Looking To The Future
With the beginning of a new century stretching before us, it's appropriate to look to the future and dream what might be. In that regard, I agree with Thomas Jefferson who once said, "I like the dreams of the future rather than the history of the past."
First, I have a prediction. Within the next ten years, the majority of new homes will be built in factories and every new home will incorporate major factory-built components. While that statement may cause you to doubt my grasp of reality, the fact is that more and more traditional "stick-builders" have already embraced this emerging trend.
Even today, a resounding majority of homebuilders use roof trusses, pre-hung doors and windows. These same homebuilders face daily problems of non-performing subcontractors, scheduling nightmares and the dwindling labor pool of qualified workers. And these problems are only going to get worse.
Factory-built housing represents the only real solution. The past two decades have seen tremendous advances in the quality and durability of manufactured homes. More and more attention is being paid to providing homes that customers want and need. The real challenge for the manufactured housing industry over the next decade is to take full advantage of its opportunities. While we have the best "process" for building a home, we need to change with the times to profit from this burgeoning market.
If we are serious about becoming the dominant form of housing in the next decade, we must be prepared to immediately remake ourselves to better serve the needs of the customer. The recent downturn in shipments and sales has taught us a stark lesson - business as usual simply doesn't work. Being the cheapest is not always the avenue to long-term growth and profitability. We must focus on delivering the best home for the money and backing it up with outstanding and targeted customer service.
To put it quite simply, we must be prepared to do the right thing for the customer! It will not be easy and it will require a long-term industry commitment. But by doing so, we can build a future for manufactured housing that is a solid and profitable one.
The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is the national association representing all segments of the manufactured housing industry, including manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, financial institutions, community owners and state associations. Readers can contact MHI at 2101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 610, Arlington, Virginia 22201 or call 703-558-0400. Visit MHI on-line at www.manufacturedhousing.org