Friday, January 29, 2016

Modular Home Builders Ready to Take Charge in 2016

It may have been cold and snowy outside but the room where 24 modular home builders met for the first ever Modular Builder Round Table was smokin’ hot.

Bringing builders from New England, the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states to Lewisburg, PA  just days after a Nor’easter brought record snow falls shows just how important this event was to these builders.

Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the MHBA
Within minutes after finishing the usual great Country Cupboard breakfast buffet, the meeting sponsored by the MHBA and hosted by Modcoach, the builders were asked by Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the MHBA, to introduce themselves and if they had a magic wand just what would they like to see happen in our industry.

Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach, being his usual quiet self
Neither Tom nor myself had an agenda for the Round Table, using the same formula that was used when factory owners and upper management met last December. Let the ideas flow and see what the problems facing the builders are.

From the very first builder to introduce himself to the last, the biggest problem they wanted to wave a magic wand over was new home buyer’s misconceptions of what we do.

Tired of being lumped together with HUD and manufactured housing, modular construction is a true custom way to build every type of single family home from the modest ranch style home to the most luxurious home any Architect could design.

With over 4,000 true custom modular homes built in the Northeast last year, the builders in the room and the factories that build their modules were responsible for the vast majority of them. 2016 is already proving it will be a bigger year for modular home construction in the Northeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic states.

So why you ask was the room so smokin’ hot? Well, it seems that these builders are producing some of the biggest and most custom homes in America and no matter how hard they try to inform and educate the new home buyers, they are still equated with the homes found in mobile home parks and communities across the country.

Finally after almost 2 hours of heated discussion about how to get the word out to the buyers it was decided by the attendees that if the word was to get out, it had to be done by them, not the factories. Factories manufacture...Builders market and build.

A decision was made to begin a major contribution program funded entirely by modular home builders for modular home builders to begin a new modular industry marketing effort. Once the builders realized that their future was in their own hands, the meeting took a turn that few even considered possible before yesterday.

The dog would finally begin wagging its tail by contributing tens of thousands of dollars to a marketing campaign organized under the MHBA to promote modular home construction as the best choice for every new homebuyer.

No longer will the modular home industry sit back and let people’s perception of real custom modular homes be confused with the homes peddled by Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty. Manufactured housing and HUD will no longer be allowed to be mentioned in the same breath as modular housing.

By 11:00 AM the builders wanted the meeting to go on all day but alas, all good things must come to an end. But rest assured, there will be more Roundtable discussions, more Modular Boot Camps and more Builder breakfasts coming up this year, so get ready to be part of the program.

If you are a modular home builder in the Northeastern part of the country and couldn’t attend yesterday’s Round Table, fear not. You are part of the solution and it won’t be long before one of your fellow modular home builders reaches out to you for your help in putting wheels on this wagon.

Modcoach Note: If you are a modular home builder ANYWHERE in the US and haven’t joined the MHBA, you need to get started today. This is your organization!


Ken Semler said...

Coach, This was the first step to be followed by many more to get builders to finally take control of their own destiny. I believe the this group realizes that unless we all contribute to common cause we will continue to fight common misconceptions and be misunderstood and misrepresented in the home building industry.

We have a lot to be proud of and I am glad we are on the right track. I am looking forward to the next meeting and the working session to begin implementing the ideas of the group!

Tom Hardiman said...

Gary, at times it was heated but it was good to see so much passion for this industry. I believe we have the tools and resources in place to implement a national marketing effort that will benefit all modular home builders and manufacturers. My head is still swimming a bit with a lot of thoughts, but we will get these ideas on paper, get them circulated and move this forward.


Harris - Finish Werks said...

Strength in numbers. Ken said it well.

Many thanks to Norm Hall and Steve Snyder as well for their support of modular builders all over. With advice and counsel from them and other like-minded construction/service professionals, we are better prepared to flex our expertise in custom home building and take back well-deserved market share.

josh margulies said...

i would strongly suggest focus on how it is we have come to call ourselves builders before we pull a muscle flexing against any manufacturers Harris. they (factory x it matters not) are my largest vender on any big Mariner modular job. the are the largest vender on ANY modular job -- duh!

were it not them it would be their site building factor labor input scary looking scoundrels. how long and how many hacks do i gotta go buy for this fucking wood butcher!? and oh while i am there, a roll of poly to cover sticks from rain! when was the last time you had to cover a lumber package yourself? It's been a very long time for me.

