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Cui Bono? “Killing Me Softly,” Manufactured Housing’s New Theme Song?

April 4th, 2019 No comments

 

CuiBonoKillingMeSoftlyManufacturedHousingNewThemeSongClaytonHomesBerkshireHathaway#MHIUpdateMastheadMHProNews

Whitney Houston died a tragic death. She began her career in Gospel. It was Roberta Flack’s, not Houston’s song, but one might suspect that near the end of her dramatic life, the lyrics “killing me softly with his song” were perhaps filled with deep meaning for Whitney.

 

11,582,041 YouTube views – published Mar 16, 2016.

When a company is a subsidiary of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, there is not much they are unable to afford, so long as it makes good business sense.

Need great marketing? Berkshire can provide the capital needed. Research? Warren Buffett led Berkshire has personal connections with the Urban Institute, along with other nonprofits. What they may not want to pay for directly – for whatever reason – they can hire done in the way of consumer or other research.

One could go on, but the point is simple.

 

During well-documented affordable housing crisis in the U.S., how is it possible that the most proven solution known in the U.S. is languishing? How is it that Buffett and Berkshire would allow Clayton Homes to be in the manufactured home industry that 2 decades ago was doing 4 times the level of sales that it is today?  How is it possible that once more, for the last 6 months, the industry’s sales are shrinking during an affordable housing crisis?

 

 

The Investigators Question – Cui Bono?

The Latin phrase ‘cui bono‘ is a question that means, ‘who stands or stood to benefit?’ If one is looking for a criminal or a motive for an action, the question cui bono – who benefited – helps narrow down the suspects.

Clayton Homes and their allies demonstrably dominate the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). They and a handful are what MHI award winner Marty Lavin, JD, called big boy” firms that arguably rule the Arlington, VA based MHI roost.

The latest new manufactured home production and shipments data is out for February 2019. It’s sobering. Yet, when MHI put out its latest missive to their members yesterday, there was no mention of the roughly half-year downturn in production and shipments of new HUD Code manufactured homes.

Instead, in an “MHI Update” there is blather about other topics, including the theme for their upcoming Congress and Expo, “Let’s Keep Building.”

The irony and hypocrisy are so thick, a good steak knife and fork are needed. But it’s part of their purported M.O., to borrow from the song lyrics, of “killing me [or thee] softly.” Happy. Upbeat. All is well. New research…

If MHI is doing it, then the big boys must want it done that way, right?

Please try to explain the logic of allowing federally regulated HUD Code manufactured homes to languish during an affordable housing crisis? Who benefits? How did or do they benefit?

The answer we’ve logically deduced at MHProNews is as sobering as the latest shrinking production data.

For newcomers, Berkshire is based in Omaha, Clayton and their affiliated lenders are in metro Knoxville, and we’ve noted earlier that MHI’s office is in Arlington, VA.

 

That said, as was noted in Soheyla’s market report feature on 4.3.2019, the question was asked. How does one of explain the manufactured home industry’s poor performance since 2003?

 

SoheylaKovachMD-MHProNewsMHLivingNews“There are only a few possible logical options.

 

  • The Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington (OKA) axis and their allies are incompetent. They don’t know how to sell affordable manufactured homes during an affordable housing crisis.
  • The OKA axis are posturing efforts to address concerns that for whatever reasons are not working. This is what MHARR called the “Illusion of Motion.”
  • The Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis have a plan, and they are acting upon it. That plan does not short term include short term steps that will fix the headwinds that are buffeting manufactured housing.”

  

We respect the intelligence of Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, Tom Hodges, Rick Robinson, and others in the mix noted above. They are smart, successful professionals. So, one may logically deduce that the OKA axis must for some reason want or accepts these historically low levels of production and sales.

If so, why? Cui bono? Who benefits from it?

The logical answer is stark. Let’s sum up to this point. If one agrees that these are intelligent, capable people, here’s what one comes to conclude. There is some arguable benefit to those who want to consolidate pieces of the industry slowly at a bargain price. Whenever the powers that be are ready to take the foot off the brake pedal, the manufactured home industry will roar back to life. The value of their assets’ that were acquired at a bargain rate will then soar.

