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Dueling Factions

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

In this time of industry crisis, many thoughts arise regarding strategy and direction, but there has been seemingly little effective action. A couple of old friends from my days in the industry, plus one new friend, Dr. David Funk, asked me to see if I could help things along by putting matters into historical perspective.

In my early days when the MH industry was breaking sales records every year (I’ve been retired for more than two decades), we were leaderless—in discord. No manufacturer originated more than ten percent of shipments. Those heady times ended with a crash—a major housing crisis.

Faced with ruin in the seventies, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, community owners and the like pulled together behind a focused plan of action. It was a widely debated strategic decision to enhance industry credibility by accepting HUD supervision of a national building code for our product. There was plenty of dissent, but the plan had broad support. It was nominally led and presented by MHMA (the Mobile Home Manufacturer’s Association, the predecessor of MHI).

Wrong course? Maybe—we cannot know—but it attained consensus; we worked together and made it happen. A bit of a miracle, considering a long history of bickering and lack of leadership.

These days, we face a bigger challenge and yet … where’s today’s consensus? What’s the strategy? Where’s the leadership? You have a strategy, I have a strategy and yonder fellow behind the tree has a strategy, but what emerges is discord.

In my naïveté as I stepped back into this largely consolidated industry, I thought a leader would step forward, rally the troops behind a plan of action, and get on with developing our great potential. Strangely, that has not yet happened. As Rahm Emanuel said, and Tony quotes:

Never let a good crisis go to waste …

We’re wasting this crisis by fussing over “who’s right” instead of debating “what’s right.”

you-never-want-a-serious-crisis-to-go-to-waste-rahm-emanuel-president-obama's-chief-of-staff-image=wikicommons-(c)2014-lifestyle-factory-homes-mhpronews-com (1).png

Editor's Note: this is the MHProNews poster Bob Vasholtz is referencing,

the article and context it was used in is linked here.

“What’s right” is hard to say, but easier than finding broad agreement. No clear consensus seems to emerge from our diminished industry represented by multiple associations. None of them seems to have a handle on “what’s right,” though there seems a general agreement that the others are wrong and one organization (guess which) should lead the charge. It looks like we’ll not be singing Kumbaya real soon, so how about we start by tuning up Jim Krueger’s 1977 lyrics:

There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy
There’s only you and me and we just disagree

Nothing wrong with disagreement. There are many viable ways to tackle a problem and finding the best can be a stiff challenge, requiring many inputs—thoughtful discussion among all guys who are betting their companies on this industry’s future.

Underneath the rhetoric there is probably an industry consensus that no one has managed to dig out, articulate, and work into a viable strategy. There seems to be no vehicle for doing so. We’re all on the same side, and yet can’t seem to band together and work toward a mutually acceptable way forward. Wow.

It sorta reminds me of national politics. The Republican party caters to the radical right, Democrats the loosely left and the sensible consensus is leaderless.

Rick Rand has a great idea to pull the factions together, shake ’em in a sack, and see what emerges (my words, not his!). I’m on record in support of Rick’s idea, but suggest the challenge is … difficult. It has been my observation that industry progress tends to be incremental with breakthroughs few and far between. How and where, for example, might our scattered and somewhat contentious flock even gather so discussions can begin? How can we, this industry, get past internal politics and start the ball rolling? We’re a young and feisty bunch competing in a turgid housing market. Where, exactly, do we begin to get a handle on a viable and agreeable strategy?

Tony suggests in these pages, “Perhaps we need a few dozen retired guys—or those so financially comfortable—that they don’t fear speaking out publicly on touchy issues that matter to our industry.”

Well gee, I’m such a veteran, happily retired, having no skin in the game and representing no one. I’d be pleased to join with similar voices and see what we can conjure. Thomas Jefferson said:

Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.

I’m an ol’ Kansas farm boy, have my grandpa’s anvil in the barn and can still swing a hammer. Let’s get on with it!

While Tony’s idea is terrific, I wonder if a gaggle of geezers of good intent can do much beyond early steps in the direction of uniting our industry voice toward a viable strategy? Without unity, the problems of a leaderless industry drag on and strategy does not emerge. Agreeing upon one viable association seems a good place to start such useful discussions while reducing internal conflict. Maybe that should be at the top of the agenda for such a senior-citizen forum?

In support of Tony’s and Rick’s ideas, and with incremental progress in mind, here’s another suggestion. Conduct a survey of all segments of the industry, trolling for consensus. Put forth a professionally-written survey, geared toward one question: Which single association or group should speak for our industry in dealing with the important questions we face today—and why (or why not)?

