In this episode of The MHP Broker’s Tips and Tricks podcast, Maxwell Baker, president of The Mobile Home Park Broker, interviewed park owner Steve Case about his industry experience and involvement with SECO.
This and every Tips and Tricks podcast episode is brought to you by The MHP Broker’s’ proprietary Community Price Maximizer. Use this four-step system to get the highest price possible for your mobile home park or RV community when you sell it through The MHP Broker. Guaranteed. Ask Max for details.
Here Are the Show Highlights:
Thinking of joining SECO? You should be if you’re currently involved in the mobile home industry in any way, or plan to be. You can call Max at The Mobile Home Park Broker, learn more about SECO and our innovative Community Price Maximizer platform to optimize your park value and sale price. Just drop Max Baker a line at email@example.com or give him a call at (678) 932-0200.
Power Quotes in This Episode:
(About Mobile Home University) “And we just had a blast teaching people about the industry that were new to it, maybe coming from the multifamily or office space, and we did a few boot camps along the way and it was a great time.” (Steve, 2:50)
“…that was the very first thing I did when I jumped into mobile home park brokerage. I bought (new Mobile Home University owners) Frank and Dave’s home study course. I mean, it’s a great course, man, and if they were able to absorb the stuff that you were doing and during that time, man, the course has been pretty amazing over the years, and it’s gotten better and better.” (Max, 5:22)
“We came up with an idea, Spencer, myself and another operator up in the northern part of Georgia, to get together just for a day, get as many community owners as we could to get together and talk about how we could help each other out with different tips, techniques, things that we were experiencing. I think at that first meeting there was eight or ten of us. I think it was in 2007, it could have been 2008. After that we did this annual thing that kept growing and growing.” (Steve, 7:11)
“Spencer has done a phenomenal job in expounding upon it, bringing in manufacturers, bringing in vendors like yourself, the brokers, the different lenders, service agencies, those sorts of things, putting them all into what we call a convention.” (Steve, 8:30)
“So I think this year is going to be the best educational platform we’ve ever had.” (Steve, 10:04)
Hello and welcome to the Mobile Home Park Brokers Tips and Tricks. This is the podcast where we talk about mobile home park investing because that’s what we’ve been involved in for the last decade. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Here is your host, Maxwell Baker.
00:22 Maxwell Baker
Hey y’all! Welcome to another beautiful episode of the Mobile Home Park Brokers Tips and Tricks Podcast. As always, this episode is brought to you by the Community Price Maximizer. It is our proprietary system that will guarantee you a higher price when you exclusively list with us and today we have one of the OG’s y’all. The OG’s, the original gangsters of Mobile Home Park Investing, has been around for a long time doing these deals and Steve Case, welcome to the show, man. I appreciate you coming on.
00:56 Steve Case
Well, thanks Max, for having me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been called an OG…
01:01 Maxwell Baker
01:04 Steve Case
…but yeah, I have been in the business a long time. It doesn’t seem that long, but it’s been quite a few years.
01:10 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, man, you’re going to have to get used to my Atlanta urban hip hop innuendos here, so just feel free to laugh if you don’t understand them (laughs). So Steve, tell us a little bit about your background and love to just kind of unpack all the different things. Steve Case has done so much for this industry, done deals with Dave and Frank, and has done well over 19 mobile home park deals himself and has taught hundreds, if not thousands of people on Mobile Home Park Investing over his years of having Mobile Home University. So Steve, tell us a little bit about how you got into the business and your journey to who you are today.
01:54 Steve Case
Well, sure, Max. I moved to the Middle Georgia area in ’99 and I was an Air Force pilot, active duty at the time. Knew I had about six, seven years left of retirement, so I didn’t really want to go in the airline industry once I did retire. So, I started looking around and I happened to run across two of the, I guess older OG’s, you would call them in the industry, Lonnie Scruggs and Ernest Tew, and actually became friends with both of them. They kind of were my mentors in the very beginning but, I got my first park in 2000 using a master lease with an option to purchase that Ernie helped me put together and probably from there we bought Ernie and I did a couple more deals together and I did some Lonnie deals to start with actually right off of Lonnie’s book, use all the techniques here locally and just went from there.
02:50 Steve Case
Then in 2004, myself and Corey Donaldson started Mobile Home University and we started doing these Mobile Home millions annual events around the country. We did those up until the latter part of 2008. At that time, I think I had six or seven parks, six or seven self storage facilities in the Southeast by that time, I retired in 2006, so at least I didn’t have a full time job doing all this. But along the way, from 2004 through 2008, we did a lot of educational stuff. We had speakers like Dike Spottiford, of course Lonnie, Frank Rolfe used to come to our events and speak along with Dave as well. And we just had a blast teaching people about the industry that were new to it, maybe coming from the multifamily or office space, and we did a few boot camps along the way and it was a great time.
