A Cup of Coffee with…Gary P. McDaniel

Cup-manufacturedhomepronews1) Who, What and Where: (Your name and your formal title at Yes! Communities/ BaseCamp Capital).

A). Gary McDaniel, CEO Yes Communities, Inc, Senior Managing Partner Base/Camp Capital .

2) Background, When and How: (When and how your professional career in MH evolved, leading up to the Gary p mcdaniels yescommunities basecampcapital posted manufactured home communities mhpronews com start of BaseCamp/Yes!).

A). I’ve been the Chief Executive Officer of YES! Communities, Inc., since January 2008.

I have served as the Senior Managing Partner of BaseCamp Capital, LLC, a private equity investment company since 2003.

Prior to founding BaseCamp, I was Chief Executive Officer and a director of Chateau Communities, Inc., a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT).

I also served as the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of ROC Communities, Inc. from 1997 to 1980.

I’ve been engaged in the real estate industry for over thirty four years, with a primary emphasis on manufactured housing. I’ve also been active in several state and national manufactured home associations, including associations in Florida and Colorado.

In 2001, I was honored to be named “Industry Person of the Year” by the National Manufactured Housing Industry Association.

I was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Manufactured Housing Institute from 2000 – 2002. In addition to my real estate activities, I’ve been actively involved in several charitable endeavors through the McDaniel Family Foundation.

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

A). My personal interests include playing golf, biking, travel, RV adventures, eating and spending as much time as possible with my grand kids.

4) Besides the facts you’ve already shared, please give our readers a snap shot of some of the positive recognition that you and Yes! Communities has had in the Manufactured Home/Land Lease Community sector and manufactured housing in general.

A). Awards:


I was inducted into RV/MH Hall of Fame.

Manufactured Housing Institute – Community Operator of the Year.

Manufactured Housing Institute – Land Lease Community of the Year in the West – Prairie Greens.


Manufactured Housing Institute – Community Operator of the Year.


Manufactured Housing Institute – Community Operator of the Year.

Manufactured Housing Institute – Land Lease Community of the Year in the South – The Stables.

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Manufactured Housing Institute – Community Operator of the Year.

Manufactured Housing Institute – Land Lease Community of the Year in the Midwest – Fountain Springs.


Manufactured Housing Institute – Community Operator of the Year.

Manufactured Housing Institute – Land Lease Community of the Year in the South – Southfork.


Denver Business Journal – Best Places to Work in Denver.

Net Impact Award.

5) During the tornado that hit Moore OK, Yes! Communities responded to that disaster. Give us a snapshot of what your team did, why and the lessons learned looking back.

A). In 2013 the area surrounding Oklahoma City encountered one of the worst tornadoes to hit their community in decades. We own and operate many communities in the Oklahoma area and fortunately we had minimal damage compared to others.

We felt this was a real opportunity to give back to the community and provide financial support and to volunteer our time. We donated to local charities – Food Banks, Goodwill, Churches, etc. We also donated funds to 75 residents that did have damage to their homes at our communities to help them get back on their feet.

Along with these donations, we had YES! employees that volunteered their time at the Oklahoma Food Banks. These employees came from the Oklahoma area and some even traveled as far as Denver to show their support.

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After this experience we designed and built two disaster relief truck and trailer combinations. One of these is located in Texas and the other in Tennessee. They are both fully equipped to respond in times of need and provide direct help to mitigate potential problems.

We have also designated certain employees to be members of the Yes! Response team, given them specified training, and resources to respond quickly in times of need.

6) When you were Chairman of MHI, it was a very different era for our Industry. We saw the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA of 2000) passed about that time. We saw MHARR and MHI working together, along with Texas and other associations. What lessons can we as industry pros learn from that period? What can we do to bring more harmony and inclusion into the industry?

A). During that time we were in a totally different economic universe for our industry. Shipments and sales were up, financing was plentiful, and generally business was good.

Unfortunately, we forgot that we were in the affordable housing business.

Each individual component of the business from manufacturing, to communities, to finance companies, and all the others involved in providing the housing solution, were doing business as though we didn’t need to worry about affordability.

We collectively engineered affordability rather than provided affordability. As our financing bubble burst, and our customers moved into other housing types, we found that we were no longer the same viable housing option. Without competitive capital, a lot of the business went away. It has taken a long time to re-establish the equilibrium.

To me the biggest lessons of that time are to remember that we are affordable housing, we need to know who our customer is, not who we wish our customer was. We need to give them a product which they want to buy, not that we want to sell them.

The industry still has a lot of diverse segments. They all want to be successful and profitable.

However we are unique in that these diverse segments have generally been independent of each other and our interests haven’t always been aligned.

With few exceptions, historical attempts at vertical integration have not been successful.

