MBSA Fall Board Meeting
The Modular Building Systems Association’s fall board meeting Sept. 16 will be held at the sweetest place on earth–the Hershey Golf Club. The agenda consists of breakfast, the Board meeting and an important separate meeting regarding an insurance program. This will be followed by lunch and a golf tournament on Hershey’s East Course, followed by a cocktail hour and dinner.
In other MBSA news:

  • The 2005 Modular Housing Conference is scheduled for the Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Beach Club in Ponte Vedra, FL, on April 10-12, 2005.
  • Monica Treaster has been hired as the new MBSA office manager.
  • An insurance solution for modular builders may be close at hand. The MBSA is working with insurance pros to create a comprehensive insurance program for builders who join its association. While details are still being ironed out, the program may include general liability, workers comp, medical, dental–the works.
  • The MBSA completely redesigned the Members Only Section of its Web site. If you have forgotten your login and password, please contact the MBSA.
  • The final touches are being made on an updated transportation manual that will encompass all 50 states. The new manual will include current state-specific information that includes legal limits, permit limits, turnpike information, escorts, lighting, signs, flags and hours of travel.
  • In June, 83 industry pros completed the American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA) titled courses: The Wood Design Seminar, Wood Design with the International Codes, and Design of Wood Frame Buildings for High Wind, Snow and Seismic Loadings. The two-day event was sponsored by the MBSA and designed to ensure those that ship into New York meet the new third-party pilot program guidelines.

MHI Creates Mod Council
In a sign of its membership increasingly moving toward the modular building system, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has created the National Modular Housing Council (NMHC). At the recent MHI Summer Meeting, the MHI Manufacturers Division voted to elevate the Modular Housing Committee to the national stage.

The purpose of the NMHC will be to oversee and direct MHI’s representation of the modular housing industry at the national level, as well as to help bring consensus within the industry and the states.

Each manufacturer who produces modular homes will be eligible to sit on the council. Modular suppliers, retailers, communities, and financial services members will also be represented.

Ritz-Craft Rolls Out Design Center
In preparation for a push south, Ritz-Craft Corporation (Mifflinburg, PA) will unveil a new design center as a way to educate builders and buyers in the Carolinas to the company’s custom capabilities at the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Show, this Sept. 8-9 in Charlotte, NC.

The design center will be 32 feet wide and 68 feet long, with six kitchens and interactive displays for buyers to choose interior amenities, lighting and plumbing fixtures, cabinets and built-ins, closet systems, siding, flooring and a host of other products.

“We think it will be a real hit with buyers. But we also are offering it to our builders, as model homes especially designed to showcase our homes and their features,” says Gary Ames, marketing director at Ritz-Craft.

The Manufactured Housing Show has increasingly become a place where many manufacturers show off their modular technologies. After the show, Ritz-Craft’s new design center will be relocated to an industrial park in Rockingham, NC, near Route 78–the main arterial through the state. This industrial office park will be the home of a new modular manufacturing facility. Steel will be planted in the ground this fall, with a spring start-up planned for the new 200,000 sq.ft. facility. More than three years ago, Ritz-Craft launched a new 175,000 sq.ft. state-of-the-art facility in Jonesville, MI, which has been a strong performer for the company. “We’ve got the design on paper. We’ve got a GM hired,” says Ames.

Penn College
Taps New Director Frederick G. “Rick” Terry III has been named director of the recently established Factory Built Housing Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology (Williamsport, PA).

Terry has more than 15 years experience in the modular industry at the builder and manufacturing level. With degrees in business and education, Terry will build on the success of the Factory Built Housing Center’s training programs. The center will play a key role in the industry by providing education, research and support activities. The Modular Housing Training Institute (MHTI)–a partnership of Penn College, the state Department of Community and Economic Development and the MBSA–is an industry-recognized educational course that has been providing quality instruction to meet the needs of factory-built housing since 1997.

The course, conducted by seasoned industry experts, has met with overwhelming success. Several companies have found the course so beneficial to development of their business that they sponsor annual sessions for their plant mangers, line supervisors, quality inspectors, builder-dealers, erection crews and finish crews, Terry says.

To date, nearly 600 participants throughout the industry have received certification for completing the institute course. As the new code requirements of the Uniform Construction Code are implemented, the demand for these and other courses is expected to increase.

Courses focusing on the new International Residential Code, Occupational Safety & Health Administration safety, interpersonal communications, project management, and basic supervision are available and can be tailored to meet the needs of the industry. In addition, development of the traditional MHTI course in an online format is well under way, with the first offering tentatively scheduled for Spring 2005, thanks to the support of the MBSA. The benefit of using factory-built products for multifamily and light commercial applications also will be explored. Those interested in the course can register online at the MHTI Web site, www.pct.edu/mhti.

The 2004-05 Modular Housing Training Institute schedule at Penn College includes the following course offerings: Sept. 13-14, MHI 100-01; Oct. 12-13, MHI 100-02; Nov. 2-3, MHI 100-03; Dec. 7-8, MHI 100-04; Jan. 12-13, MHI 100-01, Feb. 1-2, MHI 100-02; Feb. 23-24, MHI 100-03, March 8-9, MHI 100-04; and March 30-31, MHI 100-05. The Factory Built Housing Center also is seeking sponsorship members, from $100 to $500. For details, e-mail fterry@pct.edu or visit www.pct.edu/mhti.

