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NPR Targets Manufactured Home Communities, Including Sun, RV Horizons, Frank Rolfe, Buffett-Berkshire Hathaway Related Details

January 30th, 2019 Comments off

 

NPRlogotargetsSunCommunitiesLogoRVHorizonsLogoFrankRolfeManufacturedHomeCommunitiesBehindCurtainDetailsDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

NPR’s Anna Casey begins her narrative about manufactured homes and communities with two errors in her first very sentence.  She missed the estimated totals and is mostly incorrect about the proper terminology for this type of factory-built housing.

 

Roughly 20 million Americans live in mobile homes, once billed as low-cost living. But mobile home parks have become a target investment for real estate companies who are jacking up fees,” begins Casey’s NPR narrative, a lead-in to her radio interview transcript.

Their headline?

Mobile Home Owners Are Upset About Rising Costs To Rent Land.” That too is at best only partially correct, as there are actually some 22 million Americans living in millions of pre-HUD Code mobile homes, and more post-HUD Code manufactured homes.  Why does Casey say, “…once billed as low cost living…” – does anyone who studies the facts doubt that manufactured home living is less costly than other housing options?

 

InfographicMobileManufacturedHomeManufacturedHousingIndustryFactsDataResearchMobileManufacturedHomeLivingNews

 

The end of NPR’s article has this disclosure:

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

 

That audio is found below.

 

 

To set the context for the potential impact of this type of public media ‘journalism,’ “According to Nielsen Audio Fall 2017 ratings, the total weekly listeners for all programming on NPR stations is 37.7 million people – a record that has been maintained since the Spring of 2017. NPR’s Newscasts, updated live every hour, can now be heard on 947 broadcast stations by nearly 28.7 million listeners,” said NPR on Mar 28, 2018. NPR says that about 2/3 are white listeners, with the balance being members of a minority group.

Numbers of NPR affiliated stations operate in rural areas that may be underserved by other competing news radio stations. Put differently, in the very markets where manufactured housing sales are often the strongest – due to placement issues in towns across America – NPR broadcasts like this one may be one of the only radio news sources.

Before going deeper into this Daily Business News on MHProNews report and analysis, ICYMI, this is a good place to see part one of this series on PBS and NPR for useful background.

 

PBS & NPR Reporting on Manufactured Housing News, Pulling Back the Veil

 

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The terminology matters because
the terminology determines the
construction standards a home was
built to,” Steve Duke, LMHA.

 

Next, after the graphics that follow is the full NPR transcript, from the audio posted above.  Following that NPR transcript, MHProNews will provide analysis.

We note again, via the graphics above and below, that NPR is routinely misusing the terminology.  They and PBS have often done so over the course of several years. One might ask out loud, why?  Why are they using outdated, inaccurate, or even prejudicial terminology?

 

DefinitionsTerminologyFactoryBuiltHomesMobileHomesModularHomesManufacturedHomesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

NFPAManufacturedHomeIsNotaMotorHomeOrTrailerAlthoughItisOftenCalledMobileHomeItIsNotThatEitherNFPADailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

This above is not a perfect definition, but it is clarifying.

 

Start of NPR Transcript 

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

About 20 million Americans live in manufactured or mobile homes. Some own the structures. Most rent the property underneath. And for many, rents are rising. Here’s Anna Casey of Illinois Public Media.

ANNA CASEY, BYLINE: Terry Baker has lived at Wilson’s mobile home park in Urbana, Ill., for more than 20 years. Baker is a retired home health worker and a proud grandmother who was looking for a place of her own after her divorce.

TERRY BAKER: I could not get over the rent. When I moved in here, my rent was $142 a month. Where else was I going to live for that kind of money?

CASEY: Baker’s rent has doubled now. It started to rise three years ago. She describes a letter that residents got.

BAKER: Dear Wilson’s resident, Dennis and I are writing to inform you we have made a difficult decision to sell Wilson’s on University.

CASEY: The local owners sold the community to Colorado-based RV Horizons. It owns mobile home parks in more than 25 states. Its business model is to buy up mom and pop parks and raise the rent. Frank Ralph works at RV Horizons and something called Mobile Home University, a so-called investors’ boot camp that teaches people how to buy mobile home parks. This is from a promotional video on their website.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

FRANK ROLFE: You only rent the land when you own a mobile home park. And the customers are relatively easy to please. They’re just happy to have a roof over their head.

CASEY: The investor who bought the park where Baker lives and 12 others in the county has steadily increased rent and fees. Frank Rolfe wouldn’t return a request for an interview, but in this video from 2015, he laid out his business strategy.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

ROLFE: Yeah. Well, raising the rent is simply part of the Day One purchase because often, the mom and pop has not raised the rent in years. So they’re far below market.

CASEY: It’s unclear how many mobile home parks remain family-owned, but they’re an increasingly popular investment. Just five of the biggest mobile home real estate companies now own nearly 300,000 sites. The largest is Michigan-based Sun Communities. Russell Watson is with the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of Florida. He liked living in a Sun Community.

RUSSELL WATSON: These guys keep the parks as parks. They aren’t looking to simply displace you and send you on your way.

CASEY: In larger cities, mobile home communities are increasingly redeveloped as more profitable real estate. But Watson, who moved to a mom and pop park in Fort Pierce, says the downside is rents become less affordable when corporate owners take over.

WATSON: And they will rapidly price out people who came to those parks because it was affordable housing.

CASEY: Back in Illinois, residents like Terry Baker are worried that more rent hikes are coming.

