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

January 2nd, 2019 No comments

 

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“…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.

 

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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.”

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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.

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

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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.

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

 

 

Warren Buffett, Sam Zell and Legendary Quotes from Manufactured Housing Leaders

July 16th, 2014 No comments

Let's let each of these leader's voices speak on the subject of manufactured housing, then we'll share some implementation commentary.

"Kevin, it seems to me that the problem with your industry is resale." – Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, parent to Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, etc..

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"Pencil Head, it's not a trailer park." – Sam Zell, Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS) Chairman.

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"Learn, Earn, Return."

"A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong." – Jim Clayton, Clayton Bank and Clayton Homes founder.

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"Only the economic distortions caused by well intended but out of control government programs could have made our industry such a loser for the last decade." – Sam Landy, CEO UMH Properties.

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"In prior years and I continue to be today, a staunch supporter of a MH industry generic advertising campaign.

Unfortunately we were unable to gather the various segments within the MH industry to agree upon a method of funding the campaign and what the campaign should be about.

Even today only a small segment of the population can tell you much about the MH industry and the wonderful homes the industry builds. The rest of the population doesn’t have a clue about our industry, except for the image of the down trodden trailer park.

This must be changed and can only be done through advertising.

The example of AFLAC is interesting. Prior to the AFLAC advertising campaign featuring the duck, their name recognition was 5%. Since the campaign, their name recognition today is 95%. Consumer’s perceptions can be changed." – Leigh Abrams, prior Chairman, Drew Industries.

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"The biggest challenge I see is the continued onslaught of intrusive government regulation of all facets of our business, especially in financing. We offer by far the best answer to this country’s affordable housing dilemma, but government continues to saddle us with regulations that stifle us.

The frustrating part is that none of these so called “consumer protection” rules help protect anyone. The only thing they prevent is buyers getting an affordable home without a hassle. I mean how is preventing a MH salesperson from taking a credit application doing anything to protect the consumer? All it is doing is making access to an affordable home ridiculously difficult." – Don Glisson, Jr., Triad Financial Services.

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We could share much more industry commentary from each of these leader's voices. There are scores of other thoughtful, successful professionals – a number of whom are linked here – that we have "on the record" at MHProNews. These leaders, professionals, legends and others continue to hold or increase their stake in our industry, which should speak volumes.

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For the purpose of showing what's needed for a robust MH Industry advancement in a trillion dollar annual U.S. housing market, the selected comments are sufficient.

  1. The Jim Clayton quotes point to the need and value of a can-do attitude, servant-leadership and training.
  2. Quotes from Sam Zell essentially and Leigh Abrams directly are addressing the MH image issue.
  3. Warren Buffett's quote identifies a key need – a more effective resale system – that would boost financing, image and sales of pre-owned – and thus new – manufactured homes. We need MH lenders and home owners to be able to exit their homes in an easier and more rapid way that protects home values, more akin to what Realtors (r) do for conventional housing. We have a good start with some internet platforms, but more needs to be done until that resale 'exit' becomes easy and cost-effective.
  4. Sam Landy and Don Glisson, Jr. each point to how over-regulation has harmed us and the value of our homes. Glisson, MHI's prior chairman, says a lack of cohesion between the industry's national associations – he worked to bridge that gap – has hampered the cause for our great product.

mhmarketingsalesmanagement-logo-mhpronews-com-drop-shadow-

In the late 1990s, your Masthead  scribe invested 3 years in the RV industry; at 2 retail centers and at a resort/getaway campground operation. The records show that all three grew significantly during my marketing and sales training work with those operations. What I gained from those experiences was fantastic, so while an award, leaps up in Statistical Surveys, kudos, thank you letters, etc. are nice, I'm grateful.

awards-collage-masthead-blog-mhpronews-manufacturedhome-marketing-sales-management

We're doing marketing, sales, management consulting and training in MH. I share the photo, awards, mention kudos and recognition earned in manufactured housing, RVs, etc. to say this isn't a nice-sounding theory, this is proven, practical, profitable experience.

Reality Check

Unlike RVs, Automotive, Real Estate, Apartments, Tech or a host of industries we could name, you can't just say "manufactured homes" and expect a proper recognition of the product for what it truly is.

Reality check:

> That's an opportunity in disguise for those willing and able to adapt!

> For those stuck in the mud, it's a slick spot.

We don't need just 1 thing to breakout beyond currently modest new home shipment levels. We need a number of things that when implemented consistently are proven to raise results. Those are summarized above by pros with millions or billions successfully invested in our MHIndustry.

Greater MH Success routinely comes when:

  • Professionals
  • Businesses
  • Associations
  • Home owners
  • Digital publishers (MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com) and
  • Other pro-industry and interested groups (not-for profits, educators, media, public officials)

…get ever more on the same page in order to tap the incredible power of manufactured housing for the good of the U.S. (and other lands) in an 'everyone wins' fashion.

That's not just feel good, that's lucrative for businesses and investors, it's this good for associations and most importantly, it's good for MH home owners! When we make the value proposition for MH home owners and MHC residents ever better, our businesses and investments will be enhanced too.

In two previous columns, we

> laid out why we can be doing better, see the facts and graphics in the link below:

http://MHProNews.com/blogs/tonykovach/manufactured-housings-declaration-of-independence/

> A simple way to fuel that advancement.

http://MHProNews.com/blogs/tonykovach/americas-secrets-revealed-and-mh/

It should go without saying that an industry (or a nation) needs to produce ever more product to achieve growth. Every other industry gets that, and so they invest in their people and marketing.

In fact, studies show the vast majority of our owners ARE happy! Yet collectively, MH doesn't do a good job of letting most Americans know that reality.

Cohesion and The Digital Age offers the Solutions

As an industry, we have the talent, tools and experiences needed to solve the challenges that would maximize our multi-billion dollar opportunities. We should take a "Partners in Progress" approach.

