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by Michael F.B. Barnabas

Let me begin by tipping my hat to Marty Lavin The Train To Oblivion and Al Cole for having the courage to be who they are, and standing up publicly via this web platform and writing what they have.

It you have not yet read their articles, you should. These are in some ways dark messages that could potentially spell the demise for HUD Code manufactured housing as we know it today.

But precisely by stating the facts, they can be the cause for new hope. We can't fix what we ignore or do not take the time to understand.

The numbers do not lie. When an Industry has suffered an 86%+ decline in production in the past twelve plus years, that would be the death knell for most.

Retailers, communities, developers, manufacturers, lenders, insurance, installers, transport, vendors and service suppliers have all suffered. The recent (and in my view, flawed) IBISWorld report our PDF has marked big elements of our Industry for destruction. Almost every weatherman speaks ill of us when severe weather strikes, because they are ignorant of the facts!

We have no one to blame but ourselves for not fixing what is wrong.

Attorney, manufactured home community (MHC) owner and industry/finance expert witness Lavin and banker Al Cole have had the courage to stand up and say what many know, and that too few are willing to admit.

Why are people afraid to speak out?

Because people are afraid of losing their jobs, or their companies, or their bonuses, Wall Street or investor funding, personal status, etc. I know. Because after decades in this Industry, I am one of them.

But inaction or flawed action is just as sure a way of dooming us as suffering a slow death is.

Retailers need sales. I know many MHC operators are struggling for occupancy. Some land lease communities struggle to fill homes and sites even with buy-here, pay-here and rent-to-own, etc. programs. The rest of the Industry that depends on these follows suit, as each is interlocked with the other.

HUD Code manufactured home chattel lenders must be able to profit, or they will pull out or die off. That is the heart of Al Cole's and Marty Lavin's theme. Without finance, how can a big ticket industry survive? Without working with each other (partnering, as Al Cole described it), we cannot turn the corner back to a sound business model and good industry health.

Customers must have a good experience. Customer and resident satisfaction must be the standard we live by.

We need positive changes.

We need leadership and action.

Then, when leadership is shown, it needs to be strongly supported.

Let's look for a moment at associations, especially state ones. Every association fills an important role, or arguably it would cease to exist. The state associations are where the local, state and federal legislators are often engaged. They are at the cross-roads for political action! They need your membership, involvement and support.

We also need Industry trade media. I noted on George Allen's blog this statement:

Gossip? Received this terse email message from 'a friend in the MHBusiness' earlier this week: 'With the proposed $35.00 charge (subscription) for The Journal, starting August 2011, is it too early to plan a wake? Sad.'

Turns out it's true. "You will continue to receive your copy of THE JOURNAL free until August 1, 2011. Thank you all for over 30 years in business. We look forward to serving you in the future." Jim Visser, Publisher.

Why is this news? Because, if there's no alteration to this announcement, the last of the 'free' advertiser-supported trade publications passes from the MHIndustry scene! As you'll likely recall, Community Management was the first to disappear, then a couple years ago, Modern Home and Systems Building magazines; and during Fall of 2009, the venerable Manufactured Home Merchandiser ceased publication, followed shortly thereafter by Don Carlsons Automated Builder magazine.

This should be troubling to every Industry professional. How can an industry exist without general purpose publications? There are specialty publishers such as Allen or Ken Rishel. But the only two 'general purpose' Industry publications today are The Journal and here at MHMSM.com.

Word has it that Mr. Carlson tried the paid subscription option at Automated Builder, and that failed. It would be worse than a shame if The Journal was similarly unable to make it work.

Let me take this opportunity to tip the hat towards this publication.

We should be grateful to the sponsors and staff of MHMSM.com. No one else covers this Industry as they do. I read other publications. Recently, I almost laughed as I noticed that an MHI news wire report carried stories reported on MHMSM.com in some cases weeks earlier. But there are times that MHI breaks a story, or some other publisher. The point is, we NEED resources for industry information to properly understand our industry and what is going on within it.

So our Industry needs this MHMSM.com-style of online, electronic media that allows us to stay informed AND interact!

Some of the articles published by print, email or online publishers provide for no direct way to comment publicly.

Some know that there are publications which are essentially one advertorial after another.

So when a well-known publication presents a columnist that routinely makes outlandish statements disconnected from reality, there is nothing to do but toss the rag in the can. That said, every one of those publications has value. I would hate to see any more fold.

But without changes, without support, business and publishers in this industry will fold.

It seems to me that short-sighted policies have hurt us. Failure to address issues at their heart and failure to serve customers in a fashion that they appreciate has hurt us.

