Each aspect of the headline will be unpacked, but not necessarily in the heading’s sequence, starting with this one. “As part of MHI’s ongoing efforts to elevate the profile of manufactured housing as a solution to the country’s affordable housing shortage, MHI CEO Dr. Lesli Gooch will…” fill in the blank. That quotation is from a March 15, 2023 email from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) to their members and followers. Vocabulary says “To elevate is to lift up, either literally or figuratively.” The Cambridge University Press says a profile is: “a short description of someone or something that gives important and useful details about them.” What MHI doesn’t say in that or other “efforts” to “raise the profile” of the industry is that when panel discussions or events involve trips, it is often akin to a paid vacation where the present(er) and moderator have only a modest commitment of time. When a manufactured housing industry association is paying for that travel, it means that dues paying association members are footing the bill for an array of activities that when examined may not be advancing the industry in a measurable way for the largest possible number of individuals and companies. What is a measurable method that stands out as a metric that is difficult to dispute? That would be how many HUD Code manufactured homes are being produced in the U.S. and shipped monthly. Other measures may be little more than photo or video opportunities which can offer vague or obscured emotion-based “lift” of the industry’s “profile.” But manufactured home production is routinely a reliable reflection of how many manufactured homes are being ordered by retailers, communities, and developers. Most of those homes are produced with a known destination, so, very few are ‘destination pending.’ That means that those orders reflect ‘sale(s)’ at retail (as in special order(s) that are pre-sold) or are wholesale orders for some seller’s inventory that will at some point be sold to a consumer for use, normally as a primary, but sometimes as secondary (i.e.: vacation or getaway) residence.
Production of new manufactured homes is perhaps the most reliable metric that is the most reliable one at this point in time. The metric of manufactured home production is what the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has used for years and is publicly shared on its website where anyone can see those facts and trends. But for MHI at this time, production data is hidden behind a paywall for “members only.”
It is a difficult to dispute fact that a steady stream of literally thousands of manufactured housing (MH) industry professionals have been heading to the exit for over a dozen years. That is an apparently underemphasized part of the trend as “private equity” has bought up the MH businesses of all types: production, retailers, suppliers and of course land lease manufactured home communities, which are often inaccurately called “mobile home parks.”
Ironically, good federal laws already exist that if they were properly implemented could be used to unlock robust growth for manufactured home companies of all sizes. How is that possible? At least on paper, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) have made similar remarks in their own words that broadly support that contention. That said, the fact that large corporate players, often involved at MHI, are directly or obliquely keeping those laws from being fully and properly implemented should not be thought to mean that those good federal laws will never be used. Once the industry is ‘sufficiently’ consolidated, those laws – explored in linked reports herein, could be dusted off and applied in relatively prompt fashion.
What that snapshot helps frame is the battle underway for the control, timing, and manner of manufactured housing’s potential revival.
Some have at times said that the industry will never recover to its prior levels. Without a dependable crystal ball, one can at best consider a mix of experts’ experiences, historic evidence, and apply common sense to have a reasonably educated guess as to what will happen when. But beyond logical dispute is the fact that manufacutred housing has so badly underperformed in the 21st century that the historic percentages and annual home sales have been depressed for over two decades as a result. Here is how influential MHI member Cavco recently framed that in the screen captures below.
Select Cavco Industries IR 2023 Presentation Slides
Notice: the graphic below can be expanded to a larger size.
See the instructions below the graphic below or click the image and follow the prompts.
While the above from Cavco is broadly ‘accurate’ as far as it goes, by ignoring the years prior production to those shown by Cavco’s IR pitch the sobering nature of the manufactured housing industry’s 21st century decline begins to come into focus.
The illustrations above and below are more thoroughly examined in the following linked report which includes more information from Cavco, MHI, and other sources.
Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Claims Contradicted by Cavco Industries IR Statements, ‘Shortage of Affordable Housing Costs Economy $2Trillion Annually;’ plus MHVille Markets Update
Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Claims Contradicted by Cavco Industries IR Statements, ‘Shortage of Affordable Housing Costs Economy $2Trillion Annually;’ plus MHVille Markets Update, William Bill Boor, Eleanor Griffiths, manufactured housing production, manufactured home communities, Real Estate Investment Trusts, MHC REITs, dealers, retail, suppliers, finance, finance,
It is in that milieu that remarks from once more influential blogger and ‘MHI member emeritus,’ George F. Allen. Allen recently took a thinly veiled hit piece that mixed praise of “brilliance” yet smeared some, including this writer and platform. Several of those claims, pro and con, will be examined.
But per a source that claims knowledge, Allen’s slurs purportedly were done on behalf of MHI CEO Lesli Gooch. While there may be some evidence for that thought, be that allegation as it may, the remarks by Allen are worthy of examination for reasons that will become clear.
Part I of this fact check, analysis and expert editorial commentary will be the entire set of Allen’s remarks from his self-described “Community-Investor” and “EducateMHC” post of 4.28.2023. Those claims by Allen’s seem to slam MHI leaders. But that slam by Allen is by way of paraphrasing and praising as “brilliant” points made by this publication and Masthead writer. Allen recently praised Lesli Gooch by name, while oddly slamming MHI’s corporate leaders. Doesn’t Allen know that MHI staff – including CEO Gooch – does what the MHI board of directors and its executive committee authorizes?
Part II of this report and expert editorial commentary will include several remarks, on and off the record, about Allen, MHI, Gooch, and the mix of allegations – given by Allen in a sly way that seem to aim to slur this platform offered by MHI ‘member emeritus’ Allen without evidence. The interesting and the odd will be reviewed and sorted for whatever value may be found.
Part I – Per G.F. Allen, “Brilliance or Bull____?”
There’s an erstwhile (i.e. former) manufactured housing employee who, for more than a decade now, has been – IMHO – writing roughshod as a ‘wannabe’ business muckraker, targeting national MH trade advocacy groups and industry corporate executives.
Consequence? Within the manufactured housing industry at large, the hypercritic is no longer welcome to attend regional trade shows or meetings of certain national and state-based advocacy groups. And several pundits (‘learned men’), trade journalists, and industry observers/commentators, contacted by this scolder from time to time requesting input, do not respond – for good reason: ‘Why set oneself up for possible future ridicule or criticism?’
So, recalling the famous W.C. Fields’ quote: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit”, the previous two paragraphs relate to the ‘bull___’ nature of this faux journalist’s musings. But hark (‘listen’), that’s NOT the focus of this week’s blog posting. Rather, based on a recent communique and other manufactured housing-related news and op/eds, it appears this individual is onto something worth pursuing, in a word, maybe even brilliant.
Specifically, ‘Why, in the face of declining production (of new HUD-Code homes), are we not hearing from the Big 3-C manufacturers (i.e. Clayton, Cavco, Skyline/Champion) as to what they’re doing to increase interest in, and sales of, their product lines? Are they, as has been stated ‘before & now’ simply satisfied with contemporary status quo? Seems like it, to this veteran industry observer. I’ve even addressed the sorry matter in previous blog postings. Now others are coming out in word and print with similar messages/questions. It’s been posited recently that we (i.e. manufactured housing) is ‘not a fighting industry’, albeit content with letting regulators, housing competitors, and naysayers push us around verbally and legislatively. Is this true? I deign that it is! Case(s) in point: For the second and third time in recent MH industry history, preliminary group plans to popularize manufactured housing in local housing markets coast-to-coast were stifled by bureaucrats before said program got off the ground!
Returning to the W.C. Fields quip (‘witty remark’): ‘Hey manufactured housing, if you can’t dazzle us with your brilliance (at marketing and sales); stop baffling us with your bull___ – of being badgered and beleaguered. Rise up and fight for change’! Fight for market share! Go national with housing brand advertising; reintroduce would be homebuyers and existing homeowners/site lessees to today’s affordable, energy efficient, durable, manufactured homes – and the land lease community lifestyle!”
Part II – Additional Information with More MHProNews Analysis and Expert Commentary
George F. Allen is “chickensh-t” said an insider with long ties to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) for not coming out and ‘naming names’ in his opening paragraph, quoted above. That subjective stance about Allen’s remarks are debatable. But more readily disputable is the arguably skewed and agenda-driven summation by Allen of the thesis that MHProNews and Masthead writer L. A. “Tony” Kovach and others we’ve cited in broad support of the causes and possible solutions to the industry’s underperformance.
That said, some quick bullet points about Allen’s (Part I) statements will illustrate how self-contradictory they are when they are objectively considered by a person with knowledge of the manufactured housing industry and its inner workings.
- 1) “based on a recent communique and other manufactured housing-related news and op/eds, it appears this individual is onto something worth pursuing, in a word, maybe even brilliant.” – George F. Allen.
- 2) That quoted remark indicates that Allen has been reading extensively on MHProNews. Per sources within his circle, Allen has been a reader of our platforms for years. The significance of that will become clear.
- 3) If it was “brilliant” and when Allen himself said that his initial arguable slurs by him are: “NOT the focus of this week’s blog posting,” that begs the question, why bother with the slurs in the first place? How did it serve his, or MHI CEO Gooch’s, agenda? Hold those thoughts. Note too that Allen doesn’t quote what specifically is brilliant, which he may not completely grasp, based on what he wrote. Our position on education and image building is nuanced. As a remark by and industry insider in the MHEC orbit said,
- 4) Allen makes certainly claims about what he called “bull—-” without any linked or source-cited evidence. Before proceeding, his use of the W.C. Fields quotation is apparently inappropriate. Fields is saying when someone lacks facts or good evidence, that is when someone may use BS to mystify or confuse the readers. As today’s Sunday Weekly Headline Recap goes into more detail, Allen is obviously the one doing what he accuses his target of – but how does the same source (i.e.: MHProNews/this Masthead writer) generate both BS and Brilliance at the same time? It is self-contradictory claims.
‘Deception and Misdirection’-MHI Proxy Response to Concerns About “Awards” to BBB D- rated Flagship Communities – ‘Facts are Stubborn Things’ Commentary; plus Sunday Weekly MHVille Headline Recap
A well-known and longtime Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member company has become the focus of a new controversy related to that trade group giving them three “awards” during their recent Congress and Expo (C&E) revenue generating and networking event for 2023. Flagship Communities, formerly known as SSK Communities, along with …
- 5) But to refine that point 4 with evidence, the following. Allen said: “erstwhile (i.e. former) manufactured housing employee” when he fails to say is that during the years in the 2000s and 2010s that this writer was working for others, either as an employee or as a contractor, the work product produced was routinely praised, including by Allen himself. For those who care about the facts, former employers provided glowing testimonials on their respective letterheads (available on request). They stated the facts of the before and after results produced by the consulting side of our firm’s proven marketing, sales, and management systems. Publicly, some of those same sources and others have provided literally hundreds of endorsements and testimonials via LinkedIn, email, video recorded remarks, and in other formats. Both as an employee and as a contracted independent service provider our firm, and/or this writer’s work, earned awards and scores of public recognitions. While a few were requested, the vast majority of those ‘kudos’ were given freely and without a request. That’s relevant, because if Allen wants to claim that some of what we produced is “bullsh-t” then how does he reconcile pages of endorsements and praise with what Allen himself said on 4.28.2023 is “brilliant” reporting and analysis?
- 5a) Put simply, Allen can’t have it both ways.
- 5b) Allen wrote: “for more than a decade now…” That’s not accurate either. For years, this writer and our organization was an MHI member. We paid dues, as did others. MHI and several of their members and surrogates praised our work for years before they started to shun and duck accountability.
- 5b (continued). For years, MHProNews and this writer provided information from MHI directly, and some of that information MHI paid us to provide to the industry. Some key MHI members were sponsors of MHProNews. This writer was elected by our peers at the time at MHI to be an MHI suppliers’ division board member. Even when we were doing work for MHI, we also provided information from MHARR. MHI, MHARR, and state association news and views were among those provided to the industry with some commentary, but frankly not as much as in more recent years.
