Posts Tagged ‘reality check’

Clayton Homes, Manufactured Housing Industry News, Reality Check

April 4th, 2018 No comments


Clayton Homes made the news several times in recent days. As a heads up to readers, this mentions legislation, but that isn’t the headline topic. The example that follows exemplifies a reality check that will tee up an “Aha! Moment” for many.

The subjects Clayton Homes has been included in mainstream media reports included such topics as their support for the amendment proposed to S. 2155. That amendment is based upon the Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) rule proposal found in the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. That’s fine.

The point? What’s the Reality Check? 

  • Clayton Homes,
  • Berkshire Hathaway,
  • Warren Buffett and his family like son Howard,
  • can get into the news virtually any time they want to do so.

That said, why doesn’t Clayton routinely go after each and every example of mistakes made in the mainstream media about manufactured homes?

2018-04-04_1725ClaytonHomesInManufacturedHousingIndustryNewsMastheadCommentaryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsLet’s rephrase for total clarity.

    Berkshire Hathaway owns a press release service.

   Berkshire Hathaway owns numerous media outlets.

   As one of the nation’s largest home builders, Clayton could correct each and every example of mistaken reports in the media.

   Clayton has their own communications and marketing people.

   The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) also have public relations (media) professionals.  For years, the MHI executive committee has included 2 of the 4 seats held by Berkshire Hathaway, plus years of Tim Williams, President and CEO of 21st Mortgage as MHI Chairman.  The other 2 of 4 the executive committee seats had ties to Berkshire Hathaway too.

Clayton, MHI and Berkshire Hathaway can comment on – or correct the record on – any misleading, mistaken, bad terminology – – anything! – – associated with the industry.

Will anyone seriously question that claim?   Please, send me a response that explains this topic in some other logical fashion.

Given that premise, that Clayton/MHI could correct any or every flawed media report, how about this question. Why don’t they do so?

For over a year, we’ve done a periodic test. It’s this.  We’ve contacted mainstream media about a problematic news report about manufactured housing that they ran. We ask, has Clayton, MHI or others in the industry contacted you about this? In essentially every case, the answer has been “no.” One example was in Clayton’s home state.  The routine answer was, no, they’ve not reached out at all. (The exception was the Urban Institute, where Clayton and MHI were promised anonymity, per informed sources at UI – see that, linked as a resource below.)

Why does Clayton and MHI allow poor terminology about manufactured homes to continue to go unaddressed? For example, why do they allow the media to call a manufactured home community a “trailer park?” [sic].  Why do they allow any bad information to go unaddressed?


These are just some ‘trailer park’ [SIC} news stories this week. This happens week after week, year after year. Given that no one I’ve ever met aspired to be ‘trailer trash,’ can you see why this terrible terminology needs to be tackled? Where is Clayton and MHI on this or other negative media related issues?


In interview and discussions with home owners and professionals, concerns about being stigmatized by the term “trailer trash” ranks high. It’s a reason millennials have given for not even considering a “mobile homes” – manufactured homes – as an option (see related reports, linked below).

Image and misleading information directly or indirectly costs the industry hundreds of thousands of new home sales per year.  That’s billions in sales a year.

Why doesn’t Clayton and MHI go aggressively after that improper media reporting and terminology issue? Not with more lame advertorials, which industry statistics prove beyond a doubt failed to move the needle for the industry.


Darren Krolewski, Co-President at MHVillage, DataComp.

I asked Darren Krolewski during the Tunica Show why the millions who watch a classy Clayton video, or who visit Clayton’s or MH Village’s websites aren’t buying more homes?  Krolewski said publicly and privately, he doesn’t have a good answer.

We do. A big factor can be summed up with improper information and image. Pretty pictures and videos alone will not fix this. What will? We know this from experience in the field with clients.

Correcting the record, time after time, lifts the industry’s shoppers from interest to buyers.

Now I happen to believe that Warren Buffett, and Kevin Clayton are intelligent people. Tim Williams said it himself. There’s a good case to be made for correcting the record each and every time.

So why don’t they???


