Posts Tagged ‘Ken Corbin’

“Trailer House Trauma,” Fresh Look at Manufactured Housing’s Opportunities

April 7th, 2018 Comments off

A Redmond New Moon mobile home, which today would be part of Champion Homes. Still from the movie, “The Long, Long Trailer.” see clips of the video, below.



Perhaps no other industry which has a product that boasts 22 million daily users is as misunderstood as the Manufactured Housing Industry in 21st Century America.


Darren Krolewski, MHV.

At the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, Darren Krolewski exemplified the problem, when he told attendees that they can ask some adult about a “manufactured home,” and they often have “no clue what that means.”

Krolewski is not alone in that experience.

Part of that misunderstanding can be captured in the irony – the tragedies – illuminated in the routine misuse by media or others of the words, “trailer house,” and “trailer park.”

For millions, those words are synonymous with “trailer trash.” Not many want to be thought of as trailer trash, one of the last acceptable put-downs of the 21st Century. After interviewing many, often on video, it is clearly an emotional trauma for them.

When tens of millions of potential buyers don’t understand the manufactured home product, of course it’s acceptance as a mainstream form of housing is compromised.

There are opportunities that can arise from that understanding. But to tap them, one must take a fresh look, and begin by clearly grasping the cause before the cure can be understood, or applied.

MHVille’s “Trailer House Trauma” is not the only explanation why so relatively few manufactured homes are being sold today, but it is one of them.


Lucy and Desi – Flashback to When a Trailer House Was Classy and Cool

If you’ve ever watched the Lucy and Desi comedy movie, “The Long, Long Trailer” then you realize that when you flashback in time to the early 1950s when that film was produced, it was often upscale people who bought a mobile home or ‘trailer house.’



The reason it was called a ‘trailer’ is because it could be pulled behind many a car, or pickup, as is often demonstrated in the movie.

Note in the chart below how high the sales levels of mobile homes were in the 1950s through the early 1970s?

Image and understanding aren’t everything, but they are a key part of acceptance.

So, “The Long, Long Trailer movie certainly didn’t hurt the sales of mobile homes.


Fast Forward to the 1990s.

Now, hop in your De Lorean, and flash-forward from the 1950s to the 1990s.

The manufactured housing industry was hitting its most recent peak. Several problematic challenges were in motion, including poorly underwritten manufactured home chattel loans. 2 decades later, that’s another problem that still haunts the industry with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Wall Street.

But why?

There was a bigger bloodbath in conventional housing’s varied meltdowns, the most recent and memorable one being the bubble that burst in 2008. Conventional and other lending came back for mainstream homes, why not for manufactured homes?

Part of the reason the Duty to Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing, rural, and undeserved markets was passed by Congress in 2008 was precisely the “poor paper” image that manufactured home chattel loans unfairly represented. Some independents in the industry realized that they needed Congress to act, to force federally chartered Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) lenders to support America’s most unsubsidized form of affordable home ownership.

After all, isn’t it discriminatory to robustly support mainstream housing, and not give equal opportunity for supporting manufactured homes?

But another issue for manufactured housing in the 1990s was the brewing “image issue.”

It was exacerbated when President Bill Clinton’s advisor James Carville, as a red herring on that administration’s simmering sex scandals, quipped “Drag a $100 bill through a trailer park, you never know what you will find.”

“Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find,” James Carville, Clinton Strategist

That comment by Carville went viral.

It’s haunted the industry ever since. In hindsight, one might ask, why didn’t the industry respond?

Carville’s calculated comment was a clearly bigoted, prejudicial statement that targeted the millions of Americans living in pre-HUD Code mobile homes and post-code manufactured homes (MH) — and by extension — the industry that serves them.  Not addressing the slander was arguably a mistake.

In the 1990s, the RV Industry – which began to separate from the MH industry during the mobile home (MH) era – launched and sustained since then their “Go RVing” image campaign. The manufactured housing (MH) tested marketing campaigns at times and regions, like ones done in California, or the Pacific Northwest. But those efforts were not sustained. Nor was there ever a coordinated, national MH campaign in the days when the industry’s producers were flush with cash.

