Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Champion Enterprises Holdings, LLC, announced Tuesday that John N. Lawless, III has been named its President and Chief Executive Officer. Since 2007, he has been the President of Headwaters Construction Materials, Inc., a manufacturer of building products based in Wixom, MI. Prior to that, Mr. Lawless was President and Chief Executive Officer of Tapco International Corporation.

So what did Champion Homes get with their new president?  They got another non-modular guy with experience in selling building materials without one minute of manufactured or modular hands-on knowledge. It seems that the bigger the company, the less they look for factory experience and more for financial experience (bean counters). At least he knows what materials are used in building homes.

Mr Lawless was President of Headwaters Construction Materials, Inc before joining Champion. Headwaters is the blanket organization that owns several of the bigger names in site-built and in a few cases, factory housing. They own Tapco, a division that is best known for its Mid America line of extruded and molded gables, vents and shutters. Headwaters also owns FlexCrete and Eldorado Stone. These are big names in site building but are rarely used in factory housing.

Prior to joining the Headwaters' Tapco (Tapco was acquired by Headwaters) as Vice President in 1989, he was a Commercial Lender for Commercial Bank in Detroit.

I guess lessons learned by other modular home manufacturers that are owned by investment companies fell on deaf ears again. Remember the battery guy that was brought in to run one of the biggest modular companies in the east and drove it to the brink of bankruptcy? Let's hope that Mr Lawless doesn't try to micromanage the people that actually know how to run a home manufacturing factory.

As I always do with new people, I wish Mr Lawless well in his new position and hope that he not only learns how factories build homes but doesn't try to rewrite our industry.

Oh, one last thing; he left a job that paid him over $700,000 in compensation last year to join Champion Homes who just came out of bankruptcy. I wonder what the attraction was?


Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmmmmm. I don't know coach, could it be the chance at stock options made him make the switch, or maybe he is the point man for Headwaters to become the next holding company into our industry.

Coach said...

I can't believe I didn't think of that. Big investment companies buying modular home factories makes perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

Coach, are you talking about the guy that was President of Excel and cheated that guy out of his prize when you said battery guy?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the guy that left Excel was an executive with a battery company.