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Joe Stegmayer, Cavco Industries, MHI Chairman, Insights from Innovative Housing Showcase

June 11th, 2019 Comments off

 

JoeStegmayerCavcoIndustriesManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIChairmanInsightsInnovativeHousingShowcaseMHProNews

With enough patience, facts and patterns in dispute often reveal themselves more clearly to those with an open mind who are honestly seeking clarity. By definition, the closed-minded can’t be reasoned with.

 

This report will have two primary components.  The first will be from the recent and positive Innovative Housing Showcase, held at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Joe Stegmayer, former Chairman, President, and CEO of Cavco Industries was prominent there.  The second will look again at a leadership and related questions that keep arising at Cavco.

 

MHI Chairman Stegmayer At Recent Innovative Housing Showcase in Washington, D.C.

Five U.S. congressmen and several other senior government officials took tours, said Joseph Stegmayer, Cavco’s former chairman and CEO,” said Phoenix metro’s AC Central, a Gannett media publication that is part of the USA Today network.

This is one of the best unsubsidized ways to promote affordable housing,” Stegmayer said of manufacturing housing, per that same source.  He said that factory-built homes can be made at about half the cost of comparable dwellings built on site.

Some other facts, per AZ Central:

·        Cavco exhibited a 1,050 square foot home with two bedrooms and two baths that was built at one of its two factories in Virginia that retails for about $64,000.  What they didn’t specify was that it was the lone single sectional on display in the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Skyline Champion displayed two multi-sectional models.

·        Cavco was one of 19 exhibitors at the National Mall and teamed with UMH Properties, a real estate investment trust or REIT that owns and operates manufactured-home communities around the nation.

This was the only news report found on line as of the date and time shown about the publicly traded firm’s (CVCO) involvement in the project. We’ll return to that factoid later.

 

CavcoIndustriesInnovativeHousingShowcaseAZCentralArizonaRepublicUSATodayGannettNewsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

In the MHI branded video below, Stegmayer says: “Manufactured Housing is so much of an untold story. It has come a long way in a short number of years. And now were providing homes that rival anything built on site at half the cost. And so, to meet the affordable housing crisis in this country, and there truly is a need for affordable housing, manufactured housing can go a long way to doing that.”

 

 

Stagmayer continued by saying, “We can provide a home for millions of people who otherwise can not afford a home and would be renting for the rest of their lives. Here [he’s standing in a manufactured home] they can buy a home, build equity, just like any other home owner. And, ah, stay in that home for years or resell it and move up to a larger home if someday they get a larger family.”

A lot of flexibility in manufactured housing.  A lot of sustainability,” Stegmayer said during his portion of the video. Let’s note in fairness that these are very similar points that MHLivingNews, MHProNews and scores of others have made about our industry. Our publisher has noted that the firms involved in the Innovative Housing Showcase are to be applauded. On the thrust of several of these points by Stegmayer, we’d editorially concur.

But what follows in that same video is both true and troubling.  It gets near a central issue that is hampering manufactured home industry growth.

 

Manufactured Housing Professionals, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Must Promote These Two Words

 

Secretary Ben Carson, as the head of HUD, made this National Mall opportunity available in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Dr. Carson explains that they encouraged local municipalities to look at manufactured homes and look at their regulations.  Carson said there may have been reasons in the past for some regulations, but no longer.  Why hasn’t the HUD Secretary mentioned “enhanced preemption?”  Is it possible that he’s not been briefed on that point by HUD staff? 

But more questions arise from this MHI branded video and recent mainstream media reports.

Looking again at MHI’s chairman’s comment, it isn’t as if the manufactured home industry has suddenly appeared out of nowhere and has an “untold story,” as Stegmayer framed it.  Indeed, Arlington, VA based MHI – a location not far from the National Mall – claims to have told that story to millions of people.  See their claim to that effect illustrated in their own still from an MHI video, below.

If so, the public literally are not buying what MHI is selling, based on recent new manufactured home production and shipment trends.

Look at the stills from the late 2018 MHI self-touting video and compare it to the fact that manufactured housing has had 8 months of consecutive year-over-year decreases in shipment levels.

 

ManufacturedHousingInstituteMHINewClassofHomesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Most people think of momentum as forward motion.  Does it mean something different to MHI?  Momentum for more consolidation? Still from MHI Video, logos added by MHProNews.

ManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHIVideoStillMHIPromotionalClaims

That downturn is now into month number 8.

 

Further, manufactured homes are not an untold story at all.

As the AZ Central story reflected, starting with the headline, a HUD Code manufactured home is errantly termed a ‘mobile home.’  Over the years, has Cavco or MHI failed to brief that media outlet, which issues periodic reports on hometown firm Cavco, about the proper terminology to be used?  If not, then they are not following the logic of their own prior chairman, who said this.

TimWilliams21stMortgageCorpGoodArgumentsQuoteRespondEveryStoryDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

The story most told is a painfully familiar one to anyone who tracks news coverage about ‘mobile homes’ and ‘manufactured homes.’  The bulk of the reports are negative, as the screen capture below indicates.

MobileHomesNewsGoogleSearchDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

While the evidence is anecdotal, it is also not disputed by live audience of manufactured home industry professionals when they are asked:

·        does the public here more bad news or good news about manufactured homes? 

·        Is the impression conveyed in third party reports largely positive one, or largely negative?

·        Manufactured home industry professionals almost universally agree that the image is a problematic one.

That being so, it is not an untold story. Rather, it is a told story that is all-too-often being mistakenly framed.

Where is MHI’s effective response to that largely undisputed fact?  Because it is obvious that their claim of millions exposed to their advertorials – if true – has not worked. The shipment numbers and other research proves that point.  Further, only 8 percent of home shoppers, per Zillow, considered a manufactured home in research that firm did.  Many of those who considered a manufactured home never bought one. Put yourself briefly in the shoes of a possible manufactured home customer. If they simply googled news about ‘mobile homes’ or ‘manufactured homes,’ wouldn’t that explain why – given that much reporting is negative – that the public literally isn’t buying one?

 

Zillow2016HomeBuyersSurveyManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Only 8 percent of housing shoppers considered a mobile or manufactured home, and many of those did not buy one

 

What do those third party research facts say about the effectiveness of the industry?  So Stegmayer’s own words about the “untold story” – seen through that lens – is troubling at best.  The screen capture from the date and time shown is but one example. 

 

MobileHomesNewsGoogleSearchDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Furthermore, there is no evidence that HUD Secretary Carson has been advised about enhanced preemption.  MHProNews has asked officials at HUD to respond to that concern.  They have no comment on that now.

Why not?  Doesn’t their failure to comment on such a straightforward question itself raise concerns that perhaps Secretary Carson has not been brief about enhanced preemption?

Stegmayer has had face time with Secretary Carson on numerous occasions in the last year or so.  Did Cavco’s former president, and the man who is still MHI’s chairman, not raise the issue of “enhanced preemption?”  If not, why not?

HUDBenCarsonJoeStegmayerCavcoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

These are questions that Cavco’s shareholders – among others – ought to be asking.

If the report by AZ Central is accurate, and only 5 congressional representatives bothered to come and see what MHI dubbed Homes on the Hill.  That too suggests something was missed by MHI, doesn’t it?  There are 535 members of the U.S. House (435) and Senate (100). Numbers of those in Congress get contributions from MHI’s PAC.  So why did such a small group of representatives come over a 5 day event?

The MHI “Homes on the Hill” videos are a fine idea. 

