Posts Tagged ‘Eric Belksy’

Key to Unlocking Door for More Manufactured Home Sales, Professor Lisa Tyler’s Valuable Research

May 31st, 2019 Comments off



Let’s begin with a factoid from Zillow. Only eight percent – 8% – of housing shoppers consider a manufactured home. To the savvy marketer, investor, or other industry professionals — that is the challenge and the opportunity in disguise.


Turned on it’s head, accepting Zillow’s data means that 92 percent of the population isn’t even thinking about living in a manufactured home. Stating the obvious can bring clarity. Keep in mind that every retail sale is a local sale. A home sold at retail is going to a specific home site, or into a specific lot, or to a specific piece of property or land-lease community.


Only 8 percent of housing shoppers considered a mobile or manufactured home, and many of those did not buy one. That’s both a challenge, but also an opportunity in disguise for those who have a sales and marketing system that deals with that reality. This graphic makes several points that savvy manufactured housing marketing and sales agents must be aware of, and include as part of an integrated marketing and sales plan.


So, to increase sales, one doesn’t have to convince the nation or the world that manufactured homes are better than is generally believed.  Rather, what must be accomplished is convince more people in a specific market area that manufactured homes are the best kept secret in affordable housing.

Hold those thoughts.

At its core, the above is an educational process. But it is a specific kind of education that can very much relate to marketing and selling. Hold those thoughts too, because we will return to them soon.

Rephrased, Manufactured Homes are misunderstood. Marketers, sales professionals, brokers, managers, and business owners must grapple with that reality.

The reasons for the misunderstandings are relevant, but we will leap over that for now, and point to Lisa Tyler, Ph.D., and the thesis of her important doctoral dissertation, entitled “Examining Community Attitudes Toward Manufactured Housing.”

For an article like this, one must drill down to core concepts. Let’s zero in on this gem from Professor Tyler. “Despite evidence that disproved misconceptions…negative stereotypes continued to influence local governments to impose regulatory restrictions on this type of [manufactured, factory-built] housing.”

Keep in mind that in order to obtain a Ph.D – the highest academic degree in her field – there are certain standards that must be met. Tyler had to go through peer reviewed examination, and the work she cited had to have occurred within five years of the time she produced her doctoral dissertation. That too had to be peer reviewed research.

Put differently, now Dr. Tyler wasn’t just a giving a bunch of nice sounding opinions.

That’s precisely what someone wants that is trying to debunk myths or mistaken notions.  It is third party information that millions of Americans need to be exposed to, or in the case of most independent professionals, thousands of people in your market(s) have to be effectively exposed to a process that ‘educates’ them as part of engaging them.


Cui Bono? Who Benefits?

People benefit or not from information. People can also benefit or not from misinformation. As a top executive in manufactured housing told this writer, “I’m ready for infowars.”

Beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum. Beliefs are formed one story at a time, until a picture emerges in someone’s mind. While some people have the background, training, or mental discipline to question commonly held thinking, not all do. That’s not a slam on those who don’t. Rather, that’s yet another opportunity in disguise.  What others in your area are unwilling to do – if you and your team do it – can honorably set you apart.

As an owner, manager, leasing, or sales professional, your primary concern is the reality of your business, and the market(s) your business serves. You want more of that 92 percent who don’t think about manufactured homes to do exactly that, and to do that with you at your location(s).

Consider the following.

Your prospective customer, in order to complete a sale must meet a few conditions.

  • They have to have the economic and financial ability to buy.
  • They have to have the willingness to buy.
  • They have to be able to explain their purchase in a satisfactory way to their friends and neighbors.

There is more. But those are essentials.  A Clayton Homes professional told MHProNews that cancellations of deals after they are started is a significant issue.  Clayton isn’t alone in that, “buyers remorse” happens to others too.

There are a variety of ways to summarize learning. My friend, author, and colleague Tim Connors, CSP, summed up sales and marketing education with these 4 phases.

  • Awareness.
  • Understanding.
  • Integration.
  • Mastery.

A front line sales person may be aware of some idea – this article, for instance – can be the start of awareness. But awareness of issues and opportunities without a deeper understanding, an integrated method for taking a shopper from skepticism to enthusiastic buyer, and that must be done enough to eventually master the method.

