In the current political climate, it can take courage and wit to speak out in even the measured tones that Adventure Homes’ Wally Comer has in exclusive comments about the labor market and more that are the focus of this report. MHProNews asked Adventure’s Comer, a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member, to weigh in on labor or other factors causing long lead times in the production of HUD Code manufactured housing. Comer’s response via email on 4.5.2021 are as shown. Note that the first part of the reply was in response to the MHProNews request that he make clear in his emailed reply what should be treated as ON or OFF the record comments.
Comer clearly wanted every word that follows “on the record.”
“Good morning Tony,
I never have a problem with you quoting me. If I’m concerned about being quoted I probably won’t make the comment!
I would love to increase production; however, we have issues! Be aware, our backlog is the strongest it’s ever been and getting stronger. We have a second building that could be made operational in 6 months or less.
So, what am I waiting for! Labor is an issue. Labor has always been an issue; however, due to the virus and our President’s overwhelming desire to give money away and pay people to stay home, getting good people to work is a challenge.
Of equal challenge is our inability to get all that we need to build the home. Appliances, insulation, doors, and more are all in short supply and the demand is high. The suppliers are working as hard as they can to get for us what it is we need but they face the same issues as Adventure: shortage of people to work, increasing demand on a limited work force and a shortage of the components they require to finish their jobs.
I give all the credit in the world to my team and to our suppliers for their efforts to keep production moving forward and getting people their homes on time.
As if all of this isn’t enough, commodity prices are skyrocketing! Tony, I’ve never seen anything like it. Keeping a handle on current pricing is a freaking nightmare. I’m thinking about turning OSB into the “Bit Coin”! Our dealers are being asked to absorb huge hits to their pricing with little or no notice. It sucks!
Hope this answers your questions. If this last year doesn’t make you drink, nothing will!
Wally [Comer, Adventure Homes]”
For those who don’t know Comer personally, his wit and enthusiasm come through, even via email. His time in Hollywood acting and doing various types of shows (see Comer-Rich Rice video posted further below, which includes clips from Comer’s office and Hollywood days) doubtlessly shines through still today.
But the factors hampering manufactured housing, several of which Comer clearly tied to Biden-Harris policies, are reflected in his comment that getting more labor was challenging: “…due to the virus and our President’s overwhelming desire to give money away and pay people to stay home, getting good people to work is a challenge.” While he did not name Joseph “Joe” Biden by name, there is only one person at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 that claims that lofty title of president.
Comer’s point that suppliers also face a similar labor hurdle is likewise an apt insight. “The suppliers are working as hard as they can to get for us what it is we need but they face the same issues as Adventure: shortage of people to work, increasing demand on a limited work force and a shortage of the components they require to finish their jobs.”
Comer and the Adventure team build manufactured and modular homes. But when asked a few months ago about tiny houses, Comer replied to MHProNews’ in part as follows. “We don’t get involved in Tiny anything. In the Adventure Homes universe there are no Tiny Houses. We have a substantial backlog comprised of “Big” not “Tiny”. With any luck it will remain that way throughout all of next year.”
Additional Related Information, More on Comer, MHProNews Analysis, and Commentary
Comer is not alone among producers that have shared similar views – but they have done so ‘off the record.’ Those thoughts from other producers in the industry have come from self-described Democratic leaning builders of HUD Code manufactured homes. But thus far, no others have gone ‘on the record’ in quite the same was as Comer did above.
It should be stressed that MHProNews did not press Comer on questions related to political affiliations, and related policy items. Comer may be a non-voter, someone who voted for or against Biden. Whatever the case, his views were precisely as stated about the topics he opted to address.
That noted, ICYMI, his insights from the perch in Garrett, Indiana at Adventure in MHProNews’ expert view arguably fits the related production report, linked below. As a stating the obvious disclaimer, our analysis should not be construed as his.
Nor did MHProNews ask Comer about his views on COVID19 – what he called the “virus” – either. Thus the linked report that follows reflect our analysis, and may not be his.
Adventure’s About Us page has the following to say about Comer and the genesis of the brand.
“In August of 2009 Fleetwood Enterprises ended their manufacturing operation in Garrett, Indiana. Wally Comer, Walt Fuller and Jerry Henry stepped in and purchased the plant and invested in the startup of Adventure Homes.
We shut Fleetwood down on Friday afternoon and told every employee there if they wanted to join the Adventure Homes Team starting on Monday to show up at 7:00am. We did not have the pay program spelled out or the other benefit programs designed yet or a thousand other details completed yet for the new company. We got the HUD approval changed to Adventure Home and gambled that enough people would show up that we could start to get a production team together.
So many of the people showed up even without guarantees of pay scales, benefits etc., that we started the line immediately that Monday morning. They signed a new employee application and went to work and we were only 20 minutes late for the continuing line role. These people showed up because they trusted Wally Comer and they trusted the managers and supervisors enough to know that they would be taken care of. That is the culture at Adventure Homes, and is the root of all the current and future success we will ever have.”
The search online for a possible photo of Comer to use with this report led to this screen capture below.
The two articles on MHLivingNews and MHProNews that are found in that search result above are as follows.
The blast from the past video posted below is part of the report linked above. While dated, the case can be made that it still reflects reasons why Adventure has weathered the storms of the years since then to be able to say today that they have their longest backlogs ever.
The link to an exclusive Q&A from days gone by with Wally Comer is found above. There are several things that have changed since that Q&A, but colorful Comer is still Wally. You simply have to admire the man’s taste in socks.
Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in-your-face reports. It is all here, at the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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