Champion Home Builders Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc. partnered in a licensing agreement for a line of park model RVs.

Champion Home Builders Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc. partnered in a licensing agreement for a line of park model RVs.

Keith Anderson, the new president and CEO of Champion Home Builders Inc., has a specific goal in mind. He wants the Troy, Mich.-based producer of modular and manufactured homes and park model RVs by its Athens Park subsidiary, to become “known as the best manufacturer in the industry from a quality and a customer satisfaction perspective.”

Anderson, who first joined the company’s board of managers in 2013, had been serving as interim CEO since January of this year until the interim tag was removed June 3.

While he said he was “just here to supplement the team,” Anderson was emphatic in saying Champion will be driven by “clear and concise objectives that all meet the company’s goals and, more than anything, meet our operative principles.

“I can’t be stronger on this point: I definitely want to include in this discussion how we’re going to conduct our work life every day. Any time there’s decisions needing to be made on how to do something and how to treat a customer and how to handle a situation with an employee, it’s all driven by what our core operating principles tell us to do — things like doing it right the first time and treating people they way you want to be treated. And making 100% sure the customer is satisfied.

“That’s really the big push I’ve been on the last three or four months both in my interim status and now in my permanent full-time role,” he explained.

A customer survey about two months ago is also figuring prominently in Champion’s operations going forward.

“We wanted to listen to what the customer wants, listen to what we’re doing well and, more importantly, what are we not doing well. Are we designing products that they need? Are we following up on our customer service orders in a prompt and satisfactory fashion? We had a gambit of questions,” he explained.

The survey results were tabulated and presented to each manufacturing plant as incentivized goals to be met by the end of the year. “Now they are highly driven and financially motivated to focus on these items,” Anderson said, adding one example of these goals has to do with the company’s ready-to-ship certification process.

Now there is at least one senior executive in every plant who has final approval before a home is deemed to have achieved the increased quality standard before it can leave the facility.

Survey results also led to the hiring of Russ Sargent as the national quality-control manager, who reports directly to Alexander. “He has direct feed into me on how are we doing plant by plant, product by plant from a compliance-control-satisfaction perspective,” Anderson said. “If he says we have an issue, then we have an issue. If he says we need to do something, we’re going to focus on it.”

Anderson also was bullish on the growth of the park model RV side of business, saying eight of Champion’s 27 manufacturing pants are devoted to park models, 45% of which find their way into campgrounds as rental units.

“We’re super excited about this growth in this segment of our business and I can’t say enough where I think the industry is going in this,” he said. “You have the geographic and demographic and economic drivers all pulling toward the need for more and more, I’m going to call it ‘housing alternatives,’ from small RVs to weekend getaways to cabins and cottages. If you look at all the macro trends we think this is an element of the business that’s going to grow and flourish for years to come.”

Fueling his excitement is Champion’s licensing agreement, announced in April, with Winnebago Industries Inc. for a line of park model RVs as well as the introduction of a new upscale “tape-and-texture” cottage model.

Prior to his appointment, Anderson held executive positions with major finance, mortgage and insurance providers to the manufactured-home industry. He served as president and CEO of Green Tree Servicing (formerly Conseco Finance) from 1995 through 2012. Following Walter Investment Management’s acquisition of Green Tree in 2013, he served as Walter’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, leading Green Tree Servicing and assumed responsibility for Ditech Mortgage and Green Tree Insurance.

“We are very pleased to have Keith assume the leadership role at Champion,” said Timothy Bernlohr, chairman of the board. “With the key role that financing plays in today’s manufactured-housing market, Keith’s extensive experience in commercial finance and residential mortgage makes him uniquely qualified to lead Champion’s continued growth and expansion.”

Champion employs more than 4,400 people worldwide, and has produced more than 1.7 million factory-built manufactured homes, modular homes and mobile homes for buyers throughout North America.