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Howard Walker, Mensch – Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), Manufactured Homes Retrospective

July 23rd, 2018 Comments off


HowardWalkerPhotoManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews
It’s a Jewish tradition when someone dies to say, “May his or her memory be for blessing.” The actual honorific is “of blessed memory,” a translation of the Hebrew “zikhrono livrakha” (m.) or “zikhronah livrakha” (f.)…I tend to say, “May his or her memory be a blessing.”” – Nina Amir.

 

When a long-time industry friend and colleague of Howard Walker’s heard we planned this article, he asked us to say in this retrospective, “Be sure to say that Howard Walker was a Mensch.”

Howard Walker, JD, served as Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) Vice Chairman for many years. Sam Zell and several of their colleagues voted in the spring to keep his chair empty for a year.

That was a mark of honor for a man that hundreds of us in manufactured housing – especially in the land lease community sector – came to know.

 

Mr. Walker was a sharp man, who could be tough, and had a quick wit. You obviously don’t serve an industry giant in such a key role for so long without bringing a lot of experience and wisdom to the table.

Walker was trusted.

Howard served on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Executive Committee as a board member for several years.

Every time we drive into Tampa – dozens of times annually, as we pass Howard Ave near the airport – it serves as a silent reminder to us of the man.

 

Powerful Lesson from a Private Dinner with Howard Walker

Howard invited me to a private dinner for two in Tampa a few years ago, which yielded hours of conversation about the industry.  We naturally also spoke about the Arlington, VA based MHI trade association.

Let’s note that it’s not my intention to reveal anything said by Howard that was shared in strict confidence. But some principles he espoused which where also shared with others will take center stage in what follows.

Specifically, the focus will be a concept which Howard himself shared with others, that he explained that he and ELS believe in.

It is fair to say that Walker felt that others in manufactured housing should also believe in the following principle. Here’s a specific gems that Walker stressed during that dinner.

Tony, as a publicly traded company, ELS believes in transparency, in getting the facts out there.
If there is bad news, we get it out there. If there is good news, get it out there
.”
– Howard Walker.

He then explained to me the wisdom of this approach.

On a different occasion that year, I was communicating with an ELS administrator, who interfaced with Walker and another one of their top people. I conversationally mentioned to her our plan not to put some bad news out on MHProNews that had just hit the mainstream news.

That ELS executive administrator asked me, ‘Why not get it out there for the industry to read and consider?’

Walker and that ELS executive level administrator were both logically correct. Why hide the truth? Both of those ELS team members shared a similar insight.  They were applying a similar principle – related to the value of addressing what’s in the news, and transparency.

 

Clarifying…

For clarity, it’s not that MHProNews ever ignored all bad news about the industry. From early on, the Daily Business News, the Masthead or one of our other modules periodically reported and specifically analyzed problem issues.

But there is sadly so much skewed reporting or problematic terminology about manufactured housing in the mainstream media, that if we reported on every piece of bad news, that could dominate all that MHProNews would do.  We’d never have time to get to the good news on MHProNews or MHLivingNews.  An example of recent useful – mostly good news – is the report linked below.

Realtor University ® “The Market for Manufactured Homes,” Research by Scholastica Cororaton, Certified Business Economist, Highlights

So, for years, the Daily Business News has strived for balance and accuracy.  Here the industry professional or investor can consider the good, bad or ugly. The news is explored through the lens of informed industry professionals.

As any publisher does, we must curate – carefully select, pick and choose – what topics to cover.  Then, we make the case as to why that curated story is important to the industry, officials, advocates, researchers, and investors.

It’s been a few years since that dinner conversation.  But clearly, Howard Walker’s thoughtful gem on transparency stuck with me.

 

Howard Walker, MHProNews and the Sam Zell Interview

Howard facilitated our interview responses with Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS) Chairman Sam Zell.  He insured it would be an accurate reflection of what Mr. Zell said and meant. Those two parts of the Zell interview are linked below.  They are classics.

The photo shown below by MHProNews of Zell, coupled with the quote shown, were among the Zell-isms Howard said were verified with the ELS Chairman.

pencil-head-its-not-a-trailer-park-els-chairman-sam-zell-c2013lifestyle-factory-homes-llc-all-rights-reserved-manufactured-ho

To see a two part exclusive interview with Sam Zell, click the links above.