BAKER: And if I wanted to move this place, it’s going to cost me $5,000 to $7,000 to move it and set it back up. OK? And they own almost every park around here. They got me by the butt.

CASEY: That’s why Baker and some other Illinois residents are advocating for rent-control measures. But there’s a ban on rent control in Illinois and at least 20 other states. Mobile home owners worried about escalating rents fueled by speculators are pushing for legislation to control them. For NPR News, I’m Anna Casey in Urbana, Ill.

### End of NPR transcript ###

 

The National Geographic (NatGeo) video posted is not part of the NPR report, but helps establish some related context for those readers who may not be familiar with RV Horizons, Mobile Home University, and “Frank and Dave” Reynolds operations.

 

DaveReynoldsFrankRolfeRVhorizonsMobileHomeParkStoreMobileHomeUniversityBootCamps-postedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Dave Reynolds (l), Frank Rolfe (r), of RV Horizons, MHU, MHP Funds, Mobile Home University, Mobile Home Park Store and RV Horizons.

 

Frank and Dave’ where both invited to comment, days prior to this report, and again yesterday.  Reynolds responded to another inquiry recently, for a report that included his detailed statements linked here.  But for whatever reasons, they did not respond to our inquiry for this report.

It’s worth noting Brad Lovin, executive director of the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Association (NCMHA) quote, shown below.  Lovin’s logic is that even where the information may seemingly be close to accurate, hand-selecting what sounds bad, and/or leaving out necessary context, can cast much of the manufactured home industry in a bad light.

 

PublishingHandPickedInformationCanBeWorsefortheImpressionItMakesOnManufacturedHomesandOurIndustryThanStatingEntirelyFalseInfo-BradLovinNCMHA

 

While the NPR narrative focused on larger owners, which includes RV Horizons, and those top five shown in the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) National Communities Council (NCC) list below, there are numerous details that NPR left out.  Some of those are found in the MHProNews infographic, further above.

At the time the list below was compiled by the NCC, the top 5 manufactured home community operators would have had some 296,087 sites. While significant, what NPR failed to mention is that there are an estimated 4.2 million land lease sites in about 44,000 manufactured home communities nationally.  So, the image painted by the NPR narrative is skewed for lack of data and context.

2018Top50ManufacturedHomeCommunitiesListNotMObileHomeParksNCCNationalCommunitiesCouncilManufacturedHousingInsttitueDailyBusinessNewsMHProNEws

 

Also missing are disclosures by NPR, regarding possible conflicts of interest in their reports.

Among them are the numerous ties between “Frank and Dave” operations and Berkshire Hathaway brands operating in manufactured housing. Why is that important?

That’s perhaps just part of the biggest surprise.

The following is another case of “follow the money” and the truth hiding in plain sight. What follows is per the Gates Foundation website.

 

 

Takeaways? Facts and Implications?

MHLivingNews and MHProNews have previously documented that Buffett money has flowed through other organizations into groups that have literally targeted manufactured housing. Among those targets have been “Frank and Dave” and their firms.  That may or may not be with Frank or Dave’s knowledge. This portion of the report could be a surprise to them, or maybe not.

 

BillMelindaGatesFoundationWarrenBuffettDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

But what is certain is that there are several money-trails that have already been documented that connect Buffett-Berkshire money to news outlets and other groups that have stirred up the pot against manufactured home industry firms.

Those negative news stories in turn – while they may appear to an industry professional to be company specific, can nevertheless influence the general public perception well beyond a given company. Online quotes previously cited by MHProNews from the general public anecdotally have served to make that point.

Note that MHAction has been asked about this, as has Prosperity Now, and they’ve been mute.  But does their silence on this funding/money trail matter? They’ve both apparently been paid by Buffett’s bucks, through ‘dark money’ channels.   The money trail is documented.  A rival resident group (see related reports, below) have likewise pointed the finger at MHAction.

 

NPR-PBS-FinancialSupportGrantsDonationsGatesFoundationWarrenBuffettDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Why?

Normal business people don’t think like this.  In fact, industry, public officials, advocates, and mainstream media callers have a asked MHProNews – ‘Why would Buffett’s Berkshire help fund attacks on their own industry?’

 

DarkMoneyBasicsWikipediaOpenSecretsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

The answer is lies in “the Moat” philosophy that Buffett espouses (see related reports). They’ve even allowed or funded attacks on Clayton Homes. Specifically, how?  Attacks and critiques have occurred from organizations they’ve directly or obliquely organization helped fund – such as Prosperity Now (formerly CFED) and the Center for Public Integrity.

Strange?  Perhaps, but nevertheless true.

So, this recent journalistic hit on Sun Communities, RV Horizons, and Frank Rolfe delivered via NPR – or previous ones from PBS and NPR – are purportedly part of a broader pattern. It should be noted that a high-level source at 21st Mortgage are among those that have brought this pattern to the attention of MHProNews.

The money trail, facts, and evidence have included – but are not limited to – those found in the related reports, linked further below.

So this isn’t mere speculation or a wacky conspiracy theory. Rather, these are documentable facts using the ‘follow the money’ methods preached by independent journalist, Sharyl Attkisson.

Federal authorities are known to be investigating such matters. A letter from a state attorney general’s office has come into MHProNews just yesterday.  It indicates they’ve been looking into issues related to “the Moat” and how it operates.

GoodBusinessIsLikeAStrongCastleWithaDeepMoatAroundItSharksIntheMoatIwantItUntouchableWarrenBuffettQuoteDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Sometimes the truth is hiding in plain sight. Follow the facts, evidence, and the money. Actual quote, per source as noted.

 

Some Satire – to Make the Points…

RichardDickJennisonMHIPresidentPhotoBrianMontgomeryEnhancedPreemptionFHATitleChattelLoans1010RuleTimWilliamsDontLearnFromHistoryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Satire used to drive home relevant points.

LATonyKovachRichardDickJennisonWhyGivenBosnusesKevinClaytonTimWilliamsHelpKeepSalesLowPostureEffortNoResultsConsolidateIndustryMHProNews

Satire used to drive home relevant points.

 

The Bottom Lines?

Industry professionals are waking up in Louisville, KY to talk shop and do business. They will be talking to Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – which is dominated by the Berkshire brands, Shaw and other firms that operate in manufactured housing.

 

Remember-Anything You, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison, Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, or Anyone Says Publicly at Louisville Show May Be Recorded by Audio, Video – Legal Details

 

Numerous state associations are likewise purportedly weaponized by the Berkshire brands. It should be noted that there are voices and sources associated with the above that provide news tips and other insights to MHProNews, so this isn’t a blanket condemnation. Wheat and chaff.  Discernment must be used.

 

KevinClaytonVideoInterviewHowDidWarrenLearnTheseMoatBuildingstrategiesMHIBehavioralExperts

SoTheAssociationMHIIsNotThereFortheIndustryUnlesstheinterestsoftheBigBoysJointheIndustry'sMartyLavinMHIAwardWinnerQuoteMHProNews

This quote is serious, not satire. MHProNews looks at the facts, considers the sources, and follows the evidence. MHI earlier last year, and for years before, MHI routinely replied promptly to all inquiries. But since we’ve spotlighted the problems and concerns, they’ve gone silent. Why? If the facts are on their side, why not make offer a cogent explanation?

 

The money trail, facts, and evidence all purport to paint this picture.  Warren Buffett and Berkshire – with Bill Gates’ foundation as but one funding tool – have weaponized several media and nonprofits against manufactured housing. Stunning, but just look at the evidence.

 

KevinClaytonInterviewMHIPacDonationsEItherMajorPartyDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Why are shipments still at such low levels during an affordable housing crisis? Don’t reports like this one help answer that question?  See the related reports, further below.

 

FollowThe MoneyPayMoreAttentionToWhatPeopleDothanwhatTheySaySpySea72MartyLavinYachtManufacturedHousingINdustryProMHProNews

Ask yourself. Do these Marty Lavin dictums apply in this case?

 

That’s MH “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and 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.

 

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“Top 10” – RV Horizons Lost License, Reports Mainstream Media, Protests, MHU/MHP Funds Leader Responds

January 4th, 2019 Comments off

 

Top10RVHorizonsLostLicenseReportsMainstreamMediaProtestsMHUMHPFundLeaderRespondsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Since Colorado-based RV Horizons purchased Houlton’s St. Croix Meadows RV Park in the fall of 2015, Town of St. Joseph Town Board has twice voted to deny renewal of the park’s operating license, citing various infractions including failure to pay its bills to the city,” said the Wisconsin-side of the St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN metro’s Hudson Star Observer.

 

The Hudson newspaper cited this as one of their top 10 stories for 2018. An official for RV Horizons said off the record about that point from the newspaper’s report, “I guess it’s good that a community license renewal is a top story in this town and there are no bigger issues to report on. That’s the kind of town we like to invest in!

The Hudson paper did make it clear, later in their story, that the RV Horizon’s license was renewed.  RV Horizon confirmed that in an extensive comment published further below.

But an industry’s activist group, MHAction has put this incident out to their followers in a variety of ways.  They played a prominent part of that news media’s report.

That further muddies the waters, when MH spin and their own media efforts, are more commonly entering the media mix.  The image below is from earlier in this effort by MHAction.

 

RVHorizonsFrankRolfeDaveReynoldsMHActionProtestStcroixWIManufacturedHomeCommunityDaliyBusinessNewsMHProNews

The photo at the top is from a December protest of MHAction of a different ‘Frank and Dave’ event.

 

 

Beyond the Mainstream Report

To get both sides of the story, MHProNews reached out to Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe, principals in RV Horizons and other manufactured home related operations.

 

StCroixMeadowsRVMHCommunityParkDailyBusinessNewsMHProNEws

 

Dave Reynolds sent the following, detailed response to a series of questions from MHProNews to RV Horizons.

 

DaveReynoldsFrankRolfeRVhorizonsMobileHomeParkStoreMobileHomeUniversityBootCamps-postedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Dave Reynolds (l), Frank Rolfe (r), of RV Horizons, MHU, MHP Funds. 

Tony,

Here is my response:

 

  1. Status of water issues  –  water is tested regularly as required by Wisconsin DNR and is safe for consumption.   We have just recently installed a second well to provide more capacity as well as a backup.
  2. Status of Payments  –  We are current on our payments and actually tried to prepay this a year in advance and the Town would not accept that payment due to their accounting procedures.    We are in constant contact with the Town and provide them a report each month that includes a community occupancy map and the monthly parking fee tax payment.
  3. Shandra/MHAction Statements –  I would be happy to talk to her to hear her concerns.
  4. Cosmetic vs. structural changes  –  We are doing both, and both are important.  Structural improvements include the upcoming sewer project at a cost of over $200,000 which will be completed in the spring, a new well has already been drilled, a generator will ensure water is always flowing to the residents even in the event of a power outage, dangerous trees and tree limbs have been removed or trimmed back.  The majority of improvements are infrastructure improvements and not cosmetic.  But cosmetic improvements are important as well and we will continue to improve property appearance  – something we will never apologize for.    To date we have spent approximately $250,000 on property improvements on top of over $200,000 in new home inventory.
  5. Management Problems  –  We have had excessive turnover in the Community manager position, and the district manager position for that matter.  This is where the miscommunication stemmed from and we have addressed that situation to highlighting the importance of maintaining a strong commitment to our relationship with the Town, our residents, and towards continued improvements to the community.    This community went for many years with no improvements prior to our ownership.    While we look forward to completing all of our projects to improve the community, it doesn’t happen overnight.     There is a strong need for affordable housing in this market and our goal with this and every community we own is to improve them each and every year.”

Dave Reynolds
PO Box 457
Cedaredge, CO 81413

STCroixMeadoswRVParkmanufacturedHomeCommunity

Collage by MHProNews.

 

 

Returning to Local Media Report

Back to quotes from the Star Observer about RV Horizons -“Both votes — the first in June 2017 and the second in June 2018 — were reversed, allowing the company’s continued presence in the community.”

I wish I could change what’s happened in the past,” RV Horizons district manager Rod Engh told town officials in September before they voted to reinstate the license, per John Russett’s narrative.I can’t. But I can say that it’s going to get better — I promise.”

Russett added that, “What preceded the vote was nearly two years of back-and-forth between Houlton MHP, LLC — the subsidiary created by RV Horizons to run St. Croix Meadows RV Park — and town officials on the company’s failures to meet its obligations to the town.”

Mark Hazelbaker, an attorney with Kasieta Legal Group, LLC, in Madison, attended the Sept. 13 meeting on behalf of RV Horizons with Engh.

There is some back and forth of events, including claims- and counter-claims about improvements.  But perhaps the most important part of the account to potentially thousands of manufactured home industry professionals is that a spokesperson for MHAction was cited and quoted extensively.

What follows is the conclusion of their  article, which appears to rely solely on Sandra BP-Weeks, as if she was a manufactured home community expert, or a neutral third-party.

Here is that extended quote from the Star Observer follows below, between the — lines, but the entire, original report is at this page linked here.

Since the mid-1990s, manufactured home communities have shifted largely from locally owned entities to ownership by multi-state corporations, according to Shandra BP-Weeks, one of three organizing directors for MHAction, a national movement of manufactured homeowners pushing back against the consequences of corporate ownership.

“There’s not a clear process at most of these companies for residents to make their concerns heard,” BP-Weeks said. She added many corporate models are designed with a focus on a return for investors as opposed to quality of life improvements for residents.

While some corporate owners make a point to maintain local management, she said a growing trend is to consolidate parks under one manager by purchasing multiple parks in the same area.

I think that the management style is something that seems to be sort of led by RV Horizons, so we’ve seen recently that a couple other companies are starting to do that,” Weeks [reportedly] said.So this is definitely a pattern we’ve seen with them in that they’ve mentioned on their mobile home university website as a good strategy with buying mobile homes to buy them in regions so they can share managers between the communities.”

— end of Hudson Star Observer  report.

 

The above quote framed the account in a fashion that made not just RV Horizons, but other firms in the manufactured home industry appear to be problematic. There was no balance on that from RV Horizons, which is one reason MHProNews sought their vantagepoint.  Professional readers now have some balance, with this report.

As a relevant bookend, the Public, a progressive publication sympathetic to MHAction, recently said about different cases that, “…Residents have joined the Manufactured Housing Association of Illinois (mhoia.org) and Manufactured Housing Action (mhaction.org). In December, 2017, Jeff and Debbie Kiel of Urbana joined other protesters in confronting RV Horizons at a Mobile Home University Workshop in Austin, Texas.

This month (December, 2018), the Manufactured Housing Association of Illinois is launching a campaign to call attention to the destructive business model used by RV Horizons and Kingsley…”

What the Star Observer and the Public have in common is this. There is a multi-state effort underway by MHAction, often teaming with other state-based resident groups, to advance their agenda. The MHAction narrative is to call significant swaths of the community sector as a “destructive” business model.

Would the improvements at St. Croix Meadows have occurred in the absence of private capital?

 

MH Industry Takeaways?

While this account is about RV Horizons and ‘Frank and Dave,’ it is more broadly a case of the manufactured home industry in the U.S. currently having no effective post-production national association.  Modestly funded MHAction has a spokesperson that is actively engaging the media, to essentially attack the industry.  Where is something similar occurring for industry professionals?

Rolfe has made that point previously, and rather politely, before going quiet on such issues.

FrankRolfeMHFundRVHorizonsMobileHomeUniversityDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHomeIndustryResearchReportsDataAnalysisMHProNews595

 

  • The absence of an engaged-on-such-issues, post-production national manufactured home trade association means that no one routinely steps-up-to-the-plate to defend such cases with communities.
  • That also applies to retailers, who do battle with zoning and other officials.
  • It is essentially true for almost anyone else in the industry, save for selected cases that may tilt toward a favored MHI member.

With MHAction actively engaged with media, and with politicos – such as Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), who is ‘exploring’ a run for the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 – the industry’s members should be keenly aware of the potential risks from having no effective voice to respond to such issues.

So MHPros are left with an ironic, #nettlesome, and troubling picture.  MHAction is more active with the mainstream media to create a poor image than the Manufactured Housing Institute is to defend the industry from such problematic reports.

And ‘Frank and Dave’ are MHI members.

The bottom line in this particular case appears to be that RV Horizon did what they needed to do to resolve the matter with local officials in Wisconsin. But the ongoing activities by MHAction to stir-the-pot against private enterprise is not to be overlooked.

While this isn’t the only issue creating artificial headwinds for the industry, no wonder industry shipments are down.  See the related reports, further below the byline and notices.

MHProNews will monitor select cases of such matters and report accordingly. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and 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.

 

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Expose! Why Has Warren Buffett/BH Funded Anti-MHC Activists, MHAction? Why Fund Attacks on ELS, Frank Rolfe, Blackstone Group?

 

 

 

 

 

RVHorizon/MHP Funds Investing/Mobile Home Univ Communities Leader, Frank Rolfe’s Hidden Gem

April 30th, 2018 Comments off

Before diving into RVHorizon’s/MHP Funds leader Frank Rolfe’s hidden gem, an acknowledgement ought to be paid to his partner Dave Reynolds, and others in their rising enterprise. No one person in an operation of that size does it all solo.

 

When we say Rolfe’s “hidden gem,” it’s an insight that’s been hiding in plain sight since the video below was first produced.

This preface is warranted. It’s difficult to solve any problem(s) or challenge(s) that are not fully understood. Is that self-evident?

For example, even if a doctor has a guess as to a patient’s condition, a good MD does tests before proposing a diagnosis.  Only after tests does the physician suggest possible treatments. Treatments ideally are evidence and fact-based. “Clinical.” That’s the scientific way, and it fits business too.

Thus, the same should be true for Manufactured Home (MH) professionals and investors facing an obvious but often overlooked or ignored challenge.

Frank Rolfe says several things in less than a minute in this video. We’ll focus on only one. It’s this. Most people have little or no clue as to what manufactured housing truly is.  Because so many in the news media doesn’t get it about MH, neither does the public.

In front of dozens of pros, Darren Krolewski of MHVillage made a very similar statement in Tunica. Darren said that when talking to the general public, it takes them time to explain what a manufactured home is.

Both described a similar problem.

That’s an important initial step. Namely, understanding a root issue.

But the solution?

Has the solution to this challenge been clearly proposed or articulated? If so, please show me. Because what we often see is a search for things like a higher volume of traffic. Traffic is important. But the reality is that often, the traffic level is fine; what’s needed is a better method of converting the existing traffic you already have into more positive action-steps by possible buyers.

 

Modern Housing Options

The vast majority of adults in America know what an apartment, duplex, townhouse, rental, condo, or single family house is. People know what a tiny house is. Many if not most understand RVs.

By contrast, millions may know ‘something’ about manufactured housing. But what they think they know is often inaccurate. Others are ignorant, as Frank and Darren said. We know this from our own years of public engagement experiences.

That lack of knowledge or misunderstandings about manufactured homes (MH) are the opportunity in disguise for MH Industry professionals and investors. Learn the correct systems, apply them properly, and watch sales rapidly rise.

 

Candor and Compelling Facts over Fiction and Emotions

There’s plenty of excuses, self-delusions, and false-beliefs floating around MHVille. That’s not uncommon in America in general today.

But realities like those that Frank and Darren raised ought to be acknowledged. Then, the root cause(s) of those realities must be addressed. Only when that occurs can opportunities and profits be pursued and maximized.

This is one of the most fundamental challenges that individual MH locations must face. Because change occurs at the person and business level.

As the publisher of the industry’s top two trade media, and as a multi-decade professional services provider, we’ve dealt with this at a pragmatic level for years. ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com is a specific part of the solution.

That’s a foundational start. But there’s more needed to tie that specific foundation to individual businesses and locations.  Those that properly have, see positive results.

James McGee and Chet Murphree say something essential near the end of this video. They’re spot on with their point. What comes before it is useful and interesting, but the punchline – the best – was saved for last in the video montage below.

 

 

How Serious Is the Challenge Frank and Darren Stated?

In our professional visits to communities and retail centers, often similar problems to what Frank and Darren pointed to are spotted. A property or sales center may be okay to wonderful, but still isn’t performing as well as local market conditions suggest they should be.

Among the core problems at the location level? Low conversion ratios of lookers to buyers.

For some years, before we travel, before we’ve charged potential marketing and sales clients a dime, we ask very specific questions.

Among them, will you as a client be open minded about addressing challenges that are found? Will you take constructive advice in a positive way?

We’re not in the hurt feelings business. Like an MD, we as publishers and as business growth service providers strive to deal in evidence-based realities.

Our goal is always to objectively identify the good, as well as what can or must be improved. Most successful locations are doing far more right than wrong. The good stuff remains unchanged. But when there’s a big fall off rate between visits and sales, there’s an obvious disconnect.

Most pros who hire a consultant or business development service provider get the reality that one must do something different, to achieve a different outcome.

That said, there are some who want a magic pill, a solution involving no practice changes. But isn’t that self-contradictory? If there was no change needed, then there would be no challenge.  Nor would there be a wondrous disguised opportunity that to correctly addressed, can yielded positive change. We tell those prospective clients who want magic without a sincere willingness to make any needed changes, thanks but no thanks.

 

The Sheer Size of the Problem Points to Immense Opportunities

Data publicly self-reported from MHVillage is useful in making this point. I’ve know Darren for well over a dozen years. He’s intelligent. Darren and his colleagues have a successful operation. So what follows shouldn’t be taken as a slam or a critique. This is an going to be a fast-based, objective look at their self-stated data.  Because frankly, it’s a common MH Industry issue. I applaud them for stating this in public and in writing.

