Many have thoughtfully shared there feelings and reflections on Thayer Long’s departure as the President of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) with us. Those reflections below are followed by another key topic on Industry Professionals’ minds; namely, who and what’s next at MHI
First the Farewells to Thayer, in the order in which they were recieved:
“Thayer Long has done a fine job for MHI over the years and especially as he advanced to the president’s position. He managed fiscal affairs with sound diligence and provided excellent leadership for the staff. In addition Thayer represented the industry in a professional, knowledgeable way that reflected well on all of us. We will miss his positive attitude and attentiveness to the membership. At the same time we wish him well with his new opportunity and the best of success in everything he does. Thayer will be with us for the rest of this month to help with a transition. We have an excellent team of people at MHI headquarters who will continue to keep things running smoothly and who will respond to member’s needs in a prompt and efficient manner.”
– Joe Stegmayer, Chairman and CEO, Cavco Industries, MHI Chairman
When Mike O’Brien left MHI, Thayer stepped in and has done a very good job. Under his oversight MHI cut expenses and relocated to smaller quarters. Anytime I needed information on a federal issue, Thayer was always responsive and helpful. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.
– Nancy P. Geer, PHC, Executive Director, New York Housing Association
“I’ve very much enjoyed working with Thayer and wish him great success in this next phase of his career. Thayer and his team have firmly established MHI as our industry’s key representative in Washington, and with Lisa Brechtel now in place as the head of the National Communities Council, the industry and the NCC should be well positioned both to address future challenges and to capitalize on the many opportunities that lie ahead.”
– David Lentz, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Land Lease, and incoming Chairman of the National Communities Council (NCC)
– Mark Dillard, Executive Director, South Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute
“It was truly a pleasure to work with Thayer. When you discussed a topic with Thayer you not only felt that he was listening, but that he understood the problem and would attempt to find a solution. We will miss working with him and wish him the best of success in his new venture.”
“Thayer has spent the last 3 years moving MHI as well as the entire industry in the right direction. His understanding of housing issues will be missed but he has developed a staff that will do a great job with those same issues in his absence.”
– Nathan Smith, Owner, SSK Communities
– Ross Kinzler, Executive Director, Wisconsin Housing Alliance
“Thayer has served MHI well during his time as president. He came in during a difficult time and was able to provide stability and move MHI forward in a positive direction. This was no small task. MHI is a more focused and financially sound organization today due to Thayer’s hard work and leadership.”
– James R. Ayotte, CAE – Executive Director – Florida Manufactured Housing Association
“Thayer is very professional and was always willing to share his knowledge when questioned about national and local issues. He was always willing to assist those of us who served on the MHCC. I wish him well in his new endeavor. “
– Susan Brenton, Executive Director, AZ MHCA
We’ve covered previous comments from others regarding Thayer Long’s departure in the initial story we broke last week on our MHProNews.com Daily Business News Blog that was linked above.
Part Two – Where Does MHI Go From Here?
Now, where does MHI go from here? Beyond what has been noted above, what does Thayer’s departure mean? Who will be the interim or permanent successor to Long? What style and experience will they bring? Should it be an Industry business pro? An association leader? An Industry outsider? A DC insider? All of these and other questions and thoughts have been shared with us by Industry professionals like yourself.
Let’s begin by noting that there are scores of potential candidates from inside our Industry.
However, many of the association or business pros who could do this job simply won’t be interested in moving to Washington or it suburbs, with it’s high cost of housing, etc. Many who might be considered have business ties that do not put them in a position to rapidly shift gears to partners or trusted managers. Some in associations will have commitments and ties that keep them from saying yes, even if they would wish to do so.
Those points said, there are names which have been floated as ‘possible’ candidates for Thayer Long’s soon to be vacant role.
The names below are by no means the only ones mentioned. Some would doubtlessly prefer not to be mentioned at all, knowing that others at MHI’s leadership already know them well. The sheer numbers of possible candidates precluded our being able to reach or name but a fraction of the possibilities.