·        The videos are well done in a technical sense.

·        But where is the promotion for those videos? 

·        Why is it that the MHI video posted above that was published on Jun 2, 2019, after a week online, has only 732 views, per YouTube, as of 4:49 PM ET on 6.9.2019? Ponder the point that John Oliver’s viral hit on numbers of MHI members errantly named “Mobile Homes” has had over 6 million hits on YouTube in about 2 months. That’s the graphic comparison that industry professionals, investors, and advocates must ponder.  Stegmayer’s choice of words ‘the untold story’ is not supported by facts.  The story about manufactured homes has been told millions of times.  It simply hasn’t cut through the negative noise. 

Where has that negative noise about manufactured housing originated from?  The sources are varied. That said, there is a money trail in the millions that clearly points to donations by Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway – parent to Clayton Homes, their sister Berkshire lenders, and a powerhouse at MHI – that have flowed via the Tides nonprofit to groups such as MHAction or Prosperity Now that have in turn attacked manufactured housing operations.  Rephrased, Buffett’s been backing both pro-and-con voices about manufactured homes.  The voices that undermine the industry’s story seem to win the media war routinely. Why?

None of the Berkshire brands or MHI has denied the evidence presented. That leaves the evidence presented unchallenged.  The collage below illustrates the point just made.

 

MHActionLogoWarrenBuffettGeorgeSorosPhotoTidesFoundationLogoDailyBusinessNewManufacturedHomeIndustryMHProsNews

 

Now, against that backdrop, let’s pivot back to Cavco’s November 8, 2018 news release.

 

Stegmayer, Cavco, and the SEC/Shareholder Legal Clouds 

As the numbers of shareholders suits against Cavco Industries continues to grow, an interesting point keeps arising relative to Joe Stegmayer, their former Chairman, President, and CEO. Let’s mention that he was also a former Clayton Homes division president.

Part of the announcement on November 8, 2019 that sent Cavco shares plunging related to Stegmayer was that the multi-year leader of the publicly traded firm (CVCO) would step down into a more supportive, non-executive role.

But several indications from sources previously reported within Cavco, plus more recent hints by George Allen and others in his orbit, suggest that Stegmayer still exercises a leadership role that some believe is more like that of the shadow president than some supportive ‘non-executive’ role.

Quoting from their November 8th press release, “Mr. Stegmayer stepped down from his position as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company after an internal investigation, conducted by independent legal counsel, identified certain violations of Company policy related to securities trading activities conducted by Mr. Stegmayer. The Board’s decision to transition Mr. Stegmayer to a non-executive role allows the Company to retain his deep industry and operational experience.

The Cavco press release further stated that, The Company also announced that it had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement (“SEC”) requesting certain documents relating to, among other items, trading of the stock of another public company. Subsequent to sending the Company a subpoena, the SEC sent a subpoena for documents and testimony to Joseph Stegmayer, regarding similar issues. The Company has initiated an independent investigation and intends to cooperate fully with the SEC’s investigation.

In a typical ‘all in the company family’ motif, the release said: Joseph Stegmayer, former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented that “Dan Urness is a great choice to lead Cavco. He is a strong leader, with the ability to connect with customers, partners and teammates. His institutional knowledge of our Company and significant industry experience will ensure a smooth leadership transition. I look forward to continuing to serve the Company in my new role.”

ManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHIBoardOfDirectorsLogoMHIExecutiveCommittee

The satirical logo is used in part to poke with a lighter touch at a serious topic. As some have framed it, there are white hat companies at MHI, and black hat companies.  Certainly the black hats must find the white hats useful.

Stegmayer has remained Chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), despite the legal flap, its costs to Cavco, and the hit on CVCO’s stock valuation.

 

YahooFinanceCavcoIndustriesCVCO1YearTrendDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Cavco (CVCO) is one of the stocks tracked in our evening/nightly market report, along with a snapshot of headlines, and news that move investors. For Friday’s report, click here.

 

These are questions that may be of interest to shareholder’s plaintiff’s attorneys.

 

Cavco Industries Investigated Anew for Violations of Federal Securities Laws, plus Manufactured Home Industry Stock Updates

 

But there are broader industry questions that ought to be explored, perhaps in concert with Congressional and other state/federal inquiries.

Readers will be reminded that some 5 years ago, Stegmayer was talking on camera about the industry returning to 250,000 shipments.  That video is found in the report in the text/image box above. Stegmayer did say that return to 250,000 could accomplished in a year.  But he clearly suggested that it was doable in the foreseeable future.  What happened to that 250,000 new home shipment aim since then? 

Why is a new manufactured home shipment goal unmentioned by MHI more recently? 

Or ponder the fact that after the embarrassing reply the MHI President and CEO Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison gave to MHProNews on camera that same year – that the industry should grow slowly – the next year, after being privately chastened by Tim Williams, per sources, Jennison said that the industry could return to 500,000 new manufactured home shipments.  We professionally concur that that half-million or more new home production goal is achievable.  Others in the industry believe so too. The points Secretary Carson has cited in various interviews and his speech in New Orleans all point to the great potential of the industry in this affordable housing crisis.

 

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

 

All of which begs the question, how effective has MHI been at representing “all segments of manufactured housing?” 

As the decade de facto post-production association, after decades in that role, has MHI still not figured out what keeps people from buying a manufactured home? Why aren’t they routinely addressing those prospective home buyers concerns?  Lightening rod Frank Rolfe, a well known MHI member, made the point simply.

 

Rolfe and Dave Reynolds effectively doubled down on that recently, when they said the following.

MHI has had two different public relations people, for a combined total of several years now. Do those ‘experts’ in media relations not have a message or method for advancing the acceptance of the industry? Do they not yet have a message that resonates with the millions in the public that would buy what our manufactured home industry offers, if they simply understood it properly?

When AZ Central reports that only 5 congressmen came to see what MHI dubbed “Homes on the Hill,” what was MHI’s public relations effort doing? 

The industry is only at ¼th of the production it was in 1998. Where is MHI’s recovery plan?

 

BloombergShipmentProductionDataManufacturedHousingMHProNews2019-05-16_1057

 

This pro-growth industry-leading trade media will continue to monitor and report on these and other related issues.

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That’s a wrap on this installment of News Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes, and Factory-Built Housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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Cavco’s Joe Stegmayer, MHI Chairman, George Allen-COBA7, Collusion, Coverup, and Allegations of Selling Out

August 28th, 2018 Comments off

 

CavcoJoeStegmayerMHIChairmanGeorgeAllenCOBA7CollusionCoverupandAllegationsofSellingOutDailyBusinessNewsMHproNEws

To tee this up, the emailed messages revealed below were all sent under the subject line, for the record.” So, there is no violation of information shared off the record. Furthermore, the replies – initiated by George F. Allen (COBA7) – went to an email list of his.  Joe Stegmayer, Chairman and CEO of Cavco Industries, was openly included by Allen as an open CC. Per sources, the messages from Allen also went to some at/with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), plus others that included professionals with the GSEs, producers of manufactured homes, and more.

 

So, hundreds in MHVille, are already aware of several – but not all – of the elements of the report that follows.  Why it matters to thousands can best be understood by points that will follow, further below.

 

The Background and Issues?

It’s clear from new home shipment trend lines that the MH industry is rising. That said, the issues that face manufactured housing (MH) are many.

ManufacturedHomeMHShipments1990-2017DailybusinessNewsManufacturedHousingMHProNews

But as the Daily Business News on MHProNews has exclusively reported, compared to the trendlines of the RV, general housing to manufactured homes, the HUD Code industry has been recovering slowly.