Too many just do not truly love or believe in this Industry.

Imagine if you were the head of a publicly trade firm that lost even 25% market share. Would you lose your job? In most cases, a near certainty. We can't say this long MH decline has happened to all businesses. Mainstream housing kept rolling along until just a few years ago, while HUD Code manufactured home builders kept sliding down. We've gone downhill for going on 13 years, a very unlucky number to us!

Marty Lavin and Al Cole remind us we can and should speak the facts. We can and should see what the facts tell us, how they can point us in a better direction.

  • As long as retailers and communities 'rape' a lender on every repo (pardon my French), we are telling lenders to be stupid or die.
  • Retailers and communities need to be in the business of helping a lender limit their losses.
  • Retailers and communities need to help home owners, too. We can't oversell or over charge, a point George Allen often makes, too.

I won't recap previous articles, but perhaps MHMSM.com will be kind enough to provide us with links to them at the end of this article.

The point is this. Dark messages from informed, candid people such as Marty Lavin and Al Cole may scare some. But they are doing the Industry a big favor.

Let's close on this note. Every crisis spells opportunity for those who are willing to adapt. For those willing to change, these dark messages can bring us new hope.

Editor's Note: Links to the Lavin and Cole articles are given throughout the above text.

###

Michael F.B. Barnabas is a pen name. The inspiration came from columnist M.H. Ronin in George Allen's newsletter. Posted comments, for or against, are welcome. Suggestions on future articles can be sent to my email, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; more will come via future columns.

Daily Business News Briefs

Third Ave. Value Fund Squeaks out a Gain; Dow, Nasdaq, S&P Fall

Third Ave. Value Fund Squeaks out a Gain; Dow, Nasdaq, S&P Fall

Sluggish earnings reports held back stocks in today’s trading, although the S&P and the Nasdaq show gains on the week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell slightly overall. CNNMoney informs MHProNews the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell -123.23 points, -0.74 percent, to 16,960.57, while the Nasdaq lost -22.55 points, -0.50...

25 Jul 2014

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Manufactured Housing Commponent Supplier on the Block

Manufactured Housing Commponent Supplier on the Block

The founders of Polyvulc USA, Inc. are trying to arrange an immediate sale of the company, allegedly for health reasons, according to plasticsnews.com. Fred Farrell and Larry Lambiotte began the company, making injection molded pier pads from recycled plastics as support systems for manufactured homes in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1995. MHProNews...

25 Jul 2014

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Lippert Components Sponsors Charity Run

Lippert Components Sponsors Charity Run

Elkhart, Indiana-based Lippert Components, Inc. (LCI) is sponsoring Logan’s Run for the Logan Center in South Bend, IN Aug. 2, an annual fundraiser for the agency that aids people with disabilities, according to RVBusiness.com. Approximately 50 chassis division employees and their families have volunteered for the event, flipping pancakes,...

25 Jul 2014

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One-time MH Plant Now Making Shelters

One-time MH Plant Now Making Shelters

A former Clayton Homes plant in Hartselle, Alabama has been purchased by Mitchell Investment Properties, LLC and will be leased to Aqua Marine Enterprises, Inc., manufacturer of individual and community storm shelters. Located in northwest Alabama where the 2011 tornadoes created such havoc, the shelters have been in great demand. According to...

25 Jul 2014

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UFPI Stock Downgraded by Zack’s

UFPI Stock Downgraded by Zack’s

MHProNews.com has learned from digitaljournal.com that Zacks Investment Research has downgraded Universal Forest Products Inc.’s (UFPI) stock from neutral to underperform based on its revenue for Q2 2014 of $784.2 million, lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $863 million. While earnings per share of $1.13 were 43 percent greater than...

25 Jul 2014

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Nobility Homes Rises; S&P Hits New High

Nobility Homes Rises; S&P Hits New High

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq remained flat in today’s trading as the S&P inched to a new high, just short of the 2,000. mark, nudging up +0.05 percent, +0.97 points, to close at 1,987.98. CNNMoney informs MHProNews the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped -2.83 points, -0.02 percent, to 17,083.80, while the Nasdaq [...]...

24 Jul 2014

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North Carolina Considering Temporary MH Health Care Facility

North Carolina Considering Temporary MH Health Care Facility

The General Assembly of North Carolina is considering House Bill 625 which would allow a temporary transportable residential structure to be sited on lots zoned single-family residential to care for a physically or mentally impaired person, providing the housing unit complies with all federal, state and local building codes and regulations. The...

