“Other compensation” – is that a legal phrase, a euphemism – for a bonus?
Documents filed by MHI obtained by MHProNews reveal that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) paid “an estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations” over “$61,610” – what could be a substantial bonus.
Plus, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) gave a pay hike, to Richard “Dick” Jennison, MHI’s president and chief executive officer (CEO).
Good for him. So, what?
The question most MHI members and the industry should ask is, ‘what performance took place that year that earned MHI’s President and CEO, Richard “Dick” Jennison any bonus or any additional compensation?’
While posturing successes in the form of thousands of emails to Congress or so many Facebook likes, etc., a careful fact-check of MHI’s own recently emailed ‘reasons to renew membership’ listed nothing of substance to reward. See their fact-checked graphic, further below.
Imagine, if the National Association of Home Builders – or any association – would argue for slow growth? Doesn’t a normal business or association seek to find ways to sustainably, responsibly grow more rapidly?
The industry has a historic opportunity to overtake site built housing, as MHI themselves said prior to Berkshire Hathaway entering the industry. It was arguably after Berkshire Hathaway’s influence over MHI that the association started to argue for “slow growth.”
So why argue slow growth, when the industry’s historic production levels have been many times higher?
Slow growth, and low production levels harmed the industry – it didn’t help it.
We’ve heard for some time the whispers about the now announced closure of U.S. Bank’s indirect manufactured housing lending program. To protect sources, we’ve been unable to do more than hint before today about what is now a done deal. We didn’t have a date, but knew it was ‘coming.’
What’s Going On?
Sources in and beyond MHI say Berkshire Hathaway is operating in a monopolistic way. MHI is part of their “moat” process. Either failure or success at passing Preserving Access would yield more profit for Clayton Homes, and their lending units. The longer that process took, the more competition would be harmed.
So these bonuses and raises to Jennison and others, are arguably yet another piece of evidence that achieving MHI’s stated goals are akin to a smokescreen.
MHI’s leadership’s goals?
Sources and industry experts say it’s designed to mislead smaller to mid-sized companies – another head-fake – in the hopes they keep paying MHI dues. Their own recent emails indicate as much.
The Kevin Clayton video interview has numerous points that are clearly connecting the dots of over a year of MHProNews reports.
For example, Buffett’s “the Moat” was mentioned by Clayton several times.
Buffett’s politics have been very public. The highly unlikely passage of Preserving Access is in hindsight, obvious.
Tim Williams has and others in MHI have allegedly used fear and bullying tactics to get compliance for an agenda that in hindsight was doomed to fail. See the reports above and below.
So, what sparked Berkshire Hathaway/MHI executive committee leadership to authorize pay hikes and bonuses to Jennison and others?
Isn’t Jennison’s pay raise and apparent bonus akin to a “failure bonus?”
Are the big pay checks and hearty bonuses there as incentives to key MHI staffers, to keep leading numbers of small to mid-sized members to get and stay in MHI, in spite of the clear failures of Arlington, VA based association at passing their own agenda?
There are reasons to believe that the vacuum of authentic leadership for independents could lead in time to a growing stream of those who will leave the association.
A pair of state associations have reportedly pulled out of MHI – reportedly ‘fed up’ with MHI’s failures. The same is true with several member companies. There is growing talk of a new, association being formed to replace the ‘post production’ parts of MHI.
Meanwhile, MHI played with their membership numbers to make hundreds of Clayton/Berkshire Hathaway retail locations look as if they were all separate companies. When Richard Jennison was directly asked about that, MHI’s CEO denied any knowledge of it in writing.
Is it even conceivable that MHI’s president not know that fact?
Then why duck or be dishonest about it?
More recently, why did MHI’s president duck out last week in a long-planned presentation to industry members?
Why did he avoid the one dozen suggested questions MHProNews encouraged industry members to ask MHI’s president?
A long-time MHI member messaged the Daily Business News, “He [Jennison] should relish the opportunity to talk about all the good things MHI says they are doing. Strange man.”
State association executives and business members of the Arlington based association have informed MHProNews about past-and-recent threats, to get various industry professionals to do what they wanted. All of which was for the benefit of Berkshire Hathaway owned MH industry units.
The Road Ahead
There is interest in creating a new, national post-production association.
In spite of Berkshire Hathaway’s successful efforts to build “a moat,” there are signs that outside capital could pour into manufactured housing. If that new capital avoids the allegedly problematic parts of Berkshire/MHI efforts, the Kevin Clayton video could be seen as a road map for long-term affordable housing success.
There are those already in the industry, who with bold approaches could beat the powers-that-be at their own game.
So, the reports culminate in years of failure rewarded by apparent bonuses.
And MHI has routinely ducked out on the opportunity to defend their record in public. Repeating the quote above, “He [Jennison] should relish the opportunity to talk about all the good things MHI says they are doing. Strange man.”
As a closing note, the problems with MHI should not be construed to be a slam against the many fine independent business members who have been led to believe that MHI is behaving like a normal association. In sports and in business, success is what is normally rewarded. For raises and bonuses to be paid out when there is no clear success for the majority ought to be a red flag for the industry. Indeed, MHARR made a similar point, at a recent report, linked below.
It’s well past time for independent producers, retailers, communities, and other professionals to step back and ask, what’s really going on with MHI? Why won’t they publicly defend their own track record, if it is so good?
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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.