The MH industry has had low/suppressed results or so long, that twenty years have elapsed since the last peak in manufactured housing.  That means there is a new generation of manufactured home professionals who have never personally experienced anything like the heydays.

By contrast, RV’s went from trailing MH by roughly 1/3, to now outselling MH by some 5 to 1.

RVsshipmentsTrailedMH1998WinnebagoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

These are cold, hard facts.

So long as MHI claims, right or wrong, they say they represent the industry, then they logically deserve a healthy measure of scrutiny and accountability. “We are the only national trade association representing all sectors of the manufactured and modular housing industries and over 85 percent of the homes produced each year,” says MHI’s website, adding “MHI’s advocacy efforts are focused on overcoming barriers to the growth of the manufactured housing market.”

With that backdrop – quoting from long-time MHI member and National Communities Council (NCC) co-founder, Col. George F. Allen (ret.) here’s what he’s said prior to his recent about-face and flip-flops.

ManufacturedHousingIndustryMonopoly-Oligarchy-GeorgeAllen-PostedDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews-

George Allen, has a modest following today, which once used to be a large following. As a former client of his told MHProNews, with George “It’s AAA, All About Allen.” If someone is doing good, per sources – and Allen’s not somehow in the mix – it is not uncommon for Allen to attempt to undermine that source. If Allen is getting paid by someone, expect that source to get praised.

Allen admits in writing that he has dropped his membership at MHI. Dozens of MHI members may recall that Allen and Spencer Roane were scorched by MHI in an NCC meeting, about 3 years ago.  Roane quit not long after.

In his recent on-the-record emails with MHProNews, Allen denies that he’s been paid off (“sold out,” as a reader of his said-with-concern to the Daily Business News).  But in stark contrast to the quotes from his blog in the graphic above, Allen told MHProNews this:

I continue to appreciate the work MHI does in behalf of our industry and realty asset class, as lobbyists in Washington, DC.”

Questioned by the publisher of MHProNews, Allen goes all in. In an emailed reply, he also wrote:

Frankly, I am honored Joe Stegmayer, chairman of CAVCO Industries, MHI, & the RV/MH Hall of Fame agreed to be the lead-off keynote presenter at this year’s Networking Roundtable. And I’m no less pleased senior executives from the FHFA and both GSEs will man a panel featured as second keynote presentation. I’m also humbled all the major HUD-Code housing manufacturers are participating as $ sponsors and event participants; also many of the major loan originators. And Mark, from MHARR knows he has an ‘open invitation’ to attend, but generally does not.”

One must wonder if Allen ponders moment-to-moment what he writes to some, and then publishes but a few days later on his blog the following.  Why?  Because just days after the above was emailed, Allen said the following on his blog.

In my opinion, national advocacy in behalf of HUD-Code manufactured housing and land lease communities, via representation, lobbying, and product/service provision, remains relatively ineffective at best, disparate at worst.”

Summing up, Allen vacillates from slamming MHI, to praising them, and then once more questioning their – and other – national association leadership. This is one more stark reason why this publication urges “separating the wheat from the chaff.”  Otherwise, Allen would demonstrably appear to be completely inconsistent, and difficult to take seriously on anything.

Circling back to Allen’s previously cited email, our publisher zeroed in on this part of Allen’s reply: “…Mark, from MHARR knows he has an ‘open invitation’ to attend, but generally does not.”

So, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach took Allen up on that, and encourage him to broker a public discussion between MHI’s and Cavco’s Chairman – Joe Stegmayer – and Mark Weiss, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

Keep in mind, that Allen specifically cc’d Joe Stegmayer, as the email screen capture below reflects.

GFAJoeStegmayerCavcoIndustriesMHIChairmanSpencerRoaneCOBA7SECOEmailMHProNews600

After some delay, Allen said the following. “I don’t recall that matter being so much a debate, rather, two national manufactured housing advocates, at the same time, in the same room, presenting differing or like views on the topic at hand.”

I’m not interested in planning or hosting any gigAnd frankly, I don’t see our friends at MHI handling such an opportunity differently, preferring to keep their ‘politicing’ personal, not public.”1

When asked if Joe Stegmayer or others at MHI influenced that answer?  Allen broke off that thread of communications.  It seems that Stegmayer, Allen, or others on the MHI staff are unable or unwilling to answer questions about thorny issues, such as on the GSEs, among numerous others.  For a related report on that topic, see the article below.

Loan Zone Manufactured Home Buyers, Sellers – CU Insight on Fannie, Freddie and Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing Industry

 

Revealing?

Allen has, as that reader of his alleged, apparently been coopted for money. Allen also said a group bought out the last community he had an interest in. If there was any doubt before that Allen’s doing some of MHI’s bidding for money, there should be little left to those who objectively read this and received Allen’s email exchanges with publisher Tony Kovach.

Having slammed MHI off and on for years – due to how Allen felt the Arlington-based trade group handled their on-and-off-again ‘buy out’ of his annual meeting, and other services – he’s now off-and-on singing their praises. But as a classic Allenism, just days after the email, Allen’s back to questioning MHI’s effectiveness.

Allen deserves credit for at least making an on the record reply, even if it is one arguably laced with posturing, flip-flops, and spin. By contrast, for roughly 18 months, MHI has stopped replying to questions from MHProNews that they once answered promptly. But prior to that, under Jennison or Thayer Long, MHI’s president and others would promptly reply.

SychophantsDefinedCartoonDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsIn fact, MHI is still replying to concerns raised by MHProNews and/or MHARR, or others. But MHI does not do so directly.

Rather, MHI arguably 0bliquely replies by using shills, sycophants, paid-for platforms, and/or their own emails to members.

Stegmayer’s fail to reply to MHProNews, raises a separate but related issue. Long-time readers recall Stegmayer’s praise of this platform. While he certainly has to the right to reply or not reply, it leaves the debatable impression that he can’t answer in a way that would play well with the MHI audience.

Programming note: a separate report on Cavco, based upon some reader news tips, is planned for the days ahead. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, the irony of the above is this.

If MHI – or Allen – where confident in their positions, why wouldn’t they welcome a public debate with MHARR?

It’s akin to the numerous times that MHI has ducked out on failing to answer questions at public forums.  MHI VP Rick Robinson declined comments, in front of dozens of industry professionals last year.

RickRobinsonManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIDailyBuisnessNewsMHProNewsEarlier this year, MHI President and CEO Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison cancelled his own scheduled public address, shortly after an MHProNews set of questions to be asked Jennison was emailed to hundreds of Louisville Show attendees.  If they were confident, why not debate/discuss in public?

As an MHI affiliated state association executive said about Jennison at the time, “strange man.” He should welcome discussion, not duck it, if they truly believe their stated positions.

Quite so.  In the meantime, what Allen, MHInsider, and others are making clear is this.  They’re happy to take MHI’s money.  Several in MH trade media are happy to take money from MHI members who are connected to consolidation efforts.

MHI SVP Lesli Gooch & MHARR CEO Mark Weiss Bookend New, Prior HUD Controversies

Rephrased, have Allen and several others in MH trade media sold out?

