Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Cutting Down on Those Expensive Service and Quality Issues

40 years I managed a large lumber yard servicing builders and tract home developers with lumber, plumbing, electrical, roofing and just about everything needed to build a home. There wasn’t a day went by without one of my customers calling or stopping in to tell me how they had problems with the product I sold them.

It didn’t matter if it was an Andersen window, a Moen faucet, Owens Corning shingles or lumber, they assumed we stocked everything in the back room and hand picked bad product to send them.

In almost every situation it wasn’t bad product it was improper installation or not ordering the right product for the job.

And here we are 40 years later and the same things continue to happen only this time to the people that supply product to the modular housing industry. I’ve heard from several suppliers over the past few months expressing their bad experiences with product they’ve supplied.

I know there always has been and will continue be an occasional bad product sent to a job site or modular factory for a new home but the old rule of 80/20 applies even to this situation. 80% of product problems boils down to improper installation or not ordering the right product for the job.

Today’s new home buyer has a “go to” place to check every aspect of the home their builder supplied them. It’s the Internet. If a customer walks into their new home and even thinks something doesn’t look quite right they Google it, search YouTube and even ask total strangers on Facebook and Twitter for help.


Then they tell the builder they found a problem that needs fixed and it was verified by “@problemchild91” on Twitter or saw it when they watched an 8 year old video on YouTube.

Now the builder is in the hot seat and naturally he/she turns to the factory to fix, replace or remove the problem. The factory service department, even though it is not considered a profit center for the factory nevertheless has a percentage budgeted for each house and the less than the budgeted amount they have to spend on repairs or service the better for the company’s bottom line.

One very effective way to quickly acknowledge if there will be potential problems with a new modular home is to have a sales rep or a QA rep at every house set. Most builders would like to have someone from the factory at the set.

If the house has problems caused by the factory or has parts missing, this would be the time for acknowledgments, not days or months later. Factories could have a sales rep do this or assign someone from the factory to be at the set. It would be interesting if someone from management would visit one or two sets a year to see how the product looks upon arrival. I guarantee that eyes would be opened.

Everyone has a cell phone that takes great pictures. It costs absolutely nothing to take a couple hundred pictures at the house set and during the initial walk through which would show in detail if there are issues that need addressed by the factory. Put the pictures on a memory card and put it in the house folder at factory.

Builders have a three tier approach to communicating problems they encounter with a new home. First they talk to their sales rep who then talks to the person at the factory that can actually handle the request or problem.

The third tier is the one that frustrates builders the most. It always falls into the lap of of Ida Know. She holds it in her" in" basket until the builder starts getting upset and begins calling anyone and everyone at the factory. Soon the builder is red flagged as a trouble maker and nobody wants to talk with them.

A dedicated Customer Service rep at the factory serving builders and their customers would make life a lot easier for everyone. Builders would have someone to talk with and the Customer Service rep could be the hub of centralized communications. This would not be a job for the new hire or someone without knowledge of the entire process. A retired builder or sales rep working from home could act like a call center and defuse a lot of problems quickly and also be the voice everyone knows that’s there to help.

There are some modular home factories that actually have their own set crew at the house that can report back about problems and some have a QA person or sales rep at every home set.

You have to wonder if they found this a good way to head off problems early.

Monday, February 18, 2019

If You Are Attending IBS this Week, Check Out these Speakers at the BSC Lounge

The Building Systems Council (BSC) of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has always been a unique part of the NAHB but something happened a few years ago that changed everything for the BSC.
That was the low point of the BSC’s existence. That was the year they were relegated to a booth in a side hallway of the NAHB’s annual International Builders Show (IBS).
Devin Perry, Director of BSC
The following year saw a new director coming on board who decided the NAHB “Can’t keep baby in the corner” any longer. Devin Perry’s first big change was to establish a separate lounge for the BSC and bring in speakers for the off-site industry. It was a total success. This years line up of speakers: AV Club: Use Video to Set Your Offsite Construction Business Apart Tuesday, February 19 | 8:00 - 8:30 AM Event Type: Presentation Location: LVCC - BSC Hospitality Lounge - North 242
Dave Cooper, Managing Director, Connecticut Valley Homes
What It's About:
Almost 5 billion videos are uploaded to YouTube each year. Over 100 million hours of video have been watched on Facebook. How can you use these platforms and others to grow your home building business? Learn from Dave Cooper, an avid producer of video content and Managing Director of Connecticut Valley Homes, about what it takes to develop and promote your own self-shot marketing material.
Show Me the Money: Capital Fueling Offsite Construction Tuesday, February 19 | 10:30 - 11:00 AM Event Type: Presentation Location: LVCC - BSC Hospitality Lounge - North 242
Margaret Whelan, Founder & CEO, Whelan Advisory
What It's About:
Facing skilled labor shortages and rising material cost, offsite construction is one of the most discussed topics in residential home building. Companies such as hospitality giant Marriott International and production builders like KB Homes and Toll Brothers have embraced systems-built construction to stay ahead of the competition. Join us as Margaret Whelan, an industry investment banker who has successfully raised money for several innovative housing companies, discusses the drivers, players and financing options that are growing the building systems industry. You will leave the session with an understanding of how offsite construction is uniquely positioned to help boost home production.
A Brief History of Prefab in the US: Have the Challenges Changed? Tuesday, February 19 | 3:00 - 3:30 PM Event Type: Presentation Location: LVCC - BSC Hospitality Lounge - North 242
Lynn Fisher, American Enterprise Institute

Scott Ganz, Georgia Institute of Technology

What It's About:
The belief that housing can be produced more efficiently than is currently done is not a new idea at all. From sectional and mail-order kit homes to the enameled steel of Lustron and simple wood frames of Techbuilt, Americans have tried for more than a century to bring prefab into the mainstream. Yet attempts to fully modernize and industrialize the production of housing have never had staying power. In this talk, we assess historic challenges to prefab and then consider whether this time will be different.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another New Modular Factory Opens in England

It’s like the British have discovered modular home construction and are determined to be the world leader. Almost every month I’ve read where one new modular factory after another is sprouting up there and this time it’s in Liverpool.

Ideal Modular Homes has launched its new 70,000 sq ft flagship factory and two on site model homes in Liverpool, England.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson cut the ribbon at the factory, which is set to employ over 160 people in the next two months.

The factory will be the international hub for Ideal Modular and has been specifically designed to manufacture over 900 modules per year.

The production line is now capable of creating a completed two-storey house in less than five days thanks to the company’s bespoke designs and state-of-the-art manufacturing methods.

Strategically situated on Triumph Business Park, it provides excellent access routes across the UK and its close proximity to the port of Liverpool means that it is also able to offer direct shipping to clients in Ireland too.

I’m still perplexed why so many other countries are building so many new modular home factories while the US, the biggest producer of modular and manufactured homes in the world is lagging behind in both production and adding new capacity.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Client Expectations

Friday, February 15, 2019

Green Terra Homes’ Bankruptcy Black Eye for Industry

Green Terra Homes in Quinte West in Southern Ontario, Canada has filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors. They were mostly producing tiny houses and a few modular homes.

The company received numerous complaints from customers about issues with their houses. Homes not being square on the foundation, heating issues, and safety concerns were some of the complaints made.

Houses were constructed using light gauge steel in a warehouse in Trenton, then shipped to their final destinations, all across North America.

Green Terra Homes claimed the process was more efficient, more environmentally friendly, and more affordable.

No website, and no phone number are connected to Green Terra Homes.

Following allegations that Green Terra Homes scammed dozens of customers in Canada and the U.S. out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the company and its owners are now the subject of investigations by the Canada Border Services Agency and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Green Terra Homes has been accused of selling customers, in five Canadian provinces and territories and 10 U.S. states, prefabricated homes with substandard materials or not delivering the homes at all.
There is an online posting for Green Terra Homes’ former property site at 260 West Street in Trenton. The cost is $1.75 million.

This isn’t the first time Green Terra Homes has announced its closure. It happened before and reopened in 2017.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Small Town Builder Showcases Modular Home Construction

In the small town of Cape Charles, VA, located on the Eastern Shore just before the entrance to the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, there is a modular home builder that has quietly dominated modular construction in the area.

