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Historic Faux Pas! New Series Announced Explores American Exceptionalism Through Properly Sourced Research into Affordable Manufactured Housing History – Previewing Fleetwood Homes Dennis Hill Sagas


Those pesky but insightful facts. The revealing and important ‘aha!’ nature of authentic history. There are people, organizations, and characters in the history of affordable trailer houses, mobile homes, and manufactured homes that merit an honest understanding. When that legitimate history of manufactured housing is properly understood, the outrages, failures, and faux pas of our era come into clearer focus. Restated, the case can be made that the road ahead depends upon understanding how we got here. The path to more profits and greater opportunities depends upon understanding the truth about modern manufactured housing’s potential, and the real solutions to its various woes.

As a focused framing reminder, the Masthead is an editorial blog. But almost every post on MHProNews has at the top left corner our logo with the tag line that the contents here are manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use.” © Furthermore, for years, MHProNews has carefully blended properly sourced facts with evidence and then combined it with often praised expert editorial analysis. Some who have been writing in manufactured housing elsewhere either had little or no sense of the true history of manufactured housing before the started their respective gigs. OR what ‘history’ they assert has self-serving, crude, or even weaponized errors.

That problematic pattern has been illustrated in recent remarks about the passage of Dennis Hill. The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) sent the following out on their email.

MHI Mourns Dennis Hill


Dennis Hill, producer of manufactured housing shows for more than 50 years and owner of Showways Unlimited, passed away earlier this month, according to his obituary.

Hill pioneered the concept of manufactured housing shows and was recognized for his contribution to the industry with induction into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 2004. His plaque at the Hall of Fame summarized his achievements as, “He has brought hundreds of manufacturers together with thousands of retail centers for the betterment of the housing industry and has returned over $3.5 million to the state associations that sponsor the shows.”


MHI was both right and wrong in linking the late Hill’s obituary, may God give peaceful rest to his immortal soul. How where they both right and wrong? Having worked with Hill for years, there are statements and omissions that merit attention.

Hill was absolutely NOT the pioneer of the concept of manufactured housing shows, as MHI asserts. Oddly, by saying that, MHI undermined some of their own institutional history from the industry’s glory days. More on that in a planned future article.

Before proceeding, a brief ‘stating the obvious’ admission and observation. If someone took only the bad or embarrassing things about this writer and put it into an article, whispers, or talk, it could sound bad. On the flip side, if someone only took the good parts of what this writer has done, said, or achieved and put that into an article, book, video, or talk, it could sound impressive. The truth is somewhere in between. Each soul has something done right. Each soul born into this world, with but a few exceptions, has done something wrong.

Hill was pro-manufactured housing. But he knew things about the industry that he did not want to reveal because it might be associated with him while he was alive. Hill himself said to this writer for MHProNews that he didn’t start the manufactured housing shows, such as the Louisville Show. The Louisville Show was the product of the predecessor of the Manufactured Housing Institute. MHI, in giving false history – even if it was meant to ‘honor’ Hill, was robbing Hill of the truth, and robbing themselves of their own history. Why would they do that? Some speculate it is because the staff at MHI have very little connection with the history of the industry. Some say it is laziness on the part of the staff. There are other possible motives, such as avoiding the incredible highs that used to occur in the early days of the industry when the forerunning of MHI – the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association (MHMA) – existed.

Ironically, MHI’s own (arguably flawed) history of that industry trade group disproves their claim that Hill “pioneered” manufactured housing trade shows. Hill did no such thing.

Quoting MHI’s “history” by Al Hesselbart (see Part II).

Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association (MHMA) formed in August, 1936, as the Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association, and headquartered first in Detroit and then moved to Chicago in 1938, represented the industry in the Midwest and East. Seeds of this organization were first planted at the Tin Can Tourists convention at Grand Rapids, Mich. in 1935. MHMA held its first show in August 1939, at Manistee, Mich. Twenty-eight manufacturers showed 95 models. The MHMA developed a set of standards for mechanical and material components in 1958. The national headquarters was moved to Chantilly, Va. in 1972, and to Washington D.C. in 1974. MHMA’s offices became MHI national headquarters.”

MHI’s faux pas merits the definition of the French phrase as used in English.

Per Oxford Languages, a faux pas is: “an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.”

