Modular Briefs May/June 2004

MBSA Housing Conference Recap
Sand, sun, fun and serious talk about the modular industry. That’s what the Modular Building Systems Association (MBSA) delivered to its members this past March 21-23, when the industry gathered in Hilton Head, SC, for its 2004 Modular Housing Conference.

This three-day annual event was held at the ocean front Hilton Head Marriott Beach and Golf Resort at Palmetto Dunes, where great golf was augmented by educational opportunities at the trade show and the half-dozen seminars. “Every year, our annual conference grows in both size as well as quality andevery year I think it can’t possibly get better,” says Steve Snyder, MBSA executive director. “You would think that, by now, I would have learned because this year’s conference was the best yet. Everyone is already talking about next year’s conference at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and I’m sure the 2005 Conference will be just as memorable as 2004.”

Speaking of memorable, acceptance speeches can be poignant, touching and even inspiring. Earning this year’s MBSA President’s Award, Pat Fricchione, Jr., of Simplex Industries, delivered an acceptance speech that was all these things. And he managed it with considerable élan while coping with a podium that tried to walk away from the proceedings. The President’s Award is given each year to an MBSA member who has served the Association with distinction; Fricchione is a welcome addition to the ranks of past recipients.

The 2004 Conference saw the presidential torch pass from Don Shiner of Deluxe Homes to Jim Jones of Sun Building Systems. Shiner oversaw a year with many changes at MBSA, including membership increases, the formation of regional councils and the hiring of Char Harvey, the new assistant director.
This year’s conference was filled with a variety of seminars, including Financing Alternatives & Protecting Your Business Investment, by Rob Tribeck; Harnessing the Internet to Boost Sales, by Barry Lynn; Structured Cabling Systems for the Engineered Modular Home, by Lane Moncourtis; Design Matter & Details Count, by Alex Grinnell; The Changing Role of Sales Promotion, by Matt Gartner; and Unleashing the Power of Auto-CAD-It’s More Than Just Drawing Lines, by Daryl Bookout.

New York Opts for Third-Party Review
It’s a new era in New York. After 10 years of encouragement by the modular industry to follow the examples of other states, New York state officials agreed March 12 to try a pilot program for third-party plan review.

The news was greeted with jubilation in the industry, which has chafed under a backlog of design approvals that delayed projects and added a degree of uncertainty to construction schedules.

To qualify, manufacturers must have completed a minimum of 30 installations in the state within the last 12 months and must meet 14 other requirements. This includes that each third-party agency and manufacturer have at least one designated staff person who has successfully completed the following three American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA) titled courses:

  • The Wood Design Seminar
  • Wood Design with the International Codes
  • Design of Wood Frame Buildings for High Wind, Snow and Seismic Loadings

The MBSA, in cooperation with the American Wood Council of the AFPA, is sponsoring educational seminars. The seminars will be held on June 23-24 in Harrisburg at the Wyndham Harrisburg-Hershey and on July 7-8 in Manchester at the Executive Court Conference Center.

These seminars are designed to ensure modular manufacturer and third-party review agencies comply with the New York pilot program. Open to all, the cost per seminar is $95 for MBSA members and $150 for nonmembers. A continental breakfast and a lunch will be provided each day as part of your registration fee and a special room rate of $89 is available at each facility for seminar attendees.

Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) will be issued for attendance at the seminars in accordance with the American Forest and Paper Association’s accreditation with AIA, AIBD and IACET. The format of each two-day seminar will be as follows:

Day 1

  • The Wood Design Seminar
  • Wood Design with the International Codes

Day 2

  • Design of Wood Frame Buildings for
  • High Wind, Snow and Seismic Loadings For details, call 717- 238-9130 or visit

IBS Gets Training Grant
Indiana Building Systems (Elkhart, IN) recently received a $34,800 grant for training from the Indiana Department of Commerce’s Skills Enhancement Fund. The company qualified for the grant because it recently invested $411,000 in new equipment.

Kim Coates, vice president and general manager of Indiana Building Systems (IBS), told the South Bend Tribune newspaper that approximately 50 new jobs came along with the investment in equipment.

“The state money influenced us to make a greater investment,” Coates told the newspaper. “Capital investment without trained people to utilize it really doesn’t accomplish much.”

In 2003, Indiana awarded about $18 million in grants to train about 52,000 new and current employees at about 250 different companies that had made capital investments.

Mervine Now Hotelier
John Mervine Jr., former principal of the Delaware-based Nanticoke Homes, which went bankrupt in 2002, is now in the hotel business. The Wilmington News Journal reports Mervine has purchased the Tidewater Inn in Easton, MD, for an undisclosed amount.

“When I was young, I used to come here all the time, and I remember what the Tidewater Inn used to be,” Mervine is quoted as saying about the historic 114-room brick hotel. “That’s what we keep hearing, people who remember what the inn used to be.'” Mervine promised to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars during the next year on cosmetic upgrades and increasing the level of service. “We want to bring the clubs and events back,” Mervine says. “We want to make this a focal point of the town.” Montana Court Upholds Factory Housing The Montana State Supreme Court upheld a zoning ruling in favor of factory-built housing. Earlier this year, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed a District Court ruling that found in favor of a home buyer who purchased and sited a modular home (Yurczyk v. Yellowstone County).

In 2000, Yellowstone County issued a stop work order on a modular home that was being moved onto a piece of property on the basis that it did not constitute “on-site construction” and therefore violated the local zoning ordinance. The District Court decided the zoning provisions allowing site-built construction but not modular or manufactured construction were in violation of state statutes and found in favor of the home buyer. Yellowstone County then appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of the lower court.

For a complete reading of the Supreme Court decision, visit 02-062.doc.

CT Bridge Affects Shipments
In late March, modular manufacturers were unable to ship into many areas of Connecticut after an accident March 25 on the I-95 bridge in Bridgeport caused an explosion. State officials banned all oversize loads from entering the state through the western and southern borders. Additionally, the “best alternate route” proposed by state officials was not a viable option as a portion of that route does not allow oversize loads.

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