if we claim modular to be as great as it is, then we damn well should give the lion's share of credit to those who produced the modules! I do not know the senior level managers, these factory owners, these Pennsylvania boys. I have bought boxes from PBS and they were right nice. I have toured, on invitation, several factories and have attended-observed several different manufacturers/builders house sets. everything I have seen looks good out there. I have also engaged several different clients in preliminary services and design build contracts that have heavily engaged the manufacturer engineering department for $500.00! absurd! i have seen stellar responce on the service and design side. And, mind, i've not had to talk to engineering people. i have been dealing with quite competent RSMs. maybe I am just lucky. Statistically that was bound to happen eventually.

I also understand how easy it is to get a high profile embarrassment such as the one referred to by Anthony and our New Jersey friends. it is unfortunate that, in the public consumer Eye no one sees the beautiful project from start to finish because it's 750 yards from the road. gotta suck up the good karma with the bad. nice looking shack Anthony! a modular home is no less hard to make look that good. it's a lot of work. i am STILL unused to how much i dont see. but having built - set - dealt - contracted and, my favorite: GC'd enough of these, i have great faith. And i am a seriously Agnostic prick!

i would recommend yet one more meeting, Gary, Tom, and because of who i recommend you meet, i suggest you pick up the breakfast tab -- u talk to RSMs with the same complete gentlemanly rules. get 24 of them, min 10 years exp. u should average 15 year. all good company men. u let them talk a bit.

benefits of association can engender heady feelings inconsistent with actual, realistic influence.

Anonymous said...

This was my first Builders Breakfast and I was blown away by the constructive and positive atmosphere - something I'm not used to seeing in human nature. Being new to the industry, pardon me for my ignorance on this question, but is there something more that other associations such as NAHB or MBIA (I realize MBIA excludes our peers outside of Maryland, but I'm speaking conceptually) do to support modular home builders? I believe that this could help in removing some of the stigma that exists towards modular homes. MHBA does a fantastic job of showcasing beautiful homes every month. If other associations did something similar, it could pit modular methods against conventional stick-built methods. Let's face it, the average home-buyer cannot tell the difference between stick-built and modular, yet many still frown upon modular.

I'd like to thank everyone, especially Gary and Tom, for this opportunity and experience. 2016 is here and I couldn't be more excited.

Anthony said...

As always great job to Tom and Gary for putting this event together. A lot of great discussion took place that with the efforts of ALL will lead our industry into the future. We can't sit on the sidelines but must be on "the field" and be interactive with the entire industry if we want to truly bring the modular industry into the future.
I really enjoyed the time spent in small group discussions over dinner and in the larger groups as well. I think maybe doing the large group discussions then breaking out into smaller group in future meetings could be of a great benefit as well.
Looking forward to being a part of one of the greatest industries working along side people that have a passion to make this industry better than ever. See you all at the next meeting. In the meantime if anyone would like to talk or bounce ideas off each other just give a call. Thanks again Tom and Gary-KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING!!!

Stevehbgpa said...

Some thoughts after having had the opportunity to sit in on the Modular Builder Round Table last week in Lewisburg, PA. First, I have to say that the partnership that has developed between Mod-Coach and the Modular Home Builders Association really serves the industry well. In an industry where historically, multiple organizations have competed to call themselves the “voice” of the modular industry, it is good to see these two entities work together for what can only be the benefit of the industry. Together, I believe you really do represent the “voice” of the modular industry. Gary Fleisher and Tom Hardiman are to be commended for the work they are doing.

It is also good to see a dialogue develop among modular builders. Historically, modular builders really did not have a forum to meet and discuss issue affecting their segment of the modular process or a voice in how the industry represented itself. That is obviously changing. As I mentioned at the meeting, I believe it would be beneficial to include modular installers in this effort as well.

Finally, I wanted to reiterate my offer to meet, in person or by telephone to discuss any legal issues or concerns you may have affecting your individual business. Very often, a little time sent before you have a legal problem can save you a lot of money should a legal problem develop down the road. Specifically, I have worked with both builders and manufacturers in reviewing their contracts, reviewing their handling of sales and use tax for the states, preparation of mechanics liens in the event one or another party does not get paid, employment issues and pretty much any business legal issue that might arise. To discuss any of these issues please feel free to give me a call:

Steven R. Snyder
635 Glenbrook Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 975-7799