Have you ever wondered who builds Clayton homes? Our trained craftsmen come from all walks of life. From men and women looking for new chances to experienced site built home builders, our Clayton home builders are a diverse and committed group of team members.
We spoke with one of our experienced home builders, Jamey Robbins, about his journey as he began working at Clayton. The following is how he entered the realm of manufactured home building from the world of site built construction and why he chose to stay.
The following was written by Jamey Robbins:
I came to Clayton after 10 years of owning my own general construction company. I had built a good reputation as a quality builder. My mission had been to raise the bar for construction in my area.
When I was asked to become a manufacturing representative for Clayton, I was a little reluctant. I had built million dollar homes. I wasn’t sure I could, or even wanted, to work for a “mobile home company.” My perception was somewhat snobbish.
I had worked on one mobile home in my career, an older home that did not impress me. I was invited to come work in the facility for a while. I could work in every area and see how the homes are built. I figured that would be fun, so I went for it, and I’ve never looked back.
My first day at the facility was a whirlwind. We built two complete homes that day. The pace at the facility was incredibly fast.
Every home is built by hand. I expected a bunch of machines and robots for some reason. However, the process was much more like the site built process I was accustomed to.
Therefore, the work itself (building floors and walls, installing cabinets and so forth) was easy for me to adapt to. It was the same materials and most of the same tools I used when I built site built homes.
In fact, everything was set up to be more ergonomic and easier to install. Tables, jigs and meticulous planning meant we had everything we needed at our fingertips all the time. In fact, the building wasn’t frenzied at all, but more like a well-conducted orchestra.
The materials impressed me as well. I was used to going to my local lumber yard and picking through stacks for hours trying to find the straightest lumber for the next day’s work. At the facility, it seemed like every piece I grabbed was perfect.
Building walls and floors on a table is also much easier than laying the lumber out on an open foundation that hasn’t been backfilled yet. I settled into the work quickly.
I was often times the “saw man” on the site built crew. This position doesn’t really exist in manufactured housing because the parts are mostly precut. At site built construction jobs, you may have to cut dozens of pieces of lumber to build whatever you’re working on. Generally, on a framing job, you aim to be within ¼ in. for each piece. Often, you end up with a floor or wall that is “wonky.”
With most everything precut at a facility, there’s never three or four guys standing around waiting on a saw man, and there is no question the material is correctly cut. Everything goes together tight and quick. There are also no piles of cut-offs to haul to the dumpster. I was starting to like manufactured housing.
Once I started installing insulation, I really fell in love with the process. We installed all of the insulation while the components we were building were still on the jigs. So once again, the process was much easier. We used formaldehyde-free insulation, which is much easier on my allergies.
For the first time in my building career, we successfully insulated the entire home with no voids, and the job was as clean and neat as anything I had ever seen. I commented to the crew how impressed I was. “That’s just how we do every house,” they explained.
To me, the single most impressive aspect of the facility was the people working to build our homes. Everyone I worked with considered the home he or she was working on to be his or her home. This made some sense, because the plant has a Buy off Support System (B.O.S.S.).
Under this system, when one station in the plant is finished with their work, they sell the home to the next station. If the work is not up to par, the receiving station can deny the home until it is corrected. This is great, but the pride and dedication that each individual puts into the homes goