading Inside MH Video series, published on MHProNews and/or MHLivingNews, depending on the topic.  This is a cross section of operations from single location operations to the largest in MH. We strive to be balanced in our coverage and in our analysis.  We invite and publish other viewpoints.  What could be more fair than that?  Only those who skim or don’t read would accuse us of being unfair or unbalanced, or of attacking any size organization or association.  Accountability issues ought to be seen as pro-industry, not anti-industry.

Just page through the years of our A Cup of Coffee with…interview series as proof.

  1. As an example that MHProNews isn’t anti-big business (or business or organizations of any size), we’ve defended ELS when they were wrongfully attacked – and ELS, to my recollection, has never been a client of our firm at any time or level. We’ve defended Clayton and MH lending more than any other publisher anywhere in the past 18 months, and that took place prior to their being an advertiser – and it wasn’t the cause of their becoming an advertiser.  Publishing and marketing have an intersection, but they are two different things in trade publishing. We respect that line, and trust that our sponsors understand that point very well.
  1. The record reflects our independence and the record reflects we defend and promote the MH Industry far more than we criticize it.
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    Tim Williams, 21st Mortgage CEO and current MHI Chairman. Click his name to see the interview with Tim.

    Again, Tim Williams point above is spot on.

  1. We’ve criticized CFPB or HUD far more than we have George Allen, MHI, MHARR or anyone else.
  1. My 80 percent friend is not our 20 percent enemy. We may bridge the gap by calling people to account when necessary, but isn’t that an important and valid role of good trade media?
  1. So yes, this writer has editorialized why Gooch and Jennison should go, while not harboring any illusions that we can force that issue. Leadership will do what it wants, for whatever reasons they may have.  Nor will MHProNews plan to make this an eternal mission to write about them every day or week. That would get boring pretty quickly.

24) A tiny minority of what we publish has been about those two MH senior staff members, and a tiny minority of our MHI coverage has been a critical analysis. So the fact that it has raised so many eyebrows points to the fact that the issue is real and needs to be addressed, doesn’t it?!

My80%FriendIsNotMy20%EnemyRonaldReagan-postedMHProNews-com

Optics and Perceptions 

  1. Writers are often reminded that numbers of people skim rather than actually read.  As a writer or publisher, we are not responsible for that reality. If someone or a number of others misread what is published, that’s solely on those doing the misreading.
  1. A careful reading of what we’ve published recently – or over the years, as well, plus behind-the-scenes efforts – ought to prove that we try to bridge gaps, not create them.
  1. But when a gap exists, it does no good to ignore or gloss over it. That’s not negative, that’s reality. We do the industry a favor when we spotlight an important issue that is going unaddressed, or when behind-the-scenes efforts have failed to produce a good outcome.
    gaps-method=credit-postedon-MHProNews

    We will look at the GAPS Method in the near future, as one of the tools to analyze the road blocks to MH advancement.

  1. By analogy, lancing a boil brings out puss and blood. It’s ugly. But once done properly, healing comes in its wake, and the lanced skin grows stronger, not weaker, as a result. Let’s ponder how that analogy applies to MH, or MHI.LancingTheBoil-drawceptioncredit-postedMHProNews-
  1. As a matter of record, we’ve made it clear that calling into question the judgment of Gooch and Jennison on this (or other?!) issues doesn’t represent an assault on MHI.  That’s a bad misread. Please see the linked article, and note the quotes from me. Beginning with the headline, the statements focus on performance by staff members, and how that impacts MHI and thus our industry, too. MHI is not being attacked.  MHI’s effectiveness has been questioned, at the staff and bottom-line-results levels.  Those are two entirely different things!
  1. As a matter of record, we’ve alleged there has been no good rationale to defend the infamous April Housing Alert from Jennison and Gooch, which sparked this recent controversy. It’s not the only reason, but given they had an opportunity to correct the record after we produced the video, and days before we published our first critique on this topic – isn’t it a plenty good reason to see them go? As an executive told MHProNews about the Gooch/Jennison Housing Alert off-the-record, there are no good reasons to deceive or mislead any member, much less in writing in the fashion that Gooch and Jennison advanced.AmericanBankingNews-KEY-MHI-StaffExcoriatedFailingMissionMembers-postedMastheadMHProNews-
  1. I’ve assured colleagues, clients and others who’ve contacted us that the Masthead  doesn’t plan to make a career out of writing or publishing on this one issue, as important as it is. Hindsight is 20/20 for us all. Time will tell if the leadership at MHI was correct in standing by Gooch and Jennison. But I’ll stress again, no one, NO ONE, has yet to offer a good explanation that justifies what that pair did. Isn’t that troubling?  
  1. Don’t shoot the messenger or the analyst – the focus ought to be on what Jennison and Gooch did and/or failed to do.  If someone wants to offer a defense of that memo, please bring it on – we routinely publish perspectives different than our own when they are well reasoned. Isn’t that fair enough?