If ads, sponsorships, and other dollars spent by MHI and the ‘big boys’ means they are now favoring MHI’s messaging, it’s an important question for industry readers who seek the truth instead of weaponized spin need to ponder.  With MHI having failed on several of their own self-proclaimed issues for years, it wasn’t until the kitchen got hot enough that they began to appear to do something. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Footnote 1: MHProNews turns most direct quotes brown and bold by default, and has for years.  In this case, Allen used bold text where we’ve added the underscoring. Rephrased, Allen emphasized those points himself. In citations, … means there was other words between the quoted phrase, edited for focus.

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Warren Wages War

March 9th, 2018 Comments off

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Investors routinely say that they prefer “certainty.” That’s true for investors in manufactured home communities, stocks, or businesses.

 

The growing economic confidence during the year following the 2016 election witnessed a well-reported rise in stocks.  That was fueled in part by regulatory rollbacks – the “certainty” caused by an easing of business conditions imposed by the federal government.

The run-up and final passage in late 2017 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act fueled more investor enthusiasm.  Again, ‘certainty’ – plus higher returns on investments – were part of the motivating factors for those who don’t want excessive risk for their capital.

But in the last two months, Wall Street’s equity markets have become choppier.

Among the reasons?

Less certainty over issues like Federal Reserve policies. In the last few weeks anxieties over the looming issue of the Trump Administration’s tough talk on tariffs have emerged.

The headline for this Daily Business News report is an interesting, because there are “two Warrens” that have impacted manufactured housing, and business in general America.

Both Warrens are Democrats.

One is Warren Buffett, and the other is Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Both Warrens are waging wars.

But one Warren has in a sense declared war on the other one.

WarrenBuffettBerkshireHathawaySenElizabethWarrenDMAInquistrTheNationManufacturedHousingIndsutryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Strange Bedfellows, and the Upcoming 2018 Midterm Elections

 Politics makes for strange bedfellows,” said Charles Dudley Warner, per Brainy Quotes. It means “Political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common,” says Dictionary.

Elizabeth Warren and President Donald J. Trump can fall into that category, with each trading public barbs on the other.  Yet, on the issue of concerns over monopolistic practices, the two may be become de facto political allies. Both are and have been expressing concerns over monopolies, and how they those monopolies harm competition in the marketplace, the economy, and ultimately, job losses, and wages.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Warren Buffett both supported Secretary Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. In 2020, sources say that the Massachusetts Democrat may be among several hopefuls for her party’s nomination to oppose presumptive GOP favorite, POTUS 45 Trump.

IBTInternationalBusinessTimesWarrenBuffettHillaryClintonDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Senator Warren has been an outspoken supporter of the Dodd-Frank legislation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that bill created under President Barack Obama. She supported Richard Cordray’s handling of the CFPB.

While it reportedly makes Berkshire Hathaway’s 21st Mortgage Corporation President Tim Williams unhappy to have it mentioned, Warren Buffett strongly supported both candidate Barack Obama in each of his presidential election bids, and he backed Secretary Clinton too.

VicePresidentMikePenceWifeKarenHandOverHeartPledgeColts49ersGameWashingtonTimesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Notice. One may agree or disagree with 21st Mortgage CEO and prior MHI Chairman Tim Williams’ presentation, from which the slide above was taken with permission. At the same time, one logically ought to question how Williams was being intellectually at odds with Berkshire Hathaway Chairman, Warren Buffett. Williams full presentation is linked here. http://www.MHProNews.com/industry-news/industry-in-focus/is-tim-williams-21st-mortgage-ceo-mhi-chair-at-odds-with-berkshire-hathaway-chairman-warren-buffett

 

Among the reasons cited by Mr. Buffett? His support for Clinton’s position on the CFPB and Dodd-Frank.

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is championing the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (H.R.1699, S. 1751) legislation to repeal parts of Dodd-Frank harmful to manufactured home lending, retailers, and selling land-lease communities (a.k.a. ‘parks’).

MHI must ignore the logical disconnect between their then chairman Williams blasting “the progressive agenda,” and Buffett’s very public support for Obama-Clinton support for Dodd-Frank.

The graphic above “Threats and Challenges” is from a power point presented by Williams to MHI members.  It was provided to MHProNews by a source with ties to 21st and MHI. Again, note the obvious contradictions?

Is Williams seriously opposed to his boss Buffett?

After all, Buffett says he supports progressive causes, and Democratic candidates.

Or is it, as industry insiders say, a form of shadow boxing – political play-acting – made to appear like an effort to help retailers and communities is underway?  When in fact Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman openly supported Clinton’s support, which included her support for Dodd-Frank?

The contradictions are too great to ignore.  Nor will MHI, or the Berkshire Hathaway brands in manufactured housing explain it, as repeated opportunities to do so have been offered by MHProNews.

 

Some Things Defy Logic…

Clinton Delivers DoddFrank Defense to Wall Street. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will fundraise with Hillary Clinton,” reported Bloomberg in December 2015.

Yet just days before, Secretary Clinton wrote in a New York Times op-ed that, “As president, I would not only veto any legislation that would weaken financial reform, but I would also fight for tough new rules, stronger enforcement and more accountability that go well beyond Dodd-Frank.”

Why did Wall Street and Buffett support Clinton?  Because the big banks have grown under Dodd-Frank, as even Senator Warren admits.

It’s the smaller banks and lending institutions that have suffered.

If it seems confusing, it is simple once one thinks as Warren Buffett does – long-term, and per the thesis of the Nation’s recent series on monopolies – in terms of crushing the competition.

How handy is it from Mr. Buffett when the federal regulators – in this case, the CFPB – are the ones doing the crushing for the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway?

It’s “Fair Warning,” not “I Told You So”

 

Warren vs. Warren, Strange Bedfellows, and Manufactured Housing

Sen. Warren opposes S 2155, which is currently the hot topic for MHI on Capital Hill. She opposes Preserving Access too. MHI’s prior chairman has reportedly given Democrat Sherrod Brown campaign contributions. Interesting, because Brown has also come out against S. 2155, as the Daily Business News recently reported.

Brown and former MHI Chair Nathan Smith, of SSK Communities, are said to be chummy. Cincinnati reported that Smith’s cell had Sen Brown’s personal number, and Open Secrets also reported his support for Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton.

Senators Warren and Brown have both blasted S 2155.

Senator Warren has also stated her concerns over monopolistic practices and how that hurts the economy, workers and smaller business.  Warren’s House colleagues have specifically called out Warren Buffett on Preserving Access and the troubling business practices.

An Elizabeth Warren video is predominately promoted by Americans for Financial Reform, which boasts 50 organizations opposing Preserving Access, with several manufactured home owner groups named among them.

Perhaps it is that strong opposition that has been factored in by GovTrack and Skopos Labs, which give S. 1751 only a 3 percent chance of passage in the Senate.

 

SkoposGovTrack2018-03-09_1219PreservingAccessManufacturedHousingActDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act’s sad odds of passage that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is unlikely to publicly admit to, are at 3 percent. Why spend millions on a plan that has such low odds? This report and the details linked help shed light on that question.

 

Following the Money, and MHI Disconnects

The rather public disconnects between MHI’s stated positions and what key people at or behind MHI has been reported more widely in the past eighteen months on the Daily Business News.

MHI has literally written checks to candidates who support or even co-sponsored Dodd-Frank and the Safe Act. Berkshire’s Buffett, former MHI Chairman Nathan Smith of SSK communities and others supported Secretary Clinton, who opposed Dodd-Frank changes.