The training and the messaging needed can be done online for modest sums, and the ROI would be significant for those who step up and lead. Would you invest a dollar to get a $1000? Apply that principle to a regional/national campaign. Its a no-brainer.

> Every organization that supports the Partners in Progress could be given access to levels of training equal to their contributions. This is necessary, because the big cash and good credit customers are sold differently than the desperate 'we have no other option' home seeker.

> Imagine enough minor-mid-major players coming together to pool some marketing dollars and content on – a hub for B2C communications, which in turn sends customers back to the industry's members. As more of the public 'gets it,' more will buy.

> Imagine using that hub plus live encounters with Realtors  ®, home builders, investors, public officials and others keen on housing to showcase what modern factory home building really means to a nation crying out for quality affordable homes. We can thus engage them in the resale and related process.

> Having more DIY, how to, decor, landscaping and other feel good columns on MHLivingNews that would cause MH owners to say, "Yes, that's me! This is a good life, come and Join Us!"

tornado-manufactured-homes-high-winds-masthead-mhpronews-manufacturedhomelivingnews-com-

Over 90,000 views on this video, as of 7.16.2014

> Picture the site as dealing with negative news items. Like our basic tornado video, linked here, which sales pros have told me they've successfully used with customers 'on the fence.' Continually building and using a pro-industry platform will cause a growing number of media, public officials, investors, pros and buyers to "get it."

A reasonably supported two year campaign would end up attracting the Home Depot/Lowes/Menard's and droves of others outside of our industry to advertise for our cause. Why? Because furniture makers, household goods, computer and tech gear sellers, travel industry, investors, educators and others will see that money saved on housing could be used in other ways to improve the lives of those in our manufactured homes.

Not theory, proven realities!

Picture those who in their own ways have or are breaking past the old mold, here and there, from coast to coast.

On the consulting side of our operations, I've personally worked with select pros who stepped beyond their respective pasts to achieve levels of results they never experienced before. Client work is confidential, so we've redacted the specific name and location in the retailing results collage below.

mhc-md-latonykovach-client-message-comptuer-report-collage-masthead-mhpronews-com-c

Closing analogies

A pilot in training isn't placed in the cockpit of an advanced military jet fighter. You first teach them the basics of the single engine prop! Or if you take a pilot who has only flown a single engine propeller aircraft and ask them to fly a helicopter or jet, first, they have to be trained for that new experience. Until the training is embraced and becomes a part of their skills, the trainer doesn't let them fly solo in the chopper or jet!

"Low hanging fruit" might be on the ground and have a worm. The athlete knows that new effort brings stress and pain. But no pain, no gain.

A brighter future awaits YOU in YOUR market. It requires changes that may seem painful at first. The rewards for leaving a comfort zone are more sales, more happy customer, more profits. That's what Steve Jobs at Apple did, listen to his associate Ken Segall. That's what we do, you can do that in your market(s) too.

we-can't-solve-problems-using-the-same-kind-of-thinking-we-used-when-we-created-them-albert-einstien--(c)2013-all-rights-reserved-by-lifestyle-factory-homes-llc-posted-mhpronews-com-

When MH Industry's legends – as quoted above – and so many others point the way, we ought to believe that we can do it.

To learn more, support or get involved in “Partners for Progress,” please email or call at the contact below. Working Together, we can do it. There's a bigger slice of a trillion dollar annual U.S. housing pie waiting for those ready to step up. ##

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com | Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking: MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 Connect on LinkedIN: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Radix 2-14MH!

February 14th, 2014 No comments

google-radix-definition-posted-mashtead-blog-mhpronews-com-.jpgWhen you talk to a truly good MD, they are interested in your symptoms, but mainly so they can get to the root cause of the problem. Radix comes from the Latin, here is what Google provided among the definitions.

When we go to a meeting like the recent one MHI held in advance of our Hill visits in DC, there are always a number of side conversations. These are far more numerous than the main presentations.

Some of these are quiet in the sense that someone expounds on a view that may not be voiced in public.

There can be a lot of reasons for not saying what one believes, but suffice it to say that some of these unpublic statements are significant.

Some point towards the radix – root causes or origins of – our woes as an industry.

Industry Woes?

For those who see the happy face in the crowd that leads a cheer, sings a few bars of a song or tries to look for the silver lining to the dark clouds, please keep in mind that there is a method to what some might see as frivolity.

Before you can rally the troops, they must first believe there is hope for something better! The patient goes to the doctor looking for the cure.

MHI supplied facts and talking points reveal that Manufactured Housing has averaged some 21% of all home sales for the last 2 decades. Well, we've slumped from that level. We are 'recovering' from a shipment level of under 50,000 four years ago, to topping 60,000 in 2013 for the first time in years.

But that's a tepid recovery. When you read the words "industry woes," it's because we do have good news that should give us hope – a steady four year uptick – but we must also be honest and mature enough to say, we are just scratching the surface of our potential.

In 2013, there were some 800,000 new housing units started, and we in MH did a partly 60,000? That's less than 8% or all new starts. At the historic 21% level, we should have done about 250,000 new homes. Nor should we limit ourselves to that 1 in 5, we can do better.

ManuHousingJune2012-credit-lawler-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-.jp.jpg

We need to step back and see what is the radix – the root cause – of this low level of sales! For a current comparison, there were about 5 times as many RVs sold as manufactured homes in 2013. RVs, which includes motorized and towable units, generally sell for much more per square foot than a manufactured home.

Hello? Do you see what we see suggested in such facts?

