David Allen Roberson, the former longtime president and CEO of Addison, Alabama based Cavalier Homes, has died. Several messages about his passing into eternity have been provide to MHProNews. This report will explore aspects of his life that those who knew him should recall. But in reviewing the reflections provided by others in the wake of his death will also shed light on matters that are still relevant to industry newcomers as well as manufactured housing veterans. While obituary style insights have been provided by third-parties and those types of reflections are included here, what emerges from the combination of comments provided by industry members, combined with classic video of Roberson obtained from CSPAN featuring his testimony by the late Cavalier leader to Congress moves into the legacy category.
That video of Roberson below serves as a living witness to what others recalled as he worked “tirelessly” in the 21st century while at the helm of the publicly-traded Cavalier.
“Thumper” – Brian Vickery, Strategic Accounts Manager at Kith Kitchens – sent this email to dozens of industry professionals on October 11, 2021.
“With a heavy heart I wanted to let everyone know that God has truly gained one of the best this morning! David Roberson passed away yesterday afternoon. David was on one of the best for sure in our industry, and touched and helped so many peoples lives. He was a great influence to myself on how to do it the right way. He will truly be missed.
Please keep his wife Rita, and family in your prayers. Once I find out the details, and arrangements I will try and let everyone know.”
Later, Vickery sent the following.
David Allen “DAR” Roberson, age 65, Haleyville, AL. passed away Sunday October 10, 2021. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Double Springs, AL.
Family Receiving Friends on Saturday October 16, 2021 from 12:30PM – 3:30PM at The First Baptist Church in Double Springs, AL. with his Celebration of Life Service to follow at 3:30PM at the church.
A complete obituary will be posted on Tuesday evening.”
Per the Pinkard Funeral Homes site, the following.
David Allen Roberson
July 25, 1956 – October 10, 2021.
Among the posted comments there were the following.
David thank you for being a true an a honest friend. David I have so many great memories with you. Those memories will never fade away. David your friendship meant a lot to me. We played football together we went on vacations together we worked together and we shared our feelings some good an some wasn’t. We trusted each other an we always had each other’s back no matter what. True friends are hard to come by but you are a true friend an I will never ever forget you. I will keep your family in my prayers. I know I will see you again my friend. Rest in peace. You will be missed by many, many people. I love you David.
~ Ronnie McCarter
I’m so sorry. God sure gained a good one. Prayers for the family
~ Sherry Snoddy
Several “candles” where lit and other comments praising Roberson as a man, friend, and professional were shared.
Career and Legacy of a Fighter for Manufactured Housing in Washington, in State Associations, and Beyond
In looking back at a point in David Roberson’s career circa 2003, Cavalier Homes was the number 7 producer of manufactured housing in the nation.
That year, per the now defunct Manufactured Home Merchandiser Magazine, Cavalier produced a total of 6,642 homes valued at $233.3 million dollars. Under Roberson’s leadership, Cavalier was a regional force to be reckoned with. Per sources at the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), they were at that time a member of that Washington, D.C. based trade association.
An SEC report filed by the firm says “Our shares trade on the NYSE Amex under the ticker symbol CAV.” As a publicly traded firm, several items are knowable.
From the firm’s 2008 annual report, “To Our Stockholders – There is no question that this is challenging time for the manufactured housing industry as industry shipments declined significantly in 2008. Yet at time when most other industry participants are reporting steep losses we are very pleased to report profitable year in 2008.”
“As you may know floor plan lending for dealers has tightened considerably in the past few months as result of modifications or termination of programs by the three national floor plan lenders. In 2009 we expect to use some of our available cash to advance funds for floor plan programs or provide other specific forms of inventory financing as necessary We continue to monitor this situation and explore all opportunities to support our dealers and sales base.”
Those remarks to the SEC and shareholders occurred a few years before those remarks were written comments from Roberson shown in the CSPAN video footage shown occurred.
Contacted by the MHProNews, Danny Ghorbani, the founder, first President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) lavished praise on David A. Roberson. He also expressed by phone and email his sorrow for the passing of Roberson.
In an requested emailed statement, Ghorbani stated “I am deeply saddened and upset at the passing of my friend, colleague, and associate of nearly 40 years, David Roberson. David was a gentle, friendly, and sincere person who was loved and respected by all who were fortunate enough to know him as a friend. He never stopped helping others.
In his business, he was innovative, forward-looking, hard-working, competitive, and fair. His special approach to the sales and marketing of our industry’s evolutionary homes always stood-out in the Cavalier Homes’ exhibits at the industry’s shows and exposition.
His vast knowledge of both our industry and consumer finance presented via his unique sense of humor made his educational seminars at these shows and exposition legendary.
As President & CEO of Cavalier Homes, Inc., David became fully involved, engaged and active in MHARR from early on. He became a strong advocate of the association’s mission and cause on behalf of manufacturers, and never relented.
When MHARR had to get involved with the consumer finance matters because of much of the industry’s continuing failures in Washington D.C., David’s MHARR colleagues asked him for his involvement. He graciously accepted to take the lead on that important task of pressing for access to more competitive lending for manufactured homes to benefit buyers and sellers.
Thereafter, David traveled to Washington quite often for meetings, educational sessions, and Congressional hearings. That tireless engagement led to the draft, write-up, and adoption of the landmark Duty to Serve the Underserved Market (DTS) provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which could legally provide for securitization by Government Sponsors Enterprises (GSE) for manufactured home loans.