NathanSmithSSKCommunitiesFormerManufacturedHousingIndustryMHIChairmanDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews2018-03-09_1245NathanSmithOpenSecretsContributionsDailybuinssnewsMHProNews1

NathanSmithHillaryClintonSSKcommunitiesDailyBusinessNewsOpenSecretsMHproNews2018-03-09_1243

Let’s be clear. Nathan Smith, Warren Buffett, or anyone else, can support whomever they want to. That’s not the issue. The controversy here is that Smith is a leader at MHI, was the Chairman, is on the MHI PAC and GR committees, and yet was supporting those who opposed Preserving Access. It’s the contradiction of saying one thing, and doing another. That’s the issue that MH investors, professionals, and MHI members must focus on. Where is the logic?  The solution to that is spelled out in this and linked reports.

As MHI asks the rank and file of the industry to support this or that cause, bill, or candidate, each industry member may be tempted to give the benefit of the doubt to the national association.

As one community-retail operation president told MHProNews, most people are too busy trying do their day-by-day operations to pay much attention to what may look complex.  So, they often work on trust, and that is an advantage that Warren Buffett and others apparently count on (see the resource links, after this article for quotes and more details).

So perhaps not enough industry pros are looking at the actual track record of MHI?

Because bills MHI claim to support, or positions they advocated for, have often proven to enrich or benefit a few, while harming or cutting off opportunities for the many.

Discovering that MHI track record of legislative failures doesn’t take much research.  Preserving Access is just one example of the disconnects between what MHI claims to want to do, and what leaders like Buffett, Smith and others actually are doing.

SupporterdByMHIVotedForDoddFrankSafeActDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

It’s like supporting politicos with donations that have taken positions that the association claims to be against.  See the above.

While other’s in America are concerned about monopolies and how they harm different industries, by contrast, MHI prefers to deny it.

100YearsAgoTodayNationMonopoliesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Manufactured housing isn’t alone. But other industries are bucking up in their respective industries.  Why isn’t MHI doing the same as MHARR, which has sounded this alarm? See concentration in manufactured housing in the pie shaped graphic, further below.

 

Warren’s War on Monopolies, Like Buffett’s

Senator Warren’s theme that antitrust can be used to protect small businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, workers and just about everyone else from the ‘rich and powerful,’” averred the National Law Review, “shows that increasing antitrust enforcement has become a key party line for the upcoming” midterms, said the right-of-center New American.

I was very pleased that the entire Democratic caucus signed onto a statement of principle that urged stronger enforcement of antitrust laws as one of our promises to the American people.” Elizabeth Warren, The Nation.

In recent years,” according to the Democratic “Better Deal” platform, “antitrust regulators have been unable or unwilling to pursue complaints about anticompetitive conduct.”

It was a rare rebuke to Obama’s record, reflecting a shift in Democratic thinking on monopolization,” says the Nation, which cited Presidents Obama and Bush 43 as both being weak on antitrust (anti-monopoly) enforcement actions.

I believe in markets,” Senator Warren said. “But markets work only when everyone gets a fair opportunity to compete.”

Just look at the numbers: 

 

  • Four airlines control over 80 percent of domestic airline seats. 
  • Five health-insurance giants control over 80 percent of the health-insurance market. 
  • Three drugstore chains have 99 percent of the industry’s revenues.
  • Four companies control over 85 percent of America’s beef market.
  • Two giants sell over 70 percent of all beer in America.

That’s a big problem. It’s a problem because, when a few big players control an entire industry, it has devastating impacts on both the economy and our political system,” Senator Warren said.

Left, right, or center, those facts are hard to argue.

She didn’t say so, but using MHI’s own data:Warren Wages War, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, Manufactured Housing Institute, MHI, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, VMF, Nathan Smith, SSK Communities, prior, former, MHI Chairman,

  • 3 companies control some 70 percent of manufactured housing.
  • If the Skyline – Champion deal goes through as expected, that will become some 75 percent market concentration in 3 companies.

Isn’t that the same pattern Senator Warren and others are expressing concerns about?

ManufacturedHomesMarketShareMHIMembersClaytonCavcoChampionDaiyBusinessNewsMHProNews

But it’s not just small-business owners who are forced to play a rigged game. When big companies control concentrated industries, as Bryce Covert makes clear in “Monopolies Harm Workers Too,” they can pay their employees less, because there aren’t other businesses around to make better offers,” said an editorial in the Nation, which cited Warren Buffett and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and others among the new breed of modern monopolists they are concerned about.

The big fight now is to make the Justice Department and the [Federal Trade Commission] and other agencies use the tools they already have to protect competition. I’ll give you three steps that the federal government can take to revive competition: Block anticompetitive mergers; stop anticompetitive conduct; and prioritize protecting competition,” Senator Warren said.

Progressive “Nation” Reports on Monopolies Cites Buffett, Clayton, Others – MH Industry Impact?

 

Summing Up…

Senator Warren has declared war on those who are monopolists and who support changes to Dodd-Frank. She has also prepared for battle on S 2155, or any other attempts to roll back Dodd-Frank.

Warren Buffett has, per the Nation, declared a different kind of war to take dominate certain sectors, and that includes manufactured housing. “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning,” said Warren Buffett, per Good Reads.

Kevin Clayton, Warren Buffett’s CEO over Clayton Homes jokes about Buffett’s hating two kinds of competition, foreign and domestic.

The Atlantic predicted years ago what has been coming to pass in terms of Clayton/Berkshire dominance over manufactured housing. Clayton freely says in the video linked among the resources below that Buffett wants the moat expanded.  Clayton said Buffett is willing to lose money (they haven’t, but would he said) for 5 years, so long as the moat kept expanding.

Isn’t that a classic anti-competition statement? One Kevin Clayton made on camera, in a video?

The logic of this is simple, once you understand the Buffet/Clayton/MHI moat concepts.

So long as competition is being harmed, passing Preserving Access or not means little to Warren Buffett/Berkshire/Clayton; so long as the moat is growing.

MHI has been dominated for years by Clayton dues, and Berkshire Hathaway brands holding 2 of the 4 key board positions on their executive committee.

That’s also obvious from quotes above about Buffett’s support of Secretary Clinton and President Obama, not to mention the linked information below.

Eric Belsky at Harvard believed manufactured housing could dominate home building by the end of 2010; but what he apparently didn’t count on was Buffett and their “Moat,” and how those sharks in the water work.

So, what is Preserving Access all about?  Insider sources say, it is a distraction.  It postures an effort, which win, lose or draw, benefits Berkshire Hathaway’s ‘the moat’ strategy.

There are reasons why a number of state associations quit MHI.

Others that haven’t quit are sticking in, some sources have told MHProNews, because of the power of 21st over independents (see report, linked below).

21st sources have told MHProNews, that they do business with those guys (Rolfe’s RV Horizons, MHU et al), and late last year, Rolfe announced he would not comment any more on such industry issues.

But if Rolfe never said another word, or if he completely shifted his tune, what he’s already said about MHI, their failure to defend the industry from outside attacks, and their doomed to ail Preserving Access plan were and are devastating. What more needs be said?

 

Independents, Defense and Offense

There are perhaps steps that could be taken by individual retailers and communities.  It could logicaly start with something as easy as no longer supporting MHI.

But survival strategies must begin with an understanding and acceptance of the painful reality that the industry’s largest association – MHI – is, as the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) said, working for the interests of a few conglomerates.

Independents, small to mid-sized players take note.  Once mighty Fleetwood retail finally failed, about the time that 21st sent out their ‘smoking gun’ letters (see resources, below).  The Fleetwood of today, and the Champion of today are rebirths of once giant companies that were bankrupted by forces that arguably included the Berkshire Hathaway onslaught.

