“I’m tired of being the best kept secret. I’m ready to help house America.” – Terry Decio, Skyline Homes, to MHProNews.
The Rest of the Story, 1…
Several of the brands that the industry knows today are not the same brand as they were a decade or more ago.
Palm Harbor. Fleetwood. Champion. The prior versions all went into bankruptcy, and later were reborn under a different structure.
But they are far from alone.
Literally thousands of manufactured home operations, including, but not limited to:
- Retailers (dealers),
- Land lease Communities (a.k.a manufactured home communities, “parks”)
- Producers (builders of federally regulated HUD Code manufactured homes, some build modular, park model, or other products too),
- Lenders/Financial Services, and
- a variety of other products, service, and component providers
have either gone out of business, or sold out to a larger/deeper pockets operation.
Business Cycle, or…
Businesses start and fail every year. That happens for a range of reasons.
The question in manufactured housing ought to be this. Did numbers of the wave of thousands of failures/consolidations get an unethical/illegal shove to help them exit?
If so, how was that done?
The Rest of the Story, 2…
MHI’s SVP and General Counsel Rick Robinson publicly, and MHI in writing, have referred to our manufactured housing trade publications as news sources.
Trade media, as with all of the mainstream press, can include News, Analysis, and Commentary. On this Masthead, publisher’s blog, you find all three.
Claims, controversies, and allegations ought to be tested by reason and known facts.
We don’t publish capriciously, knowing that an error could be embarrassing. Still, readers should question, us and those we publish about.
Ask questions. Seek the truth. Such issues impact your business and bottom line.
We’re not a court of law, but fully expect to be called to testify under oath to a variety of matters that impact the manufactured home industry.
While courts won’t compel testimony about confidential, protected sources, they can ask about the reports themselves. The day is coming, we believe, when that takes place.
There will no doubt be lists.
Who did what? Who supported, or opposed, what? Why?
Where laws broken?
Were steps taken that create legal exposure or liability:
- for the national association (MHI),
- its members,
- or those who control it?
What Happened to Manufactured Housing?
While there are a range of factors, we believe in what’s obvious. What facts and common-sense reveal. There’s no need for a complex conspiracy theory.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway took over Clayton Homes, Oakwood Homes, related lending, retail, and later other production, service, supplier businesses too.
Mr. Buffett’s a self-proclaimed, long-term thinker, and he likes “moats.” Just consider what Buffett said, in his own words, and line that up with what’s happened in manufactured housing.
The executive committee and dues structures of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) make it clear that Berkshire Hathaway owned units exercise great influence at MHI. That control is widely known, in and out of our industry. It’s just that few in manufactured housing (MH) dare say plainly and publicly that MHI is Berkshire Hathaway’s mouthpiece.
MHI, on issue after issue, has led the industry into dead ends, or avoidable, and even problematic places.
- Their former chairman, Nathan Smith, in a video that’s been hiding in plain sight. He voluntarily said that MHI had failed in the past at being pro-active. The beginning and end of this video that follows are perhaps the key takeaways from 2:16 seconds.
- Their former Government Relations Vice President (Later SVP), in an on-the-record statement he sent to MHProNews.
- Their former president, before exiting, in a written statement that may be more interesting today then the day it was first published in the Journal.
Then, there’s a range of comments by MHI members, researchers, attorneys, and others. Those statements, published on or off our sites, speak for themselves.
MHProNews has learned from an informed source that MHI has executed non-disclosure agreements (NDA), allegedly with several MHI staffers.
What is MHI hiding?
Who are they hiding that information from?
MH Industry at large?
Are they trying to hide something that is scandal related, and/or something else?
Keep in mind, that MHI refused to release to this publication even items that sources tell us they are legally obligated to do so. Items like their current and previous bylaws.
Why hide that, someone might ask?
With their bylaws in hand, one might be able to understand revealing issues. For example, have their been prohibited conflicts of interest – that may have harmed other MHI members, and/or the industry at large?
Millions have been spent and years wasted pursuing the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act.
In hindsight, isn’t it obvious that it would never pass while Barack Obama was president? Didn’t MHI’s own VP said as much, years in advance? Again, see the link to MHI GR VP, Jason Boehlert, above.
We have documents from 21st Mortgage, signed by Tim Williams. Mr. Williams was MHI’s chairman for years.
No one has claimed these 21st documents aren’t authentic.
In fact, we have dozens within Berkshire Hathaway owned units – including their top people – who we are reliably told have carefully reviewed those report, and the others in our periodic series of reports on MHI and Berkshire Hathaway.
- their executive committee,
- and top people at Berkshire Hathaway owned brands the
- chance to rebut, clarify, or refute our reports and analysis. We’ve invited them to share statements on these issues that we’d publish.
After years of MHI publishing or commenting with us, about a year ago, they largely stopped even answering questions. Why? Is it because their own words have so often pointed a finger against their own actions?
Don’t be surprised if they publicly push back in 2018.
At some point, don’t they have to, to keep their consolidations going?
MHI et al have already pushed back privately to our allegations and reports, in a variety of ways that we have documented for the appropriate time.
What Happened, Part Three
We rely on industry inputs and insights. So, we don’t write or do videos out of thin air. We’re followed by businesses and professionals across the size and political spectrums, in part because we’ve got the “street cred,” as one executive put it.
MHI has significant influence over state associations.
So, MHI “housing alerts” or “MHI News” they send to their own members are also arguably “weaponized” to reflect whatever the insider groups want, and reach well beyond their own membership.
As an MHI connected source told us last year the following bombshell. The big companies have figured out how to get what they want, by using MHI – and the smaller companies are helping pay for what the big firms desire.
We’ve observed that previously, ‘Feeding the hand that bites yours,’ but to hear it as an admission from an insider, that’s telling.
There are two prime sources of in manufactured housing that have proven willing to push back publicly on MHI and their methods.
- MHARR, and
- LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC (MHProNews.com/MHLivingNews.com) trade media.
MHARR and we are independent of one another. That’s healthy and good. We’ve at times taken editorial positions that were contrary to MHARR’s view.
Frankly, at times, we later discovered that MHARR was correct.
There’s an affordable housing crisis that is raging, and growing.
It has often tragic, real world, consequences.
Manufactured housing has enhanced preemption, under federal law.
That enhanced preemption could allow manufactured home retailers to ease the affordable home crisis for potentially millions of Americans, without taxpayer dollars being needed.
Yet, MHI has often failed to push HUD on a variety of issues. MHI’s been forced to pivot on a range of issues.
You can fool some of the people some of the time
Warren Buffett said it in his own words. Mr. Buffett doesn’t expect people to learn the lessons of history. He expects to build his moat.
He even publicly supported the candidates that gave the industry the very thing that Tim Williams, then MHI chairman, said they were working to undo.
Isn’t the truth hiding in plain sight?
Frank Rolfe is like the rest of humanity, right on some things, wrong on others. One can safely bet that he’s 100 percent in favor of whatever he believes his and his partners interests to be.
Rolfe criticized several MHI initiatives and what he said where their failures to act. Recently, Rolfe want silent. Isn’t 21st Mortgage – owned by Berkshire Hathaway – one of the companies that advertise on his website. Coincidence?
If every person we’ve accurately quoted suddenly changed their tune, one would have to ask the questions a journalist does, starting with, Why?
There will be lists.
People will follow the money, and analyze it – within and outside of MH.
MHProNews and others are and will be taking names, and organizations.
With the Trump Administration signaling anti-trust (anti-monopoly) actions in the future, and with Democrats also pushing the anti-monopoly theme, will it be a surprise if hearings are held about manufactured housing?
Warren Buffett, per third parties, has a big concern once he passes; the break up of his empire.
“You’re one of the best things we have going [in manufactured housing.]” – Terry Decio, to MHProNews/MHLivingNews.
There are those who realize that we’ve worked for years to get the truth out about the glories of manufactured housing, which includes the realities that there are millions of happy home owners.
But those positive efforts have occurred while MHI has either sat on its hands – or arguably worse – tried to undermine the very pro-industry growth steps we’ve spotlighted?
Some love the meetings, and the MHI comradery at MHI meetings. I enjoy those social and networking things too, so I get it. But to some, they can’t get passed the fact that they like certain people, and they therefor can’t imagine someone with ill intent taking advantage of them.
To those, let me suggest the lesson of detective character, Sherlock Holmes, that may help make sense of how the apparent outrages alleged are possible.
Give us a logical, alternative explanation. Do it on-the-record, please. Let’s debate MHI effectiveness and their behaviors in recent years, on the record via video for all to see, please.
Did BH use MHI – past and present – and the power or regulatory burdens throttle an industry that was poised for serious growth?
Didn’t MHI have the ability to end some of that burden by negotiation, and fail to take that option? Why?
How could Harvard have missed their projection for manufactured housing domination?
Are stressed, busy MH Professionals missing the truth hiding in plain sight of how MHI shifted since Berkshire Hathaway took control of their organization?
Could that shift have been through a Buffett-style moat-plan?
Alan Amy isn’t alone in this observation stated in this focused video.
The day will come when the constraints on manufactured housing could be lifted. When enhanced preemption will be enforced. When that day comes, what will be left among the manufactured housing independents that existed a decade ago?
Did they get an unethical, liable, or illegal push?
“We Provide, You Decide.” ©
Keep in mind, while there are several sources for information, there are to my knowledge only – broadly speaking, two – which have been willing to seriously take on BH and MHI.
MHARR and ourselves.
MHI took themselves out of the picture of routinely communicating with us, about a year ago, after an initial series of exposes and analysis we published on them. Coincidence?
Why is it that state associations, or MHARR, are often more successful than MHI?
Associations are supposed to be a tool for businesses to work together to impact regulatory and other issues.
What would do you do when you discover that your national association has been working the interests of the majority of the industry’s independents?
Do you keep feeding the hand that bites yours?
In my days as a manufactured home retailer, we used to advertise on a station as the sponsor of famous Paul Harvey’s, “The Rest of the Story.”
You don’t know all of it, but do you have more than enough linked above to reveal the truth that is hiding in plain sight?
2018 will be a year to watch.
Expect some more revelations, that you may only find published here on MHProNews. ## (News in review, commentary, analysis).
Related Topical Update:
New Year’s Resolution: On this 9th day of Christmas, a request. This writer already has one of the largest LinkedIn followings in the manufactured home industry. But we’ve frankly not asked for Twitter, or Facebook followers. That changes, starting today. If you want to keep up with posts relevant to the industry, you can connect via the links below.
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Kovach is the award-winning managing-member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC,
parent to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
Both are #1 in their categories.
Kovach is one of the most endorsed and recommended MH industry professionals in all of manufactured housing.