Thursday, May 9, 2019

Is Modular Home Construction Still in its Teething Stage?

In a recent interview with Andrew Barden I asked if his company was considering entering the modular home business. After I published it I took a second glance at his opinion of our industry.

Andrew Barden: “I'm fascinated by modular. I think that modular is still in its teething phase, there's unbelievable untapped potential.”

This had me wondering why someone in the panelized construction business would view the 100+ year old modular industry as a child with teeth about to sprout and then it occurred to me that he was observing our industry from outside the forest while I was observing it from inside.

By moving outside our industry forest and looking at it with a new prospective I think I see some problems more clearly.

Here is the first of my observations of our industry:

No Effective Residential Modular Building Associations.

Our industry has two main associations, the Modular Home Builders Association and NAHB’s Building System Council. Both are run by very good people that try every day to further the benefits of modular construction, both hold annual meetings that attract factories, builders and suppliers, both send out regular communications to their members and both work tirelessly to promote modular housing to new home buyers.

Why then would I say they are ineffective if they are doing all these things? Well, it boils down to the small number of members each has been able to garner over the past few years. With over 100 residential modular factories, more than a thousand modular home builders and hundreds of building material manufacturers and suppliers across the US, only a very small number have joined either association.

Most of those choosing not to join simply sit on the sidelines and wait for the few that contribute to an association to fight restrictive legislation, those terrible and costly new building codes, promote our industry and then they read what the associations post on social media.

Without a large membership reaching across the entire US bringing in more dues into their efforts we may forever be left in the “teething stage” as Andrew Barden observed.

Stop sitting in the corner sucking your thumb, take a minute right now to visit both the MHBA and BSC websites and join one or both. It will be the best investment you will ever make for the residential modular housing industry and your business.

United, builders and factories can speak with a loud voice that gets the attention of state legislatures, code officials and more importantly, new home buyers.


Tom Hardiman said...

Oh Gary, you call them like you see them! Thanks for the plug. MHBA is growing - maybe not as fast as some folks would like but we've gone from 3 dues paying members in 2012 (yes, I said 3) to 130 now.

We've done this mainly by keeping regulations in check for the manufacturers and opening our doors to more builders. I will say we do struggle to get the set crews involved as they are so busy.

But anyone that makes a living from this industry really should support the trade associations that represent the industry. Our annual conference is Oct 9-10 at the Hershey Hotel in PA.

Coach said...

Tom, as you know I've never been shy about peeking through the curtains of our industry and exposing the not so good and shouting praises from the rooftop about all the good things.

I am however at a loss as to why anyone in the residential modular housing industry or servicing it would not jump at the chance to join one or both associations.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know a good deal.

Anonymous said...

The main reason there are not more people in the modular industry joining the associations, is because there really is not a lot of information out there letting people in the industry know what the associations are doing how they can benefit from joining. Unless they are attending the meetings, how do people know.

If you look on MHBA Facebook page, you can see the home of the month but not much else really promoting the industry. What builders, factories, suppliers and set=crews want to know is how they will benefit. I think everyone agrees the associations do a lot behind the scenes for the industry - but it's behind the scenes. When is the last time anyone hit the road and went out promoting people to join or sent out a join the association mailer? How about news letters? How about working with the factories to develop more training programs for workers, builders and set-crews?

Please do not take this the wrong way, I certainly am not saying that the associations are not helping our industry. Being in both retail and wholesales, I am just telling you what I think they could do to promote and attract more members. We all know that with more members, comes more clout to be able to get more things done for the industry. Please keep it up!

Tom Hardiman said...

You could go to our web page and find a lot of these answers. Discussion forum, monthly enews (to our members), leads for builders, pushing back against regulations in multiple states, working on two new standards to help improve the approval process, and yes, promoting the industry to potential home buyers. If all the advertisers on this page supported us, we'd have 20 new members! or email me and I'll be glad to talk with you.

Bill Hart said...

Took a Barden third generationer to enlighten my olde army drill sergeant loved to us Infantry trainees.."I done told you once, I aint goina tell you no moor!"