33) In fact, we demonstrated in MHLivingNews.com, that the comments from Senators Donnelly, Corker and Richard Cordray could have been used by Gooch and Jennison to advance the cause of the pending legislation (HR 650/S 682). Why not let Gooch and Jennison explain why they missed that fact? Aren’t they the paid staffers? And why are they still missing that opportunity?  Ego?  Agenda?  Poor judgment?  What?

RichardCordrayCFPB-ManufacturedHousingRegulationsCSPANstill-InsideMHvideoPostedMHProNews-com-

Richard Cordray quotes and those from the report and video on this page, linked here. Why didn’t MHI’s Gooch and Jennison do a similar graphic, and use it to advance the MHI bill in Congress?  Or even easier, why didn’t MHI use this information already published, and simply ask us as an MHI member to share it?

  1. I’d further say that MHI – which means staff at MHI – missed an opportunity to draw positive attention to the industry on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of HUD Code Manufactured Housing. Perhaps it’s still not too late? 

35) People make mistakes. I certainly do; all of us do. Do the mistakes made by Jennison and Gooch warrant replacing them? Do missed opportunities by MHI staffers to promote more financing or ease the CFPB rules which harm MH warrant a call for new faces in Arlington? One of our slogans for years has been:

We Provide, You Decide. ©

E Pluribis Unum – From the Many, One

  1. On our recent first-of-the-month Masthead, we published the graphic below/left. We believe in unity, but we see little or no value to a fictional or paper-only unity.
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There have for centuries been those who worked for unity, and towards division, in all nations and places.  See that Masthead, linked here.

37) I won’t dive into GAPS Analysis today, but will once more mention that as a pro-industry digital publisher, we can do critiques that are professional, rather than personal attacks in nature. See the last Masthead to better understand the topic.

  1. We hope enough readers of good will can step back and look at ALL the facts objectively, to see clearly anew we that we at MHProNews and on MHLivingNews are what we have always been. We are Pro-the-MH Industry. We are Pro-Associations at all levels; they’re all necessary! And when properly led, they have, and will do much good.

Conclusions

At the end of the day, we publish with the goal of solving or promoting solutions to real issues – to report Industry News, Tips and Views Pros Can Use©

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We bring plenty of attention to the good news in MH!

A wise man once said that if you have only positive, or only negative poles – in electricity – then you have no power. It takes reality – both positive and negative poles – to produce useful energy.

So when we spotlight a challenge, we hope, work and pray that through thoughtful consideration and action, that will lead to solving real problems.  Burying heads in the sands solves nothing.

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Some don’t want to hear what they might take to be bad news. Image Credits – Dilbert, WikiCommons

Our MH industry has a great story, we strive to tell those stories routinely on MHLivingNews and on MHProNews as well. We plan to stick with that effort until we close more gaps, and until the day comes when we pass on the baton to those who will follow in our wake.

In the meantime, the summary of the above is this.

We can critique MHI’s staff without desiring in any way its destruction.

We can critique MHI without attacking any member company of any size.

We want to see the industry advance, which means that MHI and others must grapple with reality, not sweep it under the rug.  

Our spotlighting issues is doing MHI and the industry a favor, so long as that favor is acted upon in a solution oriented vs. a sweep-it-under-the-rug-fashion. 