So, the RV production chart reflects the fact that towable and motorized recreational vehicles (RVs) outsell manufactured homes today by more than 5 to 1. Yet RVs cost far more per square foot than even the higher priced manufactured homes. RVs are for most a luxury item, with many RVs not necessarily used for full-time living.  To rephrase, the Go RVing campaign has worked.

But that doesn’t imply that the same would work for manufactured housing.  That said, doing nothing is also not acceptable.



RVs are but one reminder than manufactured housing (MH) is nowhere near its potential.



Me Too?” Cures and Opportunities Begin with Understanding


The above is a collage of some images from Ken Corbin’s presentation at the manufactured housing industry’s 5 State Event in Deadwood, SD. There’s been over 10,000 retailers lost since the 1990s, said Corbin. That’s “the 10,000 drop.” Graphic by Corbin used with permission.

Former Clayton manager and retailer, Ken Corbin told MH professionals in Tunica, “don’t be a me too” seller in the manufactured home industry. To be more successful than others, one must stand out from the crowd.

Ken’s correct on not being a “me too” point — if greater success is the goal — then Ken’s point is true.

But more than that, one must first understand the causes of what’s kept manufactured housing rising since 2009, but still at historically low levels. It’s common sense that the cure comes after a proper diagnosis and treatment. 

This article looks at measurable data points and troubling facts that almost no one in the industry today mentions, much less addresses.

The “Trailer House Trauma” is far from the only challenge, but it is a real one.  Those willing to stand out from the pack are those who are willing to do the research or hire the talent needed to gain a similar understanding that successful investors like Warren Buffett have routinely done.

Give the man his due, Buffett does his home work.  He says he reads 5 to 6 hours a day.

What’s Next?

This is part one of a periodic series on the true state of the manufactured housing industry after the first quarter of 2018.

Some related data points and reports are found linked after the Related Reports header, further below.


Trailers could be pulled by a properly equipped car or pickup truck. Mobile homes became heavier, wider, and long enough to require special equipment and a trained driver. Manufactured housing is routinely far heavier still, wider, and moving them properly takes heavy equipment and a skilled driver.

As a closing note for today, while being “misunderstood” and the “Trailer House Trauma” is a problem, but it’s also an opportunity in disguise for potentially hundreds of industry companies of all sizes.

Manufacturers, retailers, communities, lenders, vendors and other service providers are all able to benefit from the proper localized, targeted marketing and customer engagement approaches.  Those methods must be based upon reality, as opposed to wishful thinking.  They must be sustainable, or else they will fail.

Hundreds of thousands of affordable homes are needed every year in the U.S. What other sector of the multi-trillion-dollar housing industry has so much upside potential?  Can you name any?

“Starting” Dip in Home Sales, New Crisis Says Housing Experts


RV and National Association of Realtors (NAR) data are clear indicators that with the proper capital, planning, team, motivation, and execution, manufactured housing industry professionals can turn their own image around on a localized basis.  RV dealers and real estate firms invest in their success.  Half a million RVs in 2017, plus over 5 million resale housing units for the NAR in 2017 are proof that it pays off.



Sadly, very few understand the connection between understanding the challenges, which can then lead to profitable solutions.  But that too is an opportunity in disguise, for those who reject being another ‘me too,’ and embrace the notion that success requires thoughtful change.

Case studies our consulting operation has done with those who put in the effort and resources have seen solid, positive results. To learn more, note the second related report, linked below. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

“Move, Open, Live” De Rose Industries & Senator Thom Tillis’ Mobile Home Comments

Understand, Plan, and Execute – Monday Morning Sales Meeting


Consulting, Marketing, Video, Recruiting, and Training Resources



By L.A. “Tony” Kovach to the Daily Business News for

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

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:


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How Many MH Independents, Retailers Have Been Lost Recently? “They Think They Own Us”

February 14th, 2018 Comments off


I’ve always believed MHI does the bidding of the big manufacturers and now REIT communities,” said an email from a state association leader with ties to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) to the Daily Business News.