 

Why did Walker facilitate that Zell interview? Isn’t that also an example of transparency, and the desire for accuracy?  Isn’t it also a sign of trust?

It is fair to say that Howard was at times miffed – to put it politely – at some of our coverage about MHI, notably in the roughly last 2 years.

But he also overall praised our industry coverage as “thorough and unbiased reporting,” as a number of emails from him – including the one further below for publication – reflects.

The above tees up the following logical question.

How well, by the Howard Walker/ELS standard – has the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) held to the standard of “transparency?”

HowardWalkerJDELSViceChairmanPhotoManufacturedHouisngInstituteMHIExecuitiveCommitteeBoardMemberDailyBUisnessNewsMHProNews

For the bulk of the time since MHProNews has existed, this publication could ask MHI, or any other trade association for comments and insights, and we would promptly get a reply.

As regular Daily Business News readers noted last week, MHProNews can get comments from other national or state trade associations, see examples of 6 in the housing/factory-built housing industry in just a matter of days, spotlighted in the report linked below.

“When I Slow Down, I Go Faster.” – Ken Blanchard, and Manufactured Housing

 

Flash Back

Let’s flashback to the 2017 MHI meeting in San Antonio.  There, this writer asked several MHI member-builders, as well as other MHI members and staff, about what the association’s position should be on Pam Danner at HUD.  Keep in mind that this was several months prior to her removal as head of the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs, which occurred later in 2017.  MHI staff would not answer that question.  Why not?  But numbers of members where happy to discuss the matter.  More on that linked below, in the related resources.

Not long after that San Antonio meeting, MHI sent our firm a letter removing our firm from their membership.  It was roughly that same time frame, that MHI stopped responding to questions from MHProNews.  After years of membership, their written excuse was that it had ‘come to their attention’ that they had ‘no membership category’ for ‘news media.’ Never mind, that our operation does more than news, or that other MHI members publish too.  If you are going to give an excuse, was their’s an example that any excuse will do?

Now consider that in juxtaposition to Howard Walker encouraging MHI leadership in writing to deepen their relationship with MHProNews.

HowardWalkerManufacturedHousingInstituteNathanSmithRichardJennisonPresidentManufacturedHomeIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews598

What’s happened to transparency at MHI?

How would Walker or others objectively answer that question?

Walker praised this publication and our sister platform, MHLivingNews.com in writing and for publication. He never withdrew that statement, shown in the graphic further above.

HowardWalkerPhotoELSViceChairmanManufacturedHomeCOmmunitiesManufacturedHousingInstituteExecCommitteeMemberQuoteTransparencyMHProNews

Thoughtful words, worth pondering.

Howard said that our brand of reporting was long overdue in manufactured housing.

Howard, let me respectfully suggest that your words – and that stated ELS principle on transparency – are more needed now in MHVille than ever.  The industry is still at historically low levels of performance, as an MHI member-produced graphic below reveals.

MobileHomeShipmentsManufacturedHomeShipmentChartMHIAShipmentsMHIndustryChampionSkylineHUDCodeDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

What was accomplished previously in sustainable shipment levels, can clearly be done again.  During an affordable housing crisis, what is missing?  

Fair and necessary questions related to this gem of Walker’s should include:

  • why during an affordable housing crisis is the manufactured home industry at such a relatively low level of new home production and sales?
  • Why did MHI become so aloof from engagement here?
  • Or why does MHI often fail to engage with mainstream media, when doing so could potentially get to the root issues that hold the industry back from more growth?

We’ll look more deeply into this and related in the days ahead.  We may also find occasion to reveal a few more gems from Howard.

HowardWalkerPhotoEquityLifstylePorpertiesELSViceChairmanManufacturedHousingInstituteBoardofDirectorsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

The interstate near the airport in Tampa, FL, Howard Ave sign. 

It goes without saying that the keen and colorful Howard Walker, Mensch, is missed.

May his memory be a blessing.  May those words inspire thoughtful reflection. May he rest in peace. ## (Retrospective, industry events, analysis, and commentary.)

(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.) Related Reports, are linked below…

ManufacturedHomeIndustry#1HeadlineNewsMHProNews

To see a sample of our emailed news update, click here. To sign up for the factory-built home industry’s #1 headline news, click here or the graphic above.

