The industry's politics are what they are. When you get past the politics, what we find is a broad consensus. I do not think that should come as a surprise to anyone! What is it that we manufactured housing professionals want? We want to make a good living, to provide a product/service that is appreciated by our customers and to be respected in the community.
If you took the words 'manufactured housing' out of our discussions, think about the fact that we sell homes for less than conventional builders can. Doesn't that suggest we ought to be able to outsell them? If they are going to do 1 million new single and multi-family starts this year, and we can offer home and site for lower cost monthly, shouldn't we be able to outsell them?
I'm looking at the manufactured housing professional's calendar for 2014. Two industry events were well promoted. Both of those grew in attendance. Two industry events that are coming up have had limited promotion. Word has it those two will be declining a bit or maybe roughly the same. Isn't that a reflection of MH in a microcosm?
Steve Lefler and Modular Lifestyles is doing something different, they are promoting it. And guess what; they are getting results with an upscale product in land lease communities that may have lots of older units in them.
Scott Roberts has invested in improving a once failed location in TX, Brian Fannon is doing the same in MI. Scott's community improvement plan has been around long enough for both he and his customers to see the good results.
Bob Vasholtz puts a finger on one issue in his Dueling Factions. Some individuals are more interested in getting credit than they are in advancing the actual solutions. It is in the solutions where we should all be sharing in the glory and the profits.
We obviously have to invest in our own businesses and locations. Beyond that, as an industry we are very small in size compared to the rest of the housing industry. I believe it would be wise for us to spend more time thinking about ways that we can team up with others via our state associations and move the ball ahead in our individual markets.
My apologies to those who have called or emailed about my previously advanced idea for a collaborative 'solutions' and 'business development' style meeting. It was well received, Tony Kovach tells me it was widely read and some large players raised their hands privately to say we should do this. Perhaps we can organize that event to take place the day before the Louisville Show. That would provide for a one low cost trip to an already well attended meeting. A trans-corporate, trans-associational meeting designed to drive more business and get to the heart of the issues that are holding us back.
In years gone by, I was a leader in some large organizations; these days I'm a modest sized independent that continues to grow. My point is that I can relate to those who are big, small or in between. Let's forget the finger pointing, let's move past the chains that hold us back. In a trillion dollar per year housing market, we can and should do better than we are today.
We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. ##
By Rick Rand, president of Great Value Homes, has been and still is actively involved in small and large scale MHC operations. You can contact him at:
Richard J. Rand, President,
Great Value Homes, Inc..
9458 N. Fairway Drive,
Milwaukee, WI 53217-1321,
(Editor's Note: While Rick Rand is on the WHA board and serves as MHI PAC Chairman, he is sharing his own opinions, which may or may not reflect that of any given association. Other perspectives are welcome, send letters to the editor or OpEds to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)