Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nationwide Supplies Accessible Home to Habitat for Humanity

Greene County Habitat for Humanity’s newest project, on Kelley Gap Road in Greeneville, TN, is "turning hope into a home" for Chris Ricker, a Greene County native in his early 40s who has been living at a local nursing home for the last several years, said Executive Director Vicki Culbertson.

Ricker was injured in a household accident several years ago. Because accessible housing for disabled individuals proved difficult to find and he required special assistance, he was placed in the local assisted living facility, she explained.

Culbertson and Jeff Irvine, owner of Safe Harbour Builders and a Habitat board member, said they are seeking the public's help in raising money to finish the job.

Tri-Cities area Habitat affiliate recently dedicated a modular home, supplied by Nationwide Homes. Accessible homes but in a modular home factory take less time to build and be occupied than similar site built homes.

"This off-frame modular will be supplied through Safe Harbour by Nationwide Homes," Irvine added.

"This will help Habitat with building efficiencies in costs involved, energy savings and will help with building procedures to assist more special needs families."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dreamline Homes and Excel Modular Build Another Beautiful Home

When it comes to custom modular homes in the New England area, few can match the design and appeal of Dreamline Homes. This beauty came from the Excel modular home factory in Liverpool, PA and just another example of what they can do for their builders.

"From the welcoming mahogany front porch, the details are outstanding throughout the new modular home in Wellesley, MA. This 4600SF home comes with an Open, beautifully appointed white chef's kitchen, fabulous family room, elegant formal rooms and the ideal mudroom. There is an expansive master suite plus generous family bedrooms and 4.5 baths. A bonus, fully finished lower level has a game room, exercise/office/bedroom and full bath. The lovely landscaping includes a bluestone patio. Every element of this home has been carefully selected for quality and with impeccable taste."

Living in the Boston area means that Kris Megna can build you that custom dream home. Enjoy the photos of this beauty.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Clayton Continues Expansion into Site Building

Maryville, Tenn.-based Clayton Homes paid an undisclosed sum for Goodall Homes, which has its headquarters in Gallatin, TN.

Clayton Homes, the nation's largest manufactured housing and modular home company, made a big push into the site-built housing or traditional homebuilding market through acquiring Buford, Ga.-based homebuilder Chafin Communities last fall. 

It formed site-building arm Clayton Properties to expand its portfolio of housing options to homebuyers. Now it appears that the next evolution is for manufactured and modular factories to begin buying up site builders and capturing their vacant building lots. 

Is it possible that Clayton will continue to site build or will they begin changing Goodall Homes into a manufactured or modular home retailer with a ton of building lots?

Clayton Homes' latest acquisition includes 180 homes that Goodall has under construction. It also has inherited roughly 3,600 lots across Middle Tennessee, including Goodall's finished and yet-to-be developed home sites in Williamson, Wilson, Sumner, Rutherford and Davidson counties.

Goodall Homes' owner and President Bob Goodall Jr. said after declining overtures from other suitors over the years he accepted Clayton Homes' offer because the two companies' cultures matched well. Another factor was Clayton Homes' commitment to retaining Goodall and his team, who through the deal will have more opportunities for professional growth and advancement, he said.

Last year, Goodall Homes closed on 436 homes, ranking the homebuilder second in the Middle Tennessee market. Professional Builder magazine's 2014 National Builder of the Year expects to close on about 440 homes this year. Goodall Homes had revenues of just under $140 million last year, which was the highest among all homebuilders in Middle Tennessee.

Britco Moves into the Passive House Market

Britco is best known for building and renting the orange-topped trailer offices seen at construction sites, mines, and oil-sands projects across Western Canada. 

It fabricates the modular buildings inside a pair of 125,000-square-foot factories, one in Agassiz, 100 kilometers east of Vancouver, and another near Penticton, B.C. (The company also has a plant in Texas.)

Until recently, when the price of oil hit the basement, Britco’s factories were running full tilt, cranking out dormitories and other buildings for Alberta bitumen projects.

In the first week of January 2015, the phone rang, and it was Peter Treuheit of Mobius Architecture on the line.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority had just issued a request for proposals.

Bella Bella, British Columbia
The agency needed six new apartments for its hospital employees in Bella Bella, in the Heiltsuk First Nation on British Columbia’s remote central coast.

Unusually, the authority said it wanted the housing built to the international Passive House standard—an extremely efficient building design standard that today is maintained in Darmstadt, Germany.

Monte Paulsen, managing director of Red Door Energy Design, and a friend of Treuheit, happened to know it very well.