Today with a greater emphasis on in-community rentals and sales, it is easier to control the process and maintain a quality and affordability level, since many aspects such as siting, warranty, financing, and total monthly housing costs are controlled in one place.

We will never have total harmony and inclusion. But we can all do very well, if we listen to the customer and strive to maintain a level of affordability which will attract that customer.

7) Usually one of the hottest topics in manufactured housing revolves around financing and the CFPB landscape. It has been said by one of your executives at a public meeting that Yes! Communities suspended its Captive Finance program over regulatory concerns. Many MHC operators feel pushed into the rental business, in part due to the regulatory landscape. With a new Congress about to be seated, what are your thoughts on possible Dodd-Frank reform efforts? What do you say to those who think that progress on financing and other regulatory issues has been ‘too slow?

A). Regulatory concerns have required us to modify our finance programs, who we partner with to underwrite and close loans, and underwriting information that is required. Ultimately we still own most all of the loans that are placed on homes sold by Yes! within our communities. We like this business and we feel it gives us the best opportunity to sell our residents homes they can afford to pay for.

As with many parts of our business, it has become more difficult. Our job is to figure out how to work through those difficulties and still provide an acceptable product.

Over the years, we have had a lot of legislative actions, both federally and locally, that have impacted our business. Our representatives at MHI and at the state level, do a fine job of working within the political system to protect our interests.

With that said, we have rarely been successful in reversing legislation or having major changes made administratively. What we have been able to do is adjust our business practices to work within the legislation. It has not always been easy, it has usually required more expense, but we have figured it out and have moved forward. I can also say, in most cases our business has ultimately benefited from these changes.

We should keep trying at the legislative level, but I’m not optimistic that we can effect any major change. I am certain that we can figure out now, as we have in the past, how to work within the new requirements. And at the end of the day, we will use these new laws to our advantage in providing more transparency and confidence to not only our customers, but capital sources that are so critical to our future, and so skeptical about our past.

8) While the renting of manufactured homes in a land lease isn’t new, there are those who think the ‘traditional’ model of owner-occupied units is the best. Others who are ‘hot’ into the rental model state that the ROI can be quite good. Your thoughts on the topic, sir?

A). We are in the rental business by choice and for the long term. We feel it is the best, if not the only way, to drive occupancy in our communities. That coupled with our ability to provide financing to those who may want to buy at some point, allows us to better control the homes which are sited on about forty percent of our home sites. The ability to offer a rental option, which a large majority of our prospects are looking for, creates significantly more traffic into the property, allows us more choice as to who our residents will be, and gives our prospective residents more choice for their housing option.

We have found over the past six years, that it is profitable, it allows us to provide a product that our customer wants, and that the historic negative perceptions of the rental business are just not true.

That said, the business is very management intensive, has more moving parts then our traditional business model, and requires significantly more capital.

Given our family oriented business model we are convinced that the rental component is essential to our long term view at Yes!

9) Problem solving and team building are among the keys that CEOs and C-Suite level leaders deal with routinely. What sort of process do you use in your leadership role and why?

A). I believe that the job of a CEO is to set expectations and provide the strategic, ethical, and moral direction of a company. If you have good people who know what their job is and what is expected of them, they will do the job.

At Yes! we try and be consistent in our vision

  • Yes! I can help
  • Yes! We are a team
  • Yes! We add value
  • Yes! We build community

If all of us, and all of our business partners, work toward those goals, success will follow.

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10) There is a rather wide divide these days between those who think we need to move beyond the ‘trailer house’ and ‘mobile home’ image to a focus on communities and lifestyles, vs. those on the far end who embrace those older terms for reasons beyond Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In 2014, we witnessed a $1.32 billion dollar deal with SUN Communities and a respected community operator who took rebranding, positive resident relations and projecting a good modern image. Tell us your thoughts on the whole “terminology” and image issues, if you would, please.

A). I believe our image has improved greatly over the years, but not because of any advertising or marketing campaigns. We build a much better product today.

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Communities, although aging, are better maintained, managed and amenitized then ever before.

Because economic issues have caused rent levels in communities to grow more slowly, and because manufacturers are once again building an affordable home suited for communities both in size and quality, we are once again affordable. We are also today more disciplined in financing the product for our customer so that they are buying what they can afford to pay for.

All of these lead to a satisfied customer who wants to live in our product in our communities, and will tell their family and friends about positive rather then negative experiences.

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To me, that is how you improve the image, by improving the experience for your customer.

11) While some were thinking doom and gloom, BaseCamp and Yes! Communities were working hard and building a future, even during the downturn. Your industry colleague, UMH CEO Sam Landy, said in an interview with MHProNews that given the large and growing need for affordable housing in the U.S., he sees how manufactured housing could return to new home shipping totals of 300,000 to 400,000. Others inside our industry think we ought to be happy to return to shipments in the 70,000 to 100,000 annual shipment levels. During a time when there is an affordable housing crisis in many markets, can’t we do better than we are at present? What say you? Why?

