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Michigan Association’s Video Campaign, What They’ve Said About Manufactured Home Living

by Soheyla Kovach

SoheylaKovachMHLivingNews MHProNews Cannot believe they used our promotional material from the nineties to mock our industry! Not cool!!” said William G. ‘Bill’ Sheffer, CAE, Executive Director, Michigan Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA).

Sheffer and the MMHA are not the only Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) members and affilates who have ranted about HBO’s John Oliver Last Week Tonight viral hit called “Mobile Homes.”

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MHI is said to have tried to head this off, if so, they missed.  Now that it is out, the consensus of the emailed statements among MHI affiliated executives – under the watchful eye of Arlington, VA – is that it is wise not to respond to this latest hit against the industry.

Really?

What happened to the notion from former MHI Chairman, Tim Williams?  See his prior on the record quote on just such hits below.

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The MHI connected leaders can’t have it both ways.  They’ve tried not responding to PBS, to OZY Media, other such perceived slurs on our industry for years. How is that working out?

Let’s let Michigan’s own stated facts answer that question.

At the request of their marketing contractor, the Michigan association wanted readers to know about the following.

Hi Tony,

Here’s some initial information for you.

The two TV spots are on MMHA’s YouTube page:

“50% Less per Square Foot”

 

"Communities in Great Locations

Michigan Manufactured Home NEW Sales

2017: 4864 (significantly up from 2016’s sales of 2759)

2018: 4096

Michigan Manufactured Home USED Sales

2017: 1881

2018: 2900

…Thanks,

Cheryl Russell

So, let’s recap the above from Ms. Russell.

During an affordable housing crisis, Michigan’s new home sales went up from 2016, and then went down from 2017.  What is not stated in the above are the large numbers of those new units going into land-lease communities as rental housing.  New HUD Code home sales remain at historically low levels.  Industry factories – including numbers of MHI-only producer members – have told the Daily Business News on MHProNews that they see a wall coming, as communities get closer to capacity.

Something must change, because the industry isn’t advancing.  Instead, both MHI and MHARR’s data reveal that the industry is going backwards now for the past 6 months.  What do the leaders of MHI have to say?  They point to inventory restructuring, a decline in FEMA order, an other arguable head fakes. MHI’s own members investor relations data points to historically low production as reason to believe there is more upside.

Let’s be clear.  MHProNews believes it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.  So to that extent, we commend the MMHA.

That said,  what the MMHA effort has done is once more prove that pretty pictures, nice website, or a fine commercial video aren’t the only answer.  Frankly – and to their credit – the MMHA has done more than many states, and has for years.  Yet Michigan’s shipments have been in decline. Russell and the MMHA admit it is so.

It isn’t a slam to say the following, it is a sobering reality check.

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As of the time this report is being created, here are the video view statistics on the MMHA videos, compared to the views on John Oliver’s “Mobile Homes” viral hit video.

MHProNews respects the MMHA’s contracted media firm – via Ms. Russell – doing what was asked, giving factual replies. Here was some of the pull quotes from the press release Russell initially asked us to run.

  • Consumer interest in manufactured housing continues to be strong. In 2018, new manufactured home sales in Michigan totaled 4,096. MMHA wants to continue the industry’s momentum and educate potential homebuyers on manufactured housing quality, style, lifestyle and affordability.

Momentum?  The statistics betray that claim.  It was one of the reasons we, as responsible trade media, asked the follow up questions, which Russell thoughtfully did.

  • We are targeting those who are looking for affordable alternatives to traditional built homes,” said Bill Sheffer, executive director of MMHA. “Homebuyers are looking for high-quality homes with great features in friendly neighborhoods.”

MMHA has, once more as noted, done more than many manufactured home state trade groups. But what they have arguably not done are the same thing that MHI and the ‘big boys’ have not done.  That is to fight back, debunk the false or misleading claims made against the manufactured home industry.  It is our contention – backed by years of evidence – that it is a critical part of advancing sales once more.

Why hasn’t MMHA, done so?  Sources say it is difficult for many associations, not just MHI.  Why? Because what Marty Lavin, JD, who won one of MHI’s most prestigious awards, said is arguably true

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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?

While the industry’s Arlington based trade group and their surrogates posture action, every savvy business measures action by results.  Those results are certainly going to include shipment and production reports. It isn’t just Michigan, even number 1 and 2 Texas and Louisiana have declined year-to-date.

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But big boy firms can measure results differently.  They can measure results by consolidation of more independently owned sites, of more independent retail centers that vanished.

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MHI’s general counsel and others there have been asked to respond to these concerns. We know they got the messages. Silence.  That’s their right in the U.S. constitutional system.

But that silence can be construed to imply that our concerns are valid.

Meanwhile, the industry gets buffeted – pun intended – by the new John Oliver video that has gone viral, and is being reported by numerous media outlets.

It is time to shake up the system, because what has been occurring has benefited only a few.

That’s this afternoon’s manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views That Pros Can Use.” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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.