We believe the evidence shows that MHI and MHI members are making real efforts to do what they say they are trying to do on DTS.

That said, the questions include, could MHI be more effective at advancing more MH lending?  Are key MHI staff doing all that is possible to advance the association’s agenda? Are opportunities being missed?

Reports from MHI members to MHProNews and the word from others tell us that opportunities are being missed, and that more could have been done.  One example is word from those “in the room” is that the MLO rule change could have already been effected, with a different approach. 

MHI has an opportunity to turn the lemons of these issues into lemonade. The ball is in their court, right where it always has been. We’re bringing reports and analysis, it is up to others to act upon them, or not. We Provide, You Decide. ©  ##

LATonyKovach-QuestioningNYSAAteam-NewYorkHousingAssociation-MHProNews-com-PhotoCreditMarkSimon--250x167

Photo taken during New York Housing Association meeting; L. A. “Tony” Kovach questioning regulators.

By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

Managing Member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC.
Publisher of Industry leading 
MHLivingNews.com,MHProNews.com
and 
Inside MH video series.
MHI member, elected MHI Suppliers Division board member.
Consultant and service provider to the MH industry.

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

Publisher – MHLivingNews.com and MHProNews.com

It’s #1! Get our industry leading, free, Twice Weekly emailed news, tips updates (our emailed Newsletters look like this) – sign up free in seconds at MHProNews.com/Subscribe. 

40 Years of Manufactured Housing, 240th Birthday for America, July 4, 2016

July 4th, 2016 No comments

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There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.”
– Warren Buffett

Superficiality is the curse of the modern world.
Matthew Kelly

There are both keen truths and potent tensions between the two quotes above.  The subject is easy, but we’ll avoid an overly superficial look at the topics for this month.

Unity and Disunity in America, The World and MH

When the 13 colonies declared their independence from England there was a conflict fought. Just days ago, in a heavy voting turnout, England (the U.K.) peacefully voted for independence from the EU, a “Brexit.” The U.S. then, or the British today, wanted to be freed from the rule of others. At the same time, they wanted to band together as a people.

UnityStrengthDivisionWeakness-SwahliProverb-ilovebeingblack-twitter=credit-postedMHProNews

There have for centuries been those who worked for unity, and towards division, in all nations and places.

So independence has in practice an interdependence.

The American colonies would forge a system designed to end England’s power, as well as limit the power of the federal system that came into being here in the U.S. once the war for our nation’s independence was won.

It’s a fact. The Soviet Union split into 15 nations. Yugoslavia split into 7. China has two significant areas where separatists are at work. The U.K. will face another Scottish exit effort. Across Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond – there are movements whose aim is to break larger nations – larger powers – into smaller ones.

Those who seek regional or global orders in America today have watched a strong anti-Democratic-establishment effort by Bernie Sanders followers.

They are watching an “America First” populist-nationalist camp led by Donald Trump lay claim to the party that Bush, Romney and a few Republican elites have previously led.

Perhaps 5 percent to 10 percent of the USA is libertarian, and smaller movements of Green Party or other forces are busy in our land too. Some pundits say Ralph Nader’s Green Party run in 2000 cost Al Gore the election against George W. Bush (fyi – your Masthead  scribe is an independent).

Struggles over unity and division are ongoing. Never think that what’s happening today is so totally different than other parts of the world, or other eras of history.

Efforts for unity or division go all the way back in time to when the people of the world are said to have lost a common language, after the Tower of Babel was toppled by the God of the Jewish and later Christian people.

There is unity, and there is disunity.

There is Independence as well as Interdependence.

Manufactured Housing and Our Times

On this 240th 4th of July, some might say that within Manufactured Housing, there are – and historically have been – similar forces for independence and interdependence at work.

At one time, Fleetwood and Champion dominated the manufactured housing industry. Today pros speak of the three Cs of MH – Clayton, Cavco and Champion. There were numerous independents then, and now.

There are consolidations taking place on the manufacturing side of MH. Far more consolidations are occurring on the community side of MH.

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Image credit, Pinterest.

Retail by independents have risen and fallen, but could be rising again.