Is Connor alone in that thinking? Hardly.

Consider what Barry Noffsinger said to sum that up in the acronym, ADKAR.




Zig Ziglar believed something similar too. That’s why he stressed that hearing something once was not enough. Ziglar believed that motivation and training had to be routinely done to be enduring.



After years of research and real world experience, we’ve learned that properly educating – coaching, training – a sales team member or front-line manager is motivational. Rephrased, it’s not about merely emotional cheerleading. Rather, we provide the instruction that yields the confidence that allows the professional to BE motivated, instead of FEELING – briefly – motivated.  But something similar must happen for prospects too.


Repetitive inputs are critical.

Let’s apply that to manufactured housing.

Intentionally or not, Americans are fed a steady diet of misinformation and terminology that is demeaning about manufactured homes. A certain level of correct information must be available for them. There must also be a logical way to disabuse a prospect from years of what amounts to negative programming.

Articles and videos can help with that, but one must also have a front line professional(s) that have been properly forged in the methods of walking a prospect from curiosity to completing a sale with a customer who is satisfied enough to tell their friends. Then that new home buyer must be able to defend their decision too.

Given the reality of all the negativity around manufactured homes, that being dealt with in the marketing and sales process is huge.


Third Party vs. Your Words

You saying something may or may not be believed. But some third party that doesn’t benefit saying something is far more likely to be believed. That’s why those who mistakenly think they can post an article on their own retail center, community, factory, or lenders’ website is not likely to work with most people. That’s like you telling them, and the seller is doubted by most prospects.

So there must be a third-party resource that has experts that compliments the work of a front line sales or leasing professional and their manager(s).

Then, that third-party resource ideally likewise must cite third-party experts, such as Dr. Lisa Tyler.

Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews) is that third-party platform. Seeing the need, we began that project several years ago. There are few things more compelling than watching and listening to happy home owners, combined with the research that uses experts and evidence to debunk misconceptions.  For example, Tyler’s work – and that of numbers of others – can be access in the article linked below.



Let’s use an analogy. There is positive and negative energy present in electricity. Without both positive and negative protons and electrons, there is no power.  Our society has for some reason been conditioned to avoid whatever appears negative. Nonsense. Without embracing and dealing with both the positive and negative, there will only be very limited results.  David Ogilvy was famous – as a marketer. Grasping nettles means you grasp the problems.  Nettles sting, but they are also medicinal. It’s a great metaphor for what our industry needs.




It seems controversial to some to question authority. Frankly, that’s a traditional role of media, including good trade media. For example, Kim Komando has built a large audience of tech lovers, but she has at times taken on vexing topics like the dark sides of Facebook. Understood properly, that helps her credibility, it doesn’t harm it.  Our credibility has arguably been helped, not harmed, by taking on vexing issues inside manufactured housing. That doesn’t mean that everyone likes every article or topic. Nor is that necessary.  We make people think, which is the first step to problem solving and goal attainment.

Dr. Tyler didn’t just write about manufactured homes. She owned one for several years. This I know, because she told me. Lisa was kind enough to mention me in her acknowledgements to her dissertation. While I encouraged her work, because it is important, she did the doing. She deserves the glory.

Dr. Tyler is one of several experts that have studied the subject of manufactured housing. She is pro-industry. Her research is useful.  Which begs the question. Why is her work not mentioned on the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) website?



Or why is Eric Belsky’s work also missing from MHI’s website? Recall that in years gone by, MHI quite correctly used to refer to then Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) Belsky in their brochures and literature. If he was good enough before, why not now? Rephrased, Belsky was dropped by MHI. Why?




Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton did perhaps the most useful third party research on manufactured housing in 2018. Cororaton works for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as a Certified Business Economist (CBE). She’s missing the morning from MHI’s website too. Yet Cororaton cited not only myself in her first footnote, but also someone from MHI. It’s not like MHI doesn’t know about her.




Furthermore, each of these subjects have been brought to MHI’s attention directly by me, and indirectly – per our sources – to others.

Last but not least today, there is HUD Secretary Carson, and prior HUD Secretary Julian Castro. Carson’s speech to MHI is still missing from MHI’s website, yet that was now three weeks ago.




There is no mention of this video, posted below, where Carson on a national business news channel raised manufactured housing’s profile in a positive way. The interview begins with a discussion of 3D printed housing, but ends with favorable points about manufactured homes.



Nor is there any mention whatsoever of Julian Castro and his video. That’s really odd, as it was an MHI vice president who provided that video to me in the first place.



Rephrased, MHI has the Castro video, because they arranged for it. Yet, it is missing from their own website?

Manufactured housing – as Dr. Carson (GOP) and 2020 presidential hopeful Julian Castro (D) both have said – is an important part of the solution to the affordable housing crisis. MHI knows that, so why have they failed to provide third party validation to their arguments for the industry?

Let’s be clear. Staffs’ jobs at a trade association are to carry out the board of directors instructions.  At MHI that’s the MHI Executive Committee.

These can’t all be oversights, can they?

So whatever one might attribute as the motivation for these failures by MHI, the fact remains they are doing some things, that are clearly insufficient, or manufactured housing wouldn’t be misunderstood, and new home shipments would not be sliding 7 straight months year-over-year during an affordable housing crisis. It is an apt example are what Mark Weiss, JD, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) called “The Illusion of Motion.”


The Solution Begins at the Local Level

You and I can’t fix MHI, nor do we need to do so. But we must grasp the reality of MHI, in order to advance in your local market(s) efforts.

When one grasps that the negative energy around manufactured housing often flows from ‘big boy’ MHI member companies, those who aren’t black hat ‘big boys’ should differentiate themselves from the rest. You and your firm – to unlock your full potential – must be seen by the public as a white hat company in an industry that housing shoppers have been led to believe is led by black hat operations.


We know the importance of emotions, because we have them too. But the Creator gave us a mind to think with, not just emotions that if unchecked can carry us away, a bit like dead fish floating down stream.

The correct combination of mind-opening marketing, combined with front line sales professionals supported by management that grasps these realities can walk an individual prospect one step at a time from curiosity into happy home ownership.

That’s best done one-on-one. By using a mind opening methodology, by teaching a staff to do the same, what you end up with is the widest array of prospects. As the sales team increasingly ‘gets it,’ they’ll sell an ever greater percentage and total number of prospects.

This method is honest, not manipulative. The customer is respected, not tricked. At the end of the process, they are now ‘in the know,’ which makes then feel empowered not diminished. They become the opposite of what too many think of as ‘trailer trash.’

This take effort, but it pays.

It is also something that requires nothing from the national association, or anyone other than you and your team’s connecting with our existing and proven resources. Which brings us back to Dr. Tyler.

She aptly made the point that it was community attitudes that are where the issue lies.  More fundamentally, it is with individuals, who in sufficient numbers influence or make up a community.

The positive, profitable change – once the dynamics are understood and navigated – can be addressed at the local level. That is where all sales take place. That’s something you and your team can successfully accomplish in a profitable, honorable, and sustainable fashion. To learn more, click one of the tabs – or check out the Related Reports, below the byline and notices.


This should not be misunderstood. Good videos, good photos and websites are useful. But if that was all that is needed, the industry’s sales would be 10 times larger than they are today. Clearly, education of the home buying public is missing. That’s what the Zillow research cited above reflects.

Denying reality may be a mild form of insanity. The opposite of that is to deal with what is real.  That’s this morning’s manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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What is Marketing? What is Selling? Succeeding with Manufactured Homes in Your Local Marketplace(s)


Ultimate, Proven Contrarian Investing – Ethical vs. Unethical, Legal vs Illegal Manufactured Housing Industry Strategies

Shocking, True State of the Manufactured Housing Industry, plus Solutions for Profitable, Sustainable Growth – May 2019

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GSE Asked: Will Manufactured Housing Overtake Conventional Homebuilding?

May 26th, 2018 Comments off


HISTORICALLY PLAGUED BY THE image of a tin box on wheels, manufactured housing finally is winning some of the mainstream acceptability that this housing segment has long sought. Today, manufactured housing—also mistakenly known as mobile homes, a colloquial but technically inaccurate name sometimes used to describe the housing product broader homeowning audience.”

