What Was Kevin Clayton of Clayton Homes Thinking?
We were thrilled to see Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Homes at the recent MHI Congress and Expo in Las Vegas. It's been awhile since we have seen him and were excited to see that he was on the Manufacturers Panel at this event. To get his thoughts about the state of our industry and what the future holds for all of us was one of the reasons we always make a point of attending this event.
It seems as though we aren't the only people excited about the future of manufactured housing - Congress was buzzing with all kinds of great news, but what really got our attention was the "pep in his step" that Kevin Clayton had. Not only was he part of opening program but we also saw him in many of the seminars, chatting with people in the hallways, and engaging with the large and small leaders of this industry. His enthusiasm was contagious, and made us think that there might be some really exciting things happening soon for our industry, and for Clayton Homes.
I think that one of the things that sets Clayton Homes apart from the rest is that it's personal - the Clayton name is on every home and retail center the company owns. Kevin grew up in our industry - he truly knows it inside and out. So what was Kevin thinking?
In the panel it was stated that the Clayton Homes is a customer focused organization and their purpose statement (I like that term!) is “opening doors to a better life one home at a time.” A fact that hasn't been shared much is that Clayton is the largest home builder - site built or manufactured - in the US. This has happened for a reason - every home that they build seems to be more innovative or have better design details than the last one - they never seem to think this one is "good enough" and are never settling - they continue to discover new ways to build a better home.
The team that they have put together is incredible, and one of the things I have noticed is how many young talents with fresh ideas they are bringing into our industry. I'm thinking this new team may finally help get the word out that manufactured housing IS green housing - we've been building green as an industry for years, we just don't market it. Kevin stated that we need to focus more on Millenials because "Millennials don’t have the past baggage - we need to brag about how incredible our production and energy efficiency is."
Financing is going to play a big part in the future of our industry and it's something that the Clayton family has always been very strong in, and as stated by the panel it's the key to providing and building factory built housing. MHI under the leadership of CEO Dick Jennison has been actively challenging HUD, FEMA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to revisit HUD code homes and the financing and restrictions that are being placed upon them.
The MHI Congress panel got a new conversation started between all of the manufacturers about the greater good for the entire industry - something that could be very exciting for all of us.
At Clayton Homes manufactured housing will always be their focus. Homes selling for $150,000 to $225,000 using any type construction are selling as fast as they can be built but the "manufactured housing" terminology is not catching on. Kevin’s thought is to work with HUD to design a new HUD code class of home. We could tweak the set up or foundation slightly, and look at ways to create better exteriors. As an industry we could then promote this hybrid to zoning officials, etc and show how this could be constructed on par with site built homes and should be able to get the same type of mortgages. A new advertising campaign geared to millennials would support this initiative.
Clayton said "with Dick Jennison as CEO and with the phenomenal leadership we now have at MHI, if the association chose to explore a new definition of some HUD code homes, we could elevate and showcase the perception of what we do. There's interest in a new class of homes that millennials would be ready for. People in this room represent 75% of all single family housing starts below $150,000 and we are 7 years into growth. MHI has a great team, is financially very sound and can now move forward and start working on the voice of the customer - what is what the customer coming at us now wants and how do we tell our story."
That sounds pretty exciting to us - no wonder Kevin seemed so excited to be at the MHI Congress and Expo this year and to share these ideas!
To learn more about what Clayton Homes is up to and to view their homes visit their website. If you are interested in learning more about the lifestyle that living in a manufactured home can offer, visit the Clayton Homes blog - it's something that we have just discovered that is filled with great information!