03:50 Steve Case
But in 2008, things just got too crazy for me. I had kids that were early teens and I really want to be involved with them, plus all my communities and projects. So I kind of took a backseat to the educational piece, and that’s when Frank and Dave Reynolds kind of took it over. Corey and I sold them mobilehomeuniversity.com, and of course they’ve taken it to a much higher level and done some great things.
04:15 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, I hadn’t realized that you had sold them the education business. I’m assuming the education business probably found you a lot of deals as well, because that’s typically what I see a lot of people do.
04:27 Steve Case
Well, you’d be surprised, Max. It could have. Both Corey and I went into it not for that reason, for deals. We had plenty of deals and plenty of properties. We didn’t want to become one of the nation’s largest mobile home park owners. Yeah, so we had plenty of projects and we never did go into any deals with any of our students. So kind of Frank and Dave took it in a different direction where they’re able know, find deals and so forth. So that really was never a part of our plan, even though we had ample opportunities to do that. We just never and I know in the beginning you said that I had done some deals with Frank and Dave. I’ve actually never done any kind of real estate deals with yeah, when I say we sold them the website. Of course, Frank and Dave had their own educational material that they put together.
05:22 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, I remember back in eight, that was the very first thing I did when I jumped into mobile home park brokerage. I bought Frank and Dave’s home study course. I mean, it’s a great course, man, and if they were able to absorb the stuff that you were doing and during that time, man, the course has been pretty amazing over the years, and it’s gotten better and better. So thank you for adding your salt and pepper to their education business because it’s definitely gone up another level.
05:52 Steve Case
Yeah, they’ve taken it to a huge step. I still stay in contact with Frank. Frank’s a good guy. He’s reshaped the industry, I think with all the PR that he’s done over the last ten years, got a lot more larger players into the game. Which has helped pricing, especially if you’re selling but yeah, Frank’s very knowledgeable in this industry.
06:16 Maxwell Baker
So the reason why we came on you all and had Steve come on was really to pitch what SECO was doing this year. And if you guys out there, guys and gals out there don’t know what SECO is, that’s the Southeast community owners. It’s an event, but it’s also like a trade show, and it’s for mostly mom and pops. There are some institutional people there, but it’s really geared towards the mom and pops out there that are getting their feet wet into the industry. All the money that SECO makes is being donated to the veterans and to be quite frank, we’ve had some hard time finding people to donate money to. So we’ll unpack that a little bit here but Steve, you want to kind of talk about your experience with SECO and kind of what it is, and then we can kind of lean into the veterans part?
07:11 Steve Case
Well, it started, Max, back right around the 2007-2008 when I decided to stop the national educational piece that I was doing. I was invited to serve on the board at the Georgia Manufacturing Housing Association as one of the community reps. and there’s two on the board there. That’s where I met Spencer Roane. He was on the board as well. But we came up with an idea, Spencer, myself and another operator up in the northern part of Georgia to get together just for a day, get as many community owners as we could to get together and talk about how we could help each other out with different tips, techniques, things that were experiencing. I think at first meeting there was eight or ten of us. I think it was in 2007, it could have been 2008. After that we did this annual thing that kept growing and growing.
08:03 Steve Case
So it started out as seagull. It’s not just in the Southeast anymore. Matter of fact, most of the people that come to this event aren’t located in the Southeast. They’re out west, midwest, east coast. But it grew over the had. It’s a nonprofit. Spencer has done a phenomenal job in expounding upon it, bringing in manufacturers, bringing in vendors like yourself, the brokers, the different lenders, service agencies, those sorts of things, putting them all into what we call convention and I was heavily involved with it up until probably about 2018 or so. Then I kind of just backed off a little bit. I had too many other things going on. But this year Spencer asked me to come back on and kind of revamp the educational piece. So I put together a lineup of we’ve got twelve educational sessions and a lineup of mainly operators that I know that have been successful over the years, that I’ve known for many years.
09:08 Steve Case
Guys like Ben Braband, Jefferson Lilly, you might have had him on your podcast before, Myself will be speaking. Cole Phillips will be speaking, but there’s several different subjects and they’re all going to be directed at whether you’re just thinking about getting the industry or you’ve had several, you bought several parks and you want to fine tune them. Due diligence is the very first session we’re doing, which is going to be a fantastic session because so many people are just skimping on the due diligence. We’ve got creative deal making. Ben and I are going to do a session on that which is going to be really cool. Ben Braband done amazing things in the industry, big portfolios. He lives out in California but most of this stuff is in the west, Wyoming, Montana area, stuff like that. In Idaho we just got several different educational sessions.
10:04 Steve Case
Like I said, there are twelve of them. Also I’m going to revamp what we used to be very successful at our mobile home Millions, which was a part of Mobile Home University back in the mid 2000’s and the round-tables to where in a large setting like that we’re expecting up to 700, maybe even 800 people this year. You don’t get the chance to get your personal questions answered. So we’re putting together round-tables two of the nights. By the way, the event September the 10th through the 13th in Atlanta and we’re going to have twelve round-tables with what we call two hosts at each table, not just the speakers, but I think Max, you’re going to be at one of the tables one night. People can come and ask you direct questions on maybe something they’re coming across and so forth and it’s a great way to meet other people too.That’s how I met all these people that are going to be speaking over the years at these different kind of networking sessions, So I think this year is going to be the best educational platform we’ve ever had at.
11:05 Maxwell Baker
I mean, because I would say the education part of SECO is what makes SECO the best trade show event in our industry. Like nothing against MHI or any of the manufactured housing associations but SECO is really granular y’all when it comes to the tips and tricks in the trenches to operating and managing a mobile home community and Steve Case is one of those guys out there that has been around doing it for years and y’all are going to be able to sit down with somebody like him and Spencer own and a broker like me and just talk about what we’re seeing in the industry where we see it going. Tactics to purchase communities and some guys out there flip communities. It’s going to be an education for everybody, even including myself because I like to sit in on the classes and learn a lot from people like Steve and a lot of other people out there that own 100 mobile home communities.
12:18 Maxwell Baker
Like we said before, a lot of this money, if not well I should say not all the money that we make in, quote unquote, profit in a nonprofit goes to donate to veterans that live in mobile homes, in mobile home parks. Me being in the Marine Corps and playing trumpet in the Marine Corps and Steve being in the Air Force and flying jets and Spencer was also I believe he was in the Navy and we’ve got a lot of people that are a part of the SECO crew that are veterans. So, Dave Jackson’s, another guy out there, he’s a broker as well. I believe he was in the army. But we all know the army is not as cool as the Marine Corps. He’s going to hate that when hears.
13:04 Steve Case
Yeah, I think so.
13:06 Maxwell Baker
He’s always calling messing with me about that but anyways, yeah. So, we are obviously looking for more people to come, as many as we can and also, if y’all would like to donate to the SECO cause, one of the stories that we did recently, Steve, we do have a deal story if you want to tell us about the person that we donated the AC down in Florida.
13:30 Steve Case
Yeah, I think David Roden was in charge of that, where he was able to find a veteran down there through a community owner that attended SECO and were able to help him with some funding of that, if not pay for the whole thing. The one thing I wanted to add, Max, is this year, I forgot to say this up front, but because it’s historic day when we’re starting SECO well, the event, we’ve got some pre–activities on Sunday the 10th. We’ve got a golf tournament and we also has a Braves game. So the actual event starts on September the 11th. We all know what happened, 911 and then war on terror but we’ve got two keynote speakers coming, one of them I know personally but they’re nationally known folks, retired Major Scott Using who was a Marine Corps, and retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann who was in the Air Force.
14:25 Steve Case
Both are published authors, both go around the country speaking Scott Mann’s routinely on Fox News. He was the one that spearheaded Operation Pineapple Express that got the people out of Afghanistan a few years ago when we left the airport there. They’re going to be coming, opening the event up. Scott Mann particularly is involved in the industry because he and his brother have owned parks together and so it’s really going to be something special. We’re going to do a salute to the veterans but, yeah, the key cause, and I know you’ve been very active even here recently searching out for veterans that we can help. So we’re really trying to build this program up to impact some people’s lives and by the way, the SECO committee, which there’s about eight of us on the committee, total, all volunteers, nobody gets paid. We just do this to give back to the industry.
15:18 Steve Case
By the way, I’m sitting, probably folks sitting there thinking, well, if I come there, I’m going to be sold something. No, you won’t be sold anything. We’re just going to get up there, talk about what we know, how we can help you, and there will be no selling from the platform. It’s just going to be folks that own parks.
15:34 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, that’s key differentiator, y’all and if you’ve been to seminars, those Atlanta seminars that y’all have seen out there that are like all these big name people, the Grant Cardones, the Tony Robbins, I’m not knocking them at all, obviously, but at the end of their pitch, they want you to go buy their course or give them money to go buy deals. There are those people that are there, but that is not how SECO is set up. There’s not courses you can buy. It’s not a money grab type of situation. It’s strictly a nonprofit. So feel free to come and learn about the industry, meet some of the veterans that are in this industry and also veterans that served the US Military. I mean, it’s always great to hear their stories if they’re willing to talk about it and a lot of these veterans are park owners.
16:30 Maxwell Baker
I e. Steve is a park owner. I’m a park owner. Spencer is and Dave Jackson is. I mean, all these we’re all veterans in both aspects. So y’all need to come on down here in September, sign up and mention the podcast and let them know that you heard it from this podcast here, and we’ll get you signed up.