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By 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

Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates.

 

Related Reports:

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

 

Only 3 Options – the Elephant in the Room

 

 

Sunday Morning Manufactured Home Industry Research, Reports, Headline News Recap 6.3.2018 to 6.10.2018

June 10th, 2018 Comments off
sundayMorningManufacturedHousingIndustryTradeNewsRecap6.3.3018to6.10.2018DailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Trivia: If you look carefully, the screen shot of the iPad above often looks like the MHProNews home page did on that Sunday morning.

Mensch

 

We’re preparing an article about a Jewish gentleman known by scores in the Manufactured Home (MH) industry.

In mentioning our research to a Jewish MH industry colleague, he said, “Make sure you say that he was a mensch.”

Google’s online dictionary defines the word “mensch” like this.

MenschNobelPrizeofWordsTitleYouCantBestowOnYOurselfmensch

men(t)SH/

noun NORTH AMERICAN informal

  1. a person of integrity and honor

The Urban Dictionary says, “A mensch is a someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible.”

Dictionary.com says a mensch is a “person of strength and honor,” 1907, from Yiddish, from German Mensch, literally “man, person,” from Old High German mennisco “human,” from Proto-Germanic adjective *manniska- “human” (see mannish

Everyone, including we non-Jews (“the goyim”), can learn much from the mensch we are fortunate enough to encounter in life.

 

Divisions

Among the things Tony and I discuss from time to time is how governments, by accident or design, can divide people who otherwise can joyfully coexist side-by-side, absent irksome meddling.

RC Williams, Daily Business News MHProNews

RC Willaims.

As R.C. Williams put it about a year ago, there are professional race-baiters. It’s a term used by others besides R.C., to describe individuals who literally make money stirring up racial discord, often using a non-profit, or other operation to collect money.

Political parties are useful in some ways, but it must also be acknowledged that political parties and their advocates have the tendency to divide people into “us vs. them.”

That can happen in professional groups too.

HowToBeAModernDayMenschThoughtcoDailyBusinessNewsMNProNEws

Scriptural scroll for rabbinic reading.

We’re not among those who believe that every religion is equal.  There are for example, Satanists, not many believers would put them on the same level as other groups. But we acknowledge that if God-Who-Created all gave man free will, then we must respect other’s right to choose.

That doesn’t imply that in politics, religion, economic or other distinctions that dialogue should be avoided.

Robust, frank dialogue that seeks truth in all its forms is to be celebrated.

So, respectful dialogue on issues that divide people ought to be embraced.

Absent absolute standards of right and wrong, how can we recognize what’s criminal, okay or what soars to the level of what is honorable?

To be a mensch – an honorable person who acts with integrity – whatever one’s personal or demographic data might be – requires standards.

 

Back to Basics

Many a coach has taken a struggle team “back to basics,’ Tony says. When something is awry, the basics ought to be among the first its to examine.  When the industry is still at historically low levels of sales, everything that contributes to that should be evaluated.

When Tony and I met nearly 15 years ago, Tony was working in the Houston metro area. He described an impressive manufactured housing retail operation that had lots of traffic. It had leading edge tech at that time. The display made every home look as if it was ground set.  Every home was staged to the 9s.

That retailer had multiple outlets.

But as impressive as that retail operation was, as high as their traffic was, their conversion ratios were low. Their sales were low.

They ended up going bankrupt.

Tony said much of their plan was fine, but when people aren’t buying in sufficient numbers to sustain a business, it’s an obvious sign that one or more things are either missing or are not sufficiently emphasized.

That retailer never became a client of his. For a fraction of the cost of their monthly overhead, they could have invested and won. They pinched pennies, and it cost them millions. It’s but one of numerous examples of ways that a firm can fail.

The word “integrity” has several meanings. One is “the state of being whole and undivided.”

HonestyIntegrityWordCloudEthicsTrustRespectSincereMonsoonLeadersManufacturedHousingMHProNEws

Honest people can fail. Dishonest people can succeed for a time, as some criminal enterprises prove.

But ultimately every operation that has integrity – in a free enterprise system – learns to serve the public in ways that benefit the buyer, while profiting the seller. It must be a mutual victory.

That win-win requires a foundation, the basics. Every company or organization needs it.