Passive house is perhaps the least appreciated and most exciting high-performance building standard, because it is simple and cheap, says Paulsen. “It’s a dumb building made smarter. It’s a building with a big sweater on it, and the sweater is so thick that the building doesn’t need a furnace or a boiler.”

Within nine months of the request for proposals, Bella Bella’s hospital workers were moving into their stylish waterfront townhomes. On the coldest nights of the year, this past winter, each of units required just 600 watts—the equivalent of six old-school light bulbs, via a tiny backup heater—to keep their occupants cozy.

Paulsen says the Bella Bella project is the first truly modular Passive House in Canada, and the first in an Aboriginal community. By his reckoning the homes consume 80 percent less energy than a traditional home, emit 80 percent fewer greenhouse gases, and offer outstanding indoor air quality. The project won an audience-choice award at last fall’s Clean Energy B.C. Generate 2015 conference, and attracted a packed house at Paulsen’s presentation last week at the International Passive House Conference, in Germany.

As for cost, Mitchell and Paulsen agree that passive buildings carry a roughly five percent price premium over traditional dwellings that are constructed to the bare-minimum building code, and which of course cost much more to heat.

Mitchell now hopes to repeat the Bella Bella experience elsewhere; the company is already in talks with a number of other First Nations. He hopes he can help replace the typically dilapidated, inefficient houses found in many remote indigenous communities with stylish, cost-effective, and über-efficient modular homes.

In Paulsen’s vision, companies like Britco would replace those dilapidated, drafty, mold-ridden buildings with über-efficient modular Passive House buildings, assembled in factories. On completion, the builders would barge or truck them to reservations, drop them onto pre-poured foundations, and finish them on-site with labour trained in and hired out of of the communities that would receive them.

Champion Homes Opening New Kentucky Manufactured Home Plant

Champion Home Builders Inc., a manufactured and modular housing company, will invest $6.3 million in a production facility in Benton, KY and create up to 150 jobs.

“We are pleased to welcome Champion Home Builders to the Commonwealth and are excited about the opportunity to create 150 jobs for hard-working Kentuckians in Benton,” Gov. Bevin said. “This location will allow Champion to utilize the logistics and distribution advantages that make Kentucky an ideal home for manufacturers. We are excited to see this kind of growth. This is a great day for western Kentucky and the state.”

Champion plans to lease a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on Venture Lane in Benton. Company leaders plan to install state-of-the-art home-building equipment and refurbish existing equipment, such as scaffolds, cranes and bridges. Champion will then begin production of manufactured homes for distribution to retailers in Kentucky and other states.

NJ Modular Boot Camp - Part 2, the afternoon session

After a morning session filled with Professional Engineers and Mike Shirk, the owner of Hickory Lane, a modular set company, the afternoon session was led of by Norm Hall, the NJ Territory Manager and Factory Built Structures Industry Manager for Simpson Strong-Tie.

Norm Hall
Over the years I’ve heard Norm Hall speak speak at several of my Breakfasts and Boot Camps. Who would think that fasteners could be so fascinating? I no longer build homes but if I did I would know the importance of how modular homes are fastened to the various types of foundations and also from floor to floor thanks to what I've learned from Norm. He is an expert speaker on how to make sure homes don’t roll over in extremely high wind situations like Sandy that hit the NJ coast.

Norm Hall is one of the most knowledgeable people in our industry when it comes to the structural integrity of the home and if you've never had the opportunity to listen to him, you really owe it to yourself to find where he is speaking next and sign up today. He can also talk to you ‘one on one’ about specific hanger and fastening problems.

Stephen Snyder
The featured speaker of the afternoon session was Stephen Snyder, an attorney who specializes in state taxes as applied to modular housing and other areas that affect the modular home builder and industry.

I’ve had Stephen speak at my PA Boot Camp where his topic of writing a strong contract with the homeowner had everyone grabbing their notebooks. This time was no different. Because of his years of working within the modular housing industry he can help builders with problems encountered with factories and customers. He has also worked with many state legislatures in applying sales tax equitably for the factory and the builder. If you are a builder and need solid counsel on modular related matters, contact him before things turn ugly.

Brian Flook
The Keynote Speaker of the day was Brian Flook, owner of Power Marketing. He has spoken many times at the International Builder's Show and is an advocate of the entire building industry.