Some of those named below did not say “yes, I’d go if the offer made sense.” But – very important – they also did not say “no.” With those disclaimers and backdrop, here are some names that have been mentioned, alphabetically:
Jody Anderson, long time Texas retailer, respected Board member, with considerable experience successfully stepping into a key association leadership role during a transition phase prior to DJ Pendleton’s arrival at the TMHA. Anderson has the support of others, including Lance Inderman – a very successful Texas retailer, TMHA board leader and co-owner of Athens Park Homes. In a conversation with MHProNews, Anderson’s confidence, passion for the Industry and straight shooting ability to “sell” manufactured housing to legislators and regulators was self-evident. Anderson has a direct, common sense approach and with his hands on experience, would be able to relate well with Industry professionals as well as association, political and regulatory personalities.
Jim Ayote is the respected executive director at the Florida Manufactured Housing Association has considerable experience at MHI already, and has served as the chair for MHEC – the Manufactured Housing Executives Committee. Ayote will be on the radar of those who favor experience in such roles and first hand knowledge of the players. He has served in other state associations and has experience working with resident groups successfully. Ayote’s state has been keen on promotion, which along with other background factors will be at play with this possibility.
Susan Brenton from AZ MHC Association has a strong association background beyond her experience representing and working with manufactured housing community owners and residents. Brenton served for years as the chair on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC), so she knows a broad cross section of Industry professionals, consumer interests, state and federal regulators. Bretnon also has a working relationship with other state and community execs, MHI and MHARR. Having fought and won tough personal as well as professional battles, and doing so with an upbeat attitude, Brenton’s “can do” spirit and solution orientation are evident to those who know her.
Doug Gorman has years of experience in MH manufacturing, as a long time award winning MHI member retailer, active on the Oklahoma board, with the Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa and years of service on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC). Gorman has a long string of endorsement letters for the MH Hall of Fame that includes politicians and a virtual who’s who of Industry leaders like Kevin Clayton, Joe Stegmayer, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and many others. We’ve covered in a recent Industry Voices Guest Blog item Gorman’s personal lobbying efforts with Oklahoma congressman and the Senate regarding the repeal/reform of Dodd-Frank.
Rick Rand has decades of experience in developing an award winning community, operating or owning both large and small portfolio operations, with financing issues and home retailing. His high occupancy rates and low delinquencies at a time when so many others are struggling in his region should make Rand a go-to guy on manufactured housing community challenges. Like Brenton, Rand has faced and overcome tough personal and professional challenges, and has landed on his feet. He has served as MHI’s PAC Chair, and worked on many MHI task forces, including their national image campaign. Rand has lobbied state and federal officials and knows many of the players on the field on a first name basis.
Some of these candidates have had experience working with Danny Ghorbani at MHARR, which could be a plus as independent builder/producer-focused Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform continues it’s recent trajectory of working more closely with MHI, since Chairman John Bostick has come onto their scene and made his positive presence felt.
Unlike a political election, where you will see and hear the names of the top candidates, and go through primaries and election cycles, the process for MHI is more akin to the hiring procedures of a corporation. Some highly qualifies candidates will not be named above, for reasons already noted and thus the interim or final selection for the executive who leads MHI may not come from those named.
Questions we should be asking candidates might include:
– are you a consensus builder?
– are you able to work with a broad cross section of people and interests successfully?
– how quickly are you able to respond if the call is made?
– would you be willing to serve on an interim as well as a long term basis?
– what is your vision for moving the manufactured housing industry ahead in Washington and in the American housing marketplace?
– can you successfully protect and promote manufactured housing in these tough times, by leveraging relationships and resources to the maximum possible?
MHI has published their ‘focus items,’ so the views of prospective interim or permanent leaders of MHI on how those items might be best approached will also be noteworthy. Industry pros coast to coast are keenly interested in how MHI will approach the subject of Industry promotion, turn around and growth.
Readers may want to contact MHI directly with their recommendations, and are welcome to post comments or send private messages to tony@MHMSM.com, in an Industry Voices guest blog column or via iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com. An appropriate Subject Line in your email will help us better respond, thank you.
We will continue to keep Industry readers updated as events regarding these developments at MHI move ahead. # #
L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach