A Cup of Coffee with… Eddie Hicks

Cup-manufacturedhomepronews1) Who, What and Where: (Your name, and your role/job title at what organization or firm)

Edward Hicks, Principal Consultant, CRG, Inc. Lic. RE Broker, Lic. Mortgage Broker, Columnist “Ask Eddie” in the Journal of Manufactured Housing

2) Background (Educational/Professional before entering the factory-built housing arena):

Santa Barbara City College-Pre Engineering, Brigham Young University-Physics/Math Major

Eddie Hicks. Credit: MobileHome.com.

3) When and How: (When and how you got into the Manufactured/Modular Housing Industry)

1963 while between semesters at college I worked for my Father in Law who had a retail dealership in Santa Barbara, CA since 1946. He sold trailers (as they were known then) and modulars into a three county area in the Central Coast of California. Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo

4) What are your personal interests or hobbies? How do you like to spend non-work time?

Fishing, photography, International travel.

5) What do you consider the largest challenges facing the industry in general today?

It’s our image stupid!

When you track down all the prejudices the average person, public officials, bankers, investors, etc. have about the industry it comes down to a lack of knowledge of how the myths of old aren’t true any more. We just aren’t getting our message out there, and until we do and effectively, we aren’t going to make any real progress.

6) What are the biggest challenges to community operators and developers?

Creating a positive living experience in their communities, such that their residents will put out the good word about the quality of their lifestyle, and it’s low cost impact on a family’s budget.

7) How do you personally like to respond to challenges that come up for you professionally? (In other words, how do you try to tackle problems and arrive at effective solutions?)

First, you have to know “how something works” before you can fix it. In terms of home sales, you must know who is buying, what you are selling and why. Then you have to create a product (in the broadest terms which may include financing options, location, size, quality, price, etc.) which meets their wants and needs and help them to understand the differences. Next you have to let them know about it, and last you must create an opportunity for them to see how your product and/or services meets their needs (not necessarily their wants). That may mean preparing yourself to answer the many objections prospective buyers may have, honestly, and in a positive light.

8) In a recent column of yours for the Journal, you called for an Ad Hoc Committee to do gather the best and brightest ideas to effect the industry’s turnaround. How is that effort going? What could be done to further that initiative?

Since it is my belief that there isn’t enough capital resources in our industry to create and pay for any effective form of institutional advertising, the best way to get to the general public is by getting our story involved in a creative show of some kind, eg. sitcom, or whodunit, or background for a reality show. In this regard, I have lined up some experts at producing effective and clever institutional advertising methods and will have them at the National Congress in Las Vegas, in April.

9) You’ve commented favorably on the Virtual Louisville Housing Show© concept. Anything you’d like to add to your initially posted comments? Do you still see a need for new tools and new platforms to make wholesale and retail efforts to promote our industry?

I think it’s a not too smart thing to try and take someone else’s idea and modify it for one’s own use. I would rather have had it named the “Virtual Manufactured Housing Show”, since it is not only the private venture of someone’s “for profit” business, but it is only one of a number of shows which have been produced all across the USA in many years: Nashville, Tampa, Los Angeles, Harrisburg, Phoenix, Atlanta, Tunica, Portland, and others.

10) It seems that we as an industry need to learn to work with each other better. As one industry pro recently said, we don’t have a product problem we have a communications problem. You’ve been around longer than most anyone, you’ve done new things as well as the tried and true. How can the various ‘camps’ or voices in the industry achieve that for the good of all concerned?

I have always admired those jurisdictions where all segments within industry organizations work together to solve legislative, financial, and marketing issues, instead of forming separate entities. It’s not the manufacturers against the suppliers against the retailers against the lenders against the community owners and developers. It’s best when the entire industry trying to fit all the many pieces together to form one single cohesive “product” to the marketplace. We don’t need to be “airing” our dirty laundry before the public. We can solve our problems internally, and present a unified/stronger image together not separately.

And most importantly, when we see an industry segment “running amuck” as the chattel lenders did a few years ago, with obvious disregard for their investors by “mousing” their deals (fraudulent underwriting), and causing massive defaults in loans, we should stand up and take responsible action by supporting legislation to shut it down, or otherwise bring it under reasonable controls.

11) Other remarks or comments, industry related.

We must repair our image with everyone, the public, politicians, legislators, bankers, investors, and most of all with the “drive by media”. We have great, safe, well built, reliable, affordable homes and can build and manage nice, comfortable communities. Soon, viable chattel home financing will be available for new and used (very important) homes. Let’s not squander the opportunity again, by ignoring good and honest business practices, by chasing the “almighty dollar” and taking advantage of the public who are “yearning” to live in affordable housing.

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