Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Linkedin, the semi-social network for the white collar and industry leader crowd, is one of my Internet stops every day.  I look at the latest comments about housing and real estate looking for trends and news that I feel the readers of this blog would enjoy.

Recently someone posted a topic on one of the "groups" asking for the distinction between modular and manufactured housing.  One comment really caught my attention.  It was from Greg Hewlett, owner of M H Imperial Homes in the Glen Falls, NY area.

You can feel his frustration with some modular home factories and I believe he makes a good argument as to why factories need to have a better vetting process.

Here is his comment:

We have an identity crisis in the industry but I do not agree with the causes stated above. We do very well with getting customers past the design limitations issues. 3D rendering tools hundreds of images for our customers to see that they have no design limitations. If they can get it from a site builder they can get it from us only better. That is for the customers I get to see. The issue I see is for the ones I never get to talk to because of the preconceived notions of what modular has to offer and the quality concerns.

The quality concerns are real. In my block there are 4 mod dealers. One of us is a builder. The other three are retailers. The majority of the mods built in my area are garbage and cost way more then people expected. That is because these old school trailer sales lots still work on "Sell" the home and let the customer fend for themselves on the rest. Hundreds of horror stories exist. We all know they exist in site building to, but it is harder to label them into a group the way mods are.

Every manufacture tells me how they would like to work with QUALITY builders but if they can sign up a sales lot they will regardless of reputation.

All the market of LEED and Green in the world is useless as long as some of those houses are pushed through dealers that leave the homeowner to fend for themselves. The best thing we are seeing is banks that will not finance if there is not a define GC other then the home owner. But what would solve our industries problems the fastest is legislation that requires the Dealer to be wholly responsible for the entire project. Over time this will weed out the non-builder dealers, improve the consistence of completion of modular homes and allow the industry to be seen as the Quality houses modular homes should be when properly completed. If would help if the manufactures bought in to this.
Posted by Greg Hewlett


Anonymous said...

Same story here. Seems like they will sign up any street retailer who can write their name. You end up with a " modular " home sitting on the lot as a model surrounded by trailers and Hudulars. Then you go down the street and see a GC handling the same line of modulars. Guess what the buyer thinks as he drives by the GC's office! Right....they are not interested in buying a trailer
even though the GC is selling a top of the line modular home. The buyer associates the modular with that trailer lot and moves on to the stick builder. Ahhh, business is good! Look how many units are on the production line and the real GC,s, why they can just learn to live with it! That seems to be the attitude of some of the factories now.

Anonymous said...

Most Modular Manufacturers must cross over into Retailer, Builder, Commercial & Developer types in order to survive and keep factory workers employed. If they relied solely on Builder/Developer Business, they would not be around.

Lets be honest, I see people who are "Self-Proclaimed" Builders and their place of business looks exactly the same and actually use a "Trailer" as their office, thats contradicting yourself.

Overcoming the the objection a customer brings to surface tying a trailer lot with the same product you carry is not that hard if you have sales skills.

Factories must run efficiently and consistently to make profit. The above comments, in my opinion are excuses and not factual. It sounds real good and I would be curious how many homes the "Anonymous" and original post actually sell. I guess if you could provide 15 million dollars of volume to your manufacturer, they could survive. If you are only selling 3-4 homes a year, sorry, thats not a win-win for ANY manufacturer.