- 5c) The above understood, there were times that MHProNews editorially supported MHI, and other times when MHProNews editorially supported MHARR.
- 5d) It wasn’t until a rather prominent official for a multi-year MHI and MHI affiliated state association member that tipped MHProNews about evidence of MHI demonstrably misleading their own members that MHProNews began to slowly pivot from editorial support for MHI’s behavior. We had to carefully frame the distinction between MHI’s words and MHI’s deeds. We frankly found Marty Lavin, J.D., and some of his provided remarks to be useful in that regard. Lavin’s remarks below proved to be quite insightful.
- 5e) But it wasn’t just Lavin, or just MHARR, that was slamming MHI. It was also at times Allen himself, and several MHI members, some of which broke from MHI.
- 6) So, it was about 8 years ago, not over 10, that MHProNews began to press issues with MHI. Nor did MHI immediately begin to stop responding to inquiries because we are supposedly “Consequence? Within the manufactured housing industry at large, the hypercritic is no longer welcome to attend regional trade shows or meetings of certain national and state-based advocacy groups.” MHProNews – on this Masthead editorial blog – debunked that notion some time ago. The industry’s leaders were apparently afraid to be asked questions, politely and professionally, in public. Evidence for that is found linked below.
4 Quick, Documented Examples of Manufactured Housing Institute Leaders Publicly Ducking Out on Explaining Their Performance – or Lack Thereof – ELS’ Howard Walker
- 7) So, Allen - perhaps hoping to avoid liability - resorts to implications and slurs which when examined routinely fail to hold up to those stubborn facts.
- 8) Despite whatever mix of remuneration, emotional, psychological, or other motivation(s) by Allen and his backer(s), it is apparent that there is growing ‘heat’ on manufactured housing industry leaders at the corporate and association levels. That heat is coming in part from the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). But more heat is coming from this industry-leading MHProNews platform and our MHLivingNews sister site.
- 9) Note that Allen doesn’t deny that MHProNews is the runaway #1 most read industry trade publication. Note he doesn’t deny the accuracy of facts and third-party evidence routinely used in MHProNews/MHLivingNews reports that preceded the analysis and commentary. Restated, this might be a case study in paltering, posturing, the big slur, and projecting onto others what the accuser is doing (or wishes to do) himself. Nor does Allen offer a single example of a factual claim, a piece of evidence, nor any logical fallacy that he could point to - not one. So, what exactly merited his use of the term BS? That may be why someone referred to Allen's missive as "chickensh-t" because he apparently didn't have the guts or intellectual honesty to name names and give any specific examples. Allen seemed to be using psyops or gaslighting tactics akin to those used the Saul Alinksy tactics of slurs instead. He is arguably not alone in such gaslighting, as reports like the one linked here and here arguably documented. Allen is apparently too lazy to link, perhaps lacks the tech skills, or otherwise fails to document his evidence-free allegations.
- 10) So, for a variety of possible reasons, Allen demonstrably slurred without evidence or logic. That said, the balance of his remarks are also of interest. Here is why.
- 11) As a remark that came in from an insider with MHI ties said (paraphrasing): 'George Allen is mistaken when he says that the industry needs an image campaign. For example, so long as zoning and finance issues are unresolved, promoting manufactured home sales without resolving those issues would be like the automotive industry promoting car sales when most of the roads are closed.'
- 12) Another remark to MHProNews in reaction to Allen's missive was this. "I respect a fighter." That source went on to say that MHProNews, and this publication, were willing to name names, and openly fight for the industry's potential. Indeed, a segment of the MHProNews audience are independents who respect MHProNews/MHLivingNews efforts to expose the corruption that is arguably holding the manufactured housing industry at a low ebb for most of the 21st century.