  • We've spotlighted Green Courte Partner's Randy Rowe's 5 Point Plan for MH Industry Recovery a number of times.
  • We've quoted Sam Landy, who said we could be doing 300,000 new MH shipments a year.
  • Drew's Leigh Abrams has strongly pointed out the need for an MH Image building campaign.
  • The Ohio MH Association's Tim Williams has pointed out the strong need for public home shows as part of the solution to growing our industry's image and sales.
  • We've showcased on MHLivingNews.com that we can sell upscale manufactured homes, not just entry level product.
  • We sell homes that the U.S. Census Bureau states are half the cost of conventional on-site housing construction.
  • 20 million new housing units are needed by 2030.
  • Incomes are down, and about half of the 10,000-plus-a-day new retirees don't have the dollars needed for a comfortable retirement.
  • The median U.S. FICO Score is over 700, so why do we see so many sub-600 customers at our communities and retail centers?

We could go on and on with examples, but let these suffice for now in saying that we can do far better than 60,000 shipments. To do so, we must get Radix, we must get to the root cause of our issues.

What are the elements for doing better? Let's propose the following.

First the Dream. Jim Clayton's book title is spot on by suggesting you have to dream or 'believe' something is doable first in order to achieve it. Napoleon Hill said, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve."

Objective Reality. We must get past stereotypes and falsehoods – many held by owners, managers and members of our own industry – that limit our performance. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts. We must become more objective, more fact based and get better at sharing those facts, because they are routinely in our favor.

Remarketing/Resales. One of the powerful quotes we mention is Kevin Clayton quoting Warren Buffett, saying: “Kevin, it seems like the problem of your industry is resale.” This is a HUGE issue. Fix resale to be more like real estate, and personal property lending rates can drop and we would not be nearly so stressed by the CFPB!

Education/training. We encourage attendance at shows like the big one upcoming in Tunica in March or MHI's Congress and Expo in April, in part precisely because education is offered! We can't produce better results without the solid education of the people who are on the front lines and sell our homes!

Communications/Messaging/Branding/ReBranding. Some of this is a technology issue. The WHA's Ross Kinzler recently said publicly that they did a study and found that some 80% of the manufactured home communities in their state had no web presence. 80%! Imagine that poor looking used car lot down in the rough side of town, they have a website. Why are so many in our industry not online, or are using outdated websites?

Remember, the NAR says that some 94% of home shoppers are looking online. Getting a grip on the internet is just part of the messaging problem we have to admit and correct.

Public/Media/Officials Education. We have a great story! We can sell a 'shade and shelter' entry level product that is half the price of conventional housing, per the U.S. Census Bureau. We have a residential style home that can save 20%, 30% or more over a similar 'site built' house. Duh! This is a no-brainer when rents are rising and federal/state budgets are strained for subsidized housing and we have the quality, affordable homes solution! Image and education go hand in hand.

We should not settle for crumbs at the foot of the table, when we ought to be feasting at the table.

 

Manufactued-home-hit-by-tornado-mhpronews-com-views.png

Most MH videos don't top 1000 views.
It took a year for this video to hit 10,000 views.
In the next 8 months since we launched MHLivingNews.com and posted it there,
we are now at 50,000 views.
Retailers and Communities show this videoto those
tornado-concerned prospects, and this often helps close them.
Shatter the myths and outdated stereotypes, and we will sell more homes.

Being Part of the Solution

Think about our two main logos, and you'll see that our initial and evolving vision here addresses those needs.

mhmarketingsalesmanagement-logo-mhpronews-com-pre.png

mhpronews-logo.jpg

Every Solution is Profitably within our Collective Reach!

Here is the good news. Every problem we face has a common sense solution that's within our collective reach.

The biggest players in our industry need the front line pros and the mid-sized to mom-and pop sized independents to make good business happen.

All sized businesses need the engagement of associations to keep government over-reach at bay. We need to energize our customer base, and not let the Ishbel Dicken's types be the only organizing voices in our communities.

The financing is there, the customer pool is huge, but we must tap it and track it using CRM tied to robust online marketing.

Want to profit more? Don't be stuck in a rut. Be a part of the change.

credit-manufacturedhomes-com-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com=louisville-show-seminar2014.pn.png

2014 Louisville Show

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The Good News is

Packed seminars at Louisville tell us pros are hungry for knowledge. Our ever growing readership is perhaps the clearest sign that people are hungry to know more so they can grow more. You and others like you want the Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use. A growing number of people in and outside of our industry are seeing our value in a new light. All of that means we are poised for greatness, which is why Sam Landy keeps buying MHCs (their portfolio has doubled in size in 5 years), and why legends like Warren Buffett and Sam Zell have billions invested in our sector.

credit-manufactured-homes-com-2014-louisville-show-posted-masthead-mhpronews-com-.p.png

2014 Louisville Show
Will the rapidly approaching 2014 Tunica Show
also set new attendance records?

Let's get Radix

Be radix focused. While dealing with HR 1779 and S 1828, let us be very much root-cause focused. I'd toss in that fixing DC politics and bureaucracy would be a huge help, but that detail will be for another column or report.

Ready for the secret?

We have been focused on the root causes since we launched over 4 years ago. An ever-growing number of industry pros are seeing things in a new light.

We truly are better together. As Barry Noffsinger at CU Factory Built Lending suggested, be the change that gets to the heart of the matter.

See you in Tunica? We will be at booth 13H, right by the Seminar room, pretty cool huh?! ##

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

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

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

MHARR Message, Associations, China, Japan, Russia and You

June 21st, 2013 No comments

We will save the international segment of this message for later, but don't think that means it's a footnote. The international factory builders and investors have their eyes on us and the North American housing market. That is important to know. So too is the association piece, so let's start with that before we weave the various topics together as to the challenges and opportunities that impact your career, organization and bottom lines in manufactured housing here in the U.S..

