Factory-built manufactured and modular homes have evolved over the company’s forty-five year history but affordability and quality continues to be the common denominator.
Celebrating forty-five years in the single family housing industry is a milestone that few companies have achieved, especially in the factory built home segment. But that is exactly what American Homestar Corporation and its 665 employees are doing this year.
From humble beginnings in 1971 as a single model home center on Spencer Highway in Pasadena, Texas operating as Mobile America and featuring Mickey Gilley in their TV campaigns, the company grew to become one of the region’s leading manufactured home retailers. But when the oil boom went bust in the southwest in the 1980’s in order to survive, the company found it necessary to change its business model and go down a different path.
Company founder and CEO Buck Teeter recognized the market the company could serve was for REO services provided to lenders faced with liquidating manufactured homes whose owner’s had defaulted on their loans. According to Teeter, “we had the infrastructure and talent in place to serve this need and help the financial institutions reduce losses on foreclosed homes. We refurbished and re-marketed thousands of homes during this period helping not only the lenders but many home-buyers who were in need of affordable housing at a time when the job market and economy were really bad.”
The market in the southwest soon began a gradual recovery that accelerated quickly through the decade of the 90’s. During this period of rapid growth the company entered the manufacturing segment through mergers and acquisitions and soon had a presence in 28 states with fourteen plants, one hundred thirty five company home centers, eighty five franchise outlets and a large number of independently owned and operated home centers.
In 1995 the company formed 21st Mortgage a joint venture manufactured home financing initiative with a partnership that included Clayton Homes and several former management team members of their Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance operation. It also entered the manufactured housing transportation business through an interest in Roadmasters Transit, one of the leading transporters in the country.
With the growth and expansion activities during the decade of the 90’s the company became fully vertically integrated through manufacturing, retailing, finance, insurance and transportation and grew to be one of the largest manufactured housing companies in the U.S.
In the 1998-99 timeframe the manufactured housing industry was severely impacted by its own financing melt down as subprime loans made by many lenders went into default. This caused the mortgage backed security market for manufactured home loans to all but disappear. With no secondary market for loans, the lack of affordable financing for entry level home-buyers created a dramatic drop in demand and caused the company to retrench back to its core southwest and south central markets with two manufacturing plants, twenty five company owned Oak Creek Home Centers, Western Insurance and American Homestar Mortgage.
In 2008 the company acquired a third manufacturing operation in Lynn, Alabama, Platinum Homes. It expanded its product offering by entering the modular home building and commercial structures markets and offering the industries first 7-year home protection plan.
Following Hurricane Katrina the company was called upon to assist in providing temporary disaster housing to hundreds of families. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike provided the company additional opportunities to provide permanent affordable factory built replacement homes across Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For families with low to moderate income impacted by Hurricanes Rita and Ike in Texas, American Homestar Corporation is currently building replacement homes under a program funded by Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
According to founder and CEO Teeter, “while the modern energy efficient homes the company builds today bear little resemblance to the homes we built and sold forty-five years ago, one thing remains unchanged; the company’s commitment to quality and affordability.” American Homestar Corporation is primarily employee owned.