24 Jul 2014

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Indiana U. S. Representative’s Staff Visits MH Plant

Indiana U. S. Representative’s Staff Visits MH Plant

The IMHARVIC (Indiana Manufactured Housing Association Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council) reports staff members of 2nd Indiana District U. S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski toured the Fairmont Homes factory in Nappanee, IN earlier this month. 2nd District Director Ben Falkowski and Field Representative Brian Spaulding attended the facility tour...

24 Jul 2014

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Sun Communities Reports Positive Financials for Q2

Sun Communities Reports Positive Financials for Q2

Southfield, Michigan-based Sun Communities, Inc., in it release of 2nd quarter 2014 financials, reports funds from operations (FFO) was $34.7 million, or $0.78 per share, versus $27 million or $0.69 per share for the comparable period in 2013. Net income attributable to common stockholders for the second quarter of 2014 was $4.9 million, or $0.12...

24 Jul 2014

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Foreclosure Inventory and Delinquency Rate Fall from Year Ago

Foreclosure Inventory and Delinquency Rate Fall from Year Ago

Jacksonville, Fla.-based analytics firm Black Knight Financial Services reports foreclosure inventory fell to its lowest level in six years in June, dropping 36 percent from a year earlier to 951,000 properties, according to nationalmortgagenews.com. Marking its 26th consecutive month of declines, foreclosure starts numbered 88,300 in June, a drop...

24 Jul 2014

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Chinese Homebuyers Buoying the U. S. Housing Market

Chinese Homebuyers Buoying the U. S. Housing Market

According to CNNMoney, the Chinese are now the biggest international buyers in the U. S. housing market, and over half of the $22 billion they spent on homes for the year ending in March was spent in California, New York and Washington, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). California is popular because it [...]...

23 Jul 2014

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Featured Articles and Reports - July 2014 Vol. 5 No. 10

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by Joe Karns By now I'm sure you already know the many benefits to running a blog strategy around your business. However, there is an easy (and FREE) way to get... Read more

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Tattoos, Technology and Manufactured Housing Sales Growth

Tattoos, Technology and Manufactured Housing Sales Growth

by Jason Brady Before we bought out ManufacturedHomes.com – which was previously a part of SearchCore - one of the big draws for that operation was their tattoo website. Read more

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Community Management: The $20,000 Dog

Community Management:  The $20,000 Dog

by Kathleen Bianculli It’s exciting. You just purchased a manufactured home community. It has fifty (50) sites, forty eight (48) of which are occupied by home owning tenants paying $300/month... Read more

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

Same Sex Harassment in California

Same Sex Harassment in California

by William “Bill” Hart, JD In Hart King's continuing efforts to bring recent developments in California employment law to our clients who employ workers in the state, we provide this summary... Read more

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With this ring…

With this ring…

by Nadeen Green, JD June is now just a memory as we continue into the summer of 2014 - the month often associated with weddings by which happy couples are traditionally... Read more

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Is It Really Progress? Manufactured Housing Finance, Dodd-Frank and the CFP…

Is It Really Progress? Manufactured Housing Finance, Dodd-Frank and the CFPB

by Marc Lifeset, JD The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) amended the federal Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), directly impacting the manufactured housing industry in a... Read more

FINANCING

Why Don’t States Do More to Promote Affordable Housing?

Why Don’t States Do More to Promote Affordable Housing?

by Doug Ryan Since 2005, CFED has promoted manufactured homes as a viable housing opportunity, particularly for low- and- moderate-income families. We have focused on making manufactured housing part of the... Read more

GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

Following-up on Dirty Laundry

Following-up on Dirty Laundry

by Stacey Epperson Earlier this year I wrote about “Dirty Laundry,” the tendency to keep the two million pre-1976 mobile homes in the United States out of sight and out of... Read more

GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

HUD Code Manufactured Homes and Attached Garages, a Regulatory Update

HUD Code Manufactured Homes and Attached Garages, a Regulatory Update

by Lois Starkey I am following up on a communication I sent to manufacturers in January regarding attached garages.  As you know, late last year it was brought to MHI’s attention... Read more

GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

Louisville 2015…The Road to Success

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by Ron Thomas, Sr. The numbers really add up. Think about all of the exciting brand new homes. Think about the 1,561 plus customers who visited in 2014. Think about the... Read more

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Time to Pull Ourselves Together

Time to Pull Ourselves Together

by Bob Vahsholtz There’s work to be done. Those of us still involved in housing need to pull up our socks and get the wheels turning in the direction of industrializing... Read more

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Taking Inventory in Manufactured Home Communities Today

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by Maria Horton As we enter the second half of 2014, we find ourselves taking inventory of goals met, goals yet to be achieved and pondering our new goals for the... Read more