The 64 Billion Dollar Question

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famous for the Sherlock Holmes detective stories, famously observed that when you eliminate the possibilities, whatever remains must be the truth.

Kevin Clayton said over 6 years ago that they were “ready” then to do an image/public relations campaign.

They can get in the news when they want to do so. Why don’t they fix this?

As a state association executive told me today, MHI has a full time media person that could make that routine outreach whenever negative, inaccurate news hits. 

Then why don’t they do so?  Here’s the answer to that, the plausible premise…the Reality Check

  • Warren Buffett said he likes a bargain.
  • Buffett also commands his company presidents to expand their “moat” year after year.
  • By keeping the industry’s image problematic, it obviously keeps new manufactured home sales at a lower level than it would otherwise be
  • That in turn arguably hurts every other business of every size engaged in manufactured housing in America.  That means that other factories, retailers, etc. can be purchased cheaper than they otherwise would be.  
  • It also means that their market share can grow, until the day comes that they take their foot off the brake peddle.

Isn’t this stating the obvious? That’s the reality check. They can get in the news.  They can correct poor reporting, every time, if they wanted to do so.

Clayton and MHI are not responsible for every piece of bad news that hits the media each and every week. But they are 100 percent able – and thus, responsible – for not doing all that they can to fix bad reports when they occur.

Those MHI “image” videos and advertorials are clearly ineffective. The only thing those videos and advertorials do is give them a fig leaf when they are questioned about the topic of image, media engagement, marketing, public relations, and education.


The facts don’t lie. MHI has admitted at times that the industry is still performing at historically low levels. Why? Isn’t poor public perception, fueled by problematic and flawed media reports part of the problem? Then why doesn’t Clayton and MHI address each and every flawed report? Former MHI Chair Tim Williams admitted that it is a valid approach. Then whey not do it?

Their failure to do so is part of what keeps the industry suppressed. It logically keeps the prices paid for buying the factories and retail centers of others lower than they otherwise would be.

We can call this an allegation that manufactured housing is struggling due to the apparent failure of Clayton, Berkshire Hathaway and MHI to act.

Or we could say the obvious. They have the resources. They know the need. Tim Williams admitted the logic of correcting the record in writing to MHProNews.

The level of acceptance of manufactured housing is directly tied to this issue. Others like financing also have Clayton, Berkshire and MHI finger prints on them as to why they are unresolved (see related reports for details).

Don’t they obviously the MH Industry to remain small, until they’ve consolidated enough that they take their foot off the brake peddle? Isn’t that the reality check for today?  The truth that’s hiding in plain sight? “We Provide, You Decide.” (C) ## 

Related Comments, Quotes and Reports:

“Kevin…the Problem of Your Industry…”


Since these comments and others, 21st Mortgage has reportedly been paying Rolfe for promotions, and Rolfe has stopped making these kinds of public critiques of MHI, Berkshire Hathaway or Clayton Homes.



Warren Buffett Success Secret$, Video Interview Including “The Moat”

Progressive “Nation” Reports on Monopolies Cites Buffett, Clayton, Others – MH Industry Impact?

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

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Candid reality checks, Rallies and Manufactured Housing

September 19th, 2010 No comments

The International Networking Roundtable (INR) is behind us, and we are only days away from MHI’s meeting in Denver. A few brief thoughts… and more to follow.

The Roundtable (INR) featured a number of important ‘reality check’ keynote topics:

  • Randy Rowe, State of the Asset Class address, in which he outlined 5 points that need to be addressed.
  • Joe Adams, who touted leaders by example in the Industry, but also candidly addressed gaps in marketing and sales skills that hold individuals, companies and thus the MHIndustry back.
  • Dick Ernst, who spoke about the SAFE Act, and how that impacts our Industry, why it needs to be understood and how it must be positively addressed.
  • Dr David Funk from Cornell University, who gave us compelling insights into the world of Manufactured Housing demographics, general housing trends, and what it can mean for the Industry.
  • Panel discussions on financing, manufacturing and general Industry issues, along with numerous other topics and presentations.

We plan to cover all of these, photos of show homes on display, my own presentation and more in some depth in the days ahead.