Village Builders on the Bay’s crew recently turned the keys over to their clients on this three bedroom two full bath beach bungalow with a first floor has a master bedroom and on suite bathroom with an open concept kitchen, dining room/living room and half bath for visiting friends.

The second floor has two large shed dormers for each of the spare bedrooms and a large sitting room with two built in full size beds.

Bill Doughty and his wife Alexis have been building modular homes for discriminating customers in this unique town where you simply have to travel East a few miles and watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and walk a mile West and watch the sunset on the huge Chesapeake Bay. No other town in the US can make that claim.

The home was produced in the Icon Legacy Modular Homes factory in Selinsgrove, PA.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

World of Modular Registrations Top 500; Ahead of Last Year’s Record Crowd!

With just over one month until MBI’s World of Modular Conference at the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas, registrations continue to roll in. Last year, the show attracted 850 attendees, the largest for any modular construction conference ever. But the March 15-18, 2019 show promises to be even bigger and better.

Returning to WOM is the highly informative (and entertaining) Anirban Basu, CEO and Chairman of Sage Policy Group and Chief Economist for Associated Builders and Contractors. He serves as Chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Commission and teaches global strategy at Johns Hopkins University.

Darren Woodson

Keynote speaker and three-time Super Bowl Champion, Darren Woodson of the Dallas Cowboys will talk about “Creating a Culture of Excellence.” Other breakout sessions include presentations by Katerra, GreenStaxx, ManufactOn, Prescient, Stack Modular, Tocci Building Group, RAD Technology, Momentum Innovation Group, Falcon Structures, and Precisions Structural Engineering.

There will also be a series of workshops by the National Renewable Energy Lab, business workshops by Bob Wendover of Common Sense Enterprises and Alicia Corten, CEO of The Culture Company, and presentations from the University of Alberta School of Engineering and Washington State University.

WOM will also feature over 120 case study presentations on display and global best practices sessions. Rounding out the line-up will be sessions on issues ranging from technical, legal, sales, building codes, taxes, and engineering.

The business development opportunities at WOM are second to none. Here’s what a few recent attendees had to say about the show:

"I have been attending trade shows and conferences across North America for the past 20 years, and none of them match the quality and delivery that this conference does. If you are in the modular construction industry as a manufacturer, fleet owner, contractor, or vendor to the industry, this is a “must attend" event."

"We just joined the Modular Building Institute and attended the World of Modular event. It exceeded all our expectations. There is tremendous value into this program."

"As a first time attendee at the World of Modular my experience was exceptional. Not only was I able to make great connections in the industry, but my experience was educational, informative, and fun. I am excited to attend 2019 World of Modular and other MBI related events."

If you are a material or service provider to the construction industry, you should know that a whopping 91% of attendees last year said they planned to purchase products from exhibitors. We’ve made learning about the modular construction easy by putting the entire North American industry in one location for you! So, what are you waiting for?

LGA RECRUITERS Announces Job Listings for February

February is always a great time to find that new job you’ve always wanted and working in the modular housing industry is the fastest growing segment of home building!

The Active Candidates section below represents candidates looking for new career opportunities.

The Open Positions section represents companies, who are looking for candidates to fill their open positions.

Contact Lynn Gromann at 888-831-0327 or if you would like further information on an available candidate or on an open position.

Active Candidates

I have had a number of industry veterans express an interest in a consulting role. If you have an interest in such an engagement, contact me via the email address or phone number listed above.

VP Operations / COO - 26 years Commercial MOD, wants Southern states 
VP Operations / COO - 15+ years MOD, wants Northeast, MidAtlantic

Sales Manager - 12+ years HUD / MOD, will relocate to big market states 
Sales Manager - 22 years HUD / MOD, wants Southeast 
Sales Rep - 8+ years HUD / MOD, wants GA, AL,TN market, no relocation 
Sales Rep - 19+ years HUD / MOD, open to relocation, LA to the Carolinas 
Sales Rep - 4 years MOD, wants CO or Sunbelt region 
Sales Rep - MOD experience, wants CO market 
Director of Sales & Marketing - 28 years MOD experience, wants SE, S, SW