- 13) In a prior blog post, Allen attempts to pat MHI's Gooch on the back by name, as well as MHARR's concerns about the industry's shocking slide, again by name. But when Allen said (quoted above) that: "It’s been posited recently that we (i.e. manufactured housing) is ‘not a fighting industry’, albeit content with letting regulators, housing competitors, and naysayers push us around verbally and legislatively. Is this true? I deign that it is! Case(s) in point: For the second and third time in recent MH industry history, preliminary group plans to popularize manufactured housing in local housing markets coast-to-coast were stifled by bureaucrats before said program got off the ground!" Allen's remarks arguably and logically taint Gooch as much as MHI's board leaders.
Increasingly Concerning Manufactured Housing Production Decline Continues in February 2023 - Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
HUD Code manufactured housing industry year-over-year production declined sharply. 6,577 homes in February 2023, a 29.1% decrease...
- 14) Why did Allen do all of this odd dancing and prancing around? Why did a cast slurs at unnamed individuals? And perhaps more important, given that MHProNews has made such reports for years, why did he pick his timing to raise these issues? Meaning, why of 4.28.2023? It helps to understand his history, which has obviously been marred by troubling controversies.
- 15) While it can't be proven, the timing of his comments may be aimed in part as a distraction and misdirection from the shocking move by MHI to give three (3) awards to prominent MHI member Flagship Communities. The Flagship episode is just the most recent example of just how self-contradictory MHI's behavior is.
Summary and Conclusion
Allen has declined several times to authentically debate in a public fashion MHI's antics. He can hardly be called a consistent MHI critic. Indeed, the evidence suggests that he is trying to give MHI cover, why? Because Allen is reportedly rewarded in quid pro quo fashion for facilitating the very consolidation that he himself has at times decried. Put differently, Allen fits the definition of the word hypocrite.
That said, in fairness, the fact that Allen has been allowed, encouraged, or otherwise tactically or actively encouraged to distract from the evidence of the factors that contribute to the industry's underperformance reflects the growing heat MHI and their leadership may feel.
Manufactured housing may not exist as it does today if not for the decades of consistent efforts by MHARR on behalf of industry independents. Allen periodically skewers Danny Ghorbani, who has pointedly called out MHI.
Allen is an occasional blogger, while MHProNews is a business daily publication. As noted, it is not necessarily worth our time to respond to most of what he publishes. They are routinely understandable through the lens of what a former client of his called the AAA prism. Per that source, with 'George [Allen], it is AAA. All About Allen.' That lens has proven useful in understanding the man's odd blog postings. They open and close with plugs of and form himself. They are routinely laced with plugs of himself. What Allen calls "history" is routinely the history of the industry as told by self-serving Allen. It would be more comical than serious, save for the fact that real people have been arguably harmed by this MHI-linked professional who de facto facilitates the exits of industry pros from the industry and has for years. That said, Allen's meanderings periodically hit a note which underscores the industry's woes. If MHI and their leadership were doing their jobs, the industry could be soaring. The fact that manufactured housing has been sliding must be laid at the feet of MHI's leadership, given that the organization has claimed for years to represent "all segments" of the manufactured housing industry." See an upcoming special report with new insights for more, and see the linked and related reports until then to grasp the truth about why MHVille is underperforming during an affordable housing crisis. It is a tragedy of self-serving cronyism run amuck. ##
'Deception and Misdirection'-MHI Proxy Response to Concerns About "Awards" to BBB D- rated Flagship Communities - 'Facts are Stubborn Things' Commentary; plus Sunday Weekly MHVille Headline Recap
A well-known and longtime Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member company has become the focus of a new controversy related to that trade group giving them three "awards" during their recent Congress and Expo (C&E) revenue generating and networking event for 2023. Flagship Communities, formerly known as SSK Communities, along with ...
Since Loss of Stinebert at Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) 'Empowered F-cking Greedy, Selfish Leaders of Companies to Make MHI a Tool for Themselves'-plus MHVille Markets Update
According to a well-placed source from the ranks of state associations and Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) leadership, the loss of Chris Stinebert marked a new era for MHI and the industry's trade post-production and umbrella trade associations. In a telephone call to MHProNews that source said, "MHI has made inroads.
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.)
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.
This article reflects the LLC's and/or the writer's position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.
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