A new paradigm has been coming to birth in MH for about a decade, as a growing percentage of home sales are done by MH land lease communities – aka “mobile home parks” – or more properly MHCommunities. While most MHCs buy pre-owned homes – or new homes from factories – solely for their own use to fill vacant homesites; in some places, retail off-property by MHCs are in motion. That’s a trend to watch.

The point is that there are in business as in politics, larger forces at work in MH, as well as thousands of smaller ones.

On the association/lobbying/advocacy side, most states have their own associations, some have separate community associations plus an “umbrella” association. A few have associations that span RVs and MHs or even other groups seeking collective advocacy.

In factory-built housing, there are more groups than are generally spoken of in MHVille – we hear the most from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), or the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). But the NAHB has their Systems Building Council. And there is the Tom Hardiman led Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA), which differs from the modular housing group under the MHI umbrella. There are others in Canada too…

BobCrawford-left-FrankRolfe-rightInsideMHMHProNewsVideo-postedMastheadBlog-MHProNews-

Bob Crawford – left. Frank Rolfe, right. Still from MHProNews video.

As readers will see below, this month we’ll provide an article that promotes a new, independent post-production association – which the author of that column asserts that MHI is at best a 5 out of 10  in terms of its effectiveness in working for the interests of independent MH Retailers and MHCommunities. That author – Bob Crawford, and his mentor Dick Moore – have advocated for an independence movement from MHI before. Time will tell if there is more momentum behind it now, than previously.

The MH industry hitched its wagon to the federal oversight star 42 years ago. Just over 40 years ago, the first HUD Code manufactured homes rolled off the assembly lines in the U.S.

There were once more ‘national,’ ‘regional’ or ‘federated’ MH associations than there are today. Will history repeat?  

Our reporting on issues isn’t  always the same as advocacy of a perspective.  Our taking a position doesn’t mean we’re looking for a do or die battle. We have clients, readers and supporters in both major national associations.  In a professional world, the Ronald Reagan ideal below should apply.

My80%FriendIsNotMy20%EnemyRonaldReagan-postedMHProNews-com

As a disclosure, this writer broadly-speaking wears two hats. One is as a trade publisher of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com – the other as a provider of business development and consulting services, all of which operates under the LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC banner, of which I’m the managing member.  

What brings those two hats together is a passionate love for this MH Industry, and for seeing MH advance in every possible way.  Everything else we do can be seen through that prism. 

News, Tips and Views

As a publisher, we report news as well as do commentary and analysis.

The following is another fact. Manufactured housing trade publications, with no disrespect for the Journal  or others who have gone before us, have never had the same kind of publications we provide on professionally-focused MHProNews.com (aka MHMarketingSalesManagement.com, also known by some as MHMSM.com) or the public via MHLivingNews.com.

As a result, it’s no surprise that too many in our MH industry think of any critique by me of another person, persons or group as a personal attack.  Not so!  It’s purely professional.  

It’s standard fare for the business of being a trade publisher. MH can’t or won’t advance to its potential until rigorous and candid discussions identify and resolve all those things that hold us as an industry back.

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We will look at the GAPS Method in the near future, as one of the tools to analyze the road blocks to MH advancement. Good analyis is – or should be – objective.  If you or others have a different point of you that you want to publicy or privately share, please write or call.

Unlike Jim Visser – whom I respect – or others who are no longer in the MH trade publication business, this writer spent many years in the trenches of MH long before picking up a digital pen and paper. We still earn our keep by boosting manufactured and modular home sales!  Some of that personal/professional history will be rapidly reviewed in an article linked below.

Suffice it to say for now, that I’ve worked with some of the largest operations in MH, with assocations and with some other operations more modest in size, and also “mom and pop” businesses.  All small firms hope to do well, some aspire to be big firms someday.  We salute all those MH entrepreneurs, professionals and captains of industry.

So we come at MH related topics from a different viewpoint than someone who only prints articles and ads (no disrespect intended to other publishers, just stating facts).