With Buffett’s manufactured housing industry connected brands,

  • moves on subjects such as DTS,
  • their control or influence over much of the lending (21st, Vanderbilt Mortgage (VMF) and Wells Fargo,
  • their financial and political clout,

…the threat to independents must be seen as serious.

Even in the stable manufactured home community sector, if capital and lending are cut, the value of properties drops dramatically.

Consolidation has increased, according to MHI’s own data.  Forces across the left-right political divide are pointing to monopolistic practices, as key causes.

Will Democrats and some in the GOP, including President Trump and his administration work together to solve the crisis caused by what the Nation has called modern monopolistic forces?

That legal battle is one that manufactured home investors and professionals should consider. Because as this and other analysis have alleged and outlined, whatever happens on Preserving Access or other regulatory forces benefit Buffett’s brands, no matter what happens.

A growing chorus of voices from inside and outside of manufactured housing are saying that smaller businesses, workers, and Americans are paying the price for that kind of market power.

The Warrens have both declared war. Buffett on industry’s he seeks to dominate. Independents, workers and Americans are caught up in the smoke of war, in what Senator Warren, the 45th president, and others have called “a rigged system.” ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

Related:

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Asks Industry Members to Ask Senators to Support S 2155, Behind the Scenes Details

Maxine Waters Statement, Preserving Access Manufactured Housing Act 2017, Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes

Frank Rolfe: Pressured into Silence? Manufactured Housing Industry, and Journalism

Warren Buffett’s Annual Report to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders, Clayton Homes and Manufactured Housing

Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO

Federal Manufactured Housing Program Review Comments Due Next Week, 2.26.2018

Urban Institute Ask for Correction in Analysis of their Manufactured Housing Research, “Follow the Facts,” “Follow the Money”

Warren Buffett, “the Moat,” Manufactured Housing, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt, Wells Fargo, NAI…

State Associations, Companies Quit Membership in Manufactured Housing Institute, (MHI), One Explains in Writing, ‘Why?’

MultipleReasonsExpectManufacturedHousingDoBetterThanSiteBuiltHousingEricBelskyEecDirJointCenterHousingStudiesHarvardUnivDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

At the time Belsky made this prediction, manufactured homes were selling over 250,000 new units per year. This year, MH won’t reach 40,000 of that total. What happened?

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

Killing Off 100s of Independent Manufactured Home Retailers, Production Companies – Tim Williams/21st Mortgage “Smoking Gun” Document 2

Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$

GSE’s Duty to Serve MH Rigged, Benefits 21st, VMF, Clayton, Buffett’s Berkshire, Harming Consumers & Independents, per MH CEO, Calls for Congressional Investigation

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SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-Submitted 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.

 

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Weaponized, Faked News Harms Manufactured Housing Homeowners, Professionals

February 26th, 2017 1 comment
WeaponizedFakedNewsCostsMHIndustryBillionsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsGraphicStockMHProNews

Image credit, Manufactured Housing Industry Daily Business News, Graphic Stock, MHProNews.com.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

– American Maxim.

 

Why not half-a-million [new manufactured homes sold annually]? We can get there.”

  – Richard “Dick” Jennison, president and CEO, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

 

James McGee and Chet Murphree said it very well on a video, it’s all about education…This [MHI] advertorial approach was a mix of good, bad, inaccurate, and deceptive marketing on behalf of a national manufactured housing association. I’ve focused on the bad, because that is where the problems will come from. You would never see the NAHB or another national trade association blurt out such problematic nonsense.”

– Titus Dare, SVP of Eagle One Financial.

 

We have created a great industry that is in decay and under attack.  In order to change the perception of our industry, MH pros and leaders need to focus on the facts and true benefits regarding our products and communities to ensure our customers make educated decisions that fit their needs.”

– Tom Fath, manufactured home owner and industry professional.

NewManufacturedHousingAsPercentageOfNewExistingHomeSales2016CreditManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

The manufactured home industry has tremendous upside potential, given proper strategies. Collage credits, MHProNews – other credits are as shown.

I would agree with MHI’s Richard “Dick” Jennison on this point. The manufactured housing industry can and should be selling 500,000 or more new homes annually,” said L. A. “Tony” Kovach to the Daily Business News.We can achieve that half million [+/-] new manufactured homes a year sustainably. It can be done with happy customers using sound loans, as opposed to problematic and unsustainable, lending.”

However,” says Kovach, “we won’t get there if MHI allows its president and other key people to sacrifice credibility and ethics.”

TomFathGreatIndustryInDecayUnderAttackChangePerceptionFocusFactsTrueBenefits-TomFathNewDurhamEstates-MHProNews--e1474053015851

Tom Fath’s complete commentary can be see by clicking the image above.

LATonyKovachMHProNews-com-

L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach addressing industry professionals in an educational session.

 

“Some of what they do is demonstrably wrong, as concerns by third-party comments demonstrate,” Kovach said.It’s bad for MH homeowners and for independent businesses too. Thus, we have and will continue to call out Jennison, Lesli Gooch and others who we’ve previously exposed examples of their faked and weaponized news, which have been promoted by them to MHI members, the industry and to the public at large.”

RichardDickJennisonMHIPresidentCEOManufacturedHousingInstitutePostedMHProNews

Quoted from StatePoint Advertorial, paid for – and touted by – MHI in recent meetings. Industry professionals are concerned that such questionable “marketing” will create credibility issues for manufactured housing with media, GSEs, federal officials and others.

Examples of published Industry Voices comments on MHI’s problematic advertorials, from Titus Dare‘s and Tom Fath‘s statements, which were cited above. A previous in-depth critique of Gooch and Jennison authorized “faked, weaponized news” is linked here.

GuaranteeingAppreciationQuickSureWayToGiantLawsuitTitusDareEagleOneFinancialIndustryVoicesDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews595

For Dare’s complete commentary, please click the image above.

What’s Needed for More New Home Sales Growth?

Beyond finance related topics, almost everyone in the industry, including MHI, agrees that better communications that educate the public to modern manufactured housing realities are a key to increased sales success.

That said, why has MHI failed to recognize MHLivingNews and MHProNews pioneering educational/informational/media work, which has been done in concert with other industry professionals?

FederalDataSpotlightsIndustryQualityQuestionsGoogleDigitalJournalMHLivingNewsMHPronews=

Why have top MHI staff ignored or sideline positive information – or stories that set the record straight for manufactured housing? Several MHLivingNews reports have been picked up by Google News, mainstream media, other MH industry companies, and associations – with a number of professionals routinely linking and/or forwarding stories to others.

So why aren’t key MHI staffers promoting these positive news items?  Why do they feature faked, advertorial “news” that risks their association’s – and the industry’s credibility – when there are real news items, with positive and authentic stories – to report?

What do other industry professionals say?

Words from the Chairman

tim-williams-CEO-President-21st-mortgage-corporation-daily-business-news-manufactured-housing-mhpronews-

Tim Williams.

MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com are both good communications resources for the Manufactured Housing Industry,” said Tim Williams, president of 21st Mortgage and MHI Chairman. “I and many others at 21st Mortgage and at MHI logon to see the latest news, interviews, debates, videos, opinions and reports they publish.”

Having a trade publisher that presents thoughtful, respectful commentary independent of any association’s perspective – as important as an association’s view can be – can be a big asset to advancing the MH Industry’s cause,” Williams said.

