Saturday, December 18, 2010


When the housing market starts to climb out of its recession, modular housing has a great opportunity to shine like never before.  The modular factories are building quite a few high profile projects including senior citizen apartment complexes, shopping centers, hotels, motels, student housing and homes for Habitat for Humanity.  Those are projects we can all be proud of and it's up to us to tell everyone about the quality that goes into every modular floor we build.

But what about the small modular home builder (2-20 homes a year), will they be left behind as the factories gear up for more commercial projects?  Absolutely NOT!  But they must start making some noise so the factories that supply them remember to pay attention to their customer's changing needs.

These builders will stay the course with factories that meet and/or exceed their needs.  Better standard plans, easy customization, new Energy Star and "Green" building methods will give the modular home builder an edge over his site built competition.  Factory sales reps must be given the tools needed to not only take orders from these builders but also to help give the builders advice and marketing ideas to make their businesses more successful.  If a factory has just 20 builders buying a home a month, that would be the base needed for factories to pursue those commercial projects that usually bring in less profit but keeps the factory alive and jumping.

I've been observing the factories lately and I'm seeing several different patterns emerging. Some are unique, others very good and some just make me shake my head and wonder what the heck they are thinking. 

There are some progressive factories that are actually working on three fronts in the war to win business.  The management and owners are creating a more positive attitude in working with the builder, working with their sales reps to improve they way they interact with their builders and are setting up separate a commercial division to handle items unique to that market.  It is great to see these factories working to make the future better.

Then there are some factory owners that are doing only one or maybe two of those things mentioned above.  If they are doing the "working with the builder" and "sales rep" parts, but not the commercial part, they will also be successful.  But look out if your factory is doing the commercial thing only!  Ignoring the small builder can lead to disaster in the long run.  If the commercial work runs out and it will for a while (remember, everything is cyclical), they will not have a builder base to fall back on.

The small modular home builder is the key to the continued long term success of the factory and to ignore them or downplay their role in the process will be a major mistake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen Coach. My PA factory is working on a big apartment contract and I've been told that I can't get my SOLD house on the line until the middle of February. This is my last house with them. I'm taking your advice and talking to other modular builders before I choose my new factory.
They will want my business when spring gets here but I'm gone. Screw them!