We’ve provided several opportunities for Kevin, Tim, Tom, Rick, Lesli, Dick, and others to publicly refute these contentions and concerns. We did so as recently as last week in Tunica, where they and/or their attorneys could have attempted to explain away the following. We invited them to give their version of the impact of what Berkshire Hathaway brand records and video linked below described.  Click on the linked text-image box for the details and ‘smoking gun’ evidence.

 

Bridging Gap$, Affordable Housing Solution Yields Higher Pay, More Wealth, But Corrupt, Rigged Billionaire’s Moat is Barrier

 

The reply from the fine folks in Knoxville and Arlington was silence.

Let me confess that some of what we do is arguably unorthodox. For instance, I documented those outreaches to Kevin and his crew with bcc’s to individuals who are in the industry, to federal or other legal officials, and to MHI members and non-members. We’ve advised MHI’s outside counsel, who had previously informed us that he is assigned to monitor moi and our publications.

Put differently, they can’t deny that we’ve given them every opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings. If there is an alternative reading of these linked facts, or others like it, they remain mute. Keep in mind, until 2 years ago, they routinely replied promptly. But now, they rest instead on their 5th Amendment protected right to remain silent.

We respect that right, along with the others protected by the U. S. Constitution.

They’ve made the claim for years that MHI represents ‘all segments of factory-built housing.’ If so, they are failing. If they don’t change behavior, it implies they are either insane – or they must want this outcome of declining sales –  for whatever reasons.  The opportunities for HUD Code manufactured homes are amazing, but the performance doesn’t rise to the level of tepid, based on current and historic trends.  In a U.S. market that did $1.6 trillion dollars in new and existing housing sales in 2018, manufactured housing couldn’t crack $8 billion?  Consider the facts and pull quotes.

 

2018DataShareofHousingMarketManufacturedHousingInfographicDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews612

 

Meanwhile, as the industry sags, the routine of pleasant MHI and other meetings goes on. The steady drone of MHI happy talk and happy music strums on.  Cui bono?  Why not take Warren Buffett at his own words?

 

WarrenBuffettAZQuoteCriticalFactorDetermineValuePayFairBargainPriceMastheadTonyKovachMHProNews

GoodBusinessIsLikeAStrongCastleWithaDeepMoatAroundItSharksIntheMoatIwantItUntouchableWarrenBuffettQuoteMHProNews

 

If you listen to Amazon’s Alexa Fund estimate in 2018 for the potential for prefabricated housing sales in the U.S., they estimated that at some $330 billion annually.  There are several kinds of prefab housing, but manufactured homes are outselling the others.  So let’s cut that Alexa Fund estimate in half, or $165 billion.  That suggests the industry could be doing some 20x the sales volume it is currently achieving. Is that sufficient motive to manipulate a marketplace?

 

 

Whitney, you were a superstar. Will you warn the advocates for affordable housing that the powers that be, like with thee, are killing the pain of independents softly, with their song…?  “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, analysis, and commentary.)

(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.

New Manufactured Home Production, Shipment Data-February 2019

 

Surprising Discovery on Manufactured Housing’s Enhanced Preemption, Hidden Gem$

MHI CEO Dick Jennison’s Pledge – 500,000 New Manufactured Home Shipments

Positive, Uplifting Third-Party Reports Favor Modern Manufactured Housing, So What’s Going Wrong?

 

“Democrats Are Sinful Hypocrites. Just Like All of Us.” Weaponizing Information, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and MHVille

Profiting & Correcting – Manufactured Housing Traps, Pitfalls and Swindles

Conquest Capitalism – Thoughts of Chairman Warren Buffett – Billionaires Campaign to Control Trillion Dollar Affordable Housing Market

 

“The Illusion of Motion Versus Real-World Challenges”

HUD Code Manufactured Home Production Decline Persists – Time For Action Not Excuses

MHARR Urges Congress to Preserve DTS In GSE Reform Legislation DBN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Your Face

September 4th, 2013 No comments

There are lots of ways that manufactured housing pros “handle” the fact that they are in this business. Don't get me wrong, we are in a great industry, one that in a different world or place ought to be celebrated. I've been looking at an obscure report sent by an industry contact done by a federal agency that practically gushes about “factory home building,” and we plan to do at least one article on the subject. But as our Daily Business News brief about Crystal Adkins' commentary reported, what ought to be celebrated is far more often “in your face” dis-respected by the media. When that happens, is it a surprise that we are so often disrespected by much of the public too?