When there’s one or more mensch in the mix, a person of integrity and honor, the odds for sustainable success arguably goes up.

We salute all people who are honorable, and who act with integrity.

With no further adieu, let’s look at the week that was, in over two dozen headline reports.

 

What’s New on MHLivingNews

Celebrate National Home Ownership Month, with 26 Cool Prefab Cribs, a $1 Billion Dollar Hybrid Mansion, 4 Fun Videos

What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews

Saturday 6.9.2018

Politically Incorrect Cartoon Commentaries, Lighter Side of Making America and Manufactured Housing Great Again

Politically Incorrect Cartoon Commentaries, Lighter Side of Making America and Manufactured Housing Great Again

Friday 6.8.2018

“Final Nail in the Coffin,” Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Case Dismissed, Hensarling Reacts 

Oil Price Forecast, and Manufactured Housing, Plus MH Market Updates 

Manufactured Housing Institute Issues Alert – MHI Email Compromised

Manufactured Housing Institute Issues Alert – MHI Email Compromised

Manufactured Home Communities, Retailers, Developers Face Disruptive, Troubling Trend

Manufactured Home Communities, Retailers, Developers Face Disruptive, Troubling Trend

 

Thursday 6.7.2018

Reuters on U.S. Housing Price Pace, Manufactured Housing Visions

Buffett-Dimon Plan Dropping Guidance Harms Investor Insight, Analyst Bove Says, Plus Manufactured Home Market Updates

“Americans Deserve Accountability from Their Government,” Reforms, Result$, Counted, and Coming

“Americans Deserve Accountability from Their Government,” Reforms, Result$, Counted, and Coming

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims June 2018 as National Homeownership Month, Industry Reaction

 

Wednesday 6.6.2018 

Senator Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Presidential Prospect, Threatens Wave of New Regulations

Senator Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Presidential Prospect, Threatens Wave of New Regulations

“Gavin Newsom wants to turn this state [California] into Venezuela – we’re not going to let him,” John Cox – plus MH Market Updates

George Allen Reply to Mainstream Media re: Roane/Lackey/SECO Exposé, Plus MHI, MHARR, et al – “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again”

George Allen Reply to Mainstream Media re: Roane/Lackey/SECO Exposé, Plus MHI, MHARR, et al – “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again”

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

 

Tuesday 6.5.2018 

Doug Schoen, Clinton Adviser, warns – “Democrats must advance an agenda…to create a society of opportunity for all – not guaranteed outcomes achieved through wealth redistribution.”

Fannie Mae Touts MH Advantage Program, But Manufactured Housing Association Slams Plan as “Illegitimate,” “Bait and Switch”

Fannie Mae Touts MH Advantage Program, But Manufactured Housing Association Slams Plan as “Illegitimate,” “Bait and Switch”

Jobs, Jobs, More Jobs – What the Data Says, plus Manufactured Housing Industry Markets Update

President Trump Spotlights Factory Home Builder in Speech, Proven Promotion, Support of Industry Advancement

President Trump Spotlights Factory Home Builder in Speech, Proven Promotion, Support of Industry Advancement

 

Monday 6.4.2018

Skyline Champion Corporation Created as Skyline and Champion Home Builders Announce Closing of Business Combination, Exclusive Details

Skyline Champion Corporation Created as Skyline and Champion Home Builders Announce Closing of Business Combination, Exclusive Details

Koch Brothers Battling POTUS Trump Tariffs, Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow Defends, Stocks Jump, plus MH Market Updates

Manufactured Home Production and Shipment Report, April 2018, per MHARR, HUD, IBTS

Manufactured Home Production and Shipment Report, April 2018, per MHARR, HUD, IBTS

Truth or Consequences – Monday Morning Sales, Marketing Meeting

Truth or Consequences – Monday Morning Sales, Marketing Meeting

Sunday 6.3.2018

Sunday Morning Manufactured Home Industry Research, Reports, Headline News Recap 5.27.2018 to 6.3.2018

Sunday Morning Manufactured Home Industry Research, Reports, Headline News Recap 5.27.2018 to 6.3.2018

And that’s all she wrote, during the week that was, along with a bit of help from that other guy. ## (Headline news, week in review, recap, analysis, commentary.)

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SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.