It was a comment sent in connection to a forwarded news tip from another state association.  That message and related commentary about it from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – in reaction to the message – will be the focus of a report planned for Thursday, 2.15.2018.

The answer is for the states to rebel [against MHI],” said the same state association source. “But they [other states, beyond those that have already quit] won’t for reasons I’ve only lately understood.”

That reason? The association leader explained.

Why does Clayton [Homes] dominate many state association? Attrition. The decline in independent retailers who used to dominate the states.  AZ has lost 60% of their retailers since….wait for it…2011.”

The message went on with more details to MHProNews, that if published may reveal the source.


Another Source Comments

 A state association with close ties to Clayton and MHI sent a message out to a number of board members.

One (or more…) sources connected to that board forwarded the message onto MHProNews, as news tips.

That’s what the source above was reacting to, with the comments published above.  When another independent industry operation from yet another state was shown the message, and asked to react, that company president said to MHProNews,They think they own us.”

Industry readers are reminded of what the Atlantic and IBISWorld predicted in 2011.  Note what took place in the state mentioned above since that date? A reported 60 percent additional decline in independent retailers.



How Much for Selling Out to Clayton…?

 Industry retailers who have sold out to Clayton Homes, or have discussed a Clayton buyout have told MHProNews that the Knoxville metro based company “doesn’t pay much” for their business.


The main thing they [Clayton] do for you is if you stay and manage the sales center for them, you’ll sell more homes with VMF’s [Vanderbilt] lending.  They show you how VMF buys deals that 21st [both owned by Berkshire Hathaway] won’t.”

Zero Down Payment – not Land in Lieu – Manufactured Home Chattel Lending Program

That’s a complaint reported on previously by the Daily Business News, as the report linked above reflects.


“Lost Dealers,” Means Lost Independent Production Companies

 MHProNews  previously reported an MHI document, shown below, which reveals how many independent producers have been “consolidated since 2011.


Notice that the number of production centers has held pretty steady for the years the statistics reflect, but the number of independently owned producers are 1/3 lower during that same timeframe.


Some independents believe if “the Feds” or other legal action don’t step in with an anti-trust action against Berkshire Hathaway, even more companies will be lost in the near term.

Lawsuits for Triple Damages – Anti-Trust, Anti-Monopoly Law, Manufactured Housing, and You

One of several points missed by the recent Urban Institute report on why manufactured housing isn’t doing better is precisely because there are fewer independent retailers, and producers than even a few years ago.

Former Clayton manager Ken Corbin called it the “10,000 [retailer] drop.”

Ken Corbin “the 10,000 Drop,” points to Industry Woe, Causes of Manufactured Housing’s 10 & 20 Year Collapse?

As an independent told MHProNews today, he knew many independents that closed or sold out for “nickels on the dollar,” adding three words. “Tragic, and heartless.”

We Provide, You Decide.” ©  ## (News, analysis, and linked commentary.)

NOTICE:  Watch for a Special Report on HUD’s reaction to Claims Attributed to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) , planned for Tomorrow, 2.15.2018.



Weekly news tips, often the personal insights and experiences of readers sparked by a report you are reading, are how many stories begin or develop. Sources can be on or off he record. To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.

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Sunday Morning Weekly Recap Manufactured Housing Industry News, September 24 to October 1, 2017

October 1st, 2017 Comments off

Featured image credit, MHProNews.

Tony, every week there is so much that happens, this [The Sunday Morning Headline News Recap] is an easy way for me to review the news, thank you for this [feature] and your team’s coverage of factory-built housing.

Our featured articles for September are available on the home page.

FYI – and ICYMI if you aren’t already on our twice-weekly emailed headline news update, click here to sign up in seconds.

Thousands get our emails, and the open and click through rates – per MailChimp – blow away others in media and publishing.  The reason?  “Relevant!” said a regular on MHProNews.

To see the line-up of over 2-dozen featured articles for the month of September, along with the headline commentary, please click this link here.

Manufactured, modular and prefabricated home professionals know that how a home got to its location should not define a person or their dwelling.

