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

May 30th, 2018 Comments off

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The absurdity of publishing only half-truths, ‘happy talk,’ endless self-promotion, and polite platitudes has been on full display in manufactured housing for years.

 

Google’s dictionary defines absurd this way:

  • wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate – “the allegations are patently absurd”
  • arousing amusement or derision; ridiculous – “gym shorts and knee socks looked absurd on such a tall girl

 

MHR and MHInsider have featured Spencer Roane and George Allen recently in glowing terms. At least one of those was published after the Tom Lackey controversy erupted. In a free society with First Amendment guarantees, it is their absolute right to praise whomever they want to. As the MH Industry’s leading trade media, MHProNews defends their right to praise and elevate on a pedestal Allen, Roane, or anyone else.

Rights recognized, the wisdom of giving only praise without an honest analysis ought to be contrasted with the allegedly unethical – and perhaps illegal – acts committed by a follower and colleague of Allen and Roane; Tom Lackey.

Lackey stands accused by several people of ‘selling’ homes he did not own.

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SECO still shows Tom Lackey on their planning committee, as of 12:27 PM ET, on 5.30.2018. Why?

Lackey – per more than one mainstream media source – plus local officials, ‘sold’ often older manufactured homes, that were in poor condition to individuals via “contract for title.”

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That method of so-called “seller financing” is promoted by Roane at SECO, who in turn is promoted by Allen and COBA7.

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Fairness, Balance

MHProNews contacted Lackey directly and indirectly through his SECO/COBA7 allies, to give him an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or inaccuracies that may exist in the mainstream media reports, and/or the allegations by local officials and those customers of his.

Lackey was invited by MHProNews to comment himself, or via an attorney.

Days later, Lackey has done neither, which of course is his right to remain silent.

Meanwhile, Allen and Roane – as the Daily Business News has previously reported, have repeatedly given cover to – or even praised Lackey.

Spencer Roane w/Southeast Community Owners (SECO), Praises Tom Lackey, Accused of Rent-to-Own Manufactured Home Sales Improprieties

That cover by Roane and Allen has occurred several times after the allegations by public officials and customers of Lackey have come to light. The most recent public embarrassment is in a report on 5.27.2018, by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, linked here.

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It is important to note, as the Daily Business News previously reported, that reporter Tyler Jett and their paper have made it clear that they are sticking with this story-line.  There will likely be more such reports.

There have already been several troubling news items done by that media outlet, and another.

So, there is clear evidence that this is not a one-and-done affair for that publication.

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This is the latest example of how head-in-the-sand is not an option for the majority of honorable professionals in manufactured housing.

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See No Evil…

Certain state associations, an industry museum, and others have promoted Allen and Roane – per state-based sources – for industry ‘political’ reasons.

Yet the pair have for years been openly promoting concepts that arguably led to the tawdry allegations about Lackey. Those accusations are being leveled from public officials, consumers, and which are found in the mainstream media.

For an industry with an ongoing image issue, it’s madness to be silent about such apparent outrages. Absurd.

Consumer protection is at the heart of the HUD Code for manufactured homes (MH).  Why doesn’t the MH Industry take that consumer protection to the next level, by protecting would-be buyers via warnings against predatory operations?

 

MHI?

MHProNews asked MHI to weigh in on this serious post-production issue, giving MHI an opportunity to defend their industry.

MHI’s reply? Silence. As of the time this is being written, there is no press release.  Nor any other apparent public response by MHI. It’s their right to not weigh in, of course.

But isn’t it absurd?

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A far more prudent posture would be the Biblical analogy, using the example of the wheat and the chaff. Allen and Roane have done good things in their lives, such as serve America in the military. That deserves recognition and respect.

The pair of Allen and Roane – to an apparently authentic degree – care about their peers, notably those in the community sector. There have been times the duo have done good things. The RV MH Hall of Fame recognized Allen and Roane both as inductees. That’s reality.

Fair, balanced, and honest reality ought to be a central tenant of every news report, and commentary column.

It ought to be disclosed that this writer has on various occasions engaged Allen and Roane, privately and publicly. MHProNews gave Allen and Roane several opportunities to clarify or rebut the Chattanooga Times Free Press report.

Here below was Roane’s on-the-record reply.  The image is a composite, faithfully representing everything Roane said.

SpencerRoaneManufacturedHousingIndustryTomLackeyDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Against that backdrop, where are the public voices of reason from MHVille?

One that bears mention is the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association’s, Jay Hamilton.

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Jay Hamilton, Executive Director, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA).

In a polite, and hypothetical fashion, Hamilton told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in his own words the following, in an indirect way.

When there is something allegedly wrong with a member company, a good association with a code of conduct will review the evidence. Based upon that internal review, a good association may recommend expulsion, or even a referral to a regulatory agency.

