Posts Tagged ‘Walden University’

Appalled by Gary Rivlin’s New York Times Article on “The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U”

April 8th, 2014 No comments

As an experienced industry professional, former owner of a manufactured home, and academic scholar completing a dissertation on attitudes and perceptions towards manufactured housing, I am appalled by the seemingly acceptable exploitation of low-income residents and lack of corporate social and ethical responsibility conveyed in this article.

Gary Rivlin’s article portrayed Frank Rolfe’s business model and success as the standard for the affordable housing side of the manufactured home industry.

According to peer-reviewed academic research, the negative social construction of low-income families profoundly influence opinions of affordable housing residents (Nguyen et al., 2012).

Contemporary mass media and popular culture, such as Rivlin’s piece, contribute to the negative stigmatization through the depiction of manufactured housing residents as alcoholics, crack heads, drug dealers, wife beaters, sex offenders, and the mentally ill (Kusenbach, 2009).

While Rolfe’s tales of tenants “weirdness” certainly adds humorous entertainment to his lesson of exploiting the poverty class, the damage inflicted through contributing to negative stigmatization of residents is concerning.

Rivlin’s article is a prime example of media coverage that increases misconceptions through inaccurate and outdated information, as well as the omission of information about advancements and improvements.

I am disappointed that The New York Times would contribute to the unflattering depiction of manufactured housing residents and use of deprecating names (i.e. trailer) that reduce social prestige and contribute to negative social perceptions.

According to research by Mimura et al. (2010), accurate media coverage should use proper terminology instead of dated slang words and report truthful and unbiased aspects of the product.

Perhaps Mr. Rivlin should spend some time with one of the industry manufacturers and gain an accurate perspective of the product and targeted consumer market.##

lisa-tyler-walden-university-posted-manufactured-home-professional-news-mhpronews-com-50x50-(1).pngLisa Tyler
Walden University

(Editor's Note: A broad, industry based response to the Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U, which includes comments MHI's Chairman Nathan Smith and other industry veterans, is found at this link below.

The story linked above, as the second one below, have both been leading reads on their respective sites.

Reader responses to this topic or others of industry interest are welcomed at or please indicated your topic in the subject line, thank you.)

Lisa Tyler – at Walden University – Request for Correction Addressed to Princeton’s WordNet

April 12th, 2013 No comments

Dear Esteemed Princeton Wordnet representative-

 Princeton University is one of the leading educational systems in the country.  The school's reputation reflects the highest levels of academic excellence, prestige, accuracy, and leadership.  Articles written by Princeton educated authors are viewed as the ultimate authority on a variety of topics. In light of the level of confidence placed in Princeton affiliated publications, there is a growing concern in the manufactured housing industry on the Wordnet definition of “manufactured home.”

According to the Google search engine result that cites as the defining source, a manufactured home is “mobile home: a large house trailer that can be connected to utilities and can be parked in one place and used as permanent housing..

Obvious problems exist with this very outdated definition.

It may seem like a cultural vernacular that impacts a small percentage of the population. However, approximately 23 million Americans live in manufactured housing (Wilson, 2012). According to the 2007 American Housing Survey, approximately 8.7 million (6.8%) of the 128 million housing units were manufactured homes (Zhou, 2009). The 2011 American Housing Survey reflects the increase to approximately 9.05 million manufactured housing units.

Comprising the second largest percentage of all housing units in the United States (McCarty, 2010), manufactured housing has been a vital source of affordable housing (Wilson, 2012) and are typical of rural areas (Aman & Yarnal, 2010; Tighe, 2013). Housing experts recognize manufactured housing as the predominant source of unsubsidized, affordable housing for rural homeowners and tenants (Tighe, 2013). Not only does the misnomer influence inaccurate perceptions of the product, it can contribute to the marginalization of a significant population.

