Where Do We Go From Here? Manufactured Housing Industry Leaders Focus On The Future

The esteemed panel for Where Do We Go From Here at the MHI Congress and Expo

The esteemed panel for Where Do We Go From Here at the MHI Congress and Expo

Wow! What an amazing turnout and schedule for the Manufactured Housing Institute National Congress and Expo this year! With over 1,000 registered attendees it was the largest attendance since 2008. Part of the draw may have been the opening session "Where Do We Go From Here" that featured a panel made up up the true leaders of our industry. Their insight and candid answers made for a very captivating hour long presentation.

Moderator Dick Ernst of Financial Marketing Associates

Moderator Dick Ernst of Financial Marketing Associates

Dick Ernst, President of Financial Marketing Associates was the moderator for this historical event and shared that in his 45 year history of our industry he doesn't recall a conversation ever happening with this caliber of participants. He promised a forward thinking, thought provoking discussion and it was!

The panel was made up of the top decision makers now and in the future of our industry - these are the people who will lead our industry moving forward:
Joe Stegmayer, Chairman & CEO Cavco Industries Inc
Keith Anderson, President and CEO, Champion Home Builders Inc
Kevin Clayton, President & CEO Clayton Homes
Don Westphal, President Donald C. Westphal Associates LLC
Todd Baker, Vice President, Home Sales, Equity Lifestyle Properties
Gary McDaniel, CEO YES! Communities

It was exciting to see and hear from some newer members of our community who brought with them a wealth of information and insight as to how other industries compete and make things happen. What a brilliant move by Equity Lifestyle Properties to hire Todd Baker - someone who has an extensive background in site built housing and has had access to what consumers want (and will buy) in their new homes. The addition of Keith Anderson of Champion Home Builders is showing that even an established company like Champion can learn a lot by going outside our industry and trying new things. The changes he has made in the last year have resulted in hits on their website and social media have increased five fold!

So where do we go from here? There were so many groundbreaking discussions and ideas in this session It could take us days to share them all, but what we would like to do is a summary here and we’ll dig deeper in later posts. MHI also had the seminar videotaped and I am hoping we will be able to share that video here.

Did you know:
In the last 7 years deliveries of homes have gone from 47,000 shipments to over 70,000 in 2015, that means an 8% annual growth.

Don Westphal shared that the developer seminar held on Tuesday had twice as many developers attending as last year and there is a keen interest in how to utilize our homes in new developments.

Kevin Clayton of Clayton Homes shared that people in the seminar represent 75% of all single family housing starts below $150,000. With the many capabilities and things we can do in a factory we should be able to dominate affordable housing.

Joe Stegmayer of Cavco Homes stated that it’s a travesty that Fannie Mae does not provide chattel financing for Americans - their whole purpose is to serve lower income Americans. The Manufactured Housing Institute now has a great platform in place where you can go to the MHI website and send a letter to your congress person supporting manufactured housing. We need to engage and encourage Washington to create a more competitive playing field for financing. We have proven that these chattel loans can perform long term. The MHI PAC is also very important, and he encouraged everyone to get on the wagon and support this necessary group. We need to be more cohesive as an industry and work with regulators to promote manufactured housing.

It was really interesting how each participant focused on a different niche of our industry but at the end of the day they were all committed to working together for the good of manufactured housing. Everyone agreed that the interiors of our homes are some of the best out there in any type of construction and moving forward there will be a renewed focus on our exteriors. More than ever we need to change the perception of our homes especially when it comes to safety and value.

Kevin Clayton stated that with Dick Jennison and the phenomenal leadership we now have at the Manufactured Housing Institute, it might be time for the association to explore a ”new class of homes that millennials would be ready for.” These could elevate and change the perception of what we do. We wouldn't turn away from the homes that have been so successful in our long history, we would just explore ways to improve the HUD code requirements that are in place now. I can’t wait to hear more about this idea in depth- we hope that some of the panels is will be willing to share more of their ideas on this with us.

Dick Ernst closed out the seminar with one last question: Why is it important to be a MHI member? That question will be the topic of an entire post, but we would like to share Joe Stegmayer’s thoughts: The opportunities are boundless. Millennials are the largest segment of population and growing very fast, the 65+ population is growing at 10,000 people a day. More 18-34 yr olds are living in their parents homes than ever before,14% versus typical 8%. Now is the time to work together, the market is there, opportunity is there, and now is when we need to work together and figure it out. And after this exceptional Conference and Expo, we have no doubt that we will.



Suzanne FelberComment