Saturday, February 6, 2016

New York's G&I Homes Sold to Clayton

G&I Homes, the manufactured and modular home builder, headquartered in Frankfort, NY. was purchased by Clayton Homes, a 60-year-old homebuilding company with more than 300 locations across 42 states.

The deal will still leave the Bushey family in charge of operating its six Upstate New York locations and construction company, and will establish a Northeast foothold for Clayton, which plans to expand throughout New York and Pennsylvania. No news yet if G&I Homes will continue to buy modular homes from the Excel or Ritz Craft factories in PA.

Joe Bushey — who was one of nine siblings who owned G&I Homes prior to the sale, and now serves as regional vice president for Clayton Homes — said the sale will not result in the elimination of any non-seasonal full-time jobs. The company is currently hiring sales positions to add to its workforce of about 50.

“Obtaining the capital required to grow the business was getting difficult … and this just seemed like the right time to do something,” said Bushey.

Clayton has done business with the Busheys for years and have been in talks about merging for almost three years.

Maybe Uncle Si will take up residence in NY now that Clayton has a stronger foothold in the Northeast.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Evaluating Your Website - Pt 5 of 6


To be understood you must be seen and read. This idea is both translatable to both the readability of words and all visual elements on the site.

If your website is not readable people will not spend much time on your site. I have seen many websites drop the ball when it comes to the basic premise of readability for lack of simple design basics.
  • Does your website use a standard computer font that all window and non-window based computers use?
  • Does your website use reversed text or vibrant contrasting background and text colors? (such as reversed white type on dark background or yellow on blue etc.)
  • Does your website use a too soft gradient colors text?
  • Are all capitals used?
  • Is the body copy in bold?
  • Do the visuals correspond with the copy?
  • Is the type size to large or small within the context of the page?
  • Is a consistent type size used throughout the website?
  • Does the website copy make sense if you view it without graphics?
  • It is apparent what each page is about at a glance?
  • Can you easily skim-read each page?
  • Is copy in “plain speak” or too technical to understand for its target audience?
  • Are bullet points used and are they text concise and succinct?

I welcome hearing your thoughts regarding Readability when evaluating websites. Feel free to post your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

ABOUT Reed Dillon - After nearly two decades of experience heading the marketing departments of some of the industry’s leading modular manufacturers and earning numerous national awards, Reed Dillon is the owner of Creative Brand Content - a marketing consulting company. You can contact Reed at reed@creativebrandcontent.com or by phone at 540-488-2978.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New England Modular Home Builders to Hold Historic Seminar

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the New England states have built more modular homes by percentage of home starts than any other region of the United States. The latest figures are 20%! That’s one out of every five single family home starts is modular.

I’m not sure if it’s the economy of buying homes built in Mid-Atlantic factories and shipped into the region or if the modular home builders in New England have a secret sauce they add to thier marketing but whatever it is, they are doing things right.

In an historic move, Modcoach is hosting the first ever New England Boot Camp on March 9th in Milford, MA. This is the first Boot Camp outside PA and it will be great.

Not only will this be a great place to hear about new ideas in marketing and construction, it will give you an opportunity to talk with people you may have never met before like Rick Wenner from PFS, the third party inspection service that reviews most of your plans and gives them the stamp of approval. There are some things you may not have known about this process and here is your chance to meet the man.

Or Harris Woodward, owner of FinishWerks in Savage, MD, who over the years has become one of the leading builders in the US of green/energy efficient modular homes using procedures any modular home factory can build with. He will answer your questions and explain how to become your areas “Expert Energy Builder.”

There are 5 more speakers scheduled that are in tune with the modular industry to cover the rest of the day. If you miss this, you have no one to blame but yourself.

And as an added speaker, Ken Semler, a Board of Directors member of the MHBA, will go over the results of the Builder Round Table on Jan 28th and all the good things happening for our industry as a result.

Make your reservation today!

  • Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2016
  • Location: 50 Maple St, Milford, MA 01757
  • Time: 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Seven speakers, a continental breakfast and a full lunch are included in your registration.

