Nearly a week has elapsed since the message further below was sent to the co-president of a well-known Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member firm that will be part of today’s fact-check and analysis.
To grasp the subject – for outsiders looking in, and for those in the industry who don’t yet ‘get it’ – a pair of analogies are useful, but one must begin with facts about law enforcement.
When local, state, or federal law enforcement undertakes a case, their goal in part is to obtain a conviction. That means at times that law enforcement professionals allow a criminal enterprise to continue while a case is being “built.” For those who’ve watch a legal drama in a TV series or a movie, that picture of monitoring or penetrating a criminal enterprise will start to come into focus.
But that’s fictional. How real is it?
“On various occasions during my manufactured home career, I’ve met and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),” said industry publisher and consultant, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach. “Convictions were obtained. There are a few industry pros who know, but I was also given a letter of thanks from the FBI, which proves it.”
Local law enforcement cases were worked on with Kovach’s assistance too.
Kovach explained he has friends who are and/or were in law enforcement. A case isn’t solved in an hour or two, he said. It can be weeks or months in many instances. If it is a major criminal enterprise, years could be involved.
“What’s occurring in manufactured housing is not a onetime petty theft. It’s arguably a multiple billion-dollar ongoing scam that’s harmed taxpayers, as well as numerous specific companies in manufactured housing. Several multiple decade brands were put out of business that could well be thriving today if not for specific, illicit, market manipulation for which there is extensive credible evidence,” Kovach said. “That’s why the feds, attorneys, and others have opened up investigations.”
Kovach added, “I’ve personally been told [by federal investigators] that this will take time. Likely years. But to underscore that there are such investigations, we periodically share the video from Clayton Homes’ hometown news media. Don’t forget that the Seattle Times has also reported ongoing federal investigations too. The feds have their needs and timelines, but we as pro-industry publishers must think about warning those who are the purported targets of such scams.”
The news video he referenced is below. The views reported on that video have roughly tripled since MHProNews began spotlighting it by posting it.
How do the powers that be in MHVille counter such claims?
In part, through threats from attorneys – that have not yet been acted upon – or by using surrogates George F. Allen purportedly to smear our publisher by sending out by email, or verbally tells his “intimates,” about Tony Kovach’s prior use of a pen name. Allen acts as if that use of a pen name was a crime – to which, there are times our publisher/consultant laughs.
“Look, I’ve not claimed to be a choir boy, and [George] Allen isn’t a dummy. He knows that thousands of people use a pen or stage name quite legally. I have too. So what? Most adults over a certain age know that Mark Twain real name was actually Samuel Clemens. Does George want Clemens charged post-mortem with the use of a pen name? Absurd. Performer Kid Rock’s real name is Robert James Ritchie. It’s legal and done for specific professional reasons. Ironically, Allen has told the story about walking into other people’s businesses in our industry and saying he was paid to claim that he was someone other than who he was. He calls that ‘mystery shopping.’ George has told dozens of industry professionals that he’s claimed – for instance – being in drag, or poised as a biker – in doing what he calls ‘mystery shopping.’ So, it’s smoke Allen and his buddies blow, and arguably hypocritical.”
Warning the MH Industry, Consumers – A War Without Guns
Among the sources for MHProNews are those inside what Allen us to call the 3Cs – Clayton, Cavco, and now Skyline-Champion. The in-depth ‘read hot’ report yesterday unpacks Allen himself pointing the finger and named Clayton, 21st and others as being part of an effort to monopolize the manufactured housing industry.
Every con job is a crime taking place in plain sight. Exposing the con is the start of ending the con. There must also be legal efforts, which MHProNews sources confirmed are underway.
While those investigators must do what they feel that they ought to do, there is also a need for parallel efforts, that exposes the tentacles of those who by default or by design are pawns in the long-game being played by the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis.