The rally?

What I wanted to focus on for a few moments was George F. Allen, ably accompanied and supported with Susan McCarty, some comments he made and some take-aways and posers.

Most of the attendees I spoke with felt INR was meaty, compelling and very much worth the time and investment. Many first-time attendees were present, and about 175 total came. As many noted with/to me, that attendance is nearly double the number who came to MHI’s summer session this past July.

While others aided in the process, there is no doubt that George F. Allen (GFA) deserves major kudos for what this (and previous) INRs represent! MHC and other Industry pros from some 26 states, plus Canadians, came to Phoenix, AZ for this executive level meeting. Chairman, CEOs, execs, owners and association leaders were in attendance. This scope and depth takes significant organizational skill; it is a laudable and noteworthy accomplishment indeed!

George Allen promoted MHI and gave Thayer Long the floor to speak, proving an opportunity as well for MHI PAC to raise Funds for the upcoming election campaign season.

GFA, who has inexplicably been passed over by the national MH/RV Hall of Fame, handed out literature for that worthy cause. GFA encouraged support and a visit to their historic facility in Elkhart, IN.

George took the time to pull me aside and make suggestions, share tips and insights. This he did for many others as well.

In short, GFA was a team player and a true Industry leader, living up to the Man of the Year award he earned not so long ago.

All that said, I want to note what GFA himself said. “Only some 2% of the MHC Industry leadership was in attendance.”

GFA spoke of the tough love statements by Randy Rowe and others. Thayer mentioned that MHI now has some 331 members. While billions of dollars were represented in that room – or are represented by MHI – wouldn’t it make sense for more people to be involved in associations and functions that are geared to support our Industry at its time of great need?

More than one speaker made the point that the Industry can’t wait for the FEDs or any outside force to come in on a white horse to save our collective bacon. We as an Industry are modestly up in shipments year to date. Some companies are clearly showing signs of improvement. Those who are improving are the ones committed to success, regardless of what is coming at them! They are the ones adapting, profiting and benefiting while some avoidably may fall by the wayside.

Regular readers of the Masthead blog know I believe we need to engage the Federal and other regulators, call on Congress, rally industry members and our customers into a force to be reckoned with politically. But I agree, we can’t wait for outsiders. But neither should we abandon the lobbying efforts. We need multiple converging paths to success. As any investment counselor would say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Too many are outside the ranks of associations. Too many don’t attend meetings like INR. Too many fail to invest in self-improvement, coaching and the like, even if they clearly need it.

Some say to me, “Why should I be in an association? I don’t agree with so and so. I don’t see how they have turned our industry around yet.” But isn’t that like watching your neighbors man the levees during a flood, and saying, “Until they have all the sand bags in place, I won’t join and help”?

Where someone sees it differently than MHI or MHARR or any other association, group or leader, he or she should say so respectfully and also explain why. Those with a different perspective should say what they propose instead, and not just criticize. They should be prepared to do what so many others do, volunteer time and talent!

The same applies to Industry publishers, including us.

I don’t mind the occasional critiques that come in from readers or their posts. I don’t mind a different point of view, especially if it is respectful and well-articulated. So long as there are no ad hominums, no profanity or slander, sound off! It makes for a better discussion!

What I do think is often lacking from nay-sayers in general is something beyond a gripe. We are not going back to the Conseco-GreenTree days. We should not want to return to worst practices, when best practices are the way to long-term sustainable success. We must care for our customers, as Randy Rowe, Dick Ernst, Joe Adams, Don Westphal and so many others at INR said.

But let’s move towards a close on the rally point. Hats off to George for pulling together such an impressive array of speakers and solid content! MH/RV Hall of Fame… are you listening?

If you aren’t already involved in positive change in association(s) and forums like INR that make it happen, please, get engaged! We need both – the new blood and new ideas, and also the wisdom that history and experience brings.

We must learn from the past, live in the present, and build for a bright future. We need more leaders willing to invest time, talent and treasure. We need more committed engagement. Working together is the path to success for any company, any team and – yes, for most industries, too.

That said, on to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) meeting in Denver, CO! # #