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Stacey Epperson, CEO of Next Step, Discusses Affordable Housing and the Ene…

Stacey Epperson, CEO of Next Step, Discusses Affordable Housing and the EnergyStar Manufactured Home Solution – Inside MH

by L. A. 'Tony' Kovach Next Step is a unique organization with a not-for-profit as well as for profit divisions. Stacey Epperson is the President and CEO of both, and she... Read more

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Mark Belicky-Carlyle Group, Maria Horton-Newport Pacific, Frank Rolfe and m…

Mark Belicky-Carlyle Group, Maria Horton-Newport Pacific, Frank Rolfe and more at the 2014 MHI Congress and Expo

by L. A. 'Tony' Kovach This 137 second video gives you a snapshot of the personalities and the energy that was found at the 2014 Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Congress and... Read more

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by L. A. 'Tony' Kovach Every video we do brings unique insights that a motivated professional could put to work to improve their career, location, organization or investments in manufactured housing. Read more

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“Manufactured Housing Industry Cohesion!” - Paul Bradley, ROCUSA on Cohesio…

“Manufactured Housing Industry Cohesion!” - Paul Bradley, ROCUSA on Cohesion, MHCs they admire, the Value they bring Owners, Residents and the Industry – Inside MH Video Interview

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach Breaking the Stereotypes! Proven Strategies for Profitable MHC Advancement! If there are two phrases that suggest what this interview reveals, those would certainly both apply. ROC... Read more

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“...I kill politicians.” - Attorney Rick Robinson on Manufactured Housing …

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by L. A. “Tony” Kovach We enjoy doing and bringing you all of our video interviews, but some are funnier than others. Put this video with Rick Robinson, JD -Vice President... Read more

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Inside Manufactured Housing, video interview with Richard “Dick” Jennison, …

Inside Manufactured Housing, video interview with Richard “Dick” Jennison, President and CEO of MH Institute at 2014 Congress and Expo, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas NV

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach The Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) 2014 Congress and Expo was widely seen as a big success this year, and you'll hear the details of the records... Read more

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A Cup (err...glass) of Beer with...Barry Cole

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1) Who, What and Where (Your name, formal title in your company and where you are based). Barry Cole, Manufactured Housing Insurance Services (MHIS) Orange, California. Read more

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Inside Manufactured Housing Video Interview: a Behind the Scenes look at t…

Inside Manufactured Housing Video Interview: a  Behind the Scenes look at the Industry with Kathleen Bianculli of  American Insurance Alliance, LLC

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Are Voluntary Sprinkler Standards Still Needed? Ask the State Executives!

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Has everyone written off new manufactured home community development outsid…

Has everyone written off new manufactured home community development outside of the Dakotas?

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Ken Segall, Author of Insanely Simple and Apple Marketing Guru, An Inside MH Video Interview

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach We caught up with fabled Ken Segall, author of Insanely Simple, the marketing whiz who was part of the legendary Steve Jobs/Apple success story. Read more

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Newport Pacific Regional Manager, Maria Horton, sounds off on the Professional Property Management Option in this edition of - Inside MH

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach Newport Pacific has long been a West Coast powerhouse in the manufactured home communities (MHC) sector. More recently, they've expanded Eastward and have been exploring more... Read more

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The 6 critical factors of employee performance

The 6 critical factors of employee performance

by Tim Connor, CSP During my many years of working with clients worldwide I have come to believe that there are 6 critical factors that determine employee performance and long-term organization success. Read more

MANAGEMENT

ZigOn Community Values

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by Zig Ziglar Ed Shipman is a throwback to those people who believe in free enterprise, independence, hard work, faith, commitment and responsibility. Read more

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS, MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION

Creative selling vs. same stuff, different day

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by Tim Connor, CSP Any time is a good time to sell creatively.  Uncertain economic times are an excellent time to sell creatively. And, poor economic times require that salespeople sell creatively. Read more

SALES

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MHLIVINGNEWS.COM FEATURED HOME OF THE WEEK

Classifieds

Press Releases

Mountainside Financial launches Dodd-Fra…

Mountainside Financial launches Dodd-Frank compliant non-MLO, MLO SUN Manufactured/Mobile Home Direct Loans and Refinancing

Using online articles, banner ads and video, Mountainside Financial is announcing the launch of the evolution of their direct lending platform promotion. As a division of San Antonio Credit Union (SACU), Mountainside has a unique 14 year history of making direct to consumer loans on manufactured and mobile homes. Direct loans are often done in "partnership" with brokers, communities, Realtors ®, other housing professionals and manufactured home retailers who refer consumers to them. Anthony Ducharme, Direct Channel Manager for Mountainside, explained how they created their new SUN System with Manufactured Home Professionals in mind who needed a compliant process to navigate SAFE Act and Dodd-Frank regulations enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). "If you've been originating your own loans, talk to us. If you want to have a legally complaint...

