Your First VALEDICTION
1 November 2019; www.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: Now here’s something, about me, about which you knew or know nothing!
My practice of penning ‘valedictions’, or ‘fond farewells’, to friends and relatives when they die. Started doing this in 1996, upon the passing of my father. At the time, I rewrote a birthday gift story about him, into a tribute that was printed, read, and shared during his memorial service. Since then, I’ve continued the practice with individuals I’ve known well enough to have had personal experiences worthy of sharing in this fashion. The valediction included here is for one of the many owners/operators of land lease communities I’ve known well during the past four decades.
A Valediction, a ‘bidding farewell’ to Darrel G. Cohron
I met Darrel Cohron, and his twin Harrel, during the early 1970s, when relocating to Indianapolis from Philadelphia, PA., as part of a plant management team tasked to build a new pre-fab housing plant in Franklin, IN. I’d been told, by local apartment and nursing home developers Frank, Ethan & Rollin Jackson, the Cohron brothers, and a Greenwood businessman – the late Bud Meyer, would be knowledgeable resources about factory-built housing in general; manufactured housing, mobile homes and parks in particular. Well we met, and ‘got a leg up’ on our assignment, learning how doing business in the Midwest would not be wholly akin to what we experienced back East – mainly how union labor was the exception rather than the rule, at the time.
Ten years later, long after the pre-fab plant closed, and shortly after I’d started my own firm;, I sought Darrel’s advice again. This time it had to do with me wanting him to critique my estimated value of the large manufactured home community I was fee-managing in Mooresville, IN> It was in foreclosure and no investor would pay anywhere near the amount of development money the bank had loaned and lost in the project. They asked me if I’d buy it. Well, I had but $10,000 in savings, a wife and two small children, and not desire to lose this fee-management client, so I estimated the 500 rental homesite property, with but 100 homes paying rent, to be worth only $400,000. Asked Darrel to ‘check my numbers’ and advise. Here’s how this part of the story is told in my 2017 book, SWAN SONG, a ‘Semi-autobiography, and history of land lease communities I since 1970’:
‘Darrel agreed with my estimate, and his parting word of wisdom was this: ‘There comes a point in everyone’s life when you decide to stay on the safety of the porch, or go out and run with the big dogs! George, I think this is your safe porch or big dog decision moment in life!’
Took Darrel’s advice, found a partner, along with $400,000 and bought the property. Now that’s the Darrel we remember and appreciate. Certainly for me!
Then there’s the 2010 book, The Trailer Twins, a.k.a. ‘The Harrel & Darrel Cohron Story’. Here are some of my favorite passages from this biography.
Mayor Paul Ricketts recalling “…( a) fond memory of Harrel & Darrel wrasslin’ in the gravel of their sales lot, both dressed in suits. They called such altercations their board meetings’. When they were through , they brushed themselves off, and we all went to dinner.”
And this from Darrel, talking about the manufactured housing business: “We loved it. We still do. You have to. If you’re not in love with what you do, you’re just not ever gonna make it.”
Darrel & Harrel’s business success formula? “First, you never lie to a customer and second, after a sale, you give good customer service and follow up to make sure the customer is satisfied.” Plus this, about working together for life: “We both know we’re dedicated to the business and to each other and our families. If something needs to be done, we will do it. Our motto is ‘get up early, stay late, and tell the truth’.”
Don’t know ‘bout you, but as a local manufactured housing businessman, I’ll miss the friendly camaraderie of those Christmas parties out in the barn in back of the Cohron’s home sales center along Pendleton Pike.
Well Darrel, you’ve lived a long and prosperous life – just look at the legacy you and Harrel leave behind, in family, friends, and fortune. When I get to heaven, I’ll ask St. Peter where to find you, and he’ll likely say the same thing as the folk at the assisted living facility where you lived this past year. “Just walk down that street of gold until you hear country music played loud and bold. That’s where you’ll find Darrel Cohron!” Hope to see you then and there old friend!
George Allen, colleague & fellow RV/MH Hall of Fame member, October 2019.
Want to buy either or both books mentioned in this valediction? SWAN SONG is available via www.educatemhcv.com And The Trailer Twins is available from the RV/MH Hall of Fame store: (574) 293-2344
Hope you liked the valediction to Darrel Cohron. Who knows? Perhaps someday I’ll pen a like tribute to you and your life adventure. GFA