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Manufactured Housing – White Hats, Black Hats, Investing, Consumers, MH Independents

April 28th, 2019 Comments off

 

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Let’s begin this report with a clarification of the headline. The term white hats and black hats are metaphorical for ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ We know professionals in our industry who literally wear black hats. That should not be construed as a slam on any of those who literally wear a black hat.

 

That said, ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ are a symbolic case of ‘if the behavioral shoe fits, wear it.’

Furthermore, within firms one might deem to be a black hat operator, there are good people working for them. People may find themselves working at a company, association, or nonprofit with problematic professional ethics for a variety of reasons.  Some may have a difficult time leaving or otherwise navigating an escape.

Now, let’s define for purposes of this analysis the black hats.

For this discussion, a black hat company is one that periodically causes negative headlines or other forms of blowback for the manufactured housing industry.

They may or may not be engaging in problematic practices at all times and places. But they do so often enough we’re the public and/or media impression regarding manufactured housing is a poor one.

Examples of such black hats?

Using the objectively negative media barometer, here’s what Google searches suggest as some.

  • Clayton Homes

 

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When you are looking to cure an illness, you don’t treat the symptoms. You look for the root causes.

  • Nathan Smith – SSK Communities

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  • Frank Rolfe RV Horizons/Mobile Home University

 

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  • As you watch this video by the activist group MHAction targeting Frank Rolfe and his colleague’s “Mobile Home University” boot camp, keep in mind that MHAction has reportedly had dark money funding from Warren Buffett.  Not to defend or attack Rolfe and his partners, but keep in mind, that this kind of protest could be organized against whomever they want to target. These types of protests have attracted negative media coverage.

  • Havenpark Capital, a more recent edition for headlines that arguably spark industry blowback…

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  • Cavco, on their SEC travails

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There are others, but that is enough to make the point.

Then look at the MHI Executive Committee composition.

 

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Satirical logo provided under fair use guidelines.

 

Once more, put yourself as an outsider looking in.  How would you see MHI? White Hat, or Black Hat?  Then, for a contrast, take a peek at the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).  Fewer headlines, but no black eyes.

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MHARR at this time is only open for independent producers of HUD Code manufactured homes and certain state associations. But if you wanted an impression of a white hat, which association would you pick? MHI, or MHARR? Right or wrong, many form opinions based on who you are associated with.

 

Why Does MHI Have White Hat and Black Hat Companies?

That said, the question must be asked. What role or function do white hat companies play at arguably black hat dominated MHI?

Here is what years of evidence arguably boils down to:

  • The industry’s smaller firms are caught up – intentionally or not – in the narratives spun by the MHAction white paper, or the John Oliver viral, satirical video, etc. After all, why would Buffett be funding MHAction, if not for a reason like that?  Buffett’s not a masochist. Keep in mind what Kevin Clayton said in the video linked here.  “Warren” would be okay with Clayton losing money for 5 years, so long as they are growing their moat.  Kevin Clayton said it, why not take it at face value?

 

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They are formidable, but they can be taken by jujitsu. Never forget that even during medieval times, castles and their moats were in fact breached. See a prior Sunday’s report, linked here, for more.

 

Take Buffett at his word, he wants sharks, piranha, and alligators in the waters of his Clayton’s castle moat.

With that vantagepoint, here’s what the evidence trail, ‘follow the money’ and some deductive reasoning suggest.

  • Smaller companies at MHI are the buffet for Buffett and their Big Boy allies.
  • Smaller or modest with firms with a better reputation give cover to MHI’s black hat firms.
  • Small companies are helping pay for what the bigger companies want to do.
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MHProNews looks at the facts, considers the sources, and follows the evidence. 

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

 

Keep in mind that when MHI produced those ‘story telling’ videos a couple of years ago, only a handful of firms were represented.  Unless you were one of those, how did you or your firm benefit from that spending?  That’s just one example out of many possible.

 

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Keep in mind too that just as taxes and regulatory hurdles are barriers to entry, maintenance, or exit, so too is public perception of your product or service. Rephrased, the value of your business is depressed by the blowback caused by the black hat operators.

Within that context, consider what Alan Amy said.

 

A top gent at one of the industry’s rising star firms said at to us as we toured Tunica words to this effect.  ‘You guys (MHProNews) lay out the facts and evidence step-by-step in a logical manner that makes it easy to follow.  I’m just glad that you’re taking aim at Clayton and company, and aren’t taking aim at us [i.e. his company].’

Black hat behavior arguably by high-profile companies makes it harder for white hats to do business.  But never forget, there are ways to jujitsu that, as we reported on a prior Sunday.  ICYMI, see that linked here.

With no further adieu, it is time to dive into the headline news from the week that was.

 

What’s New on MHLivingNews

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Ultimate Reporters, Researchers, Affordable Housing Advocates, or Shoppers 3’rd Party Research Reports on Mobile Homes, Manufactured Homes, and Modular Housing

Warren Buffett, Affordable Manufactured Homes, Expert L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach’s Clayton Homes Counter

Manufactured Housing – Greener Savings by Design – Earth Day Opportunities Missed?

 

What’s New from MHARR

“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”

 

What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews

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Saturday 4.27.2019

National Academy of Sciences Praise for Industrialized Housing Projects, Research, Profitable Manufactured Housing Lessons Learned

Friday 4.26.2019

 

Climate Change, Greener Manufactured Housing Investing, and Truth Telling

Bipartisan Praise for Manufactured Housing, What’s Next

2020 News: Big Brother, Antitrust – Anti-Monopoly – Manufactured Housing, and You

Thursday 4.25.2019

American Pie – The Parody Project – The Day Collusion Died, and Manufactured Home Investing

FEMA Opens Its First Manufactured Home Community In Disaster Response

Manipulating Manufactured Housing Pros – Caterwauling Mudslinger, Just Write a Check, Pay Cash, Use Plastic, and Shut You Up

 

Wednesday 4.24.2019

YIMBY Action, Extreme Housing Shortage, and Manufactured Homes

“You Cannot Tax People Into Prosperity,” Housing, Taxes, Policy Failures, Plus MH Market Updates

 

Bill Advances New Rules Regulating Manufactured Home Communities, Esther Sullivan Strikes Again

Unique Shipping Container Home, Lessons for Factory Builders, Manufactured Home Professionals

 

Tuesday 4.23.2019

Infographic – Mapping How Much A Buyer Must Earn to Buy Median Priced House

Legacy Housing Corporation’s $10 Million Stock Repurchase, Plus Manufactured Home Market Updates

HUD Secretary Carson to Host Innovative Housing Showcase Featuring Affordable Housing Solutions

Deer Valley Homebuilders Release w/Video Underscores Surprising Clayton Homes, Berkshire Hathaway Connections

 

Monday 4.22.2019

B2B Statistics, Trends 2019 – April 2019 Snapshot of Manufactured Home Professional Readers

State of Blue-Collar Workforce White Paper, Plus Manufactured Home Stock Updates

“Less Waste, Better Buying” – Earth Day and Manufactured Housing Image-Building

“Baseless Discrimination Against HUD Code Manufactured Homes”

 

Sunday 4.21.2019

Ultimate Victory

TEASER Alert: News Tip – Exclusive Report planned Monday morning.

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