65 Years: Kevin Clayton Reflects on Company’s History and Innovation

Kevin and Jim Clayton fist bump to celebrate the company’s 65th anniversary.

We’re celebrating 65 years! Kevin and Jim Clayton look back at Clayton’s beginnings, founding principles, accomplishments and commitment to innovation.

Clayton began like so many great companies over the years, out of a need. With a strong belief that homeownership makes lives better, Clayton knew the off-site built housing industry was a solution to the increasing demand for affordable homes families would be proud to call their own.

The history of off-site built homes starts with a store catalog early in the 1900s, which offered “kit homes” with all the necessary materials. This idea then quickly expanded, and as the need for affordable, quality housing continued to grow after the WWII baby boom, off-site built homes offered a way to meet that need.

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Clayton’s decades of experience as a leading home builder didn’t happen overnight. As we celebrate our 65th anniversary this year, it’s the perfect time to look back at our history and the accomplishments that have led up to this milestone. And who better to reflect on that history than our former CEO Jim Clayton and our current CEO since 1999, his son Kevin?

Making homeownership within reach for more people was one of Clayton’s key founding principles when Jim opened the company’s doors in 1956, and Kevin has continued that same mission since he joined the family business as a child. As Jim Clayton explains about the importance of teamwork, “If you see a turtle on a fencepost … that’s a rarity, right? You don’t see it very often. You know it didn’t get there by itself.”

There’s a story, a reason for it to be there. And a lot of people who made it happen along the way. Listen to what Jim and Kevin Clayton have to say as they reflect on the amazing 65 years Clayton has had so far and look ahead to what the future holds.

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A Company Based on Family

Jim plays guitar and Kevin recalls fond memories of his father and his passion for not only homeownership but music. When Jim began his country music show, “Star Time,” in their home’s basement, he would invite not only known musical talent but also customers who’d purchased a Clayton home to perform on the show. “Star Time” ran for 20 successful years every Saturday night on television.

Kevin also remembers attending store promotions to celebrate the opening of a new Clayton home center. Jim and the Kountry King Band would play live music on stage at these events while many shopped for a home. Kevin laughs when he says his job was “instrumental” at the time to the company’s success; he would keep the kids busy doubling them around on his mini bike so the parents could pick out a home. The crowds were enormous, coming to see the television performers live.

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From the time the first manufactured home was sold at the first Clayton Homes location, the company has grown to more than 350 home centers and over 20,000 team members across the country. We now build and offer not only manufactured homes but also modular homes, CrossMod™ homes, traditional site-built homes, Designer Cottages and PMRVs. And with the ever-increasing demand for affordable housing, Clayton is uniquely positioned to help.

As the company has evolved, there are several common questions people ask Kevin. One is, “What does your dad think about what this company has become?” Jim expresses how proud he is of his son and the Clayton team, and the beliefs and attitudes fostered in the company to support the community and people we serve. He’s a proud founder.

A second question people ask is how Clayton continues to be successful. Kevin says, “It’s because of so many fantastic people in the organization, a wonderful family culture, and we are driven by our common purpose of ‘Opening Doors to A Better Life.’”

Clayton Savannah Sustainability Recycling 2021 Sept-016

Built with Sustainability in Mind

We care about the sustainability and energy efficiency of our homes, so we not only reduce waste and energy usage as much as possible in our building facilities and offices but are also committed to recycling and reusing building materials wherever we can. In 2020 alone, Clayton diverted 4,768 tons of waste from landfills. All of our home building facilities and 16 Clayton Supply® locations are also ISO 140001 certified, while our home office is LEED certified.

In addition, 39 of our 40 home building facilities participate in the ENERGY STAR® program to help provide our customers with a more energy efficient home. We also offer our optional EnergySmart® Home package, which includes features like an ecobee smart thermostat®, quality insulation, Low-E windows and a Rheem® dual element water heater.

In 2021, Clayton also hired our first director of Environment and Sustainability, the company’s first position committed solely to sustainability.

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How Clayton Continues to Innovate

There is a saying Kevin likes to share that helps guide Clayton as a whole: “Slow down to go fast.” We take time with our innovations to enhance our customers’ experiences, from dreaming of their own home to living in it and making memories. This includes tours at our home centers and on our website, and with a variety of online tools to help support home buyers throughout the process.

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Clayton’s commitment to innovation is found not only in customer experiences but in the homes themselves. We don’t stop at stylish design or customization options but also focus on the construction, inside and out. That’s why Clayton partners with many top home building brands when it comes to materials like flooring, appliances, windows, water heaters and more. Our mission is to provide affordable homes that are built to last, and we are continually looking for ways to elevate our products.

We’re celebrating 65 years of making the dream of homeownership a reality, of continuing to create affordable homes that are strong, efficient and beautiful. We look forward to helping our customers, and to where our next innovations will take us in the future. And to learn more about what we are doing to be a force for good in our communities, visit our Clayton Impact page.

CrossMod is a trademark of the Manufactured Housing Institute. ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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