“Rollohome was started by Elmer Frey in his family barn as a one-time trailer sale. Soon he and his brothers Roland, Harold and Norman and his brother-in-law John Bertschie, began large scale operations in the sale and production of mobile homes. By 1950, Rollohome, was the city’s fastest growing business and within two years had sold more than 60,000 units,” according to Vintage Views in the Marshfield, WI News Herald.
Many industry veterans still think about Elmer Frey, and what their team accomplished in such a short period of time.
The relevance today? If building and selling 60,000 homes could be achieved in 1950, why can’t that be done with manufactured homes in 2018 and beyond?
“The Freys pushed the lengths to over 40 feet and several state laws pertaining to trailer length and width were changed. They also donated one trailer to the State Historical Society as a traveling museum,” per the News Herald.
“Marshfield originally sported three mobile home manufacturing plants: Rollohome, Marshfield Homes, and Wisconsin Homes. Wisconsin Homes was a spin-off of Rollohome and was directly controlled by those in control of Rollohome. Wisconsin Homes and Marshfield Homes both had rail spurs and received rail service. Marshfield Homes,” according to wld-nmra.com.
“The original plant was located between East Ives and East Upham streets to the north and south and between North Central and North Peach avenues to the east and west. Today this area is occupied by the Marshfield Mall, Central City Credit Union, McDonald’s and the Comfort Inn,” said Vintage Views.
It hasn’t been so long ago that John Wick addressed the Wisconsin Housing Alliance (WHA), raising his concerns for the future of the industry.
“John Wick of Wick Building Systems was sold a controlling interest and increased production and added manufactured homes. The names Marshfield Homes, Artcraft Homes and Rollohome all were part of the company at times,” the News Herald report concluded.
Once more, the purpose of these MHProNews Flashback reports is precisely to inspire the industry’s professionals, including the younger ones who otherwise have little-to-no connection to these past glory days for the industry.
The periodic MHProNews flashback series is more than mere nostalgia.
What was accomplished 68 years ago, can absolutely be accomplished today. We have more tech, more capital, arguably more of everything. So all it requires is the vision, commitment, “time, talent, and treasure” needed to make the possible reality.
“Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals” © is how the U.S.’ 8.3 million unit shortages of affordable housing could be addressed by manufactured home professionals, and investors, starting today. ## (News, analysis, and expert commentary.)
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