To still protests, the survey must be inclusive, fair and objective. Who can do that? Foremost has long been respected as a provider of solid industry data and could probably do it well. The results, if clear, would be hard to deny, leading toward consolidation. They might sponsor such research in lieu of their next MH survey. The results could be of historic importance.

As with Rick’s conclave and Tony’s summit of the aged, the outcome of such a survey should not be expected to result in a shiny new industry strategy. First we need positive steps for getting back on track—taking what Peter Drucker called results oriented action, toward our industry’s great potential—at minimum, enabling us to speak clearly to confused Washington bureaucrats.

One step at a time along our learning curve. It’s kinda dumb to be racing off in different directions when times are tough and we most need to pull together. ##

bob-vahsholtz-author-dueling-curves-battle-for-housing-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews-com-manufatured-housing-professional-news-75x75-Bob Vahsholtz is the author of DUELING CURVES The Battle for Housing Bob can be reached at kingmidgetswest@gmail.com. Web: www.kingmidgetswest.com.

(Editor's Note: All opinions expressed are those of the writer, and may or may not represent the views of this publication, editor or our sponsors. Other points of view are welcome. OpEds or Letters to the Editor on industry related issues may be sent to latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com, thank you.

As a point of fact, Bob Vahsholtz clearly agrees on some things, disagrees on others, with L. A. “Tony” Kovach's editorial perspectives. Alignment with Masthead view points is not required for publication! :-)

You Might Be a Redneck!

December 12th, 2013 No comments

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to
be offended by the phrase, 'One nation, under God..'

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing
the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ' Christmas'
instead of 'Winter Festival.'

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when
someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your
hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces
veterans with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an
American flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe
and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and
raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to
a friend.

You might be a redneck if you are tired of government overreach, such as ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, the SAFE Act, CFPB and an alphabet soup of federal agencies that want to throttle our businesses or run our personal lives.

You might be a redneck if you've read this far, and you've nodded in agreement more than half the time. When I read some of the above from an article that had no author's name, and I added the last ones which impact manufactured housing home owners, professionals and the rest of our country too.

God Bless America! ##
Submitted by Larry Hahn

ObamaCare: A Different Perspective

December 5th, 2013 No comments

As a retailer for over 30 years and having operated 15 or so locations, I have lost a few sales per year per dealership due to potential buyers having filed personal bankruptcies in the prior 7-14 years.  Most were due to un-insured medical expenses.

A 2007 Harvard study bears me out.  "Half of U.S. bankruptcies, affecting 2 million people annually, were attributable to illness or medical bills." An article by CNN in '09 raises that percentage to 60%.  Medically related bankruptcies have been rising steadily, up from 8% in 1981 (Businessweek).

ObamaCare – with all it's flaws – is designed to eliminate medical bankruptcy by insuring all without exemptions or caps for catastrophic illness.  What is so bad about that concept?

Just think what 3 -5 more sales per year per retailer would add up to, nationally! 

On top of that, all the site builders would also sell more homes.  Every non-commercial real estate agent would sell more existing homes and their sellers could buy a new home!

Multiply all this out, and you have thousands upon thousands of homes built and sold plus the jobs they create, and the trickle down effect on suppliers, lenders, etc.

It is just a fact that ObamaCare – if tweaked and successful – will be good for housing. I don't care about Olive Garden, I care about the Manufactured Housing Industry! 

Dodd/Frank is the looming disaster for housing, not ObamaCare.

frank-woody-republic-manufactured-homes-texas-credit-azlenews-posted-mhpronews-industry-voices-guest-blog-.pngFrank Woody, Owner
Republic Homes
Texas

(Editor's Note1: Frank Woody (r). Photo Credit azlenews. Frank is too modest to do this himself, so we are posting this for him! Weatherford Police Chief Manning presents an award to Frank Woody for going above and beyond to help law enforcement by providing them a place to conduct training.)

(Editor's Note2: this commentary by Frank Woody came as his 'reply' to the article linked below. His comments above are published at his request.)

http://www.MHProNews.com/home/industry-news/industry-in-focus/6659-dodd-frank-fix-hr-1779-preserving-access-to-manufactured-housing-act-of-2013-achieves-growing-bi-partisan-support- )

The Chairman’s View – Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa

May 28th, 2010 No comments

Quick Trip Center with the "Golden  Driller" the largest free standing statue in the world.
Quick Trip Center with the "Golden Driller"
the largest free standing statue in the world.