Of course. Bravo.  Hamilton’s exact words are found in the Times Free Press article, which once more, is linked here.

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Defending the Indefensible?  Why?

As reporter Tyler Jett spotlighted, Allen has given cover to Lackey and Roane. In Allen’s self-touted blog post on 5.29.2018, he mentioned nothing at all about the controversy surrounding Lackey, SECO, COBA7, or himself published by Jett.

Had Allen thought the report inaccurate, wouldn’t Allen stand on his own soap box, and decry Jett’s accuracy?

So, de facto, one may logically presume that Jett’s Times Free Press report accurately quoted Allen and Roane.

And yet, Roane denied the accuracy of the report.  He said to the Daily Business News: “Those familiar with this situation are unwilling to comment further because statements already reported by news media were inaccurate or out of context.

Roane stated that via an email, which a collage of the screen capture, is shown above.

Can’t these two gents even get their stories straight?

And why would Allen assert to the reporter, Tyler Jett, that Lackey gave title to an alleged victim? Why say something so absurd, when local officials, at least one other media outlet, and numerous consumers all say that the title was never given?

It’s absurd. The allegations are tragic, on so many levels.

While Allen and Roane struggle against saying anything negative about themselves, or their SECO board member and colleague – Tom Lackey – Allen yesterday published his latest broadside against the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

Allen will be quoted at length below. A few things ought to be noted, to set the table.

Allen and Roane are human. This writer, and all other mere mortals, make mistakes. When a publicly impactful error in judgment occurs, it ought to be acknowledged. Amends ought to be made. Normal people accept mistakes that are admitted, and may even respect the humility of the confession.

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But instead, Lackey said nothing in public. If there is an attempt to make amends to those alleged “contract for title” victims, there is no public evidence of that yet known.

Meanwhile, Allen and Roane are tripping over each other in offering apparently phony red herrings, or praising Lackey for his role in SECO.  What?

Absurd.

Scenarios like Lackey’s were predictable. As Roane himself told Jett – per the Chattanooga Times report, and his own on-the-record emailed statement to MHProNews – the ‘contract for title process’ is “complicated.

So, with limited training” in a once a year “class,” Roane is teaching a process he calls “seller financing.” That on its face uses terminology that the CFPB has previously called a “disguised credit transaction.”

It’s absurd. Tragic.

Why are Allen and Roane given stage time and/or cross-promotions for this type of activity by state associations? It’s absurd. In hindsight, isn’t it being too polite, for “political” reasons? Are associations – or a museum that does so – opening themselves up for liability?

Every state the trio are an association member of, and every museum or institution that has given them a platform or promotion, ought to ask for a public apology — by each of the three.

Absent an appropriate public apology with amends, to protect the reputations of other members, and to protect the public who might keep doing business with such people, shouldn’t each of the associations they are connected to do what Hamilton said hypocritically could be done?

 

Forewarned

This writer has at various times urged Allen and Roane to reconsider the problematic parts of their enterprises. Clearly, to no avail. But someone in the industry must at least try do it.  Why? Because the majority of the honest businesses in this industry will continue to suffer so long as inexplicable, ‘allegedly’ problematic behavior is tolerated.

What’s ironic, is that when Allen publicly slaps MHI – which the Arlington, VA based group has arguably committed their own mistakes – is the retired Marine officer looking in the mirror?  Isn’t he as reticent to admit wrongs, and failures, as MHI is?  What happened to Semper Fi?

Where has that hiding-from-the-truth led the manufactured housing industry?

Answer, it is a self-evident part of a pattern that during an affordable housing crisis has led to the industry’s lowest sales levels in its history.

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Manufactured housing is well below its historic highs. Credits, MHI, Cavco.

Tragic. Absurd.

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And such behavior is no doubt what has led members and staff of the Arizona and Nevada community owner’s association to stand up to MHI, and announce the launch of a new national association.

 

Before turning to an extended quote from Allen’s blog, a related point is in order.  Multiple sources within and tied to the land-lease community sector have advised MHProNews about a now-aborted effort to launch yet another new national trade association.

Per those source, Allen “derailed,” and “sabotaged” that other new post-production association effort.

As a long-time, now-former client of Allen once told this writer, with George, “…it is AAA. All about Allen.”  That source said that AAA explains much of Allen’s behavior.

Final point before Allen’s extend quote.

With the above noted, there are times that Allen makes useful observations and speaks the truth. Chaff and wheat.  So, one must be discerning.

It is interesting to note that Allen apparently tosses his own COBA7 and MHI under the bus, in the except below. The one mentioned accurately, is the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). Allen is right in saying MHARR represents independent producers of HUD Code homes. He is also correct in saying that MHARR has advocated for an effective, robust post-production association.