Since this is the first time Brian has spoken at a Boot Camp, I was anxious to hear how he could help modular home builders. He spoke of the power of being different and explained that every builder uses the word “Quality” when promoting their homes and if everyone builds a quality home and say they do everything else the same as the other builder, price is the only thing left to win over the customer.

He laid out a way to differentiate yourself from other builders where price is not an issue. I was impressed with his approach and several builders in attendance said they were ready to stop battling their competition on price alone.

Overall it was an great Modular Boot Camp and I can’t wait till the next one on September 14th in Indianapolis, Indiana.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Websites are Opportunities for Engagement

An article by Reed Dillon

An old friend of mine asked me to look at his company’s website for an evaluation. The site is relatively new and after I saw it I was disappointed to say the least. My first thought was that it was unfortunate that they just came out with this new website and it missed the mark on so many levels. I believe a part of the problem is when someone sets off to build a website they think of it as a website, not as an opportunity to engage new and repeat visitors and customers.

I admit it I am as guilty as the next person. Maybe it's tunnel vision or preconceived ideas but I suspect that in creating websites we bring to it our own notions of what it should look like and not necessarily the actual experience of the prospective customer. What we might be forgetting is that a website is an opportunity for engagement.

A part of the problem is when developing websites we may be working with blinders on preventing us from being open to the opportunities that website as an engagement tool affords. We are not putting ourselves in the shoes of their target market and asking fundamental questions of:  What do people want from my site and how can I engage them in a simple manner and guide them to the information they are seeking?

Below are some suggestions that came to mind when thinking about the subject.

Your website is not about you?

My website is not about me? Of course it is about me what are you talking about? Some website’s home page reads like one of those brag letters that you get at Christmas from a distant relative. Do not go on and on about your years in business and how good you are. Newsflash: People do not care! People are generally narcissistic by nature when it comes to acquiring information on the internet and their primary goal is to satisfy their own needs. I know that sounds a little impolite but it is the truth.

Your job is to engage and convince them you are a viable resource and may be worthy of their time and possible patronage. Nobody like a bragger, so don’t blow this chance with unnecessary information that actually inhibits them from getting to where they want to go on the website.

Option Overload!

Don’t’ bury your lead. This is a newspaper term, and what it means is that too many times we do hide the most important part of what people really want to know.  I see this frequently on websites I explore. Websites with too much written information especially on the homepage causes conflict and confusion. The result is option overload; the visitor becomes over-stimulated – too many things happening at the same time. As a result two things usually happen, the visitor either becomes immediately frustrated or leaves or they muddle through the site for a small amount of time and leave confused and dissatisfied with the experience and information delivery process.

Instead deliver your target market to where they want to be in a straightforward manner and do it as quickly as possible. By getting them to that place in as few as clicks as possible, you will have better chance at engaging them and keeping them on your site for a longer period of time and thus converting them into a lead.

Blah, Blah, Blah…

Having too many words especially on your homepage is the kiss of death. No one has the time or the patience. Websites are primarily not a written medium but a visual medium.  Attention spans are short and are getting shorter. Unless the reader is very interested in the subject will not read every word of your website.

What I see frequently see are website home pages filled to the brim with words. Especially on the home page words need to sparse and succinct. Let your visuals also tell the story. That is where art direction comes in – communicating ideas through visuals. Let videos, photos and graphics tell the story. To tell stories and processes I am a big fan of video and infographics.

Follow the yellow brick road

What is the single most valuable place for the visitor to go while on the website? You must lead them to where their natural tendencies gravitate and make the journey extremely easy and obvious. The question of where to take them is easy to answer. Your analytics will show you the way. Look at page volumes where the most hits are taking place. That should be your star attraction. Create a link front and center on your home page and create a hyperlink to that page.

This was originally intended as one blog but after thinking about it and writing a rough draft I realized that this needed to be a multi-part blog, Please stay tuned for next week’s episode.

We welcome hearing your thoughts regarding websites being a vehicle of engagement with your customer. Feel free to post your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

ABOUT Reed Dillon - Reed Dillon is the owner of Creative Brand Content, creativebrandcontent.com - a marketing consulting company and Modularhomeblogs.com, a subscription blog service for builders. Reed has spent nearly two decades heading the marketing departments of some of the industry’s leading modular manufacturers and earning numerous national marketing awards. Contact can be made at reed@creativebrandcontent.com or by phone at 540-488-2978.

More New Job Listing for April

  • Residential/HUD/MOD/Production Supervisor/South West
  • Residential/HUD/MOD/Production Supervisor/West
  • Residential/HUD/MOD/Production Manager/South
  • Residential/HUD/MOD/Asst. Production Manager/SW
  • Commercial Modular/Engineering Manager/Midwest
  • Commercial Modular/Estimator/Midwest
  • Commercial Modular/Operating & Sales Branch Manager/Midwest
  • Commercial Modular/Selling Branch Manager/South East
  • Commercial Modular/Business Development/ West
  • Commercial Modular/Architectural Designer/West
  • Residential Modular/Prefab/Hands on Engineering Manager Revit, MEP, Submittals,
  • Drawings/West
  • Commercial Modular/Major Projects/ Midwest
  • Residential Modular/HUD/Production Manager/Asst. Prod Manager/Supervisor/Western
  • Region
Contact Robert Sage Careers for more information about any of these newly listed opportunities or to have them help you find a new position within the modular housing industry.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Modular Housing Works Hard to Train a New Generation

One of the biggest advantages of the modular housing industry is often the most overlooked, a skilled labor force. While owners and management may change several times a year at the factories, the men and women working on the production side of the industry are usually long term employees who have honed their work skills over the years.

New hires on the production line usually start working beside experienced workers who take pride in their job and pass along this great work ethic to the trainee. Many plumbers and electricians got their start in a modular home factory. Drywallers, trimmers and framers learned all the proper ways to accomplish their job from their experienced coworkers and nothing expresses a worker’s ‘pride’ like a module leaving a station heading to the next knowing they did their best.

However, a skills gap is hobbling construction and it’s delaying building projects, shrinking building inventories, and inflating the cost of homes and home-related projects. The knowledge and skills necessary to repair our toilets, install our furnaces and build our houses are dying on the vine. And, unless we want our grandkids growing up in primeval teepees, we need to work quickly to fix it.

While America’s housing market is recovering, the on-site construction industry has struggled to catch up. Nationwide, the median price for existing and new single-family homes for sale shot up more than 8% during the past year. The rise, in part, signals good news in that the housing market has continued to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, but prices are also being driven up by a growing shortage of homebuilders and home improvement professionals.

This trend has been building up for years. In the 1990s, the American educational system (no doubt with the best of intentions) discontinued vocational classes and began to encourage all students to pursue a four-year college degree, creating significant, if unintended, consequences. First, fewer students were exposed to career options in the skilled labor trades. Second, the profound emphasis placed on college-level education perpetuated the notion that skilled (i.e., blue-collared) labor entails physically demanding, yet mindless work. And third, industry succession responsibilities were transferred to business owners lacking the time and resources required to fully train and educate would-be workers.

Modular housing runs into the same lack of skilled workers but usually within a very short period of time, the new hires, working side by side with experienced long term workers are prepared to continue the skills and work ethic they learned in modular housing.

A lesser-debated, but no less impactful, contributor to the skilled labor shortage has been an ever-widening generational gap in the skilled labor workforce. During the recent housing recession, fewer young people were hired.  As a result, the percentage of 45- to 55-year-olds employed in the construction sector has exceeded the employment share of this age group in all other industries. Increasingly, these older workers are aging out of the workforce altogether.

The next time you look at a modular home being set at the jobsite, remember all the young people working and learning in a modular home factory and doing a great job.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Nationwide Expands Factory to Meet Demand for Modular Housing

Nationwide Custom Homes is planning to expand its production and create approximately 59 new jobs at its Martinsville, VA facility. 

Nationwide President Andy Miller said the two-phase, $986,342 project involves up fitting one of the four plants at the Rives Road site to extend its production line. This expansion will increase production by about 35 percent to accommodate growth in demand for the company’s modular housing.

“The housing market is much better than it was. Last year was good. This year is equally as good and I think it will get even better,” Miller said.

Phase 1 of Nationwide’s project is expected to begin in 90 days and take about six weeks to complete, Miller said. The second phase will take four weeks to complete, likely in the fourth quarter of this year. The company already has added 15 employees to its 190-person work force. It expects to hire 20 more for Phase 1 of the expansion project and another 24 for Phase 2.

The company needs people with construction skills, such as in carpentry, drywall, finishing, electric and plumbing. “We’ll train the right people,” Miller said. “We will take unskilled people and train them.” Interested persons should apply at Nationwide’s Rives Road plant.

Nationwide produces modular housing for the single- and multi-family residential markets. It also serves commercial markets with apartments, hotels, student housing and rental cottages. Its customers primarily are in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Tennessee, as well as some in South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. 

It is an operating division of Palm Harbor Homes, which is part of the Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco family of manufacturers.