the MHMSM Team 08 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Call for Nominations for the RV/MH Hall …

Call for Nominations for the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2015

ELKHART, Ind., -- The RV/MH Hall of Fame Selection Committee has issued a call for nominations for the Class of 2015. Darryl Searer, Hall president, said, "The Hall welcomes nominations from all RV and manufactured housing sectors -- manufacturers, dealers, campgrounds, housing communities, suppliers, user groups, trade media, associations, etc -- for the class of 2015 and beyond. "The nomination guidelines and forms available online atwww.rvmhhalloffame.org/pages/nominations.cfm." According to the guidelines, anyone can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame that meets the eligibility requirements. The only people who may not be considered are those who currently serve on the Hall's Selection Committee. To be eligible the nominee must be, or have been, an active participant in any segment of the recreation vehicle, campground or manufactured housing industries for a minimum of 25 years....

the MHMSM Team 08 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Southwest Region Manufactured Home Commu…

Southwest Region Manufactured Home Communities Showing Rent and Occupancy Growth, Outpacing National Average, According to JLT & Associates’ 14-Year Market Summary Report

Grand Rapids, Michigan – JLT & Associates (JLT), the nation’s #1 market research company for the manufactured housing industry, today announced a 14-year summary report of its manufactured home community rent surveys for 6 Southwest markets. Recognized as the industry standard for manufactured home community market analysis for over 20 years, JLT Rent Surveys provide detailed research and information on communities located in 72 markets throughout the United States, including the latest rent trends and statistics, marketing programs and a variety of other useful management insights. The most recent JLT Rent Surveys for the Southwest region cover 261 manufactured home communities encompassing 69,728 homesites in Albuquerque, Greater Kansas City, Greater Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson and Salt Lake City. This summary report is based on rent and occupancy trends from 2000 to 2014. Findings...

the MHMSM Team 01 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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RV/MH Hall of Fame 2014 Induction Dinner…

RV/MH Hall of Fame 2014 Induction Dinner Reservations Outpace Last Year's Event

ELKHART, Ind. -- The RV/MH Hall of Fame's Induction Dinner Committee Chairman Mark Wasson (BlueLinx Corporation), reports reservations for the induction dinner honoring the Class of 2014 are running significantly ahead of last year's reservations.   Wasson said, "As of June 19, more than 175 friends and family of the inductees have registered which is more than double the number of registrations for the Class of 2013 induction ceremony by the same date." This year's RV/MH Hall of Fame's annual Induction Dinner will be held on August 4, 2014, at the Hall of Fame's Event Center in Elkhart, Indiana, according to Darryl Searer, president, RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall). According to Wasson, this year's program begins with a private cocktail party in Champion Hall from 4:00 p.m to 5:30 p.m honoring all the past inductees, board members...

the MHMSM Team 20 Jun 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Trey Miller Tapped as Chairman of the 20…

Trey Miller Tapped as Chairman of the 2014 RV/MH Golf Classic Annual Fundraiser

ELKHART, Ind., -- Atwood Mobile Products' Aftermarket Sales Director Trey Miller has accepted the position of chairman of the 2014 RV/MH Golf Classic annual fundraiser,  according to Darryl Searer, president, RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall). Searer said, "We are delighted that Trey has stepped up to lead our golf fundraiser.  Trey will be contacting golfers from the RV/MH industries in the coming months, and I encourage all golf enthusiasts to join us for a fun-filled day and at the same time, help support the Hall.  The Hall's 2014 Golf Classic fundraiser will start at 7 a.m. on Monday, August 4, 2014, with a full breakfast followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. at the Bent Oak Golf Club in Elkhart.  The awards luncheon begins immediately following the golf tournament. Individuals can sign up as a...

the MHMSM Team 20 May 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Senate Banking Committee Approves GSE Re…

Senate Banking Committee Approves GSE Reform Bill

On May 15th, the Senate Banking Committee approved legislation (currently unnumbered) on a 13-9 vote that would eliminate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and overhaul the nation's secondary housing finance market. The bill, authored by Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID), now moves to the full Senate. A floor vote this year appears unlikely after several key Democrats on the panel voted against the plan out of concern that it goes too far in eliminating the current system and does not do enough to preserve affordable housing finance options. The bill expands on legislation introduced last year by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and replaces Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a system where the government would explicitly guarantee big losses in the housing market but...

the MHMSM Team 16 May 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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