When we write about Dick Jennison or Lesli Gooch at MHI, and raise questions about their effectiveness or the ethics of their communications practices, that’s a valid topic as they are public figures in our industry.  If there is a critique of them, it is not necessarily a blast at MHI, of which I am also an elected board member.  A critique is part of a GAPS analysis, pure and simple. If you or others you work with have a different take than ours, you can share it, as we share a Pro-MHI column this month (see below), and one that takes a we-need-a-new-association viewpoint.

That’s balanced trade publishing.  “We Provide, You Decide.” ©

As both a publisher and as an MHI board member, others have encouraged as well as expressed concerns to me, and we have published some of those concerns by reference when off-the-record, or under the person’s name, when OK’d to do so.

When someone is a manager, executive or even an owner of a company or organization which supplies products or services to XYZ, it is entirely understandable that such a person does not want to publicly say something that XYZ may not want to read or hear on video.  Other media do such off-the-record reports, we do too.

Let’s reframe some of the above.

In the automotive industry world, there would be thicker skins about Car and Driver  or some other auto-trade publication critiquing a publicly visible professional person’s performance, or that of an organization. It’s pretty common in other industries!

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The featured story on this almost decade old Manufactured Home Merchandiser Magazine cover was one that your Masthead scribe wrote for them.

What makes it uncommon in MH – and thus, perhaps a little shocking to some in MHVille – is precisely that our industry has heretofore had no similar trade publishing. Even in its heyday, the venerable MH Merchandiser Magazine  was only a monthly, with some news and mostly columns and ads. Only MHProNews has produced an industry business daily news in the MH World.

Jim Visser at the Journal  rarely does an editorial. Herb Tieder’s Merchandiser did an editorial column, but those that recall know it wasn’t much like those you’ll find here on the Masthead.

That’s no slam, it’s reality. In fairness to those others, how could they? Those other publishers never had the first-hand view from the MH trenches we have, then or now!

MHProNews  has changed all that for trade publishing in our industry.  That’s why thousands of MHPros flock here daily.

Investors, media, academics, public officials, policy advocates and researchers from around-the-world read this publication too.

MH today is, as Nathan Smith said on video, a boutique industry and thus a relatively small audience. Comparing us to the Dallas Morning News, Chicago Sun Times or Tribune, the New York or Los Angeles Times – or even a more financially focused professionals’ publication like Forbes – our audience is signficantly smaller.

But MHProNews has articles that get more hits than some articles on Forbes gets.

That’s a fact.  Here’s an example for proof.  We’ll have more hits on dozens of articles on MHProNews this and every month than what this Forbes article reflects.

TaxWaste6.1BillionHoursSpentComplyingFederalTaxCodeForbes-2016-07-04_1455-postedMHProNews

VisitorsOnMHProNews-2016-07-04_2004

2,525 visitors on MHProNews at the time and date shown. That’s not cumulative, that’s readers at that specific time. Typical reader views 8+ pages, per Webalizer. Screen capture of base of MHProNews.com home page.

Some in our industry have never known anything but MHProNews, or perhaps some less popular bloggers or emailed PDF newsletters done by consultants, in which those other writers naturally promote their own products and services.

But none, none of those other publications have the same domestic or global reach that MHProNews has. It’s not bragging or hubris if it’s true, and these are facts.

It’s no surprise to us that a group out of Singapore is making a two billion dollar plus play for MHCs in the U.S., international business and investors interested in factory built housing are on our pages routinely.

While our audience is absolutely dominated by those in the U.S., as we’ve shown before, our webstats and contacts from professionals living in “investor nations” in Europe, Asia and other parts of the globe is steady and growing, as is our reach in the United States.

So the view from the Masthead  matters to MHVille, and to a real extent, MHVille benefits from MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com. As but one example, every company that attends the Louisville or Tunica Shows in the past several years has benefited from our promoting those events.  

The Masthead  shares these insights, hoping to limit misunderstandings.  I have no personal animus towards say MHI’s Jennison or Gooch; it’s professional and the questions are simple.  Do they get the job done?  Have they behaved in an entirely professional and ethical fashion? Are they helping or harming MHI and its goals?

