Monday, June 23, 2014

A Conversation with Lynn Kuhns, President of Apex Homes

Today I’m talking with Lynn Kuhns, President of Apex Homes in Middleburg, PA.

Lynn Kuhns, President of Apex Homes
Modcoach: Lynn, how did you get started in the modular home industry?

Lynn: I have been in the modular home industry for 22 years and with Apex Homes since 1992. I started in sales and worked my way up to my current position as President of the company. During the years with Apex Homes I was a regional sales manager, VP of Sales and Marketing have been the President since 2012.

Modcoach: I hear from a lot of East Coast factory owners that Sandy has had an impact on their business. Have you seen Sandy as benefit to your company?

Lynn: Sandy has made a huge impact on our business. It was unfortunate for the people effected by Sandy, however it has allowed us and our industry to grow our business and have steady work for our employees. We have established several new relationships with builders. Combined with our long term established builders and the new clients the New Jersey market has made a huge improvement on our work flow and the rest of the industry as whole has been able to grow from the negative effects of Sandy. This is a perfect opportunity to educate the stick builders to our industry, and demonstrate what we can accomplish with shorted time frames and increased volume to the builders.

Modcoach: Is the size of today’s home different from the boom time before 2008? 

Lynn: We have noticed the home sizes increasing over the last few years. The average square footage has increase from 1800 plus over the last several years to the new average of 2197 square feet per home. We have been building many single family homes per year in the 6,000-10,000 square foot range. A few short years ago we were building a basic affordable home or the extreme high end, very few mid-range homes. Today we are building all ranges in size and style, with an increased interest in energy efficient methods of construction as well as increased amenities such as hardwood floors, ceramic tile and kitchen cabinets.

Modcoach, Let’s talk about codes for a minute. Have code regulations been hurting our industry? 

Lynn: I would have to say yes. With the increased changes to code regulations it has increased delays in getting approvals and made it difficult to maintain normal timelines for permit sets and production. The additional calculations required due to the new codes and regulations are in some cases expensive and time consuming. It also takes away from the modular advantage, by increasing the time needed to provide the documents to meet the regulations. In some areas our industry is required to provide things that are not required of the site builder, putting us at a disadvantage.

Modcoach: Lynn, I’m starting to notice Apex showing up on social media sites. Are you getting more involved with social media such as Facebook and Pinterest?

LynnYes, social media has become a huge part of our marketing and the results have been very positive.

Modcoach: I have asked every factory owner and manager this question. Why do you think that the modular home industry is still stuck at 3% of the total new home market? 

Lynn: I feel as an industry we are not working together collectively to promote or educate the site builders or the retails customers of our products and services, such as the design flexibility, specifications, shortened timelines, the overall advantages of modular etc. As an industry one manufacturer may do things a little different from the next manufacture, but in the end we are all focused on providing a quality home at an affordable price while trying to grow our market share and by working together as an industry I feel we could grow our market share. There are people within the communities where we employee hundreds of employees that think we are still mobile homes!

Another area I feel we could grow the industry market share is to focus on the site builder. Over the last several years we have been focusing a lot of attention of educating the site builder and converting them to Modular. Granted, this is not always an easy task. But we as an industry cannot continue to chase after the same modular builders that have been in the industry and switch from one manufacture to another because someone else offers a more cost effective product, better turn around, better service, or whatever the sales pitch may be. I am not saying as an industry we cannot work with existing modular builders or solicit modular builders, just approach them with respect to the current manufacturer, talking down about one manufacturer to get there business is not good for our industry. There are way more stick builders out there to be converted than we as an combined industry can supply, so let’s focus on trying to convert these builder, yes it may take a little longer to close the deal, it may require more education on our processes, but in the end will establish a lasting relationship that will allow all of us to grow and profit from the efforts.

Lynn, I have been preaching to an empty church for years about working to convert “new to modular” site builders. It’s great to hear that this is one area you have decided to concentrate your efforts on to increase sales.

It was a real pleasure speaking with you and I hope the best for you and Apex Homes.

1 comment:

Disgruntled Mod Builder said...

If there's a consistency amongst the factory leaders in these interviews, it's in their responses about our market share: we need to educate more.

The problem is few are stepping up because they don't have a marketing department or PR firm to get the word out. They also recognize that their efforts will benefit those factories that don't/won't do the same work.

There's a very easy way to put their money where their mouths are: join the MHBA.

Coach - why won't these factory owners pay such a nominal fee for an organization that can provide so much?