“It’s Warren Buffett who talks about the long game and patience,” Kovach said, adding, “while Kevin Clayton said last week that it was a 100-year strategy. Was that an understatement? From 2003 to 2017, Clayton went from 13 percent market share to some 48 to 50 percent, depending on what source is cited. At that pace, it isn’t 100 years to conquer what’s left of manufactured housing, is it?”
The point Tony makes in part is to know when Buffett or Clayton are to be taken at their word, and when their words must be considered in the light of their behavior and trends.
He then points to statements by MHI award winner, Marty Lavin, which makes those points quite well.
MHI claims to be working to grow the industry. But where is the evidence?
If asked, they can point to articles and videos they’ve produced, including the video from which the still below is taken.
But even if every claim in that graphic were 100 percent true, that doesn’t mean that they have been ineffective at doing what they claim to do? Are they implying that they are incompetent?
Or are they shrewd?
Is Omaha-Knoxville dominated MHI – which is based in Arlington, VA – working to grow the industry? Or are they working to suppress the industry in a fashion that escapes the scrutiny of the unwary?
Then, is MHI embracing publishers like MHInsider, or bloggers like George Allen, as surrogates to counter the analysis and reports published by MHProNews, or the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)?
Having set the table, let’s present the link to an in-depth report on that above, but also share an email between Kovach and MHInsider’s Darren Krolewski.
The Inside Look at MHInsider?!
“If we are to save the maximum number of independents and rally the maximum number of industry professionals to resist the increasingly self-evident trends, doing what some think is unconventional – but is legal and moral – is useful,” said Tony Kovach.
He pointed to the email that followed. The screen capture that documents the message is immediately below, and is followed by the complete, unedited text of his message. The typos are in the original.
As you know, we’ve fact-checked MHInsider previously. Have you corrected any of the factual errors that we brought to industry readers’ attention? If so, where, when, and how? A link or example are welcome for our planned report.
First Annual MHInsider™
State of the Industry Issue.
How many real issues will you deal with? Will you examine – for example – the problem of consolidation and monopolization? Will you examine the fact that every item spotlighted by John Oliver’s video was an MHI member company? Or that Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett’s directly or indirectly funded nonprofits that have sparked negative news for the industry?
In fairness, are there any reactions, corrections, or analysis you’d like to provide on any article linked further below on MHProNews?
We’ve visually spotlighted that your ‘print circulation’ is in fact not all picked up at events. The evidence reflects that most are not picked up, and are therefor logically not being read. A company that advertised with us and your firm said your marketing produced zero results, while by contrast, MHProNews produced all of their external results – both by electronic measures and actual follow ups with respondents.
That said, what is the actual, effective engagement of MHInsider? How many page views online? How many daily visits?
Given the problems with other facts your publication has previously reported – and to our knowledge, has not yet issued corrections – are there also problems with MHVillage claims of some 25 million unique visits a year?
It seems hard to imagine that the claim of some 25 million unique – non-duplicated – visits occur annually, and yet less than 97,000 new HUD Code homes were sold in 2018. I’m asking you man-to-man, but on the record, is your firm exagerating those claims in some form or fasion? For example, is it actually X number of unique daily visits, and you are extrapolating from that? Meaning, are there duplicate visits being counted as ‘unique?’
Please advise on each in writing, so we are both clear on each element of the above. A confirmation and timeline on your reply are appreciated. Thank you.
Such claims matters to manufactured housing industry professionals for these reasons. First, because they think it is important enough to make the claim. Why? Because for years, these same people praised our platform as the tops, including Krolewski.
– There is clear evidence in the report linked here that MHInsider, along with George Allen and others, are singing from the same song book that MHI does. It’s their right to do so. But if MHI is misleading the industry – and there are arguably numerous examples herein or another linked here how that’s occurred – then aren’t their surrogates likewise misleading their readers?
– If Berkshire Clayton, MHI and others are part of a scheme to consolidate manufactured housing, or are using methods that violate RICO, postal, IRS, and other statutes, then are their surrogates who continue to spew their drivel co-conspirators?
– Is MHInsider exaggerating or lying about their actual traffic and readership, which could be a deceptive trade practice, or worse?