There are many peer reviewed works that include definitions available that could be used in place of Wordnet’s outdated version. Following are some examples that you may find useful:

  • Manufactured home: Housing structures produced in factories, then transported to site, and installed on designated lands (Zhou, 2009). Manufactured homes must be constructed to the standards of a uniform nationwide building code known as the HUD code (Dawkins & Koebel, 2010).
  • Mobile home: Slang word for manufactured home. Derived from the original classification of mobile homes as vehicles requiring registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles (Kusenbach, 2009). Prevailing term changed to “manufactured home” in 1981 (Wilson, 2012)

Manufactured homes construction occurs in a factory setting, transported to a dealership in another location to be sold, and eventually placed on site at a third location (Dawkins & Koebel, 2010). The manufactured housing construction process uses similar techniques, materials, and equipment as traditional site homebuilding (Nahmens & Ikuma, 2009). The main differences in the construction processes are location of construction and resources used. Manufactured housing construction takes place on an assembly line in a controlled environment (Nahmens & Ikuma, 2009) while exposure to natural elements determines site built home construction processes. Industrialized construction uses construction crews dedicated to specific processes on the assembly line (Nahmens & Ikuma, 2009), whereas independent contractors complete site built home construction processes at different times.

I hope that enough peer reviewed information has been provided to justify changing Wordnet’s definition of manufactured home. Princeton University and its affiliates greatly influence consumer perceptions of products. The recent economic crisis has resulted in housing changes for many Americans. The need for high quality and affordable housing is a pressing issue that must be resolved. The term “trailer house” was replaced with “mobile home” in the 1950’s (Burkhart, 2010; Wilson, 2012). The 1981 HUD code revision included the adoption of “manufactured home” as the prevailing term (Wilson, 2012). Thirty two years later, Wordnet is still referring to the product using terms such as “trailer house” and “mobile home.”

I respectfully request that the definition be updated to reflect the government and industry recognized term that properly represents the product. In the event that you need further proof to justify requested changes, I have provided a reference list of peer reviewed sources used in this letter.

Lisa TylerSincerely,
Lisa Tyler, DBA (ABD), MBA


Aman, D., & Yarnal, B. (2010). Home sweet mobile home? Benefits and challenges of mobile home ownership in rural Pennsylvania.Applied Geography30(1), 84–95. doi:10.10.1016/j.apgeog.2009.09.001

Burkhart, A. (2010, February 5). Bringing manufactured housing into the real estate finance system. Pepperdine Law Review, Forthcoming; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-06. Retrieved from

Dawkins, C., & Koebel, C. (2010). Overcoming barriers to placing manufactured housing in metropolitan communities. Journal of the American Planning Association76(1), 73–89. doi:10.1080/01944360903401052

Kusenbach, M. (2009). Salvaging decency: Mobile home residents’ strategies of managing the stigma of “trailer” living. Qualitative Sociology32(4), 399–428. doi:10.1007/s11133-009-9139-z

McCarty, W. (2010). Trailers and trouble? An examination of crime in mobile home communities. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research12(2), 127. Retrieved from

Nahmens, I., & Ikuma, L. (2009). An empirical examination of the relationship between lean construction and safety in the industrialized housing industry. Lean Construction Journal, 1–12. Retrieved from

Tighe, J. R. (2013). Responding to the foreclosure crisis in Appalachia: A policy review and survey of housing counselors. Housing Policy Debate23(1), 111–143. doi:10.1080/10511482.2012.751931

Wilson, B. (2012). An examination of electricity consumption patterns in manufactured housing units. Housing Policy Debate22(3), 175–199. doi:10.1080/10511482.2011.648204

Zhou, Y. (2009). Two essays on American housing markets: The determinants of housing value volatility and the ownership decision for manufactured housing (Ph.D dissertation). Ohio State University, Ohio, United States. Retrieved from

The 2013 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show was Fantastic!

March 31st, 2013 No comments

What a fantastic turnout for the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show! The optimism of lenders, manufacturers, suppliers, community managers, retailers and association leaders was evident. There was much “buzz” over new innovations in the homes AND the participation of a couple of new retail and wholesale lenders.