The problem at retail centers (a.k.a. ‘Dealerships’) and communities is mirrored – not equal to, but suggested by – the MHVillage statistics.  Here are the impressive numbers on their website.  25 million unique visitors in a year, equaled about 80,000 sales.

MHVillage’s own data set says they convert only about 1/3 of 1 percent of shoppers.

You read that correctly, that’s .0032 percent (just a fraction less than a third of one percent) visits to purchases. Furthermore, their average sales price demonstrates – and Darren confirmed – that the vast majority of those purchases are used homes, not new ones.

While industry giant Clayton Homes doesn’t publish their data, anecdotal statements from their team members to the Daily Business News, and some known data suggest their results are similar to MHVillage’s, only they are more new home sales focused.

What do facts like the above mean to a business like yours?

I asked Darren, publicly on stage, and face-to-face afterwards with several standing nearby. He politely admitted, he doesn’t know the answer.

Ok, let’s lend him, and all others a hand. Here’s the logic of it.

  • Millions of people are looking online for housing.
  • Some come in, and shop in person.
  • There’s obviously two big fallouts or disconnects.
  • The first is drop-off is online, the next one is on site.

These bullets point to unsolved challenges, unresolved concerns, that the home shopping public has.  But when the home shopper’s concerns are properly understood and dealt with, they are far more likely to buy.  That’s why the data also points to huge opportunities. When there’s an 8.3 million affordable housing unit shortage in the U.S., that’s a wakeup call for our MH Industry and investors.

Just as consumers approach manufactured housing with some ignorance and skepticism, prospective business clients come to us with a similar, but different mix.  Some doubt they can sustainably grow sales at their business several hundred percent. But its true.  We don’t reveal client data, unless we both mutually agree to do so.  Here is a link to a client interview that freely stated how rapidly they grew.

Once properly begun, clients see the sales totals rising, the logistics of growth is often the greatest challenge. But businesses have to make those initial steps to get started to realize that change is possible, and the logistics can also be navigated, in honest, ethical, sustainable ways.

Real Estate Conversions Compared to MH Conversions

Facts are facts.

I spoke recently with a marketer who does both real estate and manufactured home marketing. He candidly said that they have exactly that same experience. Namely, that far more convert – call or message, come in, and buy – in real estate than for manufactured homes.

Restated, a higher percentage of shoppers pull the trigger in real estate to buy conventional housing, than manufactured home pros routinely experience.

 

Frank Rolfe’s Hidden Gem

Properly acting upon reality is a key part of the secret for increased, sustainable success.

So long as huge swaths of buyers in your market misunderstand or don’t get it about manufactured homes, the conversion ratios will remain low.

The good news is that a professional or investor can deal with this locally.  You don’t have to wait for anything magic to happen in Washington, Omaha, Arlington, or anywhere else.  You can make the difference in your market, by going to the root issues.

We’ll dig into some of the solution for that in today’s episode of the Monday Morning Manufactured Housing Sales Meeting.  That will be posted later this morning just below. ##  (Business development, related news, analysis and commentary.)

(Third party images are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

The Apprentice – Proper Understanding, Planning, and Execution – Monday Morning Manufactured Home Marketing and Sales Meeting

As a related thought, the reported reaction in Vegas to the Ducker Worldwide presentations suggests those backing that plan don’t have a solution useful to the majority. See that in the link here.

 

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Resources

 

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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:
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“Trailer Park Millionaires: How to Get Rich on Housing for the Poor,” Guardian Features

January 1st, 2018 Comments off

FrankRolfeTrailerParkMillionairesGuardianFeaturesReportAnalysis

 

It’s the industry’s other image campaign,” quipped Marty Lavin, JD, an MHI award winner, to MHProNews.

Marty Lavin Lashes the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) Latest Initiative

How do the ‘two campaigns’ compare?

FactChecksComparisonsTrailerParkMillionairesMHILaunch#ForeverHomeStoryCampaignMartyLavinJDDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

The Guardian Feature is one of tens of thousands of videos online that have been produced by local, regional or national media. The bulk are routinely about ‘bad news.’ This Guardian Feature had over 800,000 views on the day we did this report. By contrast, MHI’s videos are as shown, a tiny fraction of the views. Perhaps more important to the industry, how do the MHI videos seek to counter the narrative of the mainstream media news item? Can MHI claim to even be trying to counter the allegations, impressions, and claims made?

 

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) launched the video part of their “image campaign” on November 15, 2017.  There are over a thousand views of the ‘top’ view, but as the graphic of screen captures above demonstrates, most of the MHI videos have only a few hundred views on all their other sponsored videos.

2 ½ years after the Guardian Features had a reporter do some interviews that led to the video posted below, there are over 800,000 views on this one video.  That video, is shown below.

Keep in mind, there are thousands of news videos posted that have “mobile homes,” “trailers” [note: again, their improper use of terminology, not ours] besides this video from Guardian Features.

On the one hand are some 22 million Americans, which third party surveys say are happy with their lifestyle.

Manufactured Home Owners – Satisfaction Survey Redux

On the other hand, are news stories that often feature a bleaker view of “mobile homes,” “trailer parks,” [sic] and those who are in this industry.

SICSicutJournalismDefintionSocietyProfessionalJournalismDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

What Guardian Features Said

Here’s the bulk of the text below the Guardian Feature’s video.

Trailer park [sic] millionaires: how to get rich on housing for the poor.”

Some of the richest people in the US, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Sam Zell, have made millions from trailer parks [sic] at the expense of the country’s poorest people,” stated the Guardian.

That statement is demonstrably inaccurate, on more than one point.  For example, Buffett sold off Clayton Homes owned communities.

