1) Who, What and Where: (Your name, District and Party Affiliation in Congress).
Stephen Fincher, TN-08, Republican.
2) Background: (Educational/Professional background before entering Congress. Explain how you first connected with the manufactured housing/factory-built housing arena.)
Stephen Fincher, 40, is a managing partner in Fincher Farms, a seventh generation agribusiness that grows cotton, corn, soybeans, and wheat on 12,000 acres in West Tennessee.
3) When and How: (When and how you began your political and Congressional career, then tie it in as it relates to the Manufactured Housing Industry)
I got a call from a friend of mine while working out on the farm one day, asking me if I’ve seen the way the then Congressman was voting, saying that we needed to make a change. He asked me if I would consider running. I had never held public office before, and my first reaction was to say “no.” But then I talked to my wife Lynn, and we prayed about it. Ultimately, she came back to me and said we had to do it because our country’s heading in the wrong direction, and is now in almost every aspect of our lives.
Just look at the manufactured housing business, it’s a perfect example of how the government has taken over and is making things worse for hardworking Americans. I want to change that.
I want to not only maintain the current jobs in my home state, but also create new ones. In Tennessee, there are 10 manufactured housing factories, which produced 7,741 homes in 2012 and sustained roughly 8,800 jobs.
Not only that, but there are 282,000 families residing in manufactured housing, comprising 10.2% of state’s housing stock. Those numbers make a pretty compelling reason to fight hard for the manufactured housing industry in order to help and protect those that I represent.
4) What are your personal interests or hobbies? How do you like to spend non-work time?
At the age of nine, I joined the Southern gospel music singing ministry started by my family over 60 years ago. We produce our own music and have recorded many projects and have performed over 2,000 events all over the Southeast. I’m also an avid hunter. My boys and I enjoy the outdoors and spend a lot of time duck hunting.
5) The necessity for passage of HR 1779 is on the minds of many of the roughly 250,000 Americans who own a business in manufactured housing (MH) or who work in our industry. Some sources say that failure to pass it will cost our industry 30% +/- of current sales and will negatively impact the resale values of millions of manufactured home owners. As a co-sponsor of HR 1779, please give us your perspectives on the bill. Tell us why you were willing to step up in support of the MH businesses, jobs and the roughly 20 million Americans who live in manufactured homes.
I stepped up because this is a common sense issue. The government’s overreach and bad regulations here are hurting jobs and families. Something has to be done to stop that, and H.R. 1779 is just one way we can help maintain the quality of life for Americans across the country.
6) The U.S. Census Bureau’s projections suggest that America needs 20,000,000 new housing units by 2030, just to keep up with population growth. Tens of billions of dollars are given by government annually for programs that de-facto subsidize conventional housing construction of multi-family housing. A number of manufactured housing professionals tell MHProNews they are increasingly competing with subsidized housing, and that communities and retailers are losing customers purely on the basis of those subsidizes. Should the federal or state governments be picking winners and losers in the housing market? In an era when budgets are exploding, can’t we transition away from programs that prop up one sector of the housing market at the expense of far more affordable manufactured homes?
The government has an incredibly poor track record of picking winners and losers, and it needs to stop doing it. Instead, we need for Congress and the Administration to get out of the way and allow businesses and industries to make decisions that will allow them to thrive and create more jobs.
8) Manufactured housing accounts for thousands of jobs in your home state. With incomes down, and the need for quality, appealing, durable and affordable housing growing constantly, that would be a recipe for growing more jobs in Tennessee and potentially dozens of others states too. Yet, because of financing and subsides previously noted, manufactured housing has become a niche industry, when we used to supply 1/3 of all new housing starts in many states. What should manufactured housing professionals do to successfully engage their elected officials in support of efforts such as HR 1779, the Duty to Serve required by HERA 2008, or other issues? For example, would showing legislators and their staffs either online via a websites like
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com or inviting personal tours at their factories, home retail sales centers or manufactured home communities make a difference?
The manufactured housing community has to maintain a unified voice in order to stay one step ahead. We need to be active and engaged to make sure this message gets through.
One of the most important aspects? A strong, multi-lateral grassroots approach. This includes talking to friends, family and staying consistently engaged on social media.
When you’re not able to get out and take meetings, be sure to take a stand online – Facebook and Twitter are wonderful avenues for this. Also pick up the phone and call your elected officials. Have your supporters be sure to do the same. Individual roles are just as important as company roles, and every little action makes a difference.
9) Your family has a background in farming and small business. Problem solving and team building are two of the keys that business owners, CEOs and C-Suite level leaders deal with routinely. What sort of process do you use in your leadership role and why?
I share a vision with the Founding Fathers of this country, where a more efficient and effective government is what it takes to make America the greatest country in the world. In every decision I make, I consider those values. I have also been fortunate enough to hire a staff that not only shares that vision, but helps me implement it in my daily decision making process.
10) With political polarization so heated in Washington, and so many hot button topics like debt, immigrations, budgets, ObamaCare related issues or the recent scandals high on the radar, what can you say to Industry professionals to encourage them that the effort for HR 1779 and its soon to be introduced companion bill in the Senate has a reasonable chance for success? Associations often remind us that manufactured housing – affordable housing – is a non-partisan issue, and that should be an advantage for our industry. Your thoughts, sir?
Some issues are simple and common sense.This is one of them. I’m confident that both sides of the aisle can come together to make that happen in order to preserve the quality of life for people in our communities and jobs for hardworking taxpayers across America.
11) Closing thoughts or comments, sir?
It’s very fortunate that Tennessee has such a strong manufactured housing presence that allows so many of her residents affordable housing and jobs. We’re working to make sure that misguided regulations don’t limit housing choices or put people out of business.