Dustin Youngdahl, general manager of Clayton Homes of Oroville and a Clayton homeowner, grew up in Paradise, CA, a town that was destroyed by the Camp Fire in November 2018. He and his team have now helped more than 100 residents rebuild after losing their homes.
Dustin Youngdahl knew what it was like to be a part of the manufactured housing industry from a young age. His father, Carl Youngdahl, opened the first manufactured home center in Paradise, CA, in 1971, the year Dustin was born. During his career in Paradise, Carl sold about 1,500 homes. Growing up, Dustin would help his father out at the home center. His first job was picking up nails around the lot, and his dad would pay him a penny for each one he collected. Through middle school and high school, he worked weekends at the home center, mowing the lawn, cleaning the homes and eventually helping sell homes in high school.
"I wasn’t licensed to sell homes, but I would take customer information and if the customer bought a home, my dad would pay me $500," Dustin said.
In 1984, Dustin and his family moved to Sacramento, where his father opened an office selling manufactured homes for Oakwood Homes, an independent manufactured home dealer. After Dustin graduated college in 1994, he and his father went on to open a Sacramento office for Oakwood Homes. In 2004, Clayton bought Oakwood Homes and Dustin opened and ran several home centers, including the one in West Sacramento. After venturing away from Clayton for a few years, Dustin eventually opened Clayton Homes of Sacramento, but in 2019 he headed back to his hometown of Paradise to open a new home center after wildfires destroyed the town.
In November 2018, Paradise was at the epicenter of the Camp Fire, which was caused by a neglected piece of electrical equipment. The fires wiped out about 18,000 structures in the area, including residential homes. Dustin lived in Sacramento at the time, but he knew he had to help his hometown.
"When my hometown burned down, I knew that I needed to be the one that Clayton sent to rebuild Paradise and Butte County," Dustin said.
In July 2019, Dustin opened Clayton Homes of Oroville in a town located just 15 minutes down the hill from Paradise.
Clayton Homes of Oroville partnered with Samaritan’s Purse and North Valley Catholic Services to provide 43 homes at no cost for those who had lost their homes. Clayton managed these projects from start to finish, helping residents rebuild what they lost.
“Seeing the weight being lifted off their shoulders and the joy coming back is one of the most rewarding things about working here,” Dustin said.
When you walk into the home center, you’ll see a map of Paradise hanging on the back wall with pins representing the locations where customers rebuilt with Clayton homes. In fact, about 70% of the center's customers are people who lost their homes in the fire. Since the fires, Clayton Homes of Oroville has helped more than 100 customers rebuild.
And because of their efforts, California's Manufactured Housing Institute awarded the home center the title of Retailer of the Year in 2021. They also won the 2022 MHI award for Retail Center of the Year from the national Manufactured Housing organization.
"It’s very rewarding to help someone into a home and to be a part of the process," Dustin said. "And I have people who come in here who say they know my dad and knew me when I was a baby."
Dustin is not just the manager of the home center; he and his wife Jessica are also Clayton homeowners.
“We love it here. I never thought we’d live in Oroville, but here we are (after) opening this office,” Dustin said. “We have views out the front and back of the house, and our dog Nacho loves it, too.”
Even with all their hard work, Dustin and his Clayton team know they still have a long way to go, and they plan on helping rebuild Paradise for the next 20 years.
"Sometimes we feel as though we're therapists as much as we are home consultants," Dustin said. "Our customers as well our team members have survival stories as they escaped the fires. It's rewarding to hear customer stories and their whole process of why they're building. They want to be part of something that’s rebuilding and growing."
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