If you are new in our industry, or just happened onto this page, please…read all the way through, because we are not hand ringers and “oh poor me” types, we are solution oriented here! This is all about turning lemons into lemonade. That said, let's look at some specific examples.

Sad In-Your-Face Quotes From TMZ's website

TMZ took an almost bi-polar, dazzled and dazed view of Saw actress Betsy Russell's 2 million dollar manufactured home-with-a-view; if you haven't yet seen the analysis and full photo display on our public-image building Manufactured Home Living News, this is a must read;

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

But the In Your Face quotes – besides the use of disparaging and improper terminology by TMZ, LAist and others – are from their readers. Here are some directly quoted examples, for industry pros to chew on.

  • “There is no way! That's a house on stacked on bricks and tied down with rope.” – REESE   
  • “If she'd drop the price down to about $1500 I'd consider it.” ZOMBIE WHITNEY HOUSTON
  • Yes its fitting that a mobile home would be put on the market for a gimmicky price of $1,999,999. Geesh. – JAMES
  • “You can try to sell me on trailer park living all day long, but there's no way I'd ever spend that kind of money on a trailer.” – JMK
  • “WTF?? If you can afford a 2 million trailer then why would you not just by a real house!!????” – BLAH
  • I wonder what Jim Rockford's trailer down by the pier in Malibu would go for? – STATIC
  • “mobile homes nicer than this for less than 150k brand new, what a mess” – LEAD
  • “It's a nice looking place, but it's still only a cardboard box parked on a piece of someone else's rented space.” – ITALIA

These pale compared to some comments that no longer display on TMZ's comments page, they only show the last three pages of feedback. Most of the hundreds who commented trashed 'trailers' or 'mobile homes' the value, the community lifestyle, pretty much everything. One example that stuck in my mind was “Don't put lipstick on a pig. It only makes the pig mad.”

Okay, I know many of you are laughing! But some of you get the point I'm making. Are you tired of gone with the wind comments? Are you tired of our homes being the best kept secret in America?

Abrams and Ayotte

Please read A Cup of Coffee with…Leigh Abrams, and A Cup of Coffee with…Jim Ayotte.

Mr. Leigh Abrams' repeatedly urges the manufactured housing industry to do an image campaign, among many other comments that are well worth the read!

Then, Mr. Jim Ayotte, who has spent some time on our public-focused, image building site not only calls for an image campaign, but talks about what they are doing in Florida. Stop and think, Florida is consistently in the top 5 states in the U.S. in new manufactured home shipments. They've been doing a web-based image campaign for years there. Coincidence?

Jim then specifically states that the ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com campaign is a good one, and 'produces results.' By the way, Leigh and Jim both talk about plenty of other topics, again, well worth the reads.

But the focus of this column is on image, and why it is critical that you, me and others all do SOMETHING routinely to advance the image of YOUR business while and thereby advancing the industry's image too.

Some say, 'Tony, you are a fine cheer leader.' We don't just preach here, we've been walking the talk for years. We are also on the playing field every day, doing personally and professionally what we ask others to do too.

Improvement with a Little Effort…

A little effort can make a difference. We live in a star struck world, so this news story is a teachable moment opportunity.

malibu-ca-90265-point-dume-club-betsy-russell-manufactured-home-living-news-.jpg

Since my truly better half Soheyla posted a comment that suggested that readers check out this 'response' article – linked below – to what LAist,TMZ and others in the media published…

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

...here are some of the more recent comments on the TMZ site:

Again, quoting from the TMZ comments site:

