Whitney Houston died a tragic death. She began her career in Gospel. It was Roberta Flack’s, not Houston’s song, but one might suspect that near the end of her dramatic life, the lyrics “killing me softly with his song” were perhaps filled with deep meaning for Whitney.
11,582,041 YouTube views – published Mar 16, 2016.
When a company is a subsidiary of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, there is not much they are unable to afford, so long as it makes good business sense.
Need great marketing? Berkshire can provide the capital needed. Research? Warren Buffett led Berkshire has personal connections with the Urban Institute, along with other nonprofits. What they may not want to pay for directly – for whatever reason – they can hire done in the way of consumer or other research.
One could go on, but the point is simple.
During well-documented affordable housing crisis in the U.S., how is it possible that the most proven solution known in the U.S. is languishing? How is it that Buffett and Berkshire would allow Clayton Homes to be in the manufactured home industry that 2 decades ago was doing 4 times the level of sales that it is today? How is it possible that once more, for the last 6 months, the industry’s sales are shrinking during an affordable housing crisis?
The Investigators Question – Cui Bono?
The Latin phrase ‘cui bono‘ is a question that means, ‘who stands or stood to benefit?’ If one is looking for a criminal or a motive for an action, the question cui bono – who benefited – helps narrow down the suspects.
Clayton Homes and their allies demonstrably dominate the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). They and a handful are what MHI award winner Marty Lavin, JD, called “big boy” firms that arguably rule the Arlington, VA based MHI roost.
The latest new manufactured home production and shipments data is out for February 2019. It’s sobering. Yet, when MHI put out its latest missive to their members yesterday, there was no mention of the roughly half-year downturn in production and shipments of new HUD Code manufactured homes.
Instead, in an “MHI Update” there is blather about other topics, including the theme for their upcoming Congress and Expo, “Let’s Keep Building.”
The irony and hypocrisy are so thick, a good steak knife and fork are needed. But it’s part of their purported M.O., to borrow from the song lyrics, of “killing me [or thee] softly.” Happy. Upbeat. All is well. New research…
If MHI is doing it, then the big boys must want it done that way, right?
Please try to explain the logic of allowing federally regulated HUD Code manufactured homes to languish during an affordable housing crisis? Who benefits? How did or do they benefit?
The answer we’ve logically deduced at MHProNews is as sobering as the latest shrinking production data.
For newcomers, Berkshire is based in Omaha, Clayton and their affiliated lenders are in metro Knoxville, and we’ve noted earlier that MHI’s office is in Arlington, VA.
That said, as was noted in Soheyla’s market report feature on 4.3.2019, the question was asked. How does one of explain the manufactured home industry’s poor performance since 2003?
“There are only a few possible logical options.
- The Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington (OKA) axis and their allies are incompetent. They don’t know how to sell affordable manufactured homes during an affordable housing crisis.
- The OKA axis are posturing efforts to address concerns that for whatever reasons are not working. This is what MHARR called the “Illusion of Motion.”
- The Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis have a plan, and they are acting upon it. That plan does not short term include short term steps that will fix the headwinds that are buffeting manufactured housing.”
We respect the intelligence of Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, Tom Hodges, Rick Robinson, and others in the mix noted above. They are smart, successful professionals. So, one may logically deduce that the OKA axis must for some reason want or accepts these historically low levels of production and sales.
If so, why? Cui bono? Who benefits from it?
The logical answer is stark. Let’s sum up to this point. If one agrees that these are intelligent, capable people, here’s what one comes to conclude. There is some arguable benefit to those who want to consolidate pieces of the industry slowly at a bargain price. Whenever the powers that be are ready to take the foot off the brake pedal, the manufactured home industry will roar back to life. The value of their assets’ that were acquired at a bargain rate will then soar.
We’ve provided several opportunities for Kevin, Tim, Tom, Rick, Lesli, Dick, and others to publicly refute these contentions and concerns. We did so as recently as last week in Tunica, where they and/or their attorneys could have attempted to explain away the following. We invited them to give their version of the impact of what Berkshire Hathaway brand records and video linked below described. Click on the linked text-image box for the details and ‘smoking gun’ evidence.
The reply from the fine folks in Knoxville and Arlington was silence.
Let me confess that some of what we do is arguably unorthodox. For instance, I documented those outreaches to Kevin and his crew with bcc’s to individuals who are in the industry, to federal or other legal officials, and to MHI members and non-members. We’ve advised MHI’s outside counsel, who had previously informed us that he is assigned to monitor moi and our publications.
Put differently, they can’t deny that we’ve given them every opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings. If there is an alternative reading of these linked facts, or others like it, they remain mute. Keep in mind, until 2 years ago, they routinely replied promptly. But now, they rest instead on their 5th Amendment protected right to remain silent.
We respect that right, along with the others protected by the U. S. Constitution.
They’ve made the claim for years that MHI represents ‘all segments of factory-built housing.’ If so, they are failing. If they don’t change behavior, it implies they are either insane – or they must want this outcome of declining sales – for whatever reasons. The opportunities for HUD Code manufactured homes are amazing, but the performance doesn’t rise to the level of tepid, based on current and historic trends. In a U.S. market that did $1.6 trillion dollars in new and existing housing sales in 2018, manufactured housing couldn’t crack $8 billion? Consider the facts and pull quotes.
Meanwhile, as the industry sags, the routine of pleasant MHI and other meetings goes on. The steady drone of MHI happy talk and happy music strums on. Cui bono? Why not take Warren Buffett at his own words?
If you listen to Amazon’s Alexa Fund estimate in 2018 for the potential for prefabricated housing sales in the U.S., they estimated that at some $330 billion annually. There are several kinds of prefab housing, but manufactured homes are outselling the others. So let’s cut that Alexa Fund estimate in half, or $165 billion. That suggests the industry could be doing some 20x the sales volume it is currently achieving. Is that sufficient motive to manipulate a marketplace?
Whitney, you were a superstar. Will you warn the advocates for affordable housing that the powers that be, like with thee, are killing the pain of independents softly, with their song…? “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, analysis, and commentary.)
(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
Sign Up Today!
Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates.
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which an be accessed by clicking on them.