Production Manager - 34+ years MOD, wants East coast, Mid-Atlantic, CO 
Assistant Production Manager / Supervisor - 30+ years MOD, will relocate 
Production Manager - 35+ years, HUD / MOD, wants Elkhart area 
Assistant Production Manager - 20+ years HUD / MOD, wants East coast 
VP of Manufacturing - 26 years Commercial MOD - possible relocation

Engineering Manager - 26 years MOD, wants East coast 
Engineering Manager - 11 years HUD / MOD, wants PA or commute
Assistant Materials Manager - 6 years HUD / MOD, wants TX

Open Positions

Multi-family modular plant is now hiring their management team. If you have an interest in being in on the ground floor, send me your resume at with start-up as the subject.

Plant Controller / HUD-MOD / South

Materials Manager - Multi-Family MOD Start-up - Southeast 
Materials Manager - MOD - Rocky Mountain Region 
Inside Sales / Estimator - Commercial MOD - Midwest 
Materials Manager - MOD - Pacific NW

Production Manager - Multi-Family MOD Start-up - Southeast 
Production Manager - Southeast - HUD / MOD 
Production Manager - Commercial MOD - Northeast 
Production Manager - HUD / MOD - Midwest 
Production Manager - MOD - Rocky Mountain Region 
Production Supervisors - HUD / MOD - South 
Production Supervisors - HUD / MOD - Midwest 
Production Supervisors - Commercial MOD - Northeast 
Plant Manager - Residential MOD - Upper Midwest

Engineering Manager - Multi-Family MOD Start-up - Southeast 
Drafters - HUD / MOD - Midwest 
Drafter - Multi-Family MOD - Northeast 
Engineering Manager - Commercial MOD - Northeast 
Engineering Manager - MOD - Pacific NW 
Drafters - HUD / MOD - Southeast 
Quality Assurance Manager - Multi-Family MOD Start-up - Southeast 
Quality Assurance Manager - HUD / MOD - Southeast 
Quality Assurance Manager - HUD / MOD - South

Sales Rep - MOD - Northeast 
Sales Rep - MOD - Midwest 
Sales Manager - HUD / MOD - Midwest 
Sales Rep - HUD / MOD - Southeast 
Sales Rep - MOD - Pacific NW

Clayton's Newest Commercial is a Winner for the Entire Modular Home Industry

While most other modular and manufactured home companies are busy putting pictures of their latest homes being delivered and set on Facebook, Clayton Homes uses video commercials to get its message out to the home buyers showing that having a home built in a factory is the best way to go.

When I saw this commercial for the first time I was so impressed that I asked my wife and two neighbors to watch it to get their thoughts but first I showed them what our industry uses to entice new home buyers to buy a modular home.

When I showed them pictures that many factories and builders put on Facebook of modular homes being delivered, hooked to a crane and put into place with few if any pictures of interiors I noticed they couldn't understand what they saw and I had to explain each picture to them.

Then I showed them the Clayton TV commercial and when it finished I asked what they thought of it. They immediately understood it was built in a factory and they said they could live in that home. One of the neighbors said she really liked the decor.

No cranes, no houses wrapped in plastic and no 'ship loose' material to be seen. 

Hats off to Clayton for their great "prefabulous" marketing campaign.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Champion to Build IRC Tiny Houses for CO Community

Champion Home Builders could soon be manufacturing “Tiny Houses” that are IRC (International Residential Code) certified for "The Village at Tamarac" off Hwy. 67 in Woodland Park, Colorado near Pikes Peak.

It could soon become the home for 53 reported “small houses,” a project being dubbed as the latest effort at offering more affordable housing. The community's 6.68 acres is currently zoned multifamily.

No mention yet if these new homes are being built to the new Tiny House IRC code or the IRC codes required for normal site built or modular homes.

The houses will be served by city sewer and water as well as gas and electric. The cost of the homes would start at about $115,000, and the owners would pay $600 to $700 a month to lease their lot.

The developer has identified other parcels that could support Tiny House communities is this first one is successful.

This could be a way for homebuyers to own their own home and allow cities and counties on the East Coast to meet the growing need for affordable housing. It really all depends on whether local ordinances will allow these small IRC approved homes to nest in their area.