Recently, an MHInsider advertiser told MHProNews that our platform – which provides third-party data about audience engagement – produced the ONLY results for their marketing effort. MHInsider and others produced zero results, per that party which monitored their results.
A realtor who used to use MHVillage told MHProNews this week that based on their experience, MHVillage has lost its “umph.” An MHI-member industry producer has used them for years. While they claim huge traffic numbers, using their own data, they have poor conversion ratios. That firm talks about their untapped upside, and the industry itself is underperforming. These are examples that underscore concerns previously raised by MHProNews graphically illustrated in the photos below.
It all begins to look like smoke and mirrors. Big claims, by MHI, MHVillage, MHInsider, Clayton Homes, et al, but poor outcomes. Why?
Because of the millions who are not being served who need affordable housing, these are issues that merit congressional and other investigations, that are public – not quietly taking place behind the scenes.
Trekkies and Chess Players, Unite…The Kobayashi Maru
In chess, if someone finds themselves in a losing posing against a superior force, one can quit – resign – or put strategies to work that change the games dynamics. That’s how winning is done from a normally losing position.
“The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru test was first depicted in the opening scene of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and also appears in the 2009 film Star Trek.” – Wikipedia.
There are several factors at play that could go either way for manufactured housing independents. They underscore the need for a classic “SWOT” analysis.
Without going into but a few points, it is obvious that:
– there is an affordable housing crisis.
– That manufactured homes are the most proven solution in American history for affordable housing.
– HUD Secretary Ben Carson recently praised the industry, while saying it is time to end the secret, and bring manufactured housing out of the darkness of limestone into the brightness of the limelight.
– That Secretary Carson statement may not comport with the timeline – and thus the desired plan – of Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington to slowly consolidate manufactured housing into ever fewer hands and brands.
– Which may explain why once more today, as of 10:33 AM ET on the MHI website and the Clayton Homes websites have no results in searching for HUD Secretary Carson’s fine speech to manufactured housing professionals in New Orleans.
– There are documented examples of Warren Buffett donations flowing through ‘dark money’ channels to groups that have attacked various manufactured housing industry initiatives, and brands in a fashion that arguably harms smaller firms than larger ones.
– Buffett has worked to elect and support politicians who promote heavier regulations and higher taxes that experts say can harm smaller firms more than larger ones.
The disconnects between claims made, behavior, and actual results are numerous.
MHProNews has offered several times to discuss these issues in public with those being named herein. They’ve routinely declined. That’s not proof, but it is indicative that they are unwilling or unable to debunk the concerns, allegations, and the evidence presented.
These merit public investigations. We will be pressing public officials, not just law enforcement, and others in the legal and investment communities to investigate what is occurring in manufactured housing.
Because the logic of the facts in the report linked above indicates it is costing the economy huge sums of money, and that means that individuals citizens, along with taxpayers are being harmed.
If MHI, Clayton and others in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington triangle are serious about growth, why is it that MHARR is the association pushing for the solutions that will actually return the industry to health and growth?
That’s today’s first look at “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.
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HUD Rescinds 2017 “Guidance” On Carport-Ready Homes | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
In one of its first substantive regulatory reform actions under Trump Administration Executive Orders (EO) 13771 and 13777, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on May 20, 2019 ( see, copy attached), that it is rescinding sub-regulatory “guidance” issued in 2017, requiring Alternate Construction (AC) approval for “carport-ready” manufactured homes.
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Washington, D.C., May 15, 2019 – With manufactured housing producers, retailers and communities offering their best homes (and related consumer protection) ever, and in light of the failure of the ostensible representation of the industry’s post-production sector to fully and effectively advance the marketing, consumer financing and, most importantly, the full acceptance of federally-regulated manufactured housing as the nation’s premiere source of non-subsidized affordable housing and homeownership, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has launched a new project and initiative to fight selected, especially egregious instances of discriminatory and exclusionary zoning targeting manufactured housing and manufactured housing consumers.
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