Cromwell Earns ‘Project Of The Year’
Longtime modular builder Rich Cromwell, owner of Merrymeeting Associates Development Corp. and Modular Advantage, both of Brunswick, ME, has earned the “Project of the Year” award from Maine’s Association of Planners. Cromwell’s Topsham Crossing development was singled out by planners as being well designed and instantly creating a sense of neighborhood, according to an article by Michael Reagan in the Times Record newspaper.

The homes, built close to one another in a mixed-use area, are within a five- to 10-minute walk to the downtown area. “This is a way that can result in well-designed, well-planned communities that people can enjoy living in and create something different from the typical suburban development,” says Town Planner Rich Roedner.

Cromwell received the award during a Topsham Board of Selectmen meeting this summer. Keith Luke, former director of Topsham Development Inc., nominated Cromwell for the recognition.

Cromwell uses New England Homes (Greenland, N.H.) as his modular producer. The plan for the triangular-shaped area is for 68 homes, 20 of which will be affordable housing scattered through Topsham Crossing. To help first-time home buyers, Topsham Crossing received a $100,000 grant last year from the Maine State Housing Authority. The grant helps defer infrastructure costs, such as for roads, utility work, water and sewer lines.

A first-time home buyer could reduce his or her base payment for a new home by $12,500 as a result of help from the grant, Cromwell says. “The infrastructure costs are so high that, in many cases, even if a developer gets the land as a gift, a developer couldn’t develop it as affordable housing,” Cromwell says. “I’m pricing these houses on not what the market will bear, but based on the actual costs of building the houses at a reasonable profit,” he says.

Prices for homes in Topsham Crossing range from $155,000 to $225,000, depending on buyers needs and wants, Cromwell says. Builder Pleads Guilty To Fraud
A New Jersey modular home builder who was convicted of theft from his clients in the past, plead guilty to more fraud in August and will do time, according to the Home News Tribune newspaper.

Kenneth Thomore, 42, of New Brunswick, NJ, who has operated under the business names Primo Modular Homes and Built To Order Modular Homes, plead guilty in New Brunswick Superior Court Aug. 17 to defrauding 17 clients of
$360,000. He faces five years in prison under a plea agreement negotiated by his attorney, Louis Manzione of Woodbridge, and Assistant Prosecutor Abraham Chasnoff, according to the Aug. 17 edition of the Home News Tribune.

Forty-two other charges of forgery, theft and a charge of using a corporation for unlawful purposes against his wife were dismissed in the plea agreement.

Thomore was sentenced in March 2002 to 364 days in the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center after being convicted in December 2001 of theft and issuing bad checks in connection with that business. He was released on Aug. 10, 2002. He was subsequently indicted two more times–a three-count indictment in October 2002 and a 40-count indictment in April 2003–in connection with the fraudulent practices of another modular-home company, Built to Order Modular Homes on Route 18 in East Brunswick.

The 17 victims paid about $360,000 for homes that were never built, with down payments ranging from $4,000 to $57,900. A vice president of Built to Order Modular Homes, Howard J. Guenther of Montgomery, NJ, plead guilty to theft in March 2003 and agreed to testify against Thomore in exchange for a probationary sentence.


Homeway Homes Happening
Longtime modular home builders, Schieler & Rassi Quality Builders (Deer Creek, IL), have launched a new modular home manufacturing facility called Homeway Homes. Once construction is completed, the new $5 million, 60,000 sq.ft. manufacturing facility will produce as many as four homes each day, destined for builders and their buyers in a five-state region. Initially, the company will provide 50 local jobs and up to 150 over time.
“The key to our success has always been–and will continue to be–the quality of our employees,” says Brian Schieler, general manager of Homeway Homes. “Partnerships, People and Product. These three things will help bring great jobs to great people who will produce a great quality product.” Homeway Homes received a $750,000 state grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to help with the cost of infrastructure improvement for the new facility.

The family-owned venture will incorporate its 40 years of experience in design and turnkey modular home construction to offer other independent builders a better way to build.

“Homeway Homes is about to bring home building to a greater level of quality, affordability and shortened construction cycles because of the technological advances that modular industry has brought to the marketplace,” says Rich Schieler, production manager, Homeway Homes.
From left, Ted Sheiler, Rich Sheiler, Brian Scheiler, Bob Scheiler.

The new plant will be operational in time for spring building season, with the first homes rolling off the line in April. For details, contact Brian Schieler at 309-447-6291.

R-Anell In The News

Andy Miller, the general manager of R-Anell Homes (Denver, NC) has been named president of the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute (NCMHI). He will serve as president for one year. In the building industry for 30 years, Miller has been with R-Anell Homes since 1998.

Darrell Mullinix of R-Anell Homes has been named regional marketing manager, where he has served as the vice president of marketing for 15 years. In this new position, Mullinix will be responsible for the retention of the current customer base and growth of market share with those customers, as well as locating and establishing new distribution points with prospective customers.

Mullinix, in the manufactured housing industry for 37 years, joined R-Anell in 1989.

Don’t you love it when a plan for a beautiful home design and nationwide publicity comes together? This is the case with the latest home from Genesis’ factory in Berthoud, CO.
The company’s 20,000th home, a 6,000 sq.ft., $1.4 million luxury home design from Genesis’ award-winning Americana Series, will be the 2005 House of the Year for Country Living magazine. The home, sited on Boyd Lake in a neighborhood with other multimillion dollar homes in the Fort Collins/Loveland area, will be the subject of several features and generous photo layouts in Country Living.

This luxury home, equipped with top-of-the-line appliances, cabinetry and other high-end amenities, is also included in a Colorado Parade of Homes in September. Look for more details in future issues.