Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NAHB BSC's Disappointing Turnout for Modular Home Industry

Yesterday I attended the first of the two day BSC Showcase 24 at the NAHB's headquarters in Washington DC. This is my first time experiencing any BSC event that showcased all the non-site built methods; Panels, Concrete, Log and Modular.

To say I was disappointed with the turnout for the only thing that dedicated to modular, a 9:00 - 10:00 AM meeting around a table that wouldn't fit all the industry folks that regularly attend one of my monthly Builder Breakfasts, would be an understatement.

Yes, there were several factories (4) and builders (4) there but the rest of the approximately 20+ people were suppliers, sponsors, NAHB people and me. Tom Arnold spoke about the importance of factories getting behind RESNET's effort for industry wide acceptance but that was met with mostly blank stares and an agreement to right a letter of support for RESNET. You would think with the 2015 Energy codes hitting the housing industry soon that everyone would be worried and trying to get ahead of it but we wrote a letter of support and to whom it will be sent is still a mystery to little old me.

That was the extent of this once a year meeting for modular housing and it was dismal.

Then from 10:00 AM to noon there was absolutely nothing of interest for the modular people to listen to or attend. Some of us went to the Peet's Coffee Shop across the street and had our own meeting. I forgot to mention, there was no coffee served by the NAHB until the luncheon. What is that all about? Maybe a coffee shortage.

This was what the modular folks had to do for almost two hours before the luncheon
The rest of the afternoon was filled with speakers, including Dr. David Crowe NAHB's chief economist, and Jim Tobin, Senior Vice President and Chief Lobbyist, NAHB, talking about very interesting things that have nothing to do with furthering any of our systems industries.

Dr. David Crowe talking about.......
The highlight of the afternoon was the Opening Keynote speaker, Lt General Rick Lynch, that we all knew wouldn't talk about our industry but was so darn interesting that everyone was glued to his every word.

Then we had the S.A. Walters Systems-Built Achievement Award. Kevin Flaherty, a long time supporter of the modular industry and the BSC was given this prestigious award. A big thank you to Kevin.

Kevin Flaherty (left) accepting the S.A. Walter Award
Next came the Jerry Rouleau Awards for Excellence in Marketing and Home Design. This year saw Ritz-Craft Homes kick butt and take just about every modular home building award. The winning entries from them were fantastic. Their website, phone app and homes they designed and built were deserving of these accolades. Jerry Rouleau would be pleased.

Reed Dillon (in the center) accepting another award for Ritz-Craft Homes
Then the best part of the day happened; the networking reception. Good food and good conversation. Turns out that many of the modular people attending Monday's session were as disappointed as I was.

The Networking Reception
Modular housing should be the big dog in the BSC but it seems to be treated like something to be tolerated instead of what could be the future of housing in the US. Too bad that the NAHB doesn't get it.

The log home industry was hitting on all cylinders with their own separate seminar and council meeting and a table of magazines all featuring log homes. I looked for the modular home table with all its magazines but there was none. Maybe the log home folks hid them......

All Logs, no Modular
By the way, Modcoach was busy changing all the NAHB public computers to show the Modular Home Builder blog website. My little victory for modular. Will I be invited back to Showcase 25...probably not but I will certainly try.
My contribution to modular housing


Anonymous said...

I was at BSC on Monday and saw the same things you did. If this is what our NAHB thinks of BSC, then heaven help us.
Coach, Keep doing what you do and someday the NAHB may actually think of the BSC as a partner rather than "something to be tolerated"

Kevin Flaherty said...


I was also "disappointed" when I read your review of the recent NAHB Building Systems Council (BSC) gathering. By focusing on the negative you missed the primary purpose of the BSC and a major opportunity to drive forward the cause of modular construction.

As you pointed out in a recent blog post the modular industry is not participating in the overall housing rebound. The way forward not only requires supporting current modular builders but also developing new builders willing to embrace modular construction.

The BSC is the best place to take the modular message directly to the largest association of US home builders. While the MHBA is actively supporting the interest of existing modular companies and builders the BSC is presenting the modular value proposition to thousands of potential new builder customers every year. Did you know that last year's, BSC sponsored education sessions, were attended by 1400 interested builders? Or that the BSC efforts at the International Builders Show resulted in 3,066 new builder leads that were shared with our membership? In fact all of the BSC led modular specific activities over the past year resulted in 37,174 page views of our modular member directory!

Since the BSC represents all "building systems" the content of our gathering is designed to address issues pertaining to the entire housing market. I doubt most modular builders would agree with your assertion that housing economics or housing policy has "nothing to do with furthering any of our systems industries". These sessions are consistently the highest rated in our post meeting surveys of attendees. Our membership understands that we need knowledge of the entire housing market if we are to thrive as modular builders.

Growth requires all of our efforts, MHBA's terrific advocacy for modular specific issues, NAHB's advocacy for the home building industry, and a vibrant BSC. Please join us in our efforts. By the way, let me be the first to invite you back to next year's Showcase.

Kevin Flaherty

Harris said...


The NAHB should tell the BSC to send their annual budget to the MHBA and do it ASAP. It's pretty obvious that NAHB is MIA on everything but steaming BS.

Charles Bevier said...

Hey Gary:
I wanted to weigh in on your negative review of the BSC's Showcase. You bemoaned the fact that there was little for the "modular people" to do. I disagree completely.

Showcase has always been about improving your company's bottom line. As such, it's outwardly focused, on the economy, on the housing market, on demographics of home buyers, where the market is headed, trends and how to profit from them. These are issues that affect us all, regardless of whether builder, manufacturer or a vendor like myself.

It's not focused on how to squeeze three more trusses an hour out of the truss guy on the line. Not saying there isn't a need for that, but that's not what Showcase is about.

I should also mention, you didn't attend the second day when arguably the best educational material was presented, including the headliner Meredith Oliver, who was really awesome.

It's all too easy to criticize attendance levels or lack of a coffee station for a couple hours.

It would have served your readership better to have accurately reported on each educational session and give them tips and tactics to succeed with home buyers. Of which, there were plenty!

I did enjoy finally meeting you in person. And I wished I had the opportunity to spend more time with you. That's one of Showcase's hallmark strengths is its networking opportunities. The time to get to know people and learn more about what they are passionate about. I hope you give Showcase another chance.

Charles Bevier
Bevier Creative

Coach said...

I can take the criticism being handed out about my article. If I had stayed for the second day, I'm sure I would have really enjoyed Meredeth and Scott's presentations. Nobody holds them in higher respect for what they bring to marketing and sales then me.

My article was written when I got home and realized that besides the awards ceremony, there was no real industry talk, especially in light of modular housing's declining share of the residential new home market.

As far as listening to someone drone on about how to squeeze more trusses per hour into the production line, that would have generated an article of a different nature and would probably not been well received either.

My blog's main target is the modular home builder that is trying to build homes in one of the most difficult times ever facing the housing industry. If someone feels that I was wrong in pointing out that very few modular factories attended and that even fewer modular home builders were there, then for that I am sorry.