MHARR's Message and MH Associations

Continuing their more polite tone towards the 'other' national association, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) put out an industry report – linked here – that outlined the following issues they are tracking and working on, over and above HR 1779 and related. MHARR outlined the following:

  • The Big Picture on GSE Reform and Manufactured Housing.
  • HUD Program Budget Should Increase SAA Funding
  • New Windstorm Legislation underscores need for MH Protection.
  • EPA Publishes Proposed Formaldehyde Standards
  • MHCC Stagnation Continues
  • RV Definitions Status Update

Anyone engaged at one of the roughly 50 MH state or community associations knows there are an entirely different set of issues being dealt with at the grass roots level. Those are in addition to federal issues such as lobbying for HR 1779 to modify regulations that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has in mind for us. If CFPB's planned regulations are not amended prior to their becoming activated mid-January, 2014, it will be to the detriment of consumers and industry home sellers alike. So clearly this is an important issue.

MHARR has their initiatives, naturally MHI has their own for 2013 too.

The Manufactured Housing Institute's (MHI) agenda includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Dodd-Frank Finance Reform (think, HR 1779 and the 'soon to be filed' Senate companion bill).
  • Reform of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs).
  • Tax Reform – Renew efforts to enact a long-term extension and increase the 45L tax credit for those producing energy efficient (Energy STAR) manufactured and modular homes.
  • DOE Energy Efficiency Standards for Manufactured Housing.
  • Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards – Aggressively urge HUD to issue code revisions and recommendations developed by the MHCC, develop an aggressive policy on preemption, and advocate for a non-career administrator to oversee HUD’s manufactured housing program.

Let's note that these aren't the only items on MHI's or MHARR's agenda. For instance, both would say that:mhpronews-mharr-mhi-associations-graphic-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-management.jpg

  • protecting federal pre-emption would be very important, or
  • the fire sprinkler/HUD Code issue is also on their radar, or
  • appointment for a non-career administration for the HUD Code MH program, among others.

The point of the recap above is to underscore the fact that our industry has its hands full on legislative and regulatory matters. When I speak with state, community or MHI execs and MHARR members, a common theme is they are spread thin on their association's finances. I can't think of one that would say 'no' to more members, or more revenue. Both are needed.

The irony is that at the very time America is in the thrones of an affordable housing crisis, the most affordable U.S. built housing is being marginalized.

loisville-housing-show-mhpronews.com-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-management.jpg

The Affordable Housing Crisis

Writing in Democracy, a Journal of Ideas, Paul Bradley (president of ROC USA) and George McCarthy cited the following in the fall of 2012. In the…

…State of the Nation’s Housing report, Harvard researchers identified a supply shortage of more than five million affordable housing units for low-income families. Moreover, because more than 40 percent of affordable units are occupied by higher-income families, the availability gap is actually seven million units.”

Bradley and McCarthy also stated:

Today, more than 42 million families pay more than 30 percent of their pretax income to cover housing costs, and 20 million of them pay more than half. Further, only one in four families that would qualify for federal housing assistance currently receives it. And housing assistance funding is expected to decline in 2013 and likely will continue to decline as the country grapples with its fiscal challenges.”

They concluded their article by saying:

It is incumbent on us to preserve and stabilize this naturally affordable housing stock. It is simply unacceptable to punish families that embody the national ideal of self-sufficiency by raising the cost of being poor.”

Without questioning the ideals behind subsidized housing, we have noted previously that community operators, retailers and others who sell manufactured homes often tell us that those subsidy programs pose a challenge to our industry. Conventionally built apartments or rental housing stock receiving subsidies creates an artificial competition for American's most affordable housing, modern manufactured homes.

How many millions of more manufactured homes would we see in the U.S., if there were no subsidized housing programs?

This is not an argument for or against subsidized housing. What it ought to be is thought provoking.

We could easily re-phrase the questions the following way. Why do conventional U.S. builders get subsidized, while manufactured housing professionals are overwhelmingly left out? Wouldn't it save tax payers billions annually if the support for slower, less efficient and more costly site building was removed?

China, Japan, Russia – the International Challenge – and you

No other manufactured housing publisher we monitor mentions or tracks international factory building anything like we do here at MHProNews.com. It would be a rare week on our Daily Business News blog without one or more news stories from Canada, Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Australia or the islands that dot the world's "Seven Seas."

Automated Builder used to track foreign factory built housing events, but Don Carlson's publication sadly went away, as did the Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine and so many others in print.

chinese-prefabs-posted-on-mhpronews.com-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-management.pngNow, you have MHProNews.com.

There are reasons we track international news. One reason is that they track us.

Another is that Japan – and more recently – China and Russia – have had hungry eyes on the U.S. market. The photo at the left is one example of an article we published about Chinese PreFabs being shipped overseas.

The international factory built housing scene also covets the tens of millions of affordable housing units needed worldwide, while our domestic industry tends to be less focused on those opportunities, perhaps because domestic U.S. political and economic issues keep our attentions on other matters.

Factory built housing has flowed between North America's nations for some years.

But when the Japanese, Chinese or Russians bring either billions of dollars, or tens of thousands of housing units or some combination of those to our country, "Katie, bar the doors" will be a cry that comes too late!

From time to time, I remind industry readers about this, because NO ONE else nationally is doing so.

Japanese and other international auto builders routinely take something like 13 of the top 20 selling models here in the U.S.. Fiscally crumbling Detroit's so called "Big Three" auto makers has also seen its share of international ownership. Some international automakers build a factory in the U.S., or invest here and/or ship cars to our shores made in other nations.japanese-modular-home-mhpronews.com-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-management

The auto example in this column was chosen very deliberately.

Toyota builds mods in Japan, not just cars.

Factory building is a process, a concept that other nations don't shy away from. It is U.S. factory built housing professionals that have all too often failed to step up and deal with the image issue that hobbles us in sales, politics, regulations, etc..