Again, more on Hill’s passage another time, but in a way that no one else in manufactured housing today is likely to tell his story. Hill personally asked this writer to do his obituary before he died. It was MHProNews’ view that it was best to wait until others have written whatever they chose to about Hill before we weighed in on insights Hill shared. Because some of them may rock certain people and organizations in the industry.


Previewing the Fleetwood Homes Saga

There are a few people who have literally lived through all of manufactured housing history as adults. More specifically, some have been working in the industry since it was ‘reborn’ on June 15, 1976. Before that date, there were mobile homes.  Trailer houses came before there were mobile homes.


That said, per the website the following.

QuoteMarksLeftSideWith more than 1.5 million families who can call Fleetwood home, our houses are built for life.

QuoteMarksLeftSideOver 70 Years of Satisfying Homeowners

In 1950, Fleetwood was founded on an uncompromising dedication to its craftsmanship and service. Owning a Fleetwood home means years of comfortable living for our homeowners.

Fleetwood homes are built for life. Your life. Our focus is meeting the ever changing lifestyle needs of its customers. As a company, we started with building travel trailers. Then, over 70 years ago, we leveraged this expertise to pave the way for a whole new industry – residential homes built off-site, in a controlled environment. There are many terms for this type of housing but our happy homeowners and their families and friends just like to call it “home.””


Oddly, Fleetwood contradicts some of its own claim on the same page.  Again, quoting.

QuoteMarksLeftSideCome Home to Fleetwood

For decades, Fleetwood has been surprising millions of families with how much home they can afford. During this time, we have satisfied nearly 1.5 million customers by offering the quality, floor plans, and design options that you’d expect to find in a custom home. This has helped us grow to become one of the nation’s largest home builders.”

Further down the page is the following.


QuoteMarksLeftSideAbout Cavco Industries, Inc.
Cavco Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ: CVCO), of Phoenix, Arizona, and joined an even larger family of home building and finance companies.

Having earned a reputation for quality and value since it opened in 1965, Cavco shares a similar business philosophy with Fleetwood Homes. This shared philosophy and home building experience has only strengthened our ability to provide Fleetwood homebuyers with even more value, flexibility and innovation in their home selection and peace of mind.”


There is nothing in that history about what ought to be key and obvious questions and topics. Why is there no mention of John C. Crean, the ‘legendary’ founder of Fleetwood Enterprises?  Crean’s firm built both RVs (recreational vehicles) and manufactured homes, but segment of his business began in the early trailer house/mobile home era of the industry.


There was a year that Crean’s firm produced more homes than were built during the 21st century lows experienced under the watch of the modern MHI. Ouch. Do you see why authentic history can be embarrassing?

Per MHI’s ‘official’ history, the “Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association (MHMA)” “MHMA held its first show in August 1939, at Manistee, Mich. Twenty-eight manufacturers showed 95 models.” Didn’t that show in 1939 dwarf the most recent, now regional, Louisville Manufactured Housing Show? Yes. Per the Louisville Show’s website only 65 homes were on display in 2023. Once more, ouch. Do you see why authentic history coupled with current facts could prove embarrassing to the several MHI linked brands, bloggers and trade publishers, and MHI itself? Oh, yeah…

The now regional Louisville Manufactured Housing Show was once international in its attendance. The once MHI-linked Louisville Show has for some years been operated by the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation (MMHF) members. Those members are as follows.

  • Indiana Manufactured Housing Association
  • The Illinois Manufactured Housing Association
  • Kentucky Manufactured Housing Institute
  • Michigan Manufactured Housing Association
  • Ohio Manufactured Home Association

For more on those state “affiliates” of MHI, see the report linked below.

Manufactured housing was supposed to soar following the enactment of the HUD Code for manufactured housing. Manufactured homes obtaining the only national standards for residential construction was supposed to help overcome the travails that were brought on by CBS’ 60 Minutes and others who slammed the affordable mobile homes of yesteryear.  But that was not to be. Nor was the enactment of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000, with its enhanced preemption that aimed to overcome local zoning and placement barriers, achieve under MHI’s 21st century watch its intended goals.

  • John C. Crean.
  • The Fleetwood Homes story.
  • MHI.
  • Dennis Hill.
  • Production levels in the 20th century that dwarfed manufactured housing’s production in the 21st century.

There is much, much more to cover in the true history of manufactured housing. It will be part of a periodic series that will be exclusively found here on MHProNews, with possible installments on our MHLivingNews sister site too.