What the Daily Business News spotlights day-by-day are the tragedies, triumphs and struggles for acceptance of the obvious solution for millions for the growing affordable housing crisis in the U.S. and beyond.

When you read the lineup for the month found on the home page, you can reflect on another motto as you chart your own professional path ahead: “We Provide, You Decide.”  ©


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Ken Corbin “the 10,000 Drop,” points to Industry Woe, Causes of Manufactured Housing’s 10 & 20 Year Collapse?

September 28th, 2017 Comments off

The above is a collage of some images above from Ken Corbin’s presentation at the manufactured housing industry’s 5 State Event in Deadwood, SD. Graphic by Corbin used with permission.

During manufactured home industry veteran Ken Corbin’s presentation in Deadwood, SD, the former Clayton Homes professional pointed to what he called “the 10,000 Drop.”

What was that “10,000 drop?”

Corbin said it was the vanishing of some 10,000 manufactured home retail (a.k.a. “dealer”) locations since the industry’s last high was achieved in 1998.

Corbin made his statement in the context of the traditional 4 stages of growth for industries and companies.  His was a marketing and sales presentation, not specifically intended as a historic look or a general analysis at what caused the industry’s slide since 1998 — much less the following historic industry drop in 2008.


This report is neither meant to be a detailed analysis of Corbin’s presentation, nor a complete look at what caused the industry’s post 2008 collapse.  Rather, Corbin’s slides sparked the obvious question, what caused those 10,000 retailers to vanish?  Was it a failure in marketing or training?  Or was it something else, or a combination of other factors?  The above is a collage of some images from Ken Corbin’s presentation at the manufactured housing industry’s 5 State Event in Deadwood, SD. Graphic by Corbin used with permission.

Corbin pointed to the struggles of retailers like K-Mart, Target, and Wal-Mart, which at one point in time, all three were flying high.  Today, K-Mart’s closing stores, and Target has their struggles too. Mega-retailer Wal-Mart is trying to play catch up with online giant, Amazon.

Corbin suggested that those 4 Stages have impacted manufactured housing.

AllNatureDoesNotSurviveGrowAttorphySomersWhiteDontBecomeAnotherMeTooCompanyKenCorbinDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsThe Foremost Study Connection

While a case could certainly be made for some of what Corbin said, he also referenced a study by Foremost Insurance which pointed to something else. Perhaps inadvertently, he pointed to data previously published by MHLivingNews, and used with permission by Foremost Insurance.


Manufactured homes were selling hot in the 1990s due in part to easy credit. That bubble burst in the late 1990s, and the early 2000s. It was followed by the general housing collapse, also fueled by easy credit for conventional housing. While return of credit for conventional housing was supported by the federal government under the Obama Administration, where was the similar effort to support that recovery for manufactured housing? In addition, the proper terminology slipped from already low levels during the mid-to-late 2000s, and has accelerated since, per the Foremost  research.

Before publishing the Foremost Insurance report, at MHLivingNews’ request, Foremost modified its original content to fit a more proper use of today’s industry terminology. See that, linked here.

Just the Facts…

The 2008 plunge took place during a time that HUD Code producer/retailers such as vertically integrated Palm Harbor Homes and American Home Star corporations were doing significant levels of training, TV, and internet marketing.  The statistics below demonstrate that appealing looking sales centers, good looking video, internet and other homes ads, Grayson Schwepfinger or other sales training did not reverse the coming collapse.


From Cavco annual report, see that, at this link here.

That plunge was caused in part related to a drop-in consumer financing.

But it was also fueled, say several industry sources, by a significant throttling of wholesale, floorplan lending.  That choking off of floorplan lending, sources tell MHProNews, combined with the drop in retail finance, caused thousands of retailers to vanish.  In the wake of that contraction, naturally, several manufactured home producers also closed, went bankrupt, or at some point sold out to other industry players.

SamZellManufacturedHousingIndustryManufacturedHomeCommunitiesMastheadIndustryCommentaryMHProNewsIt was during this period that Berkshire Hathaway owned companies began – with its superior cash supply – the accelerated takeover of the manufactured housing industry’s production, retail – plus wholesale and retail lending.