The Great Southwest Home Show concluded its second year and had the added feature of a Public Days segment to bolster its viability. Due to time restrictions on the availability of the facility, Public Days were held on Friday evening and all day Saturday after the conclusion of Retailer Days on Friday afternoon. Over 1500 people attended Public Days and the retailers showing homes expressed high levels of satisfaction with both the public’s reception to the display and the actual sales results that occurred during the public display period.


The Great Southwest Home Show had two other events associated with it. One event was the state convention for the Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma (MHAO). MHAO conducted the convention in tandem with the show in an effort to assist manufacturing participants in streamlining expenses. Instead of a trip to Oklahoma for a show in the Spring and a return trip for a convention in August, a single trip sufficed. The convention attendance was much higher than had been experienced for about a decade and plans are to keep the events linked in the future.

Manufacturers enjoy the benefits of an indoor facility.
Manufacturers enjoy the benefits of an indoor facility.

The second event held in association with the Great Southwest Home Show was the face-to-face meeting held at least annually by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) along with assigned staff members from HUD’s offices in Washington, DC. I had originally proposed this associated meeting over a year ago when the first Great Southwest Home Show was held. Bill Matchneer from HUD did attend that show and was sufficiently impressed to bring about the associated meeting for the second year of the show. The meeting participants were allowed special access to the display homes on Wednesday afternoon prior to the official opening of the show on Thursday. Both HUD officials and committee members were greatly impressed by the quality and affordability of the thirty plus homes on display at Tulsa’s Quick Trip Center. Some of the meeting participants had never been in a manufactured home prior to those they toured at the Great Southwest Home Show. Hopefully HUD will see the benefit of at least periodically holding the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee in association with the Great Southwest Home Show.

Supplier booths are conveniently set up in the middle of the  display homes.
Supplier booths are conveniently set up in the middle of the display homes.

While Bill Matchneer had been the driving force behind getting the MHCC to Tulsa for the show, his replacement Teresa Payne did not skip a beat as she led the HUD delegation and the MHCC to the event. HUD staff and the MHCC members attended the MHAO convention dinner on Wednesday evening and Teresa Payne wowed the crowd with her opening line (“Manufactured Housing rocks!”) as the keynote speaker at the convention dinner. The dinner marked the first time in its almost 10 year history that the MHCC committee had actually attended an industry event and got a chance to converse with a broad spectrum of industry members.

Teresa Payne highlighting the HUD Code label

Teresa Payne highlighting the HUD Code label

The Quick Trip Center in Tulsa is an ideal facility for hosting such an event as the Great Southwest Home Show. The Quick Trip Center is largest open span structure in the United States with 10.5 acres that is indoors and air conditioned. With in-floor electricity to each display location, generators are not needed. Manufacturers can set up, conduct the show days, and tear down and not have to worry about whether or not rain storms are headed their way. While dealer traffic was lower than expected on Friday overall manufacturer’s response was positive with several reporting that they planned to increase the size of their display next year.

'Dualing remotes' being set up by two radio stations for public  days.

‘Dualing remotes’ being set up by two radio stations for public days.

Educational seminars were also included in the show agenda at no charge for the attendees. Speakers were John Delves and Kurt Kelly. John Delves taught three sessions that focused on selling skills and performing well in a down economy. Kurt Kelly addressed 24/7 communication with clients. All seminars were well attended and both speakers received great reviews. The seminars are conducted on the day before the show opens in the same format that I enjoyed some thirty years ago when I would go to the Louisville Show. We plan to continue to offer the educational seminars which also serve as Continuing Education credits.

Aisle shot at the QT Center

Aisle shot at the QT Center

Retailers that stayed over to work on Public Days paid extra for that opportunity in order to cover the promotional expenses for the time period. As mentioned previously, the retailer response was overwhelmingly positive. The Great Southwest Home Show has a unique ability to conduct the Public Days since unlike other shows in the nation, the Great Southwest Home Show is conducted in a secure indoor facility and in is located in a large city from which to draw the attendance. We look forward to growing the show and conducting it for many years in the future. Special recognition and thanks need to be given to both Deanna Fields, the Executive Director of MHAO and Dennis Hill from Show Ways Unlimited. Both worked tirelessly on the event and were crucial to its success.

Doug Gorman
Show Chairman
The Great Southwest Home Show

For more information and photos, see Suzanne Felber’s report and Tony Kovach’s photo report.