I was very impressed by the attendance at the seminars. I overheard a couple of gentlemen discussing how they had been to all of the seminars and gained valuable and useful information that would benefit their respective businesses.

It also seems that manufactured home community management involvement has increased since last year’s show – wonderful news!!!

As the economy continues to slowly recover, consumers will become more aware of the affordable housing options. This shift will help every facet of the industry. More importantly – it will increase consumer awareness and (hopefully) education about the product.

I had the privilege of discussing my dissertation topic with a few fellow Tunica Show attendees. The commonality between the conversations was the need to improve the perception of manufactured housing to accurately reflect the high quality and extreme value the product offers.

Everyone seemed to agree that the biggest challenge was changing the way the general public viewed manufactured homes. While there is no magic cure that will solve issues, having conversations about benefits and challenges can lead to grassroots efforts that spur change. Movement of any kind in the right direction will have a positive impact. After all, our current President achieved his first election through grassroots movements and social media. If seemingly small changes can result in a sea-change of that magnitude, imagine what similar grass roots forward momentum in the manufactured housing industry can do…

One thing I like about the Tunica Show is that you never know who you will run into! I was able to meet “Uncle” Si Robertson from the hit show Duck Dynasty as he was touring the CMH displays. Later that evening (thanks to the awesome folks at CMH), I was able to meet Phil and Miss Kay Robertson AND listen to Phil’s testimony at the CMH Award Banquet & Celebration.

Phil shared that he had toured a manufacturing facility and witnessed outstanding work ethic. Not only did he recognize the value of the product, he appreciated the hard work of every person in the industry.

Talk about a great opportunity to change the consumer perception of manufactured housing! The stars of the most popular television show recognize, understand, and appreciate the product – how about THAT for validation and perception change!

There are lots of positive things happening in the manufactured housing industry. Whether in the developmental phases or getting ready for implementation, there are abundant opportunities for involvement and participation. ##

Lisa Tyler
Walden University
(Editor's Note: Lisa Tyler is a veteran of manufactured housing retail and is currently doing her dissertation en route to her PhD on a topic focused on Manufactured Housing)

(Photo credit: Lisa Tyler (right) with Uncle Si Robertson – left – from Duck Dynasty)

MH homeowner and MBA’s perspective on MH Industry Turn-Around

October 22nd, 2011 4 comments

Like many young newlyweds in the south, my first homeowner’s experience was a brand new “double-wide” manufactured home.  In the mid to late 1990’s, owning a home was considered a “right of passage” and I was thrilled that my (now former) husband and I were able to accomplish this goal before the age of 25.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before my enchantment with my new home was overshadowed by the negative stigma associated with manufactured housing.  Feelings of pride diminished as references of “trailer,” “tornado magnet” and “cheap housing” were made.

My employment in the retail division of the industry made me fully aware of the truth, but social misconceptions fueled by the media and peer snobbery made me feel slightly ashamed and inadequate.  It did not matter that our home included a two car garage, concrete sidewalks, large front porch, and back deck that wrapped around an above ground swimming pool.  Society deemed that we lived in a “trailer.”

Years later, when presented with the opportunity to use the equity towards the purchase of a ranch style brick home, we did not hesitate to complete the transaction.

In keeping with the comedic southern tradition of a “mobile home” being lost in a divorce, the division of property resulted in my retention of the brick home which was worth substantially more than the purchase amount.  Of course, the large down payment was made possible only by the appreciation of value and subsequent equity in the manufactured home.  The home deemed “second class” by society was the only thing that enabled my family to afford a socially acceptable conventional house.  How’s that for ironic?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that the first level of human requirements is basic biological needs – food, clothing, and shelter.  This level of hierarchy is followed by safety needs: belongingness, esteem and self actualization needs.  In short, people need to feel a connection with others and want to be accepted in society.  Self esteem needs are fulfilled through social approval and recognition.  The intrinsic need to feel a sense of pride is one of the most motivating and influential factors of decision making.  It is also a necessary component for fulfilling the basic needs of human behavior.  Yet, the feeling of pride about living in a manufactured home is often swayed by inaccurate perceptions and negative stigmatization.