–        Donald S. Bradley,

senior economist in Freddie Mac’s housing economics department.


It was a dramatically different time, and to be blunt, short term thinking back then in manufactured housing doubtlessly cost the industry tens of billions annually in new factory-built home sales.

The year was 1998, and the bust from the easy-credit go-go days of liar loans and questionable documentation was getting ready to bust. So, the researchers of that era did not yet know what we know today.

ManufacturedHousingIndustry1997FutureManufacturedHOusingHarvardUniversityJointCenterHousingStudies1997The chart below that reflects the nose dive in shipments from 1998 to 2009 are the only reminder that prudent, honest, long-term strategists need to realize that credit must be sustainable, or that promising future can vaporize like rainwater in the desert once the clouds pass.


That said, the praise from third-party researchers then was plentiful. And Fannie Mae seriously asked the following question in a research document:

Will Manufactured Housing Become Housing of First Choice?

Before you think that the report and headline were a one-off, recall that Eric Belsky made the statements in the graphic shown below. He did so a few years later, knowing about the repossessions, foreclosures and the constricting of lending that were occurring by that time.

–        Harvard,

–        a GSE,

–        the Ford Foundation,

–        and others were seeing the future of American Housing as coming out of a HUD Code manufactured home factory.


The Urban Institute, a HUD PD&R, and other reports reflect that manufactured homes (MH) can appreciate side-by-side with conventional housing. The law of supply and demand applies to MH and conventional housing too. When the GSEs, FHA, VA, USDA, and others realize that fixing appraisals through education, and leveling the playing field in lending will boost the value of the majority of manufactured homes, that in turn will fuel the financing for the millions of new manufactured homes needed in America today.

The proverbial table could be set for that type of future again, where manufactured and factory-built housing might be poised to overtake convention building, because the demand for housing is so great.


And the gap between what site builders can do and what is needed is so wide that among the tech giants are those who believe that only factory building will accomplish the closing of the gap.

This article will only reference briefly as related reports at the end what the Urban Institute failed to note in an otherwise largely useful report that published on manufactured housing in January 2018.

But some of the takeaways found in these reports from the late 90s and early 2000s are still valid today. and ought to be required reading for industry professionals, investors, public officials, policy and housing advocates.  The research we need today is research that’s already been done, time and again.

The excuses – pardon the bluntness – that the GSEs give today find their answer in some of their own research documents from the past, along side that of other third parties that praise the manufactured housing industry’s product.

What about today?

In fact, a recent report by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) makes it clear the quality of manufactured housing is – as HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “Amazing!” is proven by federal data that proves that only a tiny fraction of a single percent of the homes produced ever go to dispute resolution.  Keep in mind that the feds under Pam Danner’s watch at HUD started essentially advertising for complaints, because there were so few of them.


For newcomers to the website not familiar with modern manufactured homes, learn more by clicking the image above or the link here.

The extended quotes that follow are from a Ford Foundation report.  The entire document will be linked as a download at the end.

The opening quotes above are from a Freddie Mac report, which will also be linked at the end as a download.

The closing thought for this is simple.  For at least 2 decades, the manufactured housing industry has allowed itself to be defined by others.  The industry has built a fine product for decades. The foundation for having the industry defining itself has been set.

The industry has the laws that it needs, now what is needed is to see those laws be fully enforced.

Two Great Laws Already on the Books NOW,  Can Unlock Billion$ Annually for Manufactured Housing Industry Businesse$, Investor$

Back then, or more recently, there are media and researchers who discover that the solution to the affordable housing crisis is hiding in plain sight.

Bloomberg, HousingWire, Realtor and Fox all suggest Manufactured Homes as Important Solution for Affordable Housing in America

It is up to the individual businesses, or through a collective effort, to redefine in the public mind the myths vs. the realities. Please don’t take this as hubris, but we helped set the foundation for getting to the heart of what bothers consumers, media, researchers, and others when we launched – thanks to the support of others –

Surprised by the Truth, While Shopping for a New Home


When conventional housing starts dwarf manufactured housing, the industry must scratch its head, and candidly ask why? When existing home resales can’t – per the NAR’s Lawrence Yun – ever close the needs gap, manufactured housing pros and investors with guts and vision must step up and say, “We can do this.”