For an industry like ours that thrives on evolutionary approach to constantly improve and better itself and its product, the loss of David Roberson leaves a huge void which will not be easy to fill.
David Roberson will be missed by his family and his loved ones, but also by hundreds and hundreds of people who knew him and whose lives were touched by him in one way or the other. May God bless his soul in heaven where my dear friend, David, belongs.”
Again, the common themes found in messages to MHProNews, while perhaps briefer, reflected similar sentiments from those who knew him or worked with him at Cavalier.
About the Cover
Pictured on the front cover is Cavaliers Elite Model A6502 2280-square-foot home with four bedrooms and two baths This home features 2×6 sidewalls and 7/12 roof pitch with architectural shingles and Cemplank lap siding by James Hardie factory-finished drywall and contemporary ceiling texture thermal pane windows 42-inch maple kitchen cabinets stainless steel appliances and solid-surface counter tops and deluxe residential molding with five-inch crown and baseboard moldings
About the Company
Cavalier Homes Inc designs manufactures and markets wide range of high quality homes with focus on the low- to medium-priced manufactured housing market Cavalier currently operates five home manufacturing facilities We market our homes through network of approximately 290 independent dealer locations over 16-state region At December 31 2008 this dealer network included 51 dealer locations participating in our Exclusive Dealer Program including one Company-owned retail sales centers.”
Per the MH Merchandiser referenced above, total industry production in 2003 was 121,793 new HUD Code manufactured homes built by those top 25 producers that year. Many likely did not realize then that the industry some 18 years later would not be as big in total production among all producers as the top 25 where that year.
From a different message thread connected to MHARR, the following was sent to MHProNews.
“Dave became a great supporter, active and advocate of MHARR in Southern region from there on…and [he] openly fought Fleetwood and Glenn Kummer in the south for us…” There was more about industry politics as it relates to Robertson’s efforts on behalf of manufactured housing independents that may be explored at a later and more appropriate time. Fleetwood’s Kummer died in 2020 at the age of 87.
From that previously referenced SEC document in 2009 is this: “With no visibility on the depth and duration of the current economic recession or how industry specific issues may change or continue in 2009 we expect the sales environment to remain difficult.” That document was stamped as “received” by the SEC on April 9, 2009. So, by that date, the Tim Williams letter sent by 21st Mortgage Corporation to producers, retailers, brokers, and other sellers had already occurred and was obliquely referenced more than once.
While DTS was already enacted into ‘law’ by HERA 2008, what we now know today – on 10.14.2021 – is that some 13 years later, the illusive chase to get law implemented has yet to occur.
In the background of the right side from the viewers perspective of the video from CSPAN shown below is a man that appears to be Chris Stinebert, the prior President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
Per the Cavalier Homes 2008 annual report:
The manufactured housing industry is highly competitive characterized by low barriers to entry and severe price competition.” That “low barriers to entry” remark would no longer be considered true by many observers, but again, that will be a topic for consideration at another time.
The CSPAN video posed below is over 3 hours in length. Several speakers representing different aspects of the housing industry and lending testified and are questioned by lawmakers. This Congressional hearing occurred in the wake of FEMA’s often criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, which some say was politicized, but others think was merited.
Roberson speaks first at about the 45.26 time-mark through to about 51.30. He then speaks again later from about 1:51-1:55.27.
Roberson’s address to members of Congress is featured about
45.26-51.30 and around 1:51-1:55.27.
Roberson’s demeanor and passion shine through his video recorded statements. They illustrate the points raised by Ghorbani and others about Robertson’s work on behalf of manufactured housing industry independents. In both cases when he addressed members of Congress in that hearing, Roberson takes the opportunity to go beyond directly speaking about FEMA related issues to speaking about financing, zoning, placement and the failure to fully implement the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.
The following is from Roberson’s LinkedIn profile screen captured shortly after his death. The photo was edited in by MHProNews from the PinkhardFH image.
It may be worth mentioning that the southern U.S. today is reportedly home to some 2 out of 3 HUD Code producers. Due to shipment and other industry constraints, that means that most of the U.S. is largely untapped territory. It also means that while Roberson led Cavalier, he was operating in the most favorable environment for manufactured housing, then and now.
Celebrating a Life
In order to ‘celebrate’ a life, one must have a picture of the broad measure of a man or women. Some live a long, full life. Others die at a younger age. One third-party source claims that the average age of manufactured housing industry professional readers is about 55. If so, that means that the 65-year-old Roberson died only about 10 years older than our profession’s typical professional reader.
Many in our profession are closer to their own big exit from life into eternity than they are to their birth. Retirements and deaths from professionals who knew the industry in its more glorious boom days in the 1990s or earlier mean that fewer people realize the type of pioneering efforts so many producers of HUD Code manufactured homes provided to seekers of affordable housing.
Without pondering our life in a broader perspective, the day-by-day can be a rut that walls someone in.
For all of those touched by the loss of David Allen Roberson, MHProNews extends its sincere condolences. We also salute his highly praised efforts.
MHProNews plans to return to more on Roberson, Cavalier and the themes raised in from these reflections by others about him in the days ahead. Our prayers and best wishes to all as we muse his, and our own eventual, legacy in life. ##
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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