As productive members of society, we work hard to provide necessities for our families.  As parents, we strive to provide a better life for our children than what we experienced.  The misconceptions about manufactured housing certainly impact our children.  After all, who wants “little Johnny” to get off the school bus among whispers that he lives in a “trailer park?”  Or for “little Suzy” to get overlooked for the cheer-leading squad because her parents are “too poor to live in a real house”” It does not matter that “little Johnny” lives in a well kept community with paved roads, maintained yards, enhanced safety through resident screening and visual appeal or that “little Suzy” lives in a brand new “double wide” that was chosen because the floor plan meets her family’s needs.

Social acceptance and pride often trump logic.  Even though it is logical and practical for consumers to choose manufactured homes, the misconceptions and negative stigma can influence how consumers view themselves and their abilities to provide for their families.

How can the industry convince consumers that living in a manufactured home will fulfill the need of self affirmation (i.e. pride)?

What strategies can be developed to reverse the negative stigmatization?

The obvious answer is to change the image of the industry, but that battle cry has only gathered a small portion of the troops.  Despite the significant changes of the last two decades, the consumer’s perception of the product has not changed.

Instead of trying to reinvent the image, perhaps the industry should modify its approach to the consumer.  A collective voice wields more power than an individual voice.  Create a venue that will fulfill the human needs of belongingness and esteem.  Involve homeowners by providing a way for them to connect with others that share the same interests and lifestyles, thus creating a feeling of belonging and acceptance.  Follow in the footsteps of other industries by changing the image through consumer participation.

For example, people of retirement age are no longer viewed as “too old to do anything.”  Instead, thanks in part to the work of AARP, retirees are able to enjoy an enhanced quality of life that includes a wide range of benefits, products and services.

Another example is the insurance industry.  For a small annual fee of $35, members of Farm Bureau Insurance receive benefits such as reduced premiums, discounts on cell phone packages, rental car discounts, access to community room, personalized tax preparation and a monthly magazine full of useful information and ideas.  Insurance is no longer viewed as a hassle, but as a worthwhile investment in which some of the benefits can be enjoyed without reporting a loss.

Would creating an alliance of manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, and homeowners be the change needed to turn the industry around?  It is certainly has potential.  As a former manufactured home owner, single parent, community member, and consumer I would definitely pay $36 a year to belong to a group that shared interests, understood issues and validated my housing decision.  It is a small price to pay in order to help fulfill the need of pride and acceptance.

The industry players are not the only stakeholders that see the need for an image change.  The stakeholder with the most power to make the change is the homeowner.  It’s time to give them a voice and the tools necessary to make the change.

Having been in the manufactured housing industry for about a decade, I sincerely appreciate the invitation to attend the webinar regarding the MH Alliance/Phoenix Project.  The opportunity provided a wealth of information, including possible resolutions for challenges facing the industry.

Speaking as an MBA moving towards a PhD, from an academic perspective, the MH Alliance identifies the gaps in current system processes and offers a holistic resolution.  The plan is set up to include not only retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and finance providers, but the group that holds the most power and has the most vested interest – HOMEOWNERS!

As a marketing instructor, I like the outreach involving every facet of the industry, so the MH Alliance will have the ability to turn this industry around!

For years, industry experts have attempted to improve the image of manufactured housing.  While significant improvements in products and processes have been made, consumer awareness and education has faltered.  The collective power of the MH Alliance can certainly change the image of the industry and product, thus making it a contender for a consumer’s FIRST choice in housing, not the last choice.  Great job Tony and all those on board to promote the MH Alliance/Phoenix Project theme! # #

(Editor’s Note: All links in this article were provided by for context to Ms. Tyler’s article. Here is a link to some recent feedback on the MH Alliance by more Industry pros.

Lisa Tyler, MBA
Walden University
Planning a doctoral dissertation on manufactured home marketing and image.