A Potpourri of MH T-shirts, & How We Can Share Them With Future Generations!
Blog Posting # 599 @ 21 August 2020; Copyright 2020. Educatemhc.com
Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’ comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing!
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INTRODUCTION: Two weeks ago, I sent dozens of MHInsiders (all major HUD-Code housing manufacturers, many property portfolio owners/operators, and other industry/asset class leaders) a lengthy email message with this SUBJECT line:
“Is COVID-19 really the culprit for manufactured housing ills these days, or simply being used as cover for other troublesome realities?’
Then talked about rapidly increasing wholesale housing prices, escalating delivery costs, and shipment backlogs extending into mid-2021. Requested input from recipients, and boy did I ever receive it – a dozen thoughtful, helpful replies to date! Will likely address these timely and troubling topics in next week’s blog posting (i.e. historic #600), but wanted to give ‘blog floggers’ (YOU) this opportunity to provide additional input. Send to GFA c/o firstname.lastname@example.org. Won’t use your name unless you make it clear it’s OK to do so.
Now for the lead-off to Part I of this week’s blog. The following dozen or more T-shirts in my collection, described here, were presumed ‘lost’ for the several years. Found them this past weekend as I was cleaning out my Franklin office. Now sharing some of their rich history with you!
A Potpourri of MH T-shirts,
How We Can Share Them With Future Generations!
But first, this IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. ‘Manufactured housing-related collections (i.e. books, T-shirts, coffee mugs, challenge coins and more) must find a home soon, or be lost to our industry forever!’ It’s our business legacy we’re talking about here! More on this a little later in this blog posting. GFA
Two dozen white, black and colored T-shirts trace manufactured housing history from 1936 to the present day. As I close down our corporate office – to work from home, I must ‘find a home’ for at least four collections accumulated since 1978. Carolyn has already said ‘no’ to turning our home into another manufactured housing museum.
So, what are the messages on these T-shirts? Well, just a taste here, as I’ll likely elaborate, maybe even photograph them, for a future Allen Legacy column in MHInsider, magazine, or feature in The Allen Confidential! business newsletter. But no photos here in this blog posting.
‘Visit the NATIONAL TRAILER SHOW, September 10-15, 1937, at 71st Armory in New York City’. So reads the message on oldest T-shirt, provided by the publishers of defunct Lost Highways magazine. To read more about that short-lived firm, and its’ colorful tales of ‘trailer life of yore’, watch for coverage in a future Allen Legacy column in MHInsider – one tracing manufactured housing history via its’ trade publications over seven decades.
Then there’s the iconic Manufactured Home Communities, Inc. (one of the earliest real estate investment trusts or REITs), WORLD TOUR T-shirt (1993) ‘Reshaping the Perception about Manufactured Housing Communities.’ Yes, this is the one with a caricature of (presumably) Sam Zell on the back shaking an accountant by the neck, saying: “For the last time pencil neck, it’s not called a trailer.” And, almost a decade later, MHC, Inc. (IL) came out with another white T-shirt, this one proclaiming: ‘Times Change. KEEP UP. Leading manufactured housing into the new millennium.’
What other T-shirts are in this eclectic collection? Here’re brief descriptions with a minimum of humorous and enlightening messages contained thereon. Details, and maybe photographs, will be published in one or another of the future trade publications mentioned earlier.
Chateau Communities, (MI & CO) another of the original REITs, later sold to Hometown America in 2003, distributed a variety of T-shirts over the years. One even promoting resident relations and ancillary income in their land lease communities.
ARC, a short-lived REIT (2004 & 2005), known at different times as Affordable Residential Communities and American Residential Communities (If my memory is right), designed a T-shirt featuring their corporate logo on the front and mission on the back. The corporate history of this firm, as brief as it was, deserves description someday, i.e. from its’ ‘ARC Way’ formula for turning around troubled communities, to the simultaneous auction of all its’ properties, in a huge hotel ballroom outside Chicago. Hint. The auction was so large; the firm’s stock price fluctuated throughout the day, as properties were bid for and sold – only to have all transactions nullified later, because sale prices did not meet the stated reserves.
Then there’s Community Housing Management Services (CA). The only non-profit public benefit portfolio owner/operator, that I’m aware of, to serve Senior citizens and others.
The Choice Group (MI) broke this T-shirt pattern by handing out dark blue button-top golf shirts to employees, residents, and clients.
The final portfolio firm to market itself in this unique fashion was/is Follett Investment Properties. This one debuted during year 2000, at a training conference in San Diego, CA. For that matter, I still wear, during spring and fall, a good quality windbreaker jacket also bearing the FollettUSA logo.
Oops! Almost forgot one. A jet black T-shirt from the Carlyle Group (Can’t tell you which one of the two firms that go by that name) features a really fearsome animal graphic on the back. You have to see it to believe it. Hence a future article, hopefully, with photographs.
Now for a plethora of miscellaneous non-corporate T-shirts, all of which have stories not told here. Ever heard of the Trailer Park Troubadours? Well, they’re for real-real. Their slogan? ‘I’ve been trailer hoppin’.’ I met the duo at a MH show at the Grand Ol Opry Hotel outside Nashville, TN. decades ago. Another of my corporate mementoes is a framed and signed glossy photo of the TPT guys performing their land lease community-focused country songs.
Then there’s the Bropfs (independent – street – MHRetailers in St. Charles, MO., with their yellow T-shirts featuring ‘doublewides’ and unit pricing; and white ones for ‘singlewides’ and unit pricing. The founder of this firm, now retired long-retired Bob Bropf, was known for attending semi-formal state association banquets wearing a long sleeved T-shirt that mimicked a tuxedo, tie, and cummerbund.
Now, this one was sold at a high-end big box retail store in the Mall of America in MN. An off-color brown, the front features a rendering of an old singlesection ‘mobile home’, with this caption above: ‘I STILL LIVE AT HOME!’
Ever heard of The Kings? It’s a social group of businessmen (i.e. land lease community owners/operators from throughout the Southeast U.S.). Their gray, long sleeve T-shirt features this slogan: “You mess with me…you mess with the whole trailer park!’ And, come to think of it, FollettUSA also has a red T-shirt, out and about, with the same slogan on it.
OK, there’s still a half dozen or more T-shirts I haven’t described here, so watch future issues of MHInsider and TAC! for ‘the rest of the story’ and hopefully, photos as well.
Recalling the opening paragraph of this blog posting, this T-shirt collection – and a few other historical collections, need a home! This is where you come in. Some reading this blog, have the wherewithal to fund part or all the manufactured housing hall and displays at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame, museum, and library, in Elkhart, IN. The RV industry already enjoys a massive presence at the facility, and funding is all that’s holding up manufactured housing. Please give the matter some thought, then phone (574) 293-2344 and ask to talk to Darryl Searer, director.
So, if you don’t want this (blog) to be the last word on historic T-shirts, or books for that matter – recalling parts I & II of Allen Legacy columns in recent MHInsider magazines, contact the Hall of Fame to learn how much $ it’ll take to ensure manufactured housing’s presence there! In the meantime, know that Carolyn and I donate every year, and have for decades, but we cannot do this alone. Remember, the number is (574) 293-2344, and visit their website online. Better yet, plan to attend the Class of 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on 3 December 2020, to see for yourself what an impressive facility this is. See you there!