When international visitors go to an event, a factory or they hire surrogates to do so for them, do you think they are merely curious? I don't think so! There are more exciting places to journey to, here and abroad.

Be it direct competition via product and/or indirect engagement via investments, the international invasion felt in domestic markets for autos, pickups, SUVs, cross-overs and luxury cars will be felt in the ranks of factory builders – indeed all home builders – here in the U.S. too. We need to be prepared.

The Russians are coming

We monitor via our server the meta data of our visitors (readers). Please do not think, "NSA." I don't 'see you' on our pages, but our server knows which nation a visitor is in while you – or thousands of others are reading here – are on our MH Industry trade publishing website.

About 92% +/- of our steadily growing numbers of readers (website visitors) are U.S.. Canada used to be the number two among our readers here on MHProNews, but they are no longer!

The Russians have blown past the numbers of Canadian readers here. The Russians aren't alone.  There are website visits – along with direct contacts – from companies based in China and Japan to MHProNews, among the others from around the world.

They all have an agenda. A business one. I'm not knocking it, we aren't saying it is sinister, I'm just telling or reminding you about it.

You will wake up one day to a headline you may or may not like that impacts factory-built housing news.

When that headline hits, it may already be too late to 'prepare.' Remember, it has happened in automotive. It is bubbling in the RV world. There are reasons why inquires to buy MHProNews have risen.

The international impact on housing will happen here in the U.S. to manufactured, modular – and conventional – home builders too.

Parallel Paths

My fellow industry professionals, the housing mess in DC will get fixed. The only questions are when, and who will win or lose in the mean time.

We believe in HR 1779, but mark my words, the issues will get fixed. For your sake and that of millions of MH home owners, I hope it is now.

Just as investors – such as Warren Buffett – look for sound corporate investment opportunities, that same pattern happens internationally. So some will benefit. But others will wake up and say, what the heck just happened?

We see lethargy in way too many places in our industry. There are too many comfort zones. Too many ruts that people are stuck in.

We as an industry could be roaring ahead, instead of slowly crawling back for two years towards 60,000 annual shipments. Think back! Recall that we did 372,000 new homes in 1998 and we exceeded 500,000 new in the days before the HUD Code was put into place. We could achieve higher new home sales levels without GreenSeco funny money financing of manufactured homes.

It pays to address our problems. Let me repeat that, it pays to address our political and image problems.

Consider some facts:

  • Manufactured housing state associations could more than double their budgets, just by shepherding a mere 10% of their industry pros to tap vigorously into ways to attract more customers with cash or good credit. Those pros who do, profit, period.
  • One loan product available today alone could raise MH Shipment levels by 150,000 annually.  And there are many loan products beyond that one. Those who tap it now, profit, period.
  • As MHIndustry finance expert, Dick Ernst has publicly said, "There is no 'lack of capacity' among our industry's current lenders to fund loans for credit worthy buyers."
  • If we take the average “floor fee” going to a state association as being $100 (the fees are all over the map, but we will use that figure), and we grew back to the 200,000 annual shipment level, at the current single/multi-sectional mix, it would mean about $24 million more flowing to various state associations (not counting what goes to MHI, et al).  
  • That growth back to more historic norm levels would also mean about 700 million more annually to the bottom lines of various industry companies.  All such steps would help the industry's members be better prepared for the coming international moves into the MH Industry.
  • Not to be ignored is the potential growth in values for existing manufactured homes. Please remember that while we are addressing industry pros here, we are keenly mindful of the public and our customers.

puzzle-mhpronews.com-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-managementEvery segment of the industry would benefit by increasing sales. Every part of the industry benefits with better image and more 'best practices' professionalism.

Associations work with service providers on a daily basis. Corporate giants, mid size or independent players, ditto.

We have to have parallel paths. You don't put all your eggs in one basket in the stock market, do you? Working more closely together – in lawful ways – would benefit all who do so.

We have to grow our way back to economic strength. Doing so will pay handsome rewards.

But make no mistake. If you don't act, someone else will. Nature abhors a vacuum.

So while our industry is understandably focused on DC or state related association issues, while Clayton is tuning up it's "Good Call" efforts with the Duck Dynasty stars, while mom and pops are scrambling this way or that, other forces are moving.

We need to wake up, drink the coffee, smell the roses and start promoting what we have like we really mean it.  As 21st Mortgage's Tim Williams said as part of an interview we plan to publish for our July 2013 issue, we need to think of ourselves as a fraternity made up of manufactured housing professionals.  

Please see Who's Missing. Please think, we have to do better, be more engaged now than ever before. The international scouts aren't coming, they are here. We've said it before, we are saying it again now.

You can benefit, or not, that part is your call. One sentence Boy Scout summary, be prepared. ##

(Graphic credits: from JapanTimes, MHProNews' Daily Business News and corporate sources)

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

other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

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

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

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

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

www.MHC-MD.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

+++

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

Bring it on!

January 14th, 2013 No comments

'Championship wrestling' (example, WWF style) has frankly never been my kind of thing. While I love the Rocky series of movies, boxing isn't high on the list either, but a good football game (like that amazing finish between Falcons and the Seahawks) may be! Some of our regular factory-built housing readers who are also on LinkedIn may doubt it, but my heart is peace loving. Still, there are times when something so outrageous happens that no matter how peace loving you may be, you simply have to say, enough is enough! "Bring it on."

For those with skim, don't miss the finish of this…or the meat in between.

Watchdog

Once upon a time, the media played the role of watchdog. Corruption or questionable actions by policy makers, leaders etc. might lead to tips, whistleblowers and in time an investigative report. While journalism isn't dead, it has often reverted to the yellow journalism of yore, more akin to thinly veiled advocacy. In trade publishing, media tends towards the cheer leading role, but that doesn't mean that you don't dig in from time to time and remind professional readers that a spotlight still exists. As an aside, we publish good, bad or in between news in our wildly popular Daily Business News to keep news all real apart from commentary for our readers.