A). I’ve never quite understood why the number of shipments should be the gauge of the success of our business, while there is so little focus on the other aspects of our industry that are all part and parcel to providing a positive housing experience to millions of families.

We see the demand for manufactured housing every day. There is no shortage of families that want to live in our homes or our communities. That was the case even in the downturn.

There is, however, a shortage of competitively priced capital that is necessary to provide our product. Until we find ways to convince capital to move into our industry we can’t expect to see significant growth, or an increase in production.

Over the last few years with the growth of rental and community financed homes, we have seen more traditional mortgage lenders willing to provide financing which at some level will include homes.

We think as the business model continues to be proven out, that trend will continue and be helpful in bringing necessary capital into the business, but that capital will somehow be tied to both the home and the real estate.

12) Industry veteran and Green Courte Partners Chairman, Randy Rowe, called for a 5 point plan for industry recovery. It included the following: A) Better Warranties and Customer Service, B) Dealing effectively with Chattel Financing Issues, C) Economic Security for Our Customers, D) A Multiple Listing Service(s) (remarketing system for individuals, lenders) and E) A National Marketing (Image) Effort. What would you say about these bullet points? Do you think that other possible ideas, like more “best practices” and professional sales training – which Tim Williams at 21st said is always a good idea, are also needed? What say you on the keys for moving MH ahead?

A). These are valid points and very necessary. We have along way to go, but as an industry, we are providing better warranties and customer service today, because of the number of homes bought, sited and maintained at the property level.

I would say the same with the Chattel Financing being provided through communities. When you can interact with your customer on a frequent and consistent basis, it is much easier to align interests. It is also much easier to control the risk and mitigate potential losses.

I don’t see the return of Chattel financing to anywhere near the level of the past. The traditional chattel model doesn’t provide affordability for today’s market, and we don’t have near the overall volume of business to attract any meaningful opportunity for securitization.

We have been discussing a multiple listing service for years. It’s a great idea, but until we can provide a source of financing for used manufactured homes, the service can’t really be successful. Everyone talks about the risk profile of our customer and the historic losses that have occurred in the past. At some point there needs to be a recognition that unless there is shared risk between the manufacturing, lending and real estate components of our industry at some meaningful level, we will not change the risk profile. Simply pricing the risk totally into the cost of financing no longer works. It makes the financing package unaffordable to the very customer we are trying to attract. If we talk about harmony and inclusion, this is where it needs to start.

I would be in favor of a national marketing effort, but my concern is that as in the past, the image improvement will be focused on folks who aren’t now, nor will ever be our customer. If we embark on this, I would like to see it directed at the customer we have, not the one we wish we had.

13) What are you seeing in Washington – be it Pam Danner’s appointment at HUD, Mel Watt at FHFA, etc. – that you think is important for MH industry pros to be aware of today and why?

A). I think industry pros are very aware of the issues today, and I’m confident we are addressing them properly given the constraints we have as an industry of size and capital.

14) What do you consider the largest challenges facing the industry in general today? Where do you see our largest opportunities?

A). As I mentioned above, I think the biggest constraint is capital. We haven’t figured out in this business climate how to effectively attract competitive capital across the entire spectrum of our industry.

The opportunities are the same as they have always been. There are millions of families who need affordable housing. We can meet that need in ways that are much better then others who strive to be in our business. All we need to do is go out and get the business.

15) While attendance at trade show such as Louisville continue to rise, there are thousands who haven’t gone ever or in years. For those who don’t quite get it about going to trade shows, what would you say to them as reasons why it is good for their business to go?

A). It’s always good to have an opportunity to network and find out what others are thinking and doing.

Trade shows are also an excellent opportunity to talk to our manufacturer friends about what they are building, and even more important to talk to them about what they should be building for your customer.

16) While thousands of firms are members of state or national associations, others seem content to sit on the outside and reap the benefits of association lobbying without realize there is more to association membership than lobbying alone. As the leader of an organization that is involved at the state and national level in association work, what would you say to those who haven’t been involved in an association, or who have dropped out for whatever reason?

A). We are involved in associations because we believe it is a positive for our company. It has proven to be so over many years. For those who haven’t been involved, I would say that it is their loss, and probably they would be better businessmen and women for having the opportunity to listen to others.

17) Closing thoughts or comments, sir?

A). This has been a very unique business for a long time. We have always shown creativity, flexibility, and the ability to adapt.

We provide a very needed and necessary product that people want to live in. Sometimes, we tend to get in the way of that process and make it too hard for them.

Even so, I think we have a very bright and positive future. We can and will deal with today’s problems as we have with yesterday’s problems.

Manufactured housing is not going away. There is every bit as much need for the product now as there has been in the past. ##

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