Those who claim to ‘write history’ in manufactured housing may at times get something correct. But there are so many omissions and/or errors – like MHI’s remarks on the late Dennis Hill, as noted above and exposed herein – that the industry’s career-minded, long-term professionals, investors, public officials, taxpayers, and others need to know about.

Why would some manipulate history? Does it matter? Warren Buffett seems to think so.

When it comes to MHI, there is often white noise that is full of blah, blah, blah. As the Sleep Foundation puts it, “people often liken white noise to the static that comes from an untuned radio or television.”

  • Speaking of MHLivingNews, why is manufactured housing underperforming in the 21st century?
  • Why did Fleetwood Enterprises produce more units solo in some of their top year than all of the manufactured housing industry produced in the 21st century’s two low point years?

For greater insights on those points and more in a brief but highly focused report with hot-linked facts, evidence, and industry expert commentary, see the revealing article below.


Stay tuned for the next installment on ‘the true history of manufactured housing.’  Watch as various sources get antsy over some of the things Dennis Hill said that he wanted to out only after he passed. Rest in peace, Dennis. We’ll take the true story telling from here.  Because MHI is apparently so sloppy that they didn’t realize what they implied when their said this in their post above: “He [Dennis Hill] has brought hundreds of manufacturers together with thousands of retail centers for the betterment of the housing industry and has returned over $3.5 million to the state associations that sponsor the shows.” In order to bring “hundreds of manufactured housing producers together with thousands of retail centers, you first had to have hundreds of manufactured home producers and thousands of manufactured home retailers. There may only be around 1000 street retailers total in the U.S. today (plus/minus), not the estimated 20,000 that existed about 2 decades ago. Opps. There goes another example of the Abe Lincoln-Frank Rolfe effect again at MHI. With such a short obit, you’d think they could keep their story straight? Sad. ##




PS: as the information routinely posted on hundreds of reports on MHProNews further below reflects in more detail, MHProNews co-founder, primary (not sole) author, and industry expert L. A. “Tony” Kovach earned several awards in history during his academic career years. The combination of historic insights, decades of manufactured housing experience beyond publishing are part of the ‘magic formula’ that has long made MHProNews the runaway #1 source for trustworthy information about manufactured housing. Even though MHProNews doesn’t kiss the often ample and unattractive derrieres of so-called MHVille ‘leaders,’ we have long been, and remain the top source for manufactured housing industry news, tips, and views, pros can use. Who says? Ironically it has often been our current critics and rivals. But others cheer while some quietly jeer. Of course. The facts are disturbing to those who are trying to consolidate the industry.



These may be among the reasons that several of MHI’s leading corporate leaders, top staff, and even their attorneys are afraid to engage.



Off the record remark by a well-placed and MHI linked industry leader. Another similar remark from a different MHI leader recently said, “We agree with you…” Not everyone or every organization involved with MHI is a black hat corrupt firm or individual.

Samuel Strommen said: “The aim of this paper is thus: to expose a number of antitrust violations—both blatant and subtle—in the form of the increasing monopolization of the manufacturing, financing, and the increasingly consolidating landlords, and to call for reforms within this industry.”

Agree or disagree with James “Jim” Clyburn’s politics (SC-D), the accuracy and wisdom of these remarks should be recalled by tens of millions who want to understand the problems in our industry, in the U.S.A., and beyond.

Not long after what is now called MHProNews originally launched approaching 14 years ago, this platform encouraged readers to invest ten to fifteen minutes a day in reading. Fast forward to 2023, and there is evidence that thousands of readers may be spending 30 minutes to an hour or more reading reports and analysis on MHProNews daily. To be able to compete successfully with Buffett and those who follow his moat and other tactics, it is just common sense that the more you know, the better you understand and the more likely you can establish plans that can successfully navigate the threats that are apparently posed by Buffett, his brands, and their allies.
In journalism the editorial column or blog may be called “the Masthead.” On a tall sailing ship, the top perch used by lookouts is called the Masthead. Thus, on the fact and evidence packed with expert analysis Masthead blog on MHProNews we can boldly says, “You can see farther from the Masthead.”
To report a news tip – either ON or OFF the record – click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP or COMMENTS in the subject line.

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Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in your face reporting that are not found anywhere else in MHVille. It is all here, which may explain why this is the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

Our son has grown quite a bit since this photo above was taken. All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested with the discussion of manufactured housing related issues on our trip and 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s (D) office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. As political independents, MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for

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

This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.

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Related References:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.

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