Williams is hardly alone in that view. It’s clearly reflected by comments by others, and statistics that make the MHProNews and MHLivingNews platforms the factory-built housing industry’s most-read and widely-respected trade media.

So, why then have a handful of MHI connected personalities gone out-of-their way to undermine MHProNews’ and MHLivingNews’ pro-industry work?

Further, if these paid MHI staffers were correct and justified in their messaging approaches, why have they not defended or explained their reasoning in the wake of exposes published about their allegedly problematic communications activities?

More and Faster Growth? “No Lack of Capacity”

DickErnst-creditMHC-MD-com-postedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-MHI Financial Services Chairman, Dick Ernst, has said publicly that the industry’s current lenders have “no lack of capacity” to originate sustainable loans to support the industry’s growth.

With many manufactured home industry producers reporting double-digit increases over last year, and with several weeks of current backlog, the stage is set for increased production and the opening of new production capacity.

Producers tell us that logistical constraints are a possible choke point,” says Kovach.

But that production capacity can and is being addressing by increased staffing and other logistical issues needed for more rapid growth. Several producers have told MHProNews that they plan for more increased production, and even new plants, in the near term.

In short, the stage is set to achieve a march toward the 500,000 new home shipments in a sustainable way.

That would almost certainly mean increased sales and profits for most industry retailers, communities, product-and-service providers.

So, with lending, educational and production capacity all available, industry communities and retailers could be growing at a far faster pace than they currently enjoy.

What Other Pros Say Keeps the MH Industry from Reaching its Potential?

Frank Rolfe has said that it’s the industry itself, and Rolfe pointed a finger directly at MHI.

Bob_Crawford_and_Frank_Rolfe

Bob Crawford (l) and Frank Rolfe (r) in panel discussion on industry issues. Both of these successful professionals took aim at what they see as MHI’s misses and failures. Photo credit, Inside MH Road Show, MHProNews.

Bob Crawford, president of historic Dick Moore Housing, has said MHI has failed independent communities and retailers for years.  Crawford and Moore have called for a new post-production association to address the vacuum caused by MHI’s allegedly flawed leadership and execution.

MHI award-winner Marty Lavin, JD, has called out the national association as having failed in its previous attempt to do meaningful consumer research that would benefit the industry at large. Lavin recently asked aloud, how will the new MHI plan be any different or better than their last failed effort?

MHI has not responded to any of these or other challenges directly. But they have asserted thorough their own emailed newsletter that they are working to improve business.

It should be noted that MHProNews has repeatedly offered MHI staff opportunities to engage on these and other concerns, but as if to underscore Rolfe’s point, MHI has routinely declined.

Why?

FrankRolfeNegativeArticlesOnIndustryNoCommentbyManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIRVHorizonsMobleHomeUniversityPostedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

MHI’s Weaponized Text?

 When you read a newspaper article, you are reading weaponized text that is designed to affect a person just like you…,” said WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. He said that recently in the context of WikiLeaks own work, and the problem of mainstream media often having their own agenda.

WhenYouReadNewspaperArticleYoureReadingWeaponizedTextDesignedToAffectPersonLikeYouJulianAssangeWikiLeaks-PostedMHProNews818x269

Text and collage credits, MHProNews, Photo credit, NBCNews.

But does Assange’s principle of “weaponized” news apply to MHI?

If so, doesn’t that further underscore Tim Williams’ point on the importance of MHProNews and MHLivingNews being an independent news source, and a check on MHI’s ethical, effectiveness and advocacy related issues?

UMH’s Sam Landy, on a different yet-media relations topic, said they welcome outside critiques.

By contrast, MHProNews has learned about another industry operation that was threatened by an MHI-connected, outside attorney.  That operation told the Daily Business News the threat came for questioning in print the Arlington, VA based association publicly on an issue they were lobbying on.

WeWelcomeOutsideOversightCriticismAllowsObjectiveEvalutationSamLandyUMHPropertiesCEOPostedManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

Quote and collage credits, Daily Business News on MHProNews.

Is that the behavior the industry wants from a self-proclaimed national umbrella association?

Allegations, Allegations…

A recently reported threat against MHProNews was made by an attorney, claiming he was doing so on behalf of MHI. “Their allegation is laughable and spurious, as an attorney told us,” said Kovach. “But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that they made the written threat, which we know was circulated to others. Why?”

DutyToServeManufacturedHousingConfidentialDocumentsDraftsDownloadsFHFAGSEsPostedDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryProNews-560x430

Why is MHI trying to surpress details about discussions regarding FHFA, the GSEs and their duty to serve (DTS) manufactured housing? Do they want only their ‘weaponized’ news to reach the industry? Image credit, MHProNews. To see the article above, including the downloads MHI wanted suppressed, click the image above or click here.

Monopoly?

The answer may be that some at MHI are attempting to create de facto industry trade news – and other? – MH monopolies.

DougRyanAmericanBankerManufacturedHousingMonopoly-postedDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryProNews

Credits, American Banker. Composite collage from that article was arranged by MHProNews.

Doug Ryan at CFED, community owner/service provider George Allen, and others have publicly called out what MHI does in monopolistic terms.

ManufacturedHousingIndustryMonopoly-Oligarchy-GeorgeAllen-PostedDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews-

While Lesli Gooch responded to Ryan’s allegations publicly, the question of monopoly keeps raising its head with respect to MHI, even though they often open their business meeting sessions with a reference to anti-trust rules.

AmericanBankerLesliGoochMHImonopolyAnythingButManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Quote credits above, American Banker. Photo = MHI. Text commentary and collage credit, MHProNews.  All third-party images on this page are provided under fair use guidelines. 

Given the stated free enterprise and – anti-trust perspectives – of the new Trump Administration, could the accusations of MHI behaving like a monopoly create regulatory headaches for that association’s leadership, and potentially for some of their members too?

Bloomberg

Noah Smith on Bloomberg recently weighed in on the problems caused by monopolies for consumers, small business, how it harms job creation and more.

BloombergMonopolyNoahSmithManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

If a de facto monopoly existed on MH industry news, then sources for information on the industry would by definition be severely restricted.

That in turn would harm the ability of independents, non-profits or corporations to make informed decisions.

GeorgeAllenCommunityInvestorBlogMHMPostedMastheadBlogManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryNewsMHProNews-133x150a

Geoge Allen, photo credit, MHProNews.com.

Allen has complained that MHI, through their National Communities Council (NCC), has essentially gone into competition with his own work.

Allen, an MHI member and co-founder of the NCC, was in talks at various points with MHI about their buying his business units out. There are claims and counterclaims as to why that MHI buyout of Allen’s publishing and business meetings failed.

But what is more certain is that MHI is openly encroaching upon work Allen has provided his readers for years. How does that look to current and prospective members, when the trade association you are in – or are considering joining – goes into competition with members’ operation?

Several professionals have told MHProNews about their own allegations of MHI game-playing and favoritism by key staff at the association.  So Allen is not alone.

Undermining Industry Independents?

LATonyKovachMHProNewsMHLivingNewsMHINoJournalistPhotoNCCPostedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

At the recent San Antonio MHI meeting, Dick Jennison and Lesli Gooch repeatedly made thinly veiled statements, aimed at MHProNews. But when these signs were first introduced, top MHI staff claimed it was aimed at ‘outside’ media, not ‘industry media.’ What caused this change toward a dues paying association member? What message does it send to others in the association? What message does it send to the industry at large? Is MHI trying to create a de facto industry trade media monopoly? Photo of L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach by an MHI no journalists sign, credit, MHProNews.com. 