Setting the Manufactured Housing World on Fire

Some have cheered our reports, others – including highly placed officials – have provided respectful feedback that disagrees with our take, and advises us to handle it differently.  One was very kind in saying that they know I mean well, but that I’m going about this all wrong.  I hear all of that, and to all who have sent their thoughts for, against or nuanced – my sincere thanks to each of you.

We respect all of those takes, encourage them, promise to take them all into consideration and we’ll gladly publish them when asked and thoughtfully presented. 

We don’t seek conflict or controversy for its own sake.  

We do have goals for the MH industry and for all those our great industry serves.

The executive summary for all this could be – the Truth sets us free. Everything else – are details and commentary. 

With no further adieu, let’s dive into our July 2016 Featured Articles.

Featured Articles and Reports for Vol. 7, No. 10, 2016

Alphabetically by Category

 

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

 

• How Peace of Mind Attracts More Qualified Clients and Boost Sales

by Tifanee McCall

TifaneeMcCall-MHWC-ResidentialWarrantyCompany-55x55Every day, hundreds of thousands of big TVs and electronic items like computers are being sold.

Read more…

 

•  Colorado MHC Portfolio | 719 Sites | Colorado

by Christopher Nortley

ChristopherNortlyMHREinc=postedMHProNews-comy50x50-MHRE Inc. is pleased to present the Colorado MHC Portfolio, which consists of 3 communities with a combined site count of 719. The Home Portfolio consists of 243 homes throughout the 3 communities.

Read more…

 

• UMH Properties hits 52-Week High, Projections Skyward

by Matthew Silver

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1As investors await the Aug. 4, 2016 earnings report from manufactured housing community (MHC) owner UMH Properties, Inc. (NYSE:UMH), the stock has hit a new 52-week high at $11.25, with a target of $26.10, a 132% increase.

Read more…

 

FINANCING

 

Identifying and Resolving Barriers of Entry for more Manufactured Home Lending

by Titus Dare

TitusDareEagleOneFinancial-postedMHProNews-50x50-Getting more lending into the manufactured housing space is not a simple snap of a finger and “poof!” it’s done. Getting more lending starts, as I noted a few days ago, with the three prongs of needed Education. It relies too on the 4S’ of good lending – Safe, Sound, Sanitary and Sustainable.

Read more…

 

• Northpoint Commercial Finance Expands Field Sales Organization

by Northpoint Commercial Finance

NorthPointcommercialFinance-logo-postedomMHProNewsAlpharetta, GA, June 26, 2016 – Two new Directors of Business Development have joined Northpoint Commercial Finance’s Field Sales Organization.

Read more…

 

• Why Manufactured Homes Are Being Chosen By Today’s Homeowners

by Triad Financial Services

Triad Financial-bannerad-MHProNews-comMany of us are aware of the current affordable housing crisis. Whether it be the significant increase in rent or lack of affordable options in today’s site built homes, consumers are looking for a solution and manufactured homes are providing a viable choice.

Read more…

 

GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

 

• Clayton releases top energy efficient features for manufactured and modular homes.

by Clayton Homes

ClaytonHomes-logo-50x50Top energy-efficient housing features every new homebuyer should know

Most Americans want an energy-efficient home, and they’re willing to make the necessary changes to help improve efficiency, whether it’s changing their habits or buying more energy-efficient appliances.

Read more…

 

• You’re Invited – 2016 RV MH Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

by Barry Cole

barry-cole-rv-mh-hall-of-fame-postedonmhpronews-com-65x65You’re invited to the 2016 RV MH Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony!

Read more…

 

 

• Bob Crawford – On MHI, MHARR and a New Association

by Bob Crawford

BobCrawford-DickMooreHousingPresident-ManufacturedHousingProfessionalNewsViews-postedMHProNews50x50In reply to your request to rate MHI’s effectiveness at advocacy for independent retail/non-corporate MH business, I would have to rate it at best a 5.

Read more…

 

• Proof MHPros Can Attract the Site Built Customer to Manufactured Homes and MHCommunities

by Tom Fath

Tom Fath-Operations Manager New Durham Estates and Home Sales55x55We met Tony (Kovach) in 2014 at the Louisville Home Show and found his firm’s vision, professional services, and expertise to be in the direction our business and the industry as a whole needed to move at a fast pace.