  • “Its called a modular home, it doesn't have wheels.” – 2DRK2FCK
  • “Just goes to show you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.” – BEACHBUM74
  • “i'd take this over Celine's fortress.” – STU
  • “TMZ's crack staff doesn't even know what a "mobile home" is.” – TRUTH
  • “I'm not well-versed in the subject of mobile homes, but in order to qualify as "mobile", wouldn't it have to be movable? How would you trail a 2400 SF 4/3?” – JENNA
  • “This is a manufactured home not a mobile home.” – TAM
  • “it may look like a mobile home but it isnt. it was made to look like one so it could probably pass rules to get into that trailer park and who wouldnt do it to have a view like that??” – NORTHERNER
  • “Mobile home?! It's more like modern prefab http://blog.prefabium.com/2013/07/modern-prefab-home-by-tobylongdesign.html It's not mobile.” – JOHN
  • “I've been to that park and it's amazing. I had a friend that was renting a place a few years back. Pamela Anderson was staying in one a few doors down while her Malibu mansion was being renovated. The park is amazing. Calling them mobile homes is deceiving. They are nicer than most houses and the complex is outstanding.” – JIMBO

Ladies and gents, I'm not saying that Soheyla's comment and suggestion alone to check out our public page's response site made all the difference.

But is it a coincidence that most comments were trashing our industry's homes before, and since her posted comment that suggested reading the ManufacturedHomeLivingNews commentary linked above, more of TMZ's readers grew a back bone bone to say something positive?

Get in the Trenches & Recorded Conversations with Customers

We wear a lot of hats (which is one reason why we have a lot of websites and web addresses), besides our trade media and publishing here at industry leading MHProNews, So it can get confusing to some 'which hat they are talking to' when they talk to me. Don't be confused, just tell me which hat you want to talk too. One reason we keep client work confidential, is precisely to separate publishing from consulting, just as we separate news from commentary on our site.

With one of my hats, we do marketing and sales training that is very unique. As part of that work, we have hundreds (many thousands, actually) of recorded conversations with customers and MH or MHC pros.

in various parts of the country. This is all done with permission, nothing hidden from the guests or sales staff about the fact they were being recorded.

I don't think there is anything quite like it in our industry. There are a number of good companies out there that are doing good things, but the ones not using our system can't possibly know what we do about what customers are thinking, directly from the consumers' mouths!

We have the objective evidence that would stand up in court. Free will recordings! We aren't sitting in an ivory tower or gilded office writing and publishing. We are in the trenches working with others who are in the trenches. My commentary here isn't a bunch of theory! It is based on years of experience, dating back in this industry to 1981.

My point is that I know first hand that our industry CAN change its image. We help a number of client's change their image enough in their markets to grow their sales significantly. Image change is done one customer at a time, and if you start and stick with it, you can generate more closed deals and thus earn more money doing it.

Take Three Baby Steps to Improved Image

Please. Take ten and do these three simple steps, in this sequence.

  1. Go to our public focused, image/educational site, read the pro-industry article about Betsy Russell's 2 million dollar home and look at the photos.
  1. Then go to TMZ's page on the same topic and post a comment (TMZ makes it easy and you don't need to use your name if you don't want to).
  2. Then ask your colleagues, team mates and those in your contact list to do the same. That's how good things can 'go viral!'

My fellow professionals, the battle over image won't be won in a moment or day. But when pros like you and I take even baby steps daily, it ads up like water drops filling a glass. People remember good news, as well as 'bad news.' We can change people's minds, one, one positive action at a time.

water-drops=filling-glass-credit-flickr-theilr-posted-manufactured-home-pro-news-mhpronews-.jpg

The negativity that is out there about our industry is 'in your face.' You are either going to stand up and try to do something about it personally and professionally, or you won't. There is no middle ground. I'm here to tell you, that for those who DO what I'm suggesting, there are tangible rewards.

Please, just do it. Remember, we are messengers here, but it is the public that is influenced by the media and others to be negatively 'in your face' about our homes. If you won't do something about it personally, who will?

Quoting from the A Cup of Coffee with…Sam Landy interview we did a few months ago:

Financing and marketing are the two issues our industry has to address. How do our customers get affordable financing and how do we market the benefits of our product? I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all responsible for our own marketing. If you want to be a great retailer you have to pay the bill for the marketing. Why should anyone do it for you, and all markets are local anyhow.”

We thank Mr. Sam Landy-led UMH for joining us in promoting the image campaign at MHLivingNews.com. Others are circling, some will land and do this with us too.

Start with the free and easy 3 steps above, but then seriously think about Working Together to Grow Manufactured Home Sales.

For those who do, when you look back a year or two from now, you will be glad you did. ##

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

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
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