The watchdog role requires synergy between it readers and the media. It is NOT enough for a publisher to merely spout off well (feeble, or in between) conceived missives. When any publisher has an agenda, caveat emptor applies.

AAA

We do listen to, chat with and receive insights and messages from a number of pros coast to coast and border to border. Canadians reach out, as do intentional readers beyond North America's shores. Having the largest U.S. audience in factory built housing has its advantages. One perk is hearing sometimes riotous comments, such as AAA. It has been over a year since that one came my way, with the source being protected, of course.

AAA stands for another publisher's unstated mantra, namely: AAA = "All About Allen."

Self-promotion is necessary for every business – and to some extent – for professionals too. Another behind the scenes commentator once told me (tongue in cheek?) that he is 'jealous' of George F. Allen's ability to self-promote.

The best self promotion is when others see the value of what you do and sing your praises. But for some, it is “AAA.” When you publicly agree with George Allen, then you may be welcomed into his inner circle. If you dare to disagree, well…

Allen is retired Marine, and he periodically reminds readers about his service in Vietnam and the Gulf, which certainly deserves out thanks. No doubt Allen's entertaining tricks at times have brought smiles to many, myself included. One must give the man his due for positive things like being a part of the birthing process of the National Communities Council (NCC).

George Allen has his following of a few hundred precisely due to good or entertaining things done, but are those 'good things' now in the 'good old days' gone by?

A number of readers tell us that the AAA self-serving nonsense has hit a level that arguably borders on the intolerable. You watch a drunk on the same road you travel, not because you want to, but because it is prudent to do so. There are those who read what the Allen fellow says, not because his writing is necessarily easy or appealing, but rather because he is weaving back and forth and you want to avoid a collision if possible. Case in point?

For approaching two years now, Allen has been about trying to force MHI's hand, privately and/or publicly, into buying out his 'business interests' so he may 'retire.' Thinly veiled threats are sent directly to MHI officials, indirectly as if they are clandestine black ops through his blog, other published writings, and of course by phone, email or in person.

We examine some of what Allen is doing in this new Industry in Focus article published at this link here.

We have waited until we had a statement from Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)

CEO, Richard "Dick" Jennison, which is included in that report linked above.

Danny Ghorbani

In a way, Allen and Danny Ghorbani have been complimentary book ends, more united by their passions (opposing) MHI than they are unified by any shared vision. Some think that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” may apply with those two.

Why they oppose MHI may also have similarities.

Danny, I've been told, seems to have never gotten over some things back in the day with respect to MHI or the occasional personality related to it. Long memory and not getting his way, Danny may lash out when it is least expected or convenient, such as his rant penned in the wake of the Wall Street Journal report, which is linked here.

The Price we all Pay

The problem is, that Danny Ghorbani's or George Allen's rants come with a price tag!

We will not parse their intentions, which may be sincere and well meaning. But that price is arguably paid by home owners and the industry's businesses and professionals that they allegedly wish to serve. The consequences may be unintended, but they are impactful nevertheless.

Both Ghorbnai and Allen had been and/or were sounding off veiled and/or directly targeted attacks on MHI, at precisely the time when MHI, Texas and SNR Denton were engaging with the CFPB in highly sensitive discussions. Did the Allen/Ghorbani attacks have an impact on the adverse CFPB decision released (linked here) last Thursday?

Who knows with certainty? But can anyone suggest with a straight face that the attacks of those two helped the Industry's cause to modify Dodd-Frank in a reasonable fashion?

As one seasoned and respected manufactured housing industry leader said to me recently, our industry has historically done its best in the last 15 years when the voices work together, as was the case with the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000). So true.

Note, MHProNews with-held in our sole discretion the publishing of Ghorbani's 'analysis' until now, in hopes of blunting the possible impact of his missive. But the facts are that Ghorbani send out hundreds of those 'press releases' via email and there is no telling whose hands that and other attacks on MHI's efforts falls into. Whatever damage that may have been done, is done.

Specific Hits on Industry Segments

While Allen and his buddies – including Ken Rishel, Spencer Roane and Michael Power – beat the drum for a 'new association,' it reportedly has Ghorbani metaphorically salivating on the sidelines, as this has long been one of his desired goals, to foment an insurrection within MHI. Is that wise?

We must examine the potential costs and fall-out from the recent decision in DC.

  • To low balance cost manufactured home owners. Millions in this group may be the most harmed if we fail to get Congress to act before the CFPB's decision kicks in. Why? Because the early read on last week's decision (again, linked here) is that MH didn't get the result MHI/Texas and SNR Denton worked so hard to achieve for all segments of manufactured housing.
To MHCommunities – of all the business segments potentially among the most harmed by the CFPB decision, the land lease communities segment is surely in that mix. Can it be weathered? Yes! But the fact that low-dollar value home owners in land lease communities are going to be impacted, so too will MHCs. For seasoned, savvy and nimble operators – especially larger portfolio operators – this can be turned into new opportunities.

So the irony is that the precise group that George F. Allen ('community investor') has as his recent 'target market' for his new 'association' – namely, the 'mom and pop' MHPs and MHCs – they are the far more likely to be harmed by the decision linked above, once it is implemented. Thanks so much for your help, George.

  • Smaller Factories. Clayton, Cavco and Champion – among others – have evolved their business models to a point that they are better able to weather such squalls. But a hiccup in the flow of chattel (oops, personal property) lending could swamp the boats of some of the very manufacturers that MHARR represents. Thanks so much for your help, Danny.

We will note that some lenders and retailers who do more land/home mortgage style deals will be the least impacted, in fact they could benefit from the decision.