Allen also correctly noted the frustration by state associations with MHI. The later points have of course been reported by MHProNews in more detail, and with specific evidence.

—- Start of Extended Quote from George Allen blog —-

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What happened to George Allen preaching against the use of the term “mobile home?”

National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (‘NAMHCO’)

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new national advocacy presence ‘soon to be’ on the manufactured housing industry scene! Being formed to represent and advocate for business interests of land lease communities, from the smallest to largest in size, by rental homesite count.

Where do I stand on this potentially controversial matter? As administrator of COBA7, I am not one of NAMHCO’s organizers, though I certainly understand the pent-up frustration of state MH associations and property owners, feeling underserved by the three present day national MH advocates. Today’s status quo relative to the realty asset class? In my opinion,

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is 100% HUD-Code housing manufacturer focused. Land lease community owners/operators are not eligible to belong. Though MHARR does advocate for a new national presence to represent all non-manufacturing segments of the manufactured housing industry. (202) 783-4087

Manufactured Housing Institute is the ‘broad brush’ national advocate serving all segments of the manufactured housing industry. It is primarily financed and perennially led by the ‘Big Three C’ HUD-Code housing manufacturers: Clayton Homes, Champion Home Builders (soon to be, I believe, Skyline Champion), & Cavco Industries. MHI, through its’ National Communities Council division, since 1996, has, in this industry observer’s opinion, given little more than lip service to the land lease community real estate asset class it claims to serve…

Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance was launched in early 2014 to serve the product and service needs of land lease community owners/operators nationwide. COBA7…”

—- End of extended quote from George Allen. —-

The need for a new, post-production association ought to be self-evident.

The need for honorable professionals to police their own industry ought to be ever-more apparent.

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That new national association that AZ and NV are promoting, along with current ones, ought to take steps to insure the following:

  • Organizations ought to be established or reorganized with a structure that keeps big companies from dominating the smaller ones.
  • An association’s professional code of conduct ought to be enforced, in a fair manner, that protects vulnerable consumers and the reputation of honest business people.

Once more, the story by Tyler Jett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press is linked here. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary)

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

 

 

Code of Conduct – Good or Bad News, and Home Selling – Monday Morning Manufactured Housing Sales, Marketing Meeting

May 28th, 2018 Comments off

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To do a good job of marketing and selling, one must first have a sense of the broader, and local market elements. We’ll share some examples today that are essential for a marketing or sales professional in manufactured housing to understand in order to be effective with qualified prospects. We note that in all of our coaching sessions, good ethics and customer satisfaction must be understood as the given background, and the goal must be for the good of all.

 

Crain’s Detroit published a story that explained just how far manufactured housing nosedived in their state from the peak of 1998, until the recovery from the bottom hit in 2009 began in 2010. While it has positive elements, that report also raises questions for a savvy shopper or investor.

The Urban Institute did a report in January on manufactured homes, which was largely positive for the manufactured home industry, at least by mainstream news standards.

Several mainstream media (MSM) outlets have been spotlighting the need to protect manufactured home communities from destruction, because they are so important for affordable housing.  We’ll plan to spotlight one of those, sent to us as a news tip, hopefully this week here on the Daily Business News

The first takeaway is that there are some positive news stories carried by MSM and by third party researchers. These are examples of the kinds of stories industry professionals should prefer to see more of – and it is in part, up to pros like you – to make that happen in your market(s).

That said, the sad reality is that beyond press releases, most media coverage about our industry tend to be negative. Ignoring that reality costs the industry billions of dollars a year in new HUD Code manufactured home sales.  That means, mostly negative media coverage likely costs your location millions of dollars a year in additional manufactured home sales that your business would otherwise make.

The two screenshots of Google search results below are recent examples. See for yourself the ratio of bad news to good news stories.

 

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There are times when none of the top 8 to 15 MSM news stories about MH are positive. Do you think that pattern impacts home buyers?  The third story from the top, above, is linked here.

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Let’s be clear. A large percentage of the time that we at MHProNews engage with the mainstream media, the reporter will use better terminology, and will try to work in some of what was said. Reporters are people, they usually want to be fair. Are there exceptions? Sure, but many will strive to get some balance into their report. For MHVille, more balanced reporting represents progress, every time it is done.

That in a nutshell explains a significant part of why manufactured home (MH) sales are still at historic lows, in spite of a raging affordable housing crisis.  But for the savvy MH marketer, that’s opportunity in disguise. Keep in mind that the MH Industry squandered a historic opportunity in the late 90s and early 2000s.  We’re being given another such moment in history.  Let’s make the most of it, shall we?