What is self-evident from the new home shipment levels is that the industry’s ‘leadership’ failed terribly at protecting, educating and promoting the true value of our product.


We must educate ourselves, and then we must educate others. James McGee and Chet Murphree said it, ‘its all about education.’ more about the above, linked here. John Bostick said it, “Easy doesn’t pay well.”  But with discipline and grit, the difficult becomes easy, and that proven system pays very well.

  • Evidenced-based education must be first to each other as professionals.
  • Then, education must then go out to our home owners and the rest of the general public.
  • We must not fear the truth.  Our product doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be a prudent option.  Site built housing is demonstrably not perfect, ours doesn’t have to be either.
  • There has to be some bold and courageous enough to stand up in their own respective field and do what a group of communities are doing, forge a new association that will address the needs that decades of history reveal hasn’t been solved by current leadership.

The proof of our quality and the reality of what holds us back are what MHProNews and MHLivingNews, with the support of others, has been documenting for years.  Those focus group videos are evidence of what happy manufactured home owners look like.

Affordable Housing Focus Group – Comparing Housing Options – Conventional Houses, Condo, Rentals, and Manufactured Homes – Up for Growth, National Association of Realtor, Studies

The solution for the affordable housing crisis has been hiding in plain sight.

Since we’ve said those words, others in media have picked it up, time and again.  That too is part of the proof of what is needed. Honest engagement with the media, researchers, advocates, home-shoppers, and public officials.

“The Solution to the Affordable Housing Crisis is Hiding in Plain Sight”

These reports from third parties from the glory days not so long past point the way foreword, for those willing to make common sense changes that bring new, more profitable and sustainable results.


That said, let’s dive into the powerful opening to the Ford Foundation, in the extended quotes below.




“An increasing share of lower-income families, the same population targeted by community-development organizations, are opting to live in housing that was built off-site in a factory to meet the performance standards of the national HUD manufactured-housing code. However, most community-development practitioners are just beginning to come to terms with the implications of manufactured housing for their work.

ManufacturingTransportReportToFordFoundationManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsThis paper explores advantages and disadvantages of manufactured housing for those entities whose mission is community development and asset building. Several challenges are presented for practitioners: First, working to educate consumers while also creating financing processes that ensure manufacturedhome buyers obtain credit on the best terms for which they can qualify. Second, using the increased scrutiny under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 to advocate for states to enforce more rigorous installation standards and increased accountability. Third, working to overcome land-use controls which prevent manufactured homes from being placed in communities in need of affordable housing, as well as areas with more potential for appreciation. Fourth, working with designers and planners to develop innovative designs and housing developments, while maintaining manufactured housing’s affordability advantages. Finally, equal effort must be devoted to address the difficult conditions of many lower-income people—owners and renters alike—living in older, and often deteriorating, mobile homes. While a few of these families and individuals could be relocated to new and better quality homes with the help of subsidies, resource limitations suggest the need to create cost-effective methods to eliminate health and safety problems by upgrading or rehabilitating this extremely affordable element of the nation’s housing inventory.

As a companion to this paper, an exhaustive literature review has been compiled.


There are over eight million manufactured, HUDcode homes in the United States today, representing two-thirds of affordable units added to the stock in recent years and a growing portion of all new housing. In fact, buyers of manufactured homes contributed to a substantial share of the growth in low-income home ownership evidenced in the 1990s. These statistics send a message to all who seek to promote home ownership for low-income families, as well as promote safe, affordable housing opportunities in disenfranchised communities. An increasing share of the people whom community-development organizations serve are opting to live in housing that was built offsite in a factory to meet the performance standards of the national HUD manufactured-housing code. Many community-development practitioners are just beginning to come to terms with the implications of this for their work.