That said, one personal property lender executive told me last week that they want ALL of the lenders to do well, including the one most likely to be adversely impacted. Why? Because, he explained, some marginal retailers – in the wake of such a decision – could fall from the table, especially if their business model has been wed to marginal customers who will arguably be harmed in the wake of the CFPB's ill advised decision. Thanks so much, Consumer Financial 'Protection' Bureau.

The point is that while it wouldn't be a 'beyond a shadow of a doubt case,' Ghorbani

and Allen's routine and public anti-MHI missives may well cost some businesses 6-7 figures at a time they can't afford it.

Logically the 'constituencies' of Allen and Ghorbani are among the most likely to suffer!

Historically, as noted above,our industry does its best is when we join hands and unite our voices. It is America, Allen and Ghorbani have the right to say or publish what they will, within limits. But those who 'support' them (smaller independent factories and mom and pop communities) will be the more likely to pay the price if they are not marginalized, reigned in or have their funding cut off.

For the Regulators, Public Officials or Investors who may be reading this analysis

One ought to consider why the vast majority of the engaged industry owners back the existing state and community associations along with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the National Communities Council (NCC). Then, one ought to consider why the few vocal naysayers herein have such a comparatively small following.

A snapshot of the pair

Potential Silver Lining Solutions to the CFPB decision

Unlike the handful of tiresome industry complainers who want to pat their own or each other's backs, it is much better to have true third parties toot the horn for you.

For example, the membership of state, communities, MHI and NCC combined numbers well into the thousands. By contrast, the numbers of followers of Allen and his band or Danny Ghorbani are relatively few.

Allen periodically rants about this publication and my work, as recently as today.

In response, let me simply point to over 175 current LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements (as evidenced by the screen capture from LinkedIn below), MHC-MD.com, or other client testimonials.

 

 

Mistakes

Mistakes can be corrected, when the mistaken party is willing to stand corrected.

We have all made mistakes, but the question is, what do we do once those mistakes are clearly identified?

I recall the CEO of one of the very biggest companies in our industry who sent me a message, bringing to my attention a significant fact error in one of my own articles. Ooops! The error was corrected, an apology offered and accepted. We moved ahead.

We all have to do that from time to time. So why can't a handful of adept self-promoters admit their efforts in recent years have born substantially no good fruit for the industry and/or even for their target audience of supporters?

We at MHProNews have worked for some years to build strategic allies. This has been done as our part in advancing the Industry. We have not always agreed with MHI, but we strive to work within the system. Patience and respect for the other's perspectives, quiet persistence if one is sincerely convinced they are correct; these are the ways to advance towards unity and joint action.

Let's provide a partial list of initiatives we've been involved in – in some cases for many years now – for your consideration, and let you decide if these would be worthwhile efforts.

  • Greater involvement in good associations (can anyone say with a straight face and using sound reason that Allen's proposed "new association" could qualify as such before many years go by…if ever?).
  • Doing more with good MH PACs. We've seen with the 93% win rate MHI had in supporting its picks in the last election cycle, or the impressive 87% win rate that Iowa's MH Association had in 2012 (others beyond these two could be named), that PAC support matters!

The more the support, the wiser the picks, the better the outcome. 2013 ywill NOT be a year to sit out on the sidelines! Let's look at the example of Sherrod Brown. Senator Brown was one of MHI PAC's supported picks in 2012. Senator Brown issued a strong letter to Richard Cordray, as we reported last week. This bodes well for his support in upcoming legislative initiatives we will need in 2013.

We have dozens of potential supporters in DC, but more are needed.

  • Grass roots activism. We need you, yes you, involved in your association(s) if you aren't already deeply involved. This can't be left only to paid association staff. We need this grass roots activism to mirror what Realtors or Homebuilders do. That activity needs to be in concert with properly established national, and/or state level and/or established MHC Associations (again, we mean MHC associations like those Western U.S., not George Allen's planned new one). We need YOU, in Washington DC for the MHI Legislative Session in the end of February and/or at your local House or Senator's office.

(Note. Allen's own comments about his planned 'association' stated that he intends no advocacy. Huh? An association that does no lobbying? Then what in heaven's name would it do? That said, he has at times signaled the opposite, so it is difficult to know what he truly has in mind. That's one of many reasons his initiative makes no sense.)

  • Increased positive engagement with MHC residents and MH Home Owners, to line them up with industry professionals when needed. MH Homeowners, MH Professionals and MH Associations could be the sleeping giant we need with Congress, regulators and in the states too.
  • New Blood. Those leaders – and they are many – involved in the Introduction to MH Opportunities Day may someday look back and say, that was a solid, pro-active decision they made to start that process. We need more pros – more new blood – coming into our Industry! We need more smart builders, investors and lenders to look closely and say, yes manufactured and modular home building makes good sense. It should be noted that the CFPB decision doesn't harm what a stick builder would b used to doing! The stick builder who would enter the MH space could be undeterred even if that CFPB ruling went into effect. Those who would develop new communities using overlooked options available right now also opportunities that only the forward thinking investors or business professionals will capitalize upon! New capital and industry growth can help those already in the business, as it can benefit the newcomers.
  • Remarketing of MH! I will only say that if you are a lender, retailer or MHC owner/operator, you need to be at or have at least one trusted representative in Louisville to hear Dan Rinzema's important presentation, which I will have the pleasure of introducing. Warren Buffett, I know you are busy, but this is an idea you told Kevin to think about some years back. Thanks to Dan Rinzema's foresight, it is already underway. Learn all about this in Louisville, at a free seminar, on January 23, 11:15-12:15 PM. Don't miss it. The times and topics for all of the AT SHOW seminars are on page 2 of the downloadable brochure linked here.

Ju-jitsu

The time has come to rally the troops. Let the blow-hards, blow harder.

Let the rest of us take their negative energy and turn in into positive inspirational dissatisfaction!

Tell your colleagues why the blow hards are wrong, so they don't get the fuel and support they crave.