Thomas: Buffett Should Buy Manufactured Home Community REIT, Plus MH Market Update$

Seeing their success, ordinary people from across the country are now trying to follow in their footsteps and become trailer park millionaires. The Guardian went to Orlando to learn the tricks of the trade from Frank Rolfe, the self-appointed dean of Mobile Home University, as he led would-be investors around a trailer park [sic] for sex offenders,” stated Guardian Features.

There are many reasons why manufactured housing isn’t soaring in an era of a growing affordable housing shortage. Is Marty Lavin’s “The industry’s other image campaign” one of them?

If so, what does MHI really believe their advertorials and videos will get the job done?

ManufaturedHousingInstitueMHILogoForeverHomeCampaign-ManufacturedHousingIndustryFactCheckDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-575x254

Note that while the Guardian does correctly show that Rolfe is improving the communities that he and his colleagues buy, the comments from viewers suggests that part of the message is lost.

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Screen capture of some comments on the Guardian Features video about Frank Rolfe and his boot camp.

While Rolfe is popular and respected by many in the industry, mainstream news stories like this one – and another recent incident that included his operation that will be featured in the days ahead – leave some in manufactured housing with the impression that Rolfe makes their jobs harder.

Manufactured Home Community Best Practices Debate, Rentals vs. Sales and Accounting Methods

Rolfe told an audience in the video shown below what he now (then) thought was the better choice of terminology today.


What say you about these controversial topics?  “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News in review, 2017, millennials, analysis, commentary.)

Notice 1: Looking for our emailed MH Industry headline news updates? Click here to sign up in 5 seconds. You’ll see in the first issue or two why big, medium and ‘mom-and-pop’ professionals are reading them by the thousands, typically delivered twice weekly.

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

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Frank Rolfe, Manufactured Home Community Pro – Shocking! Or Evolutionary? Video

October 12th, 2017 Comments off

FrankRolfeMOShowMeStateTerminologyManufacturedHomeCommunitiesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews410The factory-built home industry has struggled for over 40 years with nomenclature. Perhaps one of the better known “offenders” in MHVille – in the view of George Allen, or several other industry professionals – has been Frank Rolfe.

Rolfe has commanded more mainstream media news stories that featured him and his colleagues’ operations than many associations in our industry. That’s just a fact.

As with anyone who raises their head above many of their peers, Rolfe has those who cheer, and jeer, what he’s accomplished — and how he’s done it.

So, in an exclusive discussion arranged by MHProNews.com – one that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) was invited to participate in – Rolfe addressed a series of hot topics.

MH Industry Best Practices?

FrankRolfeMHPFundsMobileHomeUniversityRVHorizonsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews359

Frank Rolfe, MHP Funds, Mobile Home University, RV Horizons, Mobile Home Park Store.  Media reports by the New York Times, Bloomberg and others have made him one of the best known personalities in the industry today.

In this first in a periodic series of video, the topic is terminology or nomenclature.  As with any interview, the views are those of the person speaking.  So, without agreeing or disagreeing with Rolfe’s points, MHProNews presents this video as the first in a periodic series of videos that are useful for industry group discussion, as well as for individual professional reflection.

Over the years, MHProNews has heard from the gamut of those who promote their view on this topic.  For those who missed it or need the reminder, a primer on terminology is found linked here.

What’s Coming!

More reports and MHProNews MHLivingNews.com and videos to come…enjoy and consider how you can benefit from this one. Professional, industry feedback is welcome “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Industry image, best practices, programing, announcement, news, commentary.)

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.

Veteran Gets Assist from Manufactured Home Community Residents

May 26th, 2017 Comments off
VeteranGetsAssistfromManufacturedHomeCommunityResidentscreditFOX11-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Auer’s home in the Lakeview Community. Credit: FOX 11.

As we head into a holiday where we honor those who’ve made sacrifices, the spirit is alive and well in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

According to FOX 11, Martin Auer, who is an Army and Marine Corps reserve veteran, and also a 30-year resident at the Lakeview Mobile Home community, needed some help.

His home was in need of some TLC. I needed a new shed, plus I needed new skirting,” said Auer.

The company that owns the Lakeview Community, RV Horizons, selected Auer to receive a renovation, and community residents got together to volunteer their time and deliver on that promise.

It’s back-breaking, but it’s worth it,” said resident and volunteer Edith Simpson.

It’s going to be really nice, and when we get it done, it should look like a really nice place,” said community manager Donna Hodges.

VeteranGetsAssistfromManufacturedHomeCommunityResidentscreditFOX11-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews2

Volunteers work on the home. Credit: FOX 11.

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Credit: FOX 11.

As the renovations got under way, Auer, in true military fashion, was grateful.

I’m very appreciative, and relieved. I didn’t have to try to get it done myself,” said Auer. “There’s a lot of good people out there.”

The feeling from the volunteers is reciprocal.

Freedom is not free, and it takes a lot of sacrifice from people like Mr. Auer,” said Hodges.

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Credit: FOX 11.

I know what it’s like to struggle. It’s nice to be able to help somebody in the community that really needs the help,” Simpson added.

As the house skirting, hammering and building took place, Simpson and Auer reflected on the deeper meaning of taking action for good.

This is good, people’s attitudes have really changed about the military,” said Auer, while discussing that the treatment of veterans has not always been as good as it is now.

We’re all together, chipping in and helping, and doing what we can,” said Simpson.

VeteranGetsAssistfromManufacturedHomeCommunityResidentscreditFOX11-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews3

Credit: FOX 11.

