The collage in the featured image at the top uses a photo and headline from the Omaha World Herald that reported on July 8, 2019 that “Just like site-built homes, manufactured houses can grow in value, but …”
Why the “but?”
The Omaha World Herald has for years been the primary hometown newspaper for the city where Berkshire Hathaway has its headquarters.
Berkshire owns the Omaha World Herald, along with some 30 other mainstream newspapers. Collectively, those media assets are known as the BH Media Group. Online, the Berkshire hometown flagship media goes by the simple name “Omaha.com”
The two screen captures of Google search results posted in this article reveal the following oddity. Omaha has only rarely used the phrase “manufactured homes” but has routinely used the phrase “mobile homes.” Why is that so?
A similar test for other BH Media group assets routinely reveals a similar result.
Warren Buffett understands the concept of synergy. So too does Kevin Clayton, the president and CEO of Clayton Homes.
So, given their understanding of synergy, why isn’t Berkshire using their media assets – not to mention their billions of cash on hand, and/or their other extensive mainstream media contacts – to fuel an educational campaign that could rapidly raise the understanding and acceptance of manufactured homes?
Observant industry professionals recognize that not only is the term “mobile home” not an accurate description for a HUD Code manufactured home, many consider that “mobile home” phrase and the ‘trailer,‘ ‘trailer park’ to be negative. Yet, Omaha has often used those phrases too.
Which begs the question. Why does Berkshire’s own newspapers so often de facto undermine the industry’s proper understanding by misusing terminology? Why aren’t they clarifying instead of confusing terminology, and thereby raising the image of manufactured homes?
Several of the industry’s leaders have for decades promoted the use of proper terminology. Consider the words of Steve Duke, JD, from the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association as but one example.
1) Manufactured homes or manufactured housing are the legally accurate descriptions for homes built to the HUD Code which went into effect on June 15, 1976.
2) Evidence suggests that the public and public officials tend to have a warmer view towards “manufactured homes” than “mobile homes.”
Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corporation, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) are just some of the brands that Berkshire Hathaway owns in the manufactured housing industry.
Kevin Clayton, in the video interview posted near the end of the report linked below, stated some 8 years ago that the industry was ready for an image campaign then. If so, why did they fail to take the obvious step of having BH Media Group newspapers promote a factual, proper understanding of manufactured housing?
This is one more data-point that suggests that despite obvious videos or other Clayton Homes related promotions, including promotions by the Manufactured Housing Institute, they are at best ineffective in their efforts at growing the industry’s acceptance and sales in a robust fashion. Indeed, the facts for the last 9 months clearly indicates that the industry’s sales are moving in reverse.
Census Bureau data published on MHProNews at the link below indicates that sales levels have returned to lower levels like those experienced in the first part of 2017.
While that ineffectiveness – for whatever reason – by Berkshire brands and MHI is occurring, the industry is slowly being consolidated into ever fewer hands.
Berkshire brands and those firms with ties to Berkshire Hathaway, and/or MHI, benefit. Coincidence? Berkshire brands are members of MHI, which they arguably dominates via dues, the executive committee, and in other ways.
These are among the reasons that voices in the industry are calling for federal investigations and public hearings by Congress.
That’s a wrap on this installment of manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views, Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
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