Schedule of Events:
  • 8:00 AM    Registration
  • 8:30 AM    Introduction by Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach
  • 8:45 AM    Ken Semler, Member, Board of Directors of the MHBA
  • 9:00 AM    Steve Kennealy, MA DPS, Director of Manufactured Buildings      
  • 10:00 AM  Norm Hall, Industry Manager Factory Built Structures, Simpson Strong Tie     
  • 10:45 AM  Break  
  • 11:00 AM  Yana Billet, National Sales Manager, Construction Division, First Guaranty
  • 11:45 AM  Lunch            
  • 12:30 PM   Rick Wenner, PFS Corp, VP Northeast Region  
  • 1:00 PM     Harris Woodward, Finish Works, Green/High Performance Modular Builder
  • 2:00 PM     Scott Stroud, Lead Locker
  • 3:00 PM     Closing

This is the time and this is the place to learn more about your industry, network with others and ask questions. This group of speakers has never been brought together before for the modular housing industry. Bring your notebook and questions.

Cost is only $129.00 per person and seating is limited to 60 people.

If you work in New England or serve this region, you owe it to yourself to join with others for a great one day Modular Boot Camp.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Zarrilli Homes Begins Using YouTube to Market Modular in NJ

Anthony Zarrilli, the owner of Zarrilli Homes in Brick, NJ is starting a new marketing campaign using YouTube videos to show future home buyers what modular housing is all about.

This first video shows the set of a new home on pilings right on the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a second is being filmed of interior finishing to be added very soon to his new video marketing program. Notice the Excel Homes trucks delivering the modules.

This is not anything new, radical or earth shaking and is something any modular home builder can do.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Central PA Modular Home Factories Say Business is Good

From an article in the Sunbury Daily Item of Feb 1, 2016

After a half-decade of financial instability, layoffs and other belt-tightening moves, the modular home industry in the Valley has some exciting news.

It is hiring.

Representatives from a number of local builders expressed enthusiasm for 2016 and beyond and are gearing up for what should be a bounce-back year.

“We are extremely proud of our continued growth,” said Ken Reinard, general manager of Professional Building Systems in Middleburg. “We made some decisions as a company several years ago that have enabled us to provide steady employment to our valued employees and keep our modular factory producing product during what could certainly be described as a very challenging economic climate.”

Those decisions for PBS included opening a second factory to embrace the multi-family dwelling industry when other companies were either laying off large numbers of employees or closing all together.

“The opening of the second factory was very challenging for the staff members of PBS,” said Reinard, who mentioned that PBS is looking to hire 25 additional workers.  “Looking back now, it was the best decision the company could have made. The multi-family market has really been a catalyst for enabling PBS to experience such positive growth over the last few years and it has enabled us to instill a certain confidence in the PBS team — our employees know that the future looks extremely bright at PBS.”

While the primary focus at Apex Homes, also in Middleburg, is single-family homes, the company’s president, Lynn Kuhns, is also very optimistic about the business.

“I feel the market is improving and we’re being very aggressive to improve our market share while taking additional steps to embrace the growth by bringing in more workers and sales people, building additional relationships and expanding our builder base,” he said.

Helping the Jersey coast

Kuhns admitted that there are certain areas of need in the industry that Apex has been able to meet.
“Many houses have still not corrected or fixed from Superstorm Sandy, and we have been able to help fill the need with quality options for those that need them most,” Kuhns said.

Helping residents in New Jersey is also a priority for Ritz-Craft Homes, located in Mifflinburg.
“My grandparents live near the recent flooding, and they gave me updates as it was happening and sent pictures of water lines. The damage has hurt a lot of people and we are proud to work with builders in New Jersey and other places where good homes are needed quickly,” said Myles Biggs, marketing director for Ritz-Craft. “As an industry, we have no where to go but up.”

Durabuilt Custom Homes, of Selinsgrove, has also worked hand-in-hand with New Jersey homeowners who’ve lost everything to natural disasters, working with a special program that helps families who are also in financial crisis.

“A lot of our custom products are going to the Jersey coast. We work with the Future Hope program which helps people who don’t have the funding to get back into their homes,” said Kevin Hahn, Durabuilt president. “We even have certain models planned specifically for that program.”

Technology aids growth

Biggs admits that current technology has aided the modular home movement.

“The internet allows customers to be more educated in terms of what options are available and they can come in here and tell us exactly what they want. When you combine that with the quality and durability of our product, it becomes a no-brainer,” he said. “Plus there are now shows like ‘Breakneck Builds’ on the DIY network that are completely devoted to modular homes.”

That exposure helps the industry tremendously, Biggs said, because there are so many misconceptions about modular homes.

“We’re fighting the stigma that modular homes are trailers, when they’re not. They are customizable homes. Modular doesn’t mean mobile,” he said, touting the product’s durability. “Think about it — these homes are transported in pieces long distances at 55 miles per hour and then lifted into the air and put on a foundation by a crane. That says a lot there about how well they are made. I would challenge people to do that with their current homes and see how they hold up.”

Specialized options

Customization is key for many of the modular home builders in the region.

“From a basic affordable house to a 10,000 square foot structure with endless amenities and options, we try to give people what they want,” said Kuhns. “We do our own cabinet manufacturing, which allows us more customizing and upgraded cabinet options.”

Bruce Bingaman, of Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes in Selinsgrove, said customization is a key component for his company.

“We try to work with customers to give them exactly what they want. Many of the products we offer in our regular packages would be considered upgrades and extra costs for other builders,” said Bingaman, who admitted that Icon Legacy is also accepting applications at this time.

Millennial market

Part of the excitement for local builders includes the timeline for the Millenial generation.

“They’re the next biggest generation after the Baby Boomers and they’re just now coming into the home buying years,” said Biggs. “It is a new market that is just starting to get tapped into.”

Focus on hiring

Which comes back to the need to hire to stay ahead of 2016 projections.

“For the past five years, we’ve been pretty static, but with a new repurposed marketing strategy focused on customization and contracting projects, we are starting to take off. We are projecting 50 percent growth over the next year,” Hahn. “We’ve been hiring since last fall so we can handle that increase and are still hiring.”

In general, local builders are looking for a plethora of positions with their new hires, with needs for everything from general carpentry and drywall work to electrical and finishing skillsets — along with other positions including sales staff and marketing.

“We’re always looking to tap into the local pool of talented workers. We have a strong labor force here with a strong work ethic,” Biggs said. “Pulling from that resource and mixing in all the positive indicators moving forward make this a very exciting time for our industry.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Indiana Yard Unit Needs a New Home

Last year I posted some Yard Units for Premiere Structures in Elkhart, IN and was told they sold as direct result of one of my readers. That's great.

Well, they have another Yard Unit that needs to find a new home.

We deliver to IN, MI, IL, OH, ND, MT, WY, MN AND IA
Premiere Structures, Elkhart, IN

We have a Crowne Home serial # 16257 on our yard; this is a 4 bedroom 3 ½ bath L/R, FR and sunroom

Included is:
·         7/12 roof
·          gas furnace
·          50 gal. water heater (electric)
·          glamour bath with ceramic shower
·          deluxe utility cabinets
·          sierra maple cabinets
·          22’ gable twin peak
·          patio door
·          Crowne appliance package; 27” French door refrigerator w/ ice/water, dishwasher, wall oven/microwave combo, drop in cooktop and euro range hood

OSHA Levies Heavy Fines for Trenching Collapse

Site and Modular home builders and set crews are not the only ones that will be facing incresed inspections in 2016, the excavators that work on your sites are now becoming a huge target. I haven’t heard if the GC in the following jobs were also fined but if OSHA wants to include you in the lawsuit, I can’t imagine what would stop them.

Make sure you have someone there when the excavator is trenching.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has cited Hurtado Construction Co., a Richmond, TX,-based underground utility contractor, for one serious and four repeat violations.

The agency fined the company $86,240 in relation to excavation and trench-related hazards.

OSHA said it initiated an inspection on a Hurtado construction site in Katy, TX, in August 2015 as part of its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. OSHA said the serious violation was a result of the company failing to provide adequate protection in excavations where employees were working in areas with accumulated water.

The agency said the repeat violations include failing to provide a safe means of leaving the trench, failing to provide protection from excavated materials, failing to inspect an excavation site prior to the start of work, and failing to provide adequate cave-in protection.

In a tragic trenching-related case in Pennsylvania, OSHA fined a bridge repair company $140,000 for willful violations earlier this month and placed it in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program after a worker died in a trench collapse.

In another case late last year, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development fined an Alaska contractor$560,000 for a trench collapse that killed a worker. The agency said there was an evident lack of safety standards that caused the collapse, but the company exacerbated the situation by fatally injuring the worker with two excavators while trying to rescue him.

In addition, OSHA fined a Massachusetts company $14,000 in November after one of its workers drowned when a pipe burst in an excavation site.

OSHA is set to raise its fines later this year for the first time since 1990. The agency is expected to raise its fines by at least 80% to get in line with the Consumer Price Index.

From an article in Construction Dive