Our vets deserve to be helped out with every little thing that they need, and this is a big thing, more people should get out there to help our vets.”

RV Horizons says it would like to continue doing projects like this for residents in need in the future.

For more on manufactured housing doing well by doing good, including assisting victims of Superstorm Sandy, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

 

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RC Williams, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

 

(Copyright Notice: This and all content on MHProNews and MHLivingNews always have been and are Copyrighted, © 2017 by MHProNews.com a dba of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC – All Rights Reserved. No duplication is permitted without specific written permission. Headlines with link-backs are of course ok. A short-quoted clip, with proper attribution and link back to the specific article are also ok – but you must send a notice to iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com of the exact page you’ve placed/posted such a use, once posted.)

Tunica Forecast—Terrific for Growth

March 27th, 2017 Comments off

The doors Spring open at the Tunica Manufactured Home Show Tuesday, March 28 at 12:45 PM as attendees are greeted by SCMHI executives.

Frank Rolfe, credit:MHProNews

Seminars kick off promptly at 1:00 PM as Frank Rolfe, one of today’s most publicized personalities in the world of manufactured housing, sparks the Getting Positive Media Coverage, Engaging the Media panel discussion. A successful partner in Mobile Home University and RV Horizons, Rolfe has been featured in The New York Times and Bloomberg.

Joining him on the panel will be Tom Fath, a partner in New Durham Estates, and while a bit more low key than Rolfe, he and his family have nevertheless realized a 400 percent growth in new home sales.

 

Tom Fath, credit: MHProNews

From 2:30 to 3:30 PM, 30-year + industry veteran, L. A. “Tony” Kovach, publisher of MHLivingNews and MHProNews, will lead a seminar on Attract and Sell more Qualified Customers by Engaging the Public through the Media. With articles and interviews published in numerous mainstream media, including the Chicago Sun Times NewsGroup and The Hill, Kovach will share facts, figures, tips and other strategies to increase your bottom line via positive media.

L. A. “Tony” Kovach, credit:MHProNews

Q and A will follow both presentations.             

From 3:40 to 5:00 PM Leading Manufactured Home Industry Lenders will present their strategies on attracting and selling more well qualified customers—both chattel and home/land– in a wide-ranging panel discussion, with updates on programs that you may not know about.

All seminars will be held in the Magnolia Room at the Resorts Casino.

http://tunicashow.com/

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

Submitted by Matthew J. Silver to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

 

 

 

Anti Community MHAction Targets Frank Rolfe, RV Horizons and ELS

January 5th, 2017 Comments off
MHActionOrganizingResidentsToHarmTheirOwnHomesValue-postedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-

I’ve watched such groups attack a manufactured home community – by misusing the media – with such gusto, that they harmed the value of every resident owned home at that property,” said consultant and publisher, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach. Image credit, MHAction, and collage/text credit by MHProNews under fair use guidelines.

Small-to-large manufactured home community (MHC) operations are no strangers to the ire of anti-investor activists.

MHAction is one such group.  They’re seeking to grow their influence with MHC residents, media, policy advocates, regulatory and legislative bodies.

Part of their strategy is to use the news media to attack higher-profile MH business operations.

Manufactured homeowners and residents across the country are outraged by the business practices of RV Horizons,” said MHAction in a public post by the group.

RV Horizons Inc. owner Frank Rolfe thinks owning a manufactured home community is like, “a Waffle House where everyone is chained to the booths,” proclaims the group’s recent Facebook post, aimed at increasing the number who sign a petition for investigations of Rolfe and his partner’s business.

MHActionHarmsManufacturedHomeOwnersMDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Whatever their motivations, attacking private capital doesn’t attract more investors.  That de facto harms those who would upgrade existing or build new quality manufactured home communities.  MHProNews does not represent either of these two operations at any level, but editorially recognizes that groups such as MHAction attacking industry firms often harms others in the business too.  An industry response can be useful to set-the-record straight.

If you live in a community owned by RV Horizons, and are concerned by their business practices, click to sign a petition asking state Attorney Generals to investigate,” MHAction says.

MHActionLogoManufacturedHousingActionCommunityResidents-postedMHProNews

A new Masthead blog post outlines the facts that manufactured housing industry pros must grapple with in dealing with this new breed of media-savvy activists.

MHAction Disrupting Manufactured Housing Industry Business as Usual

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Dave Reynolds (l), Frank Rolfe (r), of Mobile Home University, Mobile Home Park Store and RV Horizons. Provided under fair use guidelines.

MHProNews has previously interviewed Frank Rolfe about adverse press coverage he and his firm have received, one of those interviews with Rolfe is found at the link here.

A detailed, fact-based reaction to MHAction’s media-based attack on ELS is linked here.

For balance, MHProNews contacted MHAction, asking for details and specific questions about their operation – including the sources for their funding.  As of this post’s publication time, with over a week since our inquiries, MHAction has not responded.

MHActionFacebookPageTonyKovachPostManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Tom Fath, a manufactured home owner who lives on the property he helps manage, told MHProNews that in the NPR story, there was no excuse for the property owner, but noted that: “Where is the tenant accountability? Homes are personal property (Unless units are rentals) and there is trash and debris everywhere.” Negative media coverage paints an inaccurate picture of manufactured home owners as being victims or unhappy with their lifestyle, when surveys and studies by third parties reveal that MH owners are happy with their homes and lifestyle. Image from the MHAction Facebook page.

The Daily Business News will continue to monitor this and other such groups.  ##

(Image Credits are as shown above.)

SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.