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This report and the “Developing Community Assets with Manufactured Housing: Barriers and Opportunities” symposium held in Atlanta in February 2002 by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation are part of an effort to better understand the implications and opportunities of manufactured housing for the community-development field. The goal of this project is to increase education and awareness about manufactured housing among practitioners. Similar to other markets, community-based organizations have the potential to help ensure that consumers make informed choices regarding manufactured housing, and to use programmatic and policy tools to make a positive impact on communities.

To supplement the quantitative findings of research conducted by staff of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, anecdotal information was collected from the national NeighborWorks® network of nonprofit community-development organizations, and model program profiles were developed to provide a more complete picture of the opportunities and challenges of manufactured housing. In addition, focus groups with community-development practitioners, lenders, manufactured-housing retailers, homebuyer-education specialists and actual clients and consumers were convened to assess perceptions, knowledge and experience with manufactured housing. Guiding this research were questions related to the community-development field, namely, what—if anything—should community-development entities be doing about manufactured housing? How can this field begin to discern what improvements in public policy are needed and what programs might be successful?

This report provides a unique overview of manufactured housing, including a thorough analysis of historic trends, household demographics and the characteristics of manufactured stock, as well case studies that highlight innovative programs and developments. As a companion to this report, an exhaustive review of existing literature has also been summarized (beginning on page 49).


What is Manufactured Housing?

Manufactured housing began as an offshoot of the recreational-vehicle industry in the 1930s, providing shelter for households with mobile lifestyles as well as temporary housing needs. Following World War II, housing shortages induced many households to turn to mobile homes for permanent shelter. Recognizing an opportunity, during the 1950s the industry began designing and constructing units intended to be permanent shelters. This development engendered some quality improvements, but industrywide standards remained uneven.

Within a few decades, concerns over the quality, durability, health and safety of manufactured homes led to federal action. In 1974 Congress passed the Federal Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, which led to the creation of a national manufactured-housing code (the “HUD code”). Unlike site-built homes, modular housing and other types of factory-produced homes, which are built to a variety of state and local building codes, HUD-code manufactured homes are built to a single, national quality and safety standard. This standard is generally based on the performance of the design and materials, rather than prescribing a specific material type or dimension must be used. Therefore, HUD-code units may use engineered lumber or alternative materials not commonly permitted under local building codes.

Homes built to the HUD code are still built on a permanent chassis like mobile homes built prior to 1976, but HUD-code units are of a higher quality, safer, and more durable than earlier models. Importantly, the HUD code pre-empts state and local building regulations, allowing manufacturers to use standardized building materials and components and avoiding the delays associated with local building inspection procedures.

Because of these streamlined codes, reduced delays and other efficiencies, one of manufactured housing’s most distinctive features is its affordability. These cost advantages do not stem from inherently inferior quality standards in the HUD code as compared to site-built homes. Detailed studies by the University of Michigan and others suggest that quality differences of the local site-built codes compared to the HUD code is minimal (Warner and Johnson 1993, Gordon and Rose 1998). In fact, manufactured housing’s affordability stems largely from cost savings from production processes.

Five factors primarily drive these efficiencies:

  1. economies of scale in high-volume materials purchase,
  2. ability to better coordinate production using assembly-line techniques,
  3. a controlled environment devoid of weather or other delays,
  4. standardized design and materials, and
  5. reduced costs (primarily time) of securing approval from local code officials.

Overall these advantages can generate significant cost savings, as indicated by a recent HUD study showing that building a 2,000-square-foot manufactured unit costs just 61 percent as much as a comparable sitebuilt home (HUD 1998)…”

— end of extended quotes —


Freddie Mac Report on Manufactured Housing Poised to Overtake Conventional Housing, download linked here.

Report to the Ford Foundation, download linked here.


Let’s not let self-limiting thinking rob us, and the nation, of what could be a much brighter, richer future for all. The report linked below demonstrates how our industry could help grow the economy by some two trillion dollars annually.

YIMBY vs. NIMBY, Obama Admin Concept Could Unlock $1.95 Trillion Annually, HUD & MH Impact

Make no mistake.  The headline question is why Warren Buffett and other billionaires and multi-billion dollar operations are in this industry.

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By L. A. Tony’ Kovach, publisher of
Tony is the award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and