Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Modular Housing Primer for HUD’s Ben Carson

I’m still surprised and confused by your (HUD Secretary Dr Carson) remarks wanting to make manufactured housing more acceptable in all neighborhoods thus easing the need for affordable housing.

I know you’re a world renowned brain surgeon but maybe you’re getting your ‘affordable housing’ information from the wrong sources.

So I’ve decided to visually show you a couple of fundamental differences we in the modular housing industry know but you might have missed. Dr Carson, if you happen to read this and want to know more about real modular housing please contact me at or call me at 301-302-4514.

First visual lesson: HUD vs Modular

A Manufactured HUD Home is a Type of Home
A Modular Home is a Type of Construction 

Second visual lesson: Affordable Housing by Region

Affordable Modular Housing in Cities

Affordable Modular Housing in Rural Areas and Towns

Affordable Manufactured Housing in Florida

Third visual lesson: Types of IRC Offsite Construction

Modular Home Being Craned onto a Permanent Foundation

Panelized Walls, Trusses and Floor Systems Being Installed

Friday, June 14, 2019

Hickory Lane Construction’s Big Announcement

I met Michael Shirk, owner of Hickory Lane Construction, one of the best modular set companies on the East Coast, a few years back when I asked him to speak at my Modular Boot Camp in Toms River, NJ.

Michael Shirk & Family

My wife and I remarked what a wonderful young man he was and that has only been reinforced over the years.

So imagine my surprise when I received this email telling the modular industry he was leaving the set crew business but after reading his reasons it made me understand that in today’s fast paced and wildly growing world of modular construction why Micheal would walk away from it.

Here is his announcement and after reading it let him know that he made the right choice….. Family First!

To our valued customers,

It is with a heavy heart I am writing you that Hickory Lane Construction will be closing for business on June 28th. we have been a family business for over 15 years and after much discussion with my brothers who have worked alongside me for the past years we have decided to shut down as a set crew. the long hours away from home have taken a toll on our bodies as well as our families and given that we all have young families that are growing we have decided it is more important to be fathers that will be more present in our children's lives.

I thank you for your business over the past 6 years in which I was owner of the company, I have enjoyed my time in the modular industry but now I need to focus my attention to my family and their well-being. If you have projects scheduled after June 28th I apologize for the inconvenience, I will provide a list of reputable set crews that can assist you on your projects.

thank you

Michael Shirk

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Upcoming Event Addresses Skilled Labor Shortage

This is happening in my hometown.

Ben Carson Touts Modular Homes in Keynote Address at Western Governors Association

Carson, the current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, spoke Wednesday to the Western Governors Association meeting at Vail’s Hotel Talisa.

(Modcoach Note: Other than the headline, he never mentions modular and is pushing for revised local building codes to allow manufactured homes in restrictive neighborhoods)

Carson also touted the advantages of manufactured housing as a way to build a lot of homes quickly and at less expense than site-built homes. That sector is the country’s largest source of unsubsidized housing, Carson said.

Carson told the group that manufactured housing doesn’t necessarily mean single- or double-wide mobile homes. Eagle County is home to several different levels of manufactured homes, from mobile homes to starter homes to the Chamonix townhome neighborhood in Vail.

Manufactured homes can provide an effective way to provide home ownership, he added, with a couple of caveats.

‘We need to think holistically’ Carson stressed the need for “responsible” home ownership, citing the cost to families from the collapse of the housing bubble in the previous decade.

At the lower end of the market, Carson said it’s essential to provide both help with purchasing and support for buyers.

“We need to think holistically,” he said.

But that’s possible, with a combination of technology, cooperation understanding of the need to revise local building codes that might currently forbid building homes for lower income families.

That’s all possible, he said, but it takes vision.

“If you can see the invisible, you can achieve the impossible,” he said.

From an article in Vail Daily

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Proto Homes Takes a Dump on the Entire Modular Industry

Every single day I read and listen to all the crap being peddled by both the Democrats and the Republicans. Now Proto Homes, a systems-built company in California is spreading that same type of crap about the modular housing industry.

It’s not often I see red when I read an article about the differences between modular, site built and system-built but this one has me fuming.

Here is just one excerpt from their article Why You Should Ditch Modular Construction for System-Built

"There are also differences in the aspects of planning, permitting, construction, and personalization of the home. 

For example, modular homes and manufactured homes are classified in a certain way by the city. System-built homes, on the other hand, are treated the same as regular construction."

Please take a few minutes to read their article and either contact them directly or leave me a comment.

Healthcare Could be the Next Big Opportunity for Modular

Modular construction, an industry that was founded on single home homes, has morphed into building all types of buildings. Established modular factories are adding new lines of products that weren’t even a blip on the radar a decade ago.

New modular factories have begun popping up across the US that don’t even offer single family home production. Light gauge steel modular factories are becoming more common place and robotic and more innovative ways to build modular is on the horizon.

Today we see modular construction in the low and high rise multifamily arena, the hotel industry, affordable housing and even modular fast food restaurant production.

The latest industry to catch the eye of modular construction is healthcare. To that end, Skender’s new modular factory in Chicago has its eye on the healthcare industry providing them with fully furnished hospital rooms complete with medical equipment, furniture and bathrooms.

Beyond that are several established and planned modular factories are looking at building complete express medical offices designed to go to remote areas where the local construction companies have no experience building medical facilities. They are also targeting major drug store chains to produce micro-stores ready to place in smaller towns.

On a side note, my town is getting a new Krispy Creme donut shop. It has taken over a year to site build with no work being done when it rained or snowed. A couple of weeks nobody showed up at the job site. It it scheduled to open soon...14 months after the footer was dug.

I walked around it and did a little measuring. It could have easily been as a modular building and probably delivered and open in less than 4 months instead of over a year. Time equals money and I hope someone knows someone at their top management and let’s them know it could have been done so much better.

While hospitals have enjoyed ordering off-the-shelf bathrooms and examination room modules for new hospitals, modular opens up complete operating theaters, treatment rooms, neonatal and emergency wards. And with the needed specialized labor being in one factory building instead of having them live out of motel rooms at a new hospital site, the savings in time, money and quality will soon become obvious.

If you think modular construction is just for housing you are in for a big surprise when you learn you can buy your next hospital room, manufactured by Medmodular on Amazon today.

Gary Fleisher (the Modcoach) is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

June’s Modular Industry Job Listings

LGA Recruiters has the following positions available and candidates ready for you to interview.

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

General Manager - 20+ years HUD / MOD experience CFO - 7 years in industry + 20 years construction, CMA General Manager HUD - General or Sales Manager - MOD, 30 years, will relo Operations Executive / Consultant - extensive MOD / HUD experience

Sales Rep / Manager - site built plus 14+ years MOD experience, will relo
Sales Rep - 15 years HUD / MOD experience, PA Sales Rep - 20 years HUD / MOD, Florida only Sales Rep - Commercial MOD - Southwest Sales Manager - 22 years MOD, wants Mid-Atlantic Senior Sales Manager - 8+ years HUD / MOD + 11 years similar industry

Assistant / Production Manager - HUD / MOD and steel building, wants TX Assistant Production Manager - 11 years HUD / MOD prior experience Assistant Production Manager - 20+ years HUD / MOD, wants East coast

Engineering Manager - 16 years residential and commercial MOD, will relo Engineering Manager- 34 years MOD / HUD, TN only

Materials Manager - 17 years total HUD / MOD, 4 years purchasing

Open Positions

Plant Controller - MOD - Midwest

Materials Manager - MOD - Midwest Estimator - Hospitality / Multi-Family - South Materials Manager - MOD - Pacific NW

Production Manager - Commercial MOD - Pacific NW Production Manager - HUD / MOD - Midwest Production Manager - HUD / MOD - South Plant Manager - MOD - Midwest Assistant Production Manager - MOD - Rocky Mountain Region Production Supervisors - HUD / MOD - South Production Supervisors - HUD / MOD - Midwest Plant Manager - Residential MOD - Upper Midwest

Revit Designer - MOD - Pacific NW Designer - MOD - Northeast Revit Drafter - Commercial MOD - Midwest Lead Revit Designer - Commercial MOD - South Engineering Manager - Commercial MOD - Pacific NW Designer - MOD / Midwest Engineering Manager- HUD / MOD - Midwest Engineering Manager - MOD - Pacific NW Quality Assurance Manager - MOD - Midwest Quality Assurance Manager - HUD / MOD - South

Sales Manager / Rep - HUD / MOD - Midwest Sales Rep - HUD / MOD - Southeast Sales Rep - MOD - Pacific NW Sales Rep - Multi-family - Rocky Mountain Region

Monday, June 10, 2019

How Much Does a Bad Hire Sales Rep Cost the Modular Factory?

Yes, there really is a skilled labor shortage in the US and finding the right modular factory sales rep to fill an open slot probably means you’ll be choosing from a limited pool of inexperienced, unqualified and ‘fired from their last job’ candidates.

What you probably didn’t know is how much a bad sales rep can cost you. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee's first-year earnings.

That assessment might be accurate in the retail arena but for a small modular home factory, a five-figure investment in the wrong person is a threat to the business.

After interviewing the candidates and choosing one as your next factory rep you have to train them to understand your company philosophy, how the behind the scenes operations of the sales department works, what happens to orders both in the process and the production, how to work with your builders and what territory they will get.

In most factories that process could take up to two full days and might include a couple of ride-alongs with another sales rep. That should be enough to train any inexperienced or unqualified new hire! A ‘fired’ sales rep probably won’t hear anything you say anyway so you might as well just let him/her loose on your existing builder base.

What could possibly go wrong?

With little or no official training program in place the inexperienced and unqualified new sales rep will be calling everyone from the sales manager to the engineering staff to purchasing and all the way down onto the production floor to get answers.

Forcing them to ask questions of others instead of having them answered in a formal training program tends to irritate your other employees who get questions about even the simplest things giving them the impression you hired a real numbskull that will never learn how to do anything.

And as an added side effect this new sales rep just might destroy employee morale, create problems with your builder base and at the end will simply just slack off hoping to continue to draw a paycheck just long enough to find a job at another modular home factory who thinks they are getting an experienced sales rep.

The damage this $30,000 a year new hire could do in their first year could easily exceed $100,000. Builders may not work with your factory any longer simply because their new sales rep screwed up their orders being the major reason for you losing money.

I’ve worked for several modular factories in my career path. One sales manager told me to shadow another of their sales reps for a week. That proved to be informative for the first day and after that the week was spent sitting around talking Nascar and football. He did make a phone calls which I wasn’t allowed to hear and emailed builders that I wasn’t copied. I did learn where the best Chinese Buffet in the area was located.

Another sales manager had me start on the day of their weekly sales meeting. I was expected to learn how things worked by sticking around afterwards and talking with anyone I wanted. At the end of the day I was given my list of existing builders (3) and told to find some new ones. That was the extent of my training.

Your factory may only hire one or two new sales reps a year so why not take some time, sit down and write an outline for a simple training program that will bring this new hire up to speed quickly, efficiently and give your factory a better than even chance of having a great sales rep.

Don’t create even a rudimentary training program and be prepared to be frustrated with your new hire and having them cost you a lot of money before you fire them and they become some other factory’s ‘experienced’ new hire.

Gary Fleisher (the Modcoach) is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Senco Files Unfair Trade Actions Against China, Taiwan, and Korea

The nation's largest staple manufacturer, Kyocera Senco Industrial Tools., Inc. (Senco), today filed petitions to stop China, Taiwan, and Korea from selling dumped and unfairly subsidized collated medium and heavy staples into the United States.

As part of its antidumping and countervailing petitions, the company is asking the Department of Commerce (DOC) and International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose duties on all three countries to offset unfair pricing, and additional duties against Chinese imports to offset unfair subsidies.

"American manufacturers are getting hammered from all sides and illegal trade practices are adding insult to injury," said Cliff Mentrup, CEO of Senco. "Senco's filing is the first step in restoring fair competition to the U.S. market and confidence to U.S. workers and consumers. We look forward to seeing our trade laws enforced."

The staples covered by Senco's petitions are used to build prefabricated houses, recreational vehicles, cabinets, modular homes, furniture, and on-site home construction, as well as many other applications.

The company has been a world leader in developing these staples and related products, introducing numerous innovations since its origins in 1948. Today Senco operates in a 500,000 sq ft manufacturing and distribution facility in Cincinnati, Ohio where over 700 types of collated fasteners are manufactured today, including the collated staples covered by this petition. Senco has over 400 employees located in the manufacturing facility and throughout the U.S.

The petitions explain that imports of certain collated steel staples from China, Taiwan and Korea have increased by over 20% in the past three years. The petitions also calculated dumping margins up to 123 percent. The dumping margin is the difference between the price Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean producers each respectively charge U.S. customers and a normal value calculated under U.S. trade law.

"Enforcing trade rules will level the playing field for the U.S. industrial staple manufacturers." Mentrup continued. "On behalf of our employees, customers, and colleagues, we look forward to ensuring fair trade is restored."

Senco's filings come during a tenuous time for American manufacturers already facing several challenges. Unpredictable tariffs that have driven up costs of raw materials and lowered demand for exports.

A preliminary determination on the matter is expected as early as July 2019.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Is HUD’s Ben Carson About to Change New Home Construction in the US?

From June 1st to June 5th HUD’s Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall in Washington, DC showcased manufactured housing as the answer to solving America’s Affordable Housing problem.

What is totally surprising about this very large and successful event was the National Association of Home Builder’s co-sponsorship of the event. The NAHB and its members have never truly embraced anything even closely related to HUD code manufactured housing but there they were standing shoulder to shoulder with the Secretary of HUD, Ben Carson, promoting manufactured housing.

HUD homes by Skyline Champion and Clayton were displayed on one side of the Mall while innovative housing companies like Boxabl were on the other side. No IRC modular home was on the Mall.

I just learned today the NAHB waited until just a few weeks before the event to begin seeking out a factory to put a modular house on display which made it almost impossible to have enough time to respond.

But an even bigger announcement was made without a whimper from those attending the event. Dr Ben Carson talked about the need for HUD homes being allowed in all neighborhoods in the US to ease the need for affordable housing. He specifically addressed the “Not in my neighborhood” crowd which quickly brings to mind the The Fair Housing Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.

Could it be interpreted to include discrimination against certain types of housing like HUD in R1 Zoning? Could HUD show cause for the Fair Housing Act to be modified to include manufactured homes? Well, it does seem like he might be heading that way.

However there is a second major change to housing possibly coming our way if he does open up every neighborhood in the US to HUD code housing.

If HUD manufacturers can move into every neighborhood and bypass almost all the IRC regulations imposed on modular housing, why can’t the modular housing factories begin switching to HUD Code and eliminate all those individual state and local code reviews?

The modular factories could continue to build the exact same house they are building right now with all the IRC regs they currently use, which are higher than HUD minimum codes, and shave weeks, if not months off delivery time without having state plan reviewers picking apart each and every house plan just to protect their jobs.

It would also save the new home buyer thousands and thousands of dollars in plan review fees.

Here’s an interesting scenario. Suppose a large HUD home manufacturer with factories across the US were to begin buying regional tract builders and all their developed and undeveloped lots across the country. They might continue building the way the tract builders have always been building just waiting for something like a change to what can actually be put into those developments. Something like a new interpretation to the Fair Housing Act.

Then this company would introduce a line of upscale HUD code homes and begin sending them into their newly acquired developments. Keep the lot prices the same, raise the price of the HUD product slightly and if possible finance these new homes themselves and you just might have the biggest change in single family housing to ever hit the US.

And to think the NAHB co-hosted the event where Ben Carson put forth this new idea that could make all that possible.

How interesting is that?