Saturday, July 2, 2011


One of the East Coast's best little modular factories closed its doors in June.  Design Homes LLC has had many owners over its lifetime but it just never seemed to as successful as its surrounding Northeast Pennsylvania neighbors like Simplex Homes, Excel Homes and Signature Custom Homes.

Design Homes LLC in Bloomsburg, PA

This little boutique builder was recently singled out for its green construction methods and the management and sales staff touted their ability to build just about anything that was thrown their way.  One of Design's drawbacks however might have been its limited production capacity of about 13 - 15 floors a week that in the best of times just couldn't keep up and in the slow times couldn't survive with the lesser demand as their breakeven was too high.

I will always have a soft spot for Design Homes as I was part of their operations many years ago and I have to say that the people there were truly like one big family, warts and all.   I wish all the employees quickly get acquired by other factories as they are quality people.

I hear that it is up for sale and I hope someone in the modular home industry buys it and is able to make it a profitable factory once again.  But it might have to wait until President Obama and Congress figure out how to get new housing turned around.

This is the second major modular home builder to close in June.  Barvista Homes in Colorado closed its doors after 10 years.  Click here to read more about their closing.


William said...

I hate to see any modular company close but I think the Design closure was predestined. When New Era sold to Champion and Design was not a part of the deal that said something that the buyers of Design must not have heard. Even if Design was given away it had a tough future. It was not a bad little plant but it just never seemed to catch on with a loyal, dependable distribution network that could sustain the business through even the good times, much less lean markets like the past few years. Elliot Fabri is as good, or better, modular executive as the industry has and he and his team could not make Design a perennial profit center. And I think if any purchaser could have made Design work Vic DePhillips was one of the few who could do it.
Another casualty. How many does that make? Coach, that is a good question - how many modular companies have folded in this current downturn?

Anonymous said...

The real question is not how many plants closed but rather why are modular homes the least favorite type of new home sold? I think they only have about a 3% market share.
Coach, that would be a very interesting thing for your readers to try and answer.

Anonymous said...

I bought into Design because of the people that worked there..The product that they were able to build condsidering the design and layout of the production facility, spoke very loudly for the work ethic of the employees. The company did make a profit after Bobby Christiansen was brought in to run it, but we could not store or save enough money to tough out this protracted economic downturn. And in case anyone hasn't noticed our industry hads not gotten any help whatsoever from the Whitehouse. Housing typically leads the economy into and out of recessions. We helped the banking industry,cars and everyone else, but not housing. It is a shame, an absolute shame. I am saddened by this loss of Design and the job loss brought about by it's closing.

Anonymous said...

As a former builder working with their homes I can tell you that the management was simply as disloyal as it gets and this caught up to them. What is truly surprising is how they lasted as long as they did given they had to continually prospect for new customers once good customers got sick of their poor management. Once the real talent left them so did the good builders. Poor strategy, poor execution and poor management, what did you expect?