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A savvy, visionary MH marketer sees the problematic trend since 2000 as opportunity in disguise.  To tap that opportunity requires work, but the reward is significantly higher levels of new home sales that result in happy customers.

 

Story Telling, Defining Yourself, Media Engagement, and Code of Conduct 

To tee this up, as a volume retailer for many years with happy homeowners, I never waited for someone else to define my business or my products. I didn’t wait for an association, a manufacturer or anyone else to do what our team could do best.

That’s not to say that associations, builders or other third parties can’t play a role. Indeed, they can and should.  But I didn’t hold my breath, waiting for that to happen. 

Because if you or I’m waiting for someone else to define and boost business, what if they delay? What if they do a poor job?

We set sales records, and hit the top ½ of 1 percent of all retailers in the nation by making things happen.  We synergized with others, as much as possible, but we also did what we needed to do, come rain or shine.  

So, akin to what Sam Landy, president and CEO of UMH Properties told MHProNews, we did our own marketing. It was wildly successful, and that occurred during tough times when dozens of new home retailers in our state vanished. 

The are many beautiful aspects to manufactured housing.  One such point – if you make it appealing in your market(s) – is this. Affordability is always going to have a clientele. Nor does affordability have to be the lowest rung on the ladder client. Good times, or bad times, a motivated retailer, community, developer, or producer, can sell, sell, sell. They can do so honorably, with good CSI, and happy homeowners who send their friends.   

After my first few years in the manufactured home business, I learned by trial end error how to successfully engage the media. Do that in your market, and forge that habit.

 

Example

Here’s an example of a radio show I was recently invited to do. This was for a regional talk radio station, so imagine this in your market.

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Notice that the topic sounded negative. Indeed, in one sense, it was, but it was dealing with a local reality. Don’t run from tough topics! Dive in! Push back with the facts, and the truth properly told! Make a difference!

This part of the radio show is about 20 minutes on air, with maybe half of that – near the middle – included me.  If you listen carefully, every caller had something good to say about manufactured homes. Even though the others on the air may have misused the terminology, I hit key points using the correct industry lingo, while also explaining briefly the industry’s evolution, and appeal to all economic groups.

Click the arrow to play back the audio.

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Make a habit of using the correct terminology. Encourage your team to learn it and use it too. It pays.  

I’ve never stopped reading or learning about the industry, and how it fit into the broader housing market. We use that with our coaching clients, and with publishing.

Rephrased, we practice what we preach. 

Why? In the long run, it works best. Short-term thinking produces short-term results.  

 

Code of Conduct

The mainstream media story linked here makes an important point, and this is one that associations can, and ought to play a useful role in.  

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Jay Hamilton, Executive Director, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA).

Jay Hamilton, of the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA) would not make a specific comment to that media about a specified series of bad-news stories that involve one or more members. But he did speak to the reporter (a plus), and Hamilton explained to the reporter what the GMHA’s ethical principles are (another plus).

Hamilton spoke about the GMHA’s code of conduct for members. That’s something members stipulate to, when they join the association. 

When a code of conduct is enforced in the way the GMHA executive director outlined, arguably that would make it clear to readers that the majority of the industry – or at least that membership organization – care about honest business practices.

That in turn is good for honorable association members.

But if an association fails to take action against a member that crosses a line who won’t repent, its arguably harmful to all.  

The code of conduct should be rigorously enforced, regardless of who it is. 

Mistakes happen. Corrections can and should be made. When they aren’t, let the members or board vote to expel an unrepentant offender for cause. If that became a habit, anywhere that took place would – over time – would likely see more sales growth among member companies.  Because consumers want ethical companies to do business with.

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Do your best. Don’t wait for others. If you are part of an association, and bad news strikes about a member who won’t repent or do right by their customers, press for an enforcement of the code of conduct. Enough said for today. ## (Manufactured housing related marketing & sales news, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related References:

Life Hack Success Tip-Any Pro Can Do This-Monday Morning Manufactured Housing Sales, Marketing Meeting

Is it Better to Be Candid, or a Kiss-Up? Monday Morning Manufactured Housing Sales, Marketing Meeting

Style or Substance? Lesson from Most Hated in America – Monday Morning Manufactured Home Sales, Marketing Meeting

What are the FACTS about Manufactured Housing Industry Traffic vs. Real Estate? MHVillage, MHProNews, Manufactured Housing Institute Data

‘You Are Either Clayton Homes, or You’re Not’ – Monday Morning MH Sales Meeting

 

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Time, talent, treasure. Why not put your money, as we do, where your mouth is?

FactoryBuiltCarsClothingAppliancesElectronicsCellsSmartPhonesHomesItJustFollowsLATonyKovachC2017MHproNewsBy L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

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

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

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