Was your company or one that you know of impacted by the wholesale MH floor plan credit crunch post 2008?  To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.

What was MHI’s and Berkshire Hathaway’s Response to the Crisis?


Tim Williams, 21st Mortgage president, and prior MHI Chairman – credit, LinkedIn.

Then MHI Chairman, Tim Williams admitted at in a meeting with dozens in the room that the Arlington, VA based association lurched from reacting too late to the SAFE Act (“that horse has left the barn“), to reacting too late to Dodd-Frank.  That caused prior MHI Chairman Nathan Smith to say on a video interview – linked here or from the image below – that he hoped to make the association less reactive, and more pro-active.


Very few industry analysts point to the fact that it was the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA 2008) that gave the industry the potential promise of the Duty To Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing by the Government Sponsored Enterprises, also gave the industry the SAFE Act.

DTS has still not taken place almost a decade later. By contrast, the SAFE Act did take hold and was rolled into the looming train wreck of the passage of Dodd-Frank in 2010, and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has since driven out industry lenders, such as U.S. Bank.

Back to Ken…

None of that was part of Corbin’s presentation, which after all, was focused on marketing and training, not a history or a deep analysis of all the factors at play in the industry’s collapse and the slow recovery since.


But as independent manufactured housing industry HUD Code producers examine what happened that caused the dire lack of retailers today – that “10,000 drop” Corbin cited – is part of a broader pattern that helps explain why the industry is struggling with under 100,000 new home shipments for over a decade – at the very time as the well-documented affordable housing crisis in America has grown.  ## (News, events, analysis, commentary.)

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Big Horn, Fire Alarms, Deal Making & Big Time at Deadwood

September 21st, 2017 Comments off

Big horn sheep and mountain goats.

Mixers. Meals. Networking. Gaming. Dining. Local and nearby tourist sights. Buffalo burgers.

And let’s not forget business, golfing, presentations, deal making, auctions, and meetings.  All this and more were found at the popular 5 State Convention in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Some snapshots from the presentations at 3 day event are as follows.

Selling the American Dream

Selling the American Dream” was the theme of author, speaker, industry veteran, and consultant, Ken Corbin.

Corbin spoke about several topics.

They included company and industry life-cycles, why businesses and industries grow, whither, die and how they can revive.

Ken’s years of experience showed,” said L. A. “Tony” Kovach, who attended the morning session.


One of Corbin’s several points was that since the peak of 1998, some 10,000 independent retailers have vanished in the manufactured housing industry.  It was a point in keeping with a Daily Business News report, linked here.

Maximizing Sales & Compliance

Ron Gorsline, Hudson Cook Law Firm did what attorneys addressing professionals often do.  He got into the nitty gritty of how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is dealing with business in general and the manufactured housing industry in particular.

In some cases, Gorsline said, the CFPB is making it up as they go along.

Among Gorsline’s points was that a company being investigated could spend $500,000 defending an action, one that the CFPB might later decide no error or wrongdoing had occurred on the part of the investigated company.


The burden that kind of enforcement creates on a small business can be devastating.

The issues Gorsline raised have been a periodic focus on MHProNews for years, and is one reason why editorially this publication opposed Secretary Hillary Clinton for president, as she was a strong advocate of the CFPB and Dodd Frank.


Hillary Clinton, left, Warren Buffett, right. Credit – Boston Globe.  But Buffett’s stock has soared since the Trump victory, see the graphic and report; learn more, linked above. 

By contrast, candidate-now-President Donald Trump has promised to do away with the overbearing powers of the agency.

The attorney’s presentation was interrupted when fire alarms went off, and the building was ordered evacuated. Jerry Vogler of the S.D. Manufactured Housing Association said it was the first time in 30 years that he’s had that experience.

It turned out to be a false alarm, and the warmly applauded meeting resumed.


One of the exhibitors and sponsors at the 5 State Convention, in Deadwood, SD.