Read more…

 

• Frank Rolfe – Interview on MH Industry Business, Politics and Associations

by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

tony- kovachThere has been a wide range of comments – for, against or in between – regarding the MHProNews critique and analysis of MHI’s lobbying activities, centering on Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison and Lesli Gooch.

Read more…

 

• Congressional Testimony by Jayar Daily, COO, American Homestar Corporation on – Future Of Housing In America: Government Regulations And The High Cost Of Housing

by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

tony- kovachThe written testimony (linked here) to Congress by F. R. Jayar Daily, Chief Operations Officer for American Homestar Corporation and a member of MHI’s board of directors is dated March 22nd, 2016.

Read more…

 

• The Next American Political Revolution? The Next 4th of July

by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

tony- kovachThose who neglect the lessons of the past are condemn to relieve them.

Read more…

• Off The Record – Musings Of A Warped MH Mind

by MH Industry member

MH-industryMemberOffTheRecord-MHProNews-com-The recent allegations concerning MHI staff members are troublesome.

Read more…

 

• Singapore Investors Turn Sights on Yes! Communities for $2Billion+

by Matthew Silver

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1MHProNews has learned from The Wall Street Journal that Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, is in talks to acquire Denver-based YES! Communities from private-equity firm Stockbridge Capital Group for over $2 billion.

Read more…

 

•  American Banking News – Key MHI Staff “Excoriated” for Failing Their Mission, Members

Matthew J Silver

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comWith Dodd-Frank, financing and CFPB related issues routinely on the minds of manufactured housing industry professionals, TheDaily Business News  has learned fromAmerican Banking News the following report on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), which is made available below.

Read more…

 

• Mary McBrady says Massachusetts is Smacked with Shortage of Mid-range Homes

by Matthew Silver

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1Mary McBrady, executive director of the Massachusetts Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA), noting the shortage of mid-priced housing in Mass., and a plethora of schools and researchers interested in housing policy within the state, says, “We, as an industry, need to be part of that conversation and dialogue.”

Read more…

 

• Skyline Outshines other MH-related Stocks; Dow Regains 235 Point

by Matthew Silver

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1In the news from CNNMoney: A Tesla 2015 S on autopilot has fatal crash, spurring Federal investigation.

Read more…

 

• Tony Prevatte Chosen to Head NC MH Association

by Matthew Silver

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1MHProNews has learned from robesonian that Tony Prevatte, owner of Prevatte Home Sales in Lumberton, NC has been elected president of the North Carolina Manufactured and Modular Homebuilder’s Association’s board of directors.

Read more…

MARKETING

• Manufactured Home Marketing and Sales Makeover

by Soheyla Kovach

SoheylaKovach-WebsiteDevelopment+SupportServices-MHProNews-com-photo83degreesmediaJulieBranaman-posted-MHProNews-com-50x50-To get a different result, you obviously have to do some things differently.

Read more…

 

• Award Winning Manufactured Home Retailer Perspectives on Sunshine Homes, Red Bay AL

by Soheyla Kovach

SoheylaKovach-WebsiteDevelopment+SupportServices-MHProNews-com-photo83degreesmediaJulieBranaman-posted-MHProNews-com-50x50-Our family, videographer, drone pilot and I went to Hattiesburg MS to meet with award winning manufactured home retailer, George Campbell of Southern Colonel Homes.

Read more…

 

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS, MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION

• Letting go

by Tim Connor, CSP

tim-connor-mhmsm-comLetting go is accepting that it is time to move on, to begin again and to say goodbye to your present circumstances is to make room for the new learning from different sources.

Read more…

ZigOn Quantity

by Zig Ziglar

zig-ziglarFor some strange reason there are millions of us who believe that if a little of something is good for us, a lot would be even better. Sometimes that is true, but frequently it is not.

Read more…

SALES

• The Manufactured Housing Revolution – How the MH Industry Claims its MoJo

by L.A. “Tony” Kovach

tony- kovachNo person, profession or organization is without challenges. The question is, what does one do about those challenges? Challenges can make or break you, a company or an industry.

Read more…