16:53 Steve Case
Yeah, and what I’m going to do, too. I know we talked about this before, Max, but I will give you information that you can. I know probably most of your podcast listeners are on your email list that you can send out with a direct link that they can sign up.
17:07 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, we’ll make it real easy for you all, so feel free to give us a call. Steve, do you have any other closing comments here before we wrap it up?
17:14 Steve Case
No. I just appreciate you having me on today. I’m looking forward to SECO. Some of the best times I had in this industry back when we had the Mobile Home University up and running, met some great people, was able to help some people. A lot of the folks that I met helped me, and it’s just a good way to give them back. The older OG’s that you talked about before, guys like Lonnie Scruggs and Ernie Tew are no longer with us, really you know, if you think about it, we’re all a piece of people that have made impacts on our lives. So the only way that tradition gets to keep going on is if we share with others and that’s really what SECO is all about and I’ve met so many great people, and it’s just been wonderful experience. Networking is huge there. If you go there and you don’t leave meeting and getting to know two or three people.
18:03 Steve Case
You must have stayed in your room the whole three days because there’s going to be people there willing to share, willing to help. So I don’t know of any other event you can go to, like you said, to where it’s just community owners with the mix of the homes. By the way, there’s going to be four display homes there that you can go through. You can order them directly from the manufacturer while you’re there. All the service industries are going to be there. It’s just a one stop shopping for those that are either thinking about getting the business already in, want to know how to expand their business. So it’s a must make event, I think.
18:37 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, no, I’ve learned a lot from there over the years. I remember I went back in 2009, that might have been the second year. And I remember sitting you all had it down in that Bombshell hotel.
18:55 Steve Case
That was the first year we had in foresight, I think there were 50 people that came. .
19:01 Maxwell Baker
But it was rough, man That was rough.
19:02 Steve Case
But we had a good time, though.
19:06 Maxwell Baker
It was great, man. I loved it.
19:07 Maxwell Baker
I learned a lot, met a lot of people, got to meet you finally face to face. So SECO has changed my life. Y’all and if y’all are just starting on this journey, this is the place to be here. September 10, you said.
19:21 Steve Case
Yeah, September the 10th through the 13th, with the 10th being you can choose the Braves game or the golf tournament, and the actual educational or opening ceremony starts on September, the morning of September 11 and we run that’s a Monday through Wednesday around noon.
19:41 Maxwell Baker
Nice, And is there a website they can go to, Steve?
19:45 Steve Case
Yeah, if you want to tap up, but it’s Secoconference.com.
19:50 Maxwell Baker
19:50 Steve Case
19:54 Maxwell Baker
And is there a phone number for them to reach out if they ever need to call or do they just or need to go to the website?
19:59 Steve Case
We really don’t have a phone number. It’s just a group of volunteers. Easily the way to get through us the best is via email or I’m not sure if you can post anything on your site, maybe we can put some.
20:12 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, I mean, if anybody out there wants to talk about it, just feel free to call me here at my office, (678)-932-0200. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to send you the links, send you the right people you need to talk to and even talk to you about. Know further if you have any other questions about to, happy to help. So, Steve, you got anything else before we wrap this?
20:45 Steve Case
No, no, I appreciate you giving me the time and look forward to seeing you there again. It’s always good to sit down and see all the great things you’ve been doing and by the way, Max, is a I got to say this up, he’s very dedicated to the veteran cause, which is awesome. His company has been one of the most generous ones that I know of, helping veterans out. So hopefully you can rub that charm on others that can do the same thing.
21:13 Maxwell Baker
Yeah, like I said, I think there’s a lot that we can do as an industry for a lot of people that live in mobile home communities and mobile homes. And I’ve got a soft spot in my heart and a goal in my mind of how much we want to donate as a company each year. So we’ve got big plans to do some really cool stuff for the veterans here over the next five years. At least that’s what we’re planning. So love for you all to join us. If you’d like to donate some money, feel free to reach out to me. Again, my number is (678)-932-0200 and give us a call. Love to talk. And as always, to all our listeners, this episode is brought to you by the Community Price Maximizer. It is our proprietary system that will guarantee you a higher price when you exclusively list your community with us. Four step process. Give us a call at that number. I gave it to you earlier, but here it is again, (678)-932-0200. And as always, let’s keep moving forward.
Manufactured Community Owner Operator.
Steve has been an active investor in manufactured housing communities for 24 years. Over that span of time, he has been involved in all areas of the industry including education, serving on the board of the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association, consulting on the construction of the Community Series manufactured home, founding member of the Southeast Community Owners (SECO) and advising financial institutions on the creation of chattel community owner finance programs.
Steve is a retired United States Air Force Officer and his education includes an MBA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Phoenix. He also serves as a board member on the SECO Veterans Assistance Program. Aside from spending time with family, he enjoys golfing, flying, and mentoring young people.