How to Dominate Your Local Market

Kovach is a well know speaker in manufactured housing circles. Feedback on L. A. “Tony” Kovach’s presentation was robust from association as well as business attendees.

For example, “I thoroughly enjoyed your program.  It was on target and had the attendees fully involved.  I’m looking forward to hearing you speak again in the future!” – said Ken Corbin.


Jerry Vogler said that the turnout for this convention was the best in years. Feedback from attendees for the event was routinely positive. Stuart Doggett of the Montana MH and RV association was another familiar face engaged in making this event possible, as were sponsors and others. 

The popular presentation may be laced with hot links and provided to the industry at large at some time in the future. The key themes were the industry’s tremendous potential, while often facing misinformed, bigoted, or prejudiced head winds from media, officials, and others.

He also addressed the fact that home owners wanted to be part of the solution in dispelling the myths and misconceptions about today’s manufactured homes.


One of over 60 slides in a 90 minute talk by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

Kovach said there are several examples of how those issues can be successfully addressed at the local level. He pointed to an interview with Tom Fath at New Durham Estates, and third-party video interviews sponsored by Sunshine Homes, along with other examples.


One of over 60 slides in a 90 minute talk by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

He also gave a flash version of how the actively retired businessman, the Rev. Donald Tye, Jr. and he met.  He explained how they are collaborating in efforts to improve the lives of others through a proper understanding and respect for manufactured homes.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has said that home owners have an average  The net worth of $200,000, while renters only have a $5000 net worth.  Home ownership, says Tye and Kovach, is a cause that’s good for society at large.


Tye and Kovach issued a joint statement of hope and healing recently, at this link here.


What’s wrong is that we don’t ask what’s right,” Kovach quotes Chesterton.

He said it was a mistake for the industry’s independents to wait for anyone from Washington to come riding into save the industry. That has to be done at the local level by dedicated, honest, and willing-to-learn and develop professionals.

Kovach said that the industry can return to 500,000+ new manufactured home shipments annually sustainably, ethically, and with happy customers by following proven steps at the local market level.


The presentation was met with a range of responses from warmth to enthusiastic support by attendees for the principles and potential for the program to grow the MH Industry’s potential at the local level.  The program has already been successfully tested in several markets. 

What’s New in Washington, D.C.

Rick Robinson, JD, Sr. Vice President, and General Counsel of the Manufactured Housing Institute made some surprising statements, admissions, and alleged omissions during his regulatory D.C. talk.

Some of those will be featured in-a periodic series of Daily Business News reports in the days ahead.  We will give MHI a chance to respond to questions that dozens there noted were deliberately not answered during their presentation. Robinson focused at the end for new members to join the big company dominated group. Stay tuned…


Robinson is a good speaker, good writer and a likeable person, says MHProNews publisher, L. A. “Tony” Kovach. The questions that Robinson and MHI leaders routinely duck and dodge will only continue until they are properly addressed in a transparent way, he opines.   One example of issues being raised by the CfA and congressional leaders, is linked here.

Robinson is an affable, engaging person. But likeablity doesn’t always equal performance,” Kovach said. “He was polite each time we spoke. That said, MHI claims to represent the industry at large, so why do they try to avoid accountability for their performance?”

Kovach, along with industry professionals like award winning Bob Crawford, routinely praise state association executives at being far more effective than MHI is at actually getting something positive done for their members.




MHI award winner Marty Lavin has blasted MHI on several occasions for their failures to address the root issues that plague the manufactured housing industry. Click the above for an example.


Kovach applauded the industry professionals and state association leaders in Deadwood, saying that they had gone through the ups and downs that have occurred since the late 1990s, and are striving day by day to serve the public and residents well.


Auctions, Golf, SEBA/HUD and More

Cayttie Heister, from Minot North Dakota told MHProNews that “We at Kopper Creek would like to say thank you to all who put so much effort into the program for 5 State Convention!”


This is the first time we have attended and have enjoyed it tremendously!! The speakers have been inspirational and very educational!! Again,” Heister said, a sincere thank you! Great to hear Tony again!”  ## (News, analysis.)


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