We’ve known for some years now that Jennison and others [with MHI] are trying to undermine our pro-industry, pro-consumer, pro-MH image, education, information and business development work,” says Kovach.

We’ve had calls, face-to-face conversations, emails and messages that point directly at MHI trying to dissuade advertisers, or to get current sponsors to drop MHProNews. Call the allegations discussed herein what you will,” Kovach said.

But imagine for a moment if the association you’re paying dues money to began working directly against your company’s interests. It’s outrageous. But we’ve been patiently waiting for these MHI staffers to overplay their hand.”

The threatening attorney’s letter apparently authorized by MHI’s staff leadership is related to part of an ongoing, periodic series by MHProNews on manufactured home lending.

Specifically, its focused on the Daily Business News story on the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) legally mandated Duty to Serve manufactured housing. Why do some at MHI want to exclude thousands in the industry from having information that dozens of insiders already have?

It should be noted that not all MHI staffers are being painted by these concerns.  There are those with MHI who are reportedly less-than-happy with the current regime.

But top staff clearly directs the actions of the balance of those working at MHI, or it’s divisions, such as the NCC or MHEI.

Options?

Some industry members are weighing their options, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Demanding that MHI leadership reform the organization into a more open body, and remove from its ranks those paid staffers who have engaged in the reported pattern of problematic communications and behavior toward their association’s own members.
  • See if MHEC would expand its role, to become what MHI was supposed to do, but is currently failing at accomplishing.
  • Create a new, rival post-production association.
  • Explore a strategic alliance with another association, such as the NFIB.
  • See if MHARR’s board would agree to expand its membership in a way that will allow that organization to be a kind of NFIB for all MH industry professionals.
  • Undertake legal action(s) against MHI, if and as necessary.

Evidence

Regarding these and other allegations reported on the most recent Masthead, MHProNews has and will continue to gather documents and evidence regarding these MHI top-staff related issues.

The implications of these problems are far reaching to the industry professionals, tens of millions of home owners and potential buyers.

Billions of dollars are at stake.  That could mean significant growth opportunities for businesses, if the concerns caused by MHI team members are successfully addressed.

Follow Ups…

In spite of written and other threats or intimidation tactics, our MHProNews reporting team of RC Williams and Matthew Silver will continue to track and report on general industry, association and other industry-related issues.

We Provide, You Decide.” ##

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News/Analysis by Soheyla Kovach for the Daily Business News, on MHProNews.com.

 

MHI Chair Nathan Smith to Address VAMMHA

June 24th, 2014 Comments off

The Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association (VAMMHA) is pleased to announce the keynote speaker at their July 31-Aug. 1 convention and annual meeting will be MHI Chairman Nathan Smith. Set for the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, MHProNews has been told there will be educational, networking and recreational opportunities, as well as elections to the board of directors.

VAMMHA also reports manufactured home shipments for the state in April, 2014 are up 13 percent over April, 2013, but are 9.7 percent down for the year. February was down for the year 18.9 percent, followed by March at 17.6 percent, which, when compared to April indicates improvement. In other news, Ben Flores of CMH-Oxford has been elected Chair of the VA Manufactured Housing Board and Tom Satterwhite of Fleetwood Homes, vice chair. ##

(Image credit: Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association)

It’s Back and Better than Ever!

December 29th, 2011 Comments off

KentuckyExpositionCenter-Wikimedia Commons posted on MHProNews.com

Everyone I talk to is very pleased the show is moving forward in 2012. This year’s show is in a growth mode and we expect the show to be bigger and better than last year. “ said Ron Thomas, active retailer, community owner and Louisville Show Chairman. While it may not be a surprise to hear a Show Chairman say something like that, the sentiment is echoed in the feedback from other attendees and exhibitors. Perhaps most important is the fact that pre-show registrations are up from the surprising totals of 2011. Lorayne Scott, with Show Ways Unlimited – the firm which organizes the Louisville Show – told MHProNews that:We had 970 retailers, builder/developers, community owner/operator, and installers.  As for the exhibitors we had a total of 442.  The total attendance was 1412.” That total of 1412 from all facets of factory built housing made it one of the top 2 attended events in the manufactured housing industry for 2011. Numerous positive comments have come in from 2011 show attendees who are excited about the shows 2012 plan. One example is from Darrell Boyd with Triad Financial, who said, “I was pleasantly surprised at our attendance at the 2011 Louisville Manufactured Housing Show last year. I knew the 50 year history of the show and the spirit of our industry would bring us back. I just wasn’t sure what to expect in 2011. The traffic at our exhibitor booth was brisk and it seemed the renewed positive attitude of the attendees was infectious and spilled over during the show. I talked to many other exhibitors and manufacturers and they agreed with my sentiment. With the 2012 show approaching, I’m eagerly looking forward to our continued renewed growth.” The 2012 Louisville Show line up includes a strong cross section of free business building workshops and seminars, a special appearance and address by Cavco CEO and MHI Chairman Joe Stegmayer as well as even more homes and exhibitors than 2011. Free online registration is scheduled to end January 3. You can pre-register at this link, or get more information at this link.

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Long leaving Manufactured Housing Institute

October 5th, 2011 Comments off

Thayer_Long_outgoing_MHI_Executive_Directo photo credit_MHProNewsMHProNews received a statement from Cavco CEO and Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Chairman Joe Stegmayer, announcing the departure of Thayer Long as MHI’s executive director. Per Stegmayer’s statement, “As announced today at the MHI Board Meeting in Phoenix, Thayer Long will be leaving MHI to pursue another opportunity. Over the next several weeks, we will be working with Thayer, the MHI leaders and our excellent staff on a smooth transition of Thayer’s duties. The MHI leadership will also begin the search for Thayer’s replacement. Rest assured, MHI has extremely capable and professional staff.  They will continue to move the priorities of the association forward and will continue to serve our members well.” An MHI source stated Long would remain through October before departing. “This is what life is like in the association (world),” an MHI staffer said, who wished Long well while expressing confidence in the future.  In a typical comment, MHI member/retailer Doug Gorman said, “I have admiration for Thayer.  He stepped into the position at a time that was very challenging. Revenues were in decline.  He rose to the occasion, stepped up to the plate and performed remarkably well…He probably saw something that was good for him, and he will succeed because he is hard working.  I absolutely wish him well.” MHI PAC Chair, Rick Rand of Great Value Homes said, “Very happy for Thayer, he chose to make a career move.  Thayer has been with the association for years, and has been a great asset, stepped up all the time in his duties with MHI.  It was great to work with him. I am sorry to see him go, but that is the nature of this business.  We can only wish him the very best.”  A multi-decades veteran industry contacted MHProNews, speculating that Long’s departure was due to his seeing ‘the hand writing on the wall.’  When asked, Rand’s reply to that comment was, “We (MHI) are now in better financial shape than we have been in years, MHI is in a great position.  As is the MHI PAC.” Rand pointed to the MHI leadership, saying “We need to remember to give credit to the executive committee; Joe Stegmayer, Don Glisson, Jr., Kevin Clayton, Nathan Smith and Ken Cashin, the immediate past chair.” “I talked to Thayer several times during his tenure at MHI.  He was always professional, pleasant, and cooperative.  We wish him and MHI well during this time of transition” said John Bostick of Sunshine Homes and MHARR Chairman. MHProNews will continue to bring you updates on this and related developments.

(Photo credit: MHProNews.com/MHMSM.com)