Please tell your friends, that you'd rather back the teams and players who are positively engaged than those who spend too much time publicly pointing their finger at the associations noted above who are doing the heavy lifting, without realizing that three fingers are always pointing back at them.

Not Personalities, Consequences and Results

None of what was written herein should be construed to disparage anyone. Just as two people in particular love to analyze others, as public figures, they and their results are subject to analysis.

People can get passionate about something, they may sincerely believe they are 'doing the right thing' – for themselves and/or for others. But a person can be sincerely mistaken!

So we provide, you decide. We will leave it to our readers to investigate and decide if those noted in this column are in the right, or are in fact the voices of division that can't help you as a professional or business leader based on their recent behaviors.

Dissent is fine, it everyone's right. But let it dissent among and within existing associations be more private, better thought out and prudently handled. Let's learn to synergize, instead of doing what Danny Ghorbani has been doing for some time now. Let's not let support yet another 'national' association, as Allen is mistakenly advocating, that can only further splinter our efforts in DC or elsewhere!

The Next Stop!

My understanding, and we hope to have an expert pen a column on this soon, is that we have one year to get it together regarding the CFPB's mis-fired decision, linked above. That can be enough time, if enough of us dig in and do the right things.

We are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Retailers and communities, besides engaging in real Associations, come to Louisville and see lenders in person present their latest programs that ARE Dodd-Frank complaint!

Learn what you can do today to enhance your growth and profits at the Louisville Show! Hop a plane, or jump in your truck, car, SUV (does anyone in MH drive a Prius?… ;-) and be in Louisville to see all the Money Tree business-building seminars, 39 new model homes on display and some 80 exhibitors who will show you how to profitably navigate in the world today.

Your Feedback is Encouraged

We welcome your private messages, posted comments or 'Letters to the Editor' style feedback for, against or nuanced about this column and the two Industry In Focus Reports:

If you are sending comments for publication, please make your subject line to: Letters to the Editor, tony@MHMSM.com.

We will be engaged. We will be in DC. We will support MHI and the existing associations as noted. We will call and write our legislators. We will be in Louisville, please see us in booth #115. No one can do it alone. But together, we can get it done.

2013 can be a great year. We have early reports from retailers and communities that indicate the same.

As to the blow-hards, if they don't mend their paths, bring 'em on. Let's tune them out, or take the steps to put them in their proper place. Now is the time for unity. Now is the time…for thoughtful, positive action! ##

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

other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

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

Failure to Report

July 13th, 2012 6 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MHARR and MHI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

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

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

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

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

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

The Third Rail in Manufactured Housing Today

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

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

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

This is a slippery slope indeed.

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

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

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

Has our industry in general benefited from this?

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

Political Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answer, it can't.

Just Vote No on O

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regulators

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

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

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

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

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

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

Failure to Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post by
L. A. 'Tony' Kovach
www.MHProNews.com
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com or www.MHMSM.com
Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals

Office – 815-270-0500
latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

http://LATonyKovach.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle

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

The Boomers

June 20th, 2012 No comments

Let me start by inviting you to take a good look at this Industry Voices guest blog post by a seasoned West Coast MH Business owner, entitled, Will we catch the Tsunami?

If you haven’t read it yet, please do.

Yes, now, before proceeding.

Done?

Glad to have you back.  As you can see John provides us all with insightful food for thought.  He hits a theme near to one of our own.  Namely, that our market potential is far greater than the 50,000 +/- new home shipments that we have been experiencing in recent years.

It is great that we have 9 months of steady increases in HUD Code manufactured home shipments. It is great that Texas and MHI have teamed up with SNR Denton on going to the CFPB to lobby for modifications of Dodd-Frank and SAFE ala HR 3849, which still needs to be pushed too.

We have resources that need to be tapped that are underutilized that would make the tsunami that John speaks about real. Many of those will be part of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association’s (TMHA) upcoming meeting. I’ll talk about some of those opportunities in my presentation at the TMHA annual event.

But there is more needed and possible.

Remarketing needs to become a priority for our Industry. In a conversation with a mover-and-shaker, this topic came up. The gent I was speaking to agreed, and related some examples he knew first hand about the profits that arose from remarketing for those manufactured home companies who took part in remarketing.

Do you hear the word, profits?

Chattel – and even land/home – in our Industry will never reach its full potential until we have a workable remarketing mechanism for manufactured home owners and lenders. Sound remarketing would give us what conventional housing builders de-facto enjoy; ie: real estate brokerage. Without remarketing, as Warren Buffett Kevin Clayton and others have observed, we are handicapping ourselves, our customers, our lenders and all those who supply and support those groups.

Put remarketing in the mix of your association’s discussion/action items.

Get involved yourself in remarketing; you don’t have to wait for Congress or your state legislature to act.

Done correctly, remarketing is profitable and will boost new home sales over time.

If remarketing is ignored or goes un-advanced, we are limiting our potential big time. What will you do? Will you advocate and get in on the remarketing ground floor?

Here is the big hint that dovetails with the Boomer’s article by John. Millions of people would gladly pay less to own one of our quality homes! What they want to know is, what is my exit strategy when it comes time to sell? Put yourself in the prospects or home owner or lender’s shoes. Knowing you have a remarketing – an exit strategy – increases the value of the purchase. It makes the financing more secure. It is a no-brainer.

Do you see why remarketing is important? It answers a basic need that the market has been asking us for over the course of many years. Let me close on a bold claim. Our downturn since 1998 would not have been nearly so severe, and our secondary market and lending options would be far greater, if we had effective remarketing in place. Let’s not blow a grand opportunity for ourselves again.##

 

Post by
L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
www.MHProNews.com
www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com or www.MHMSM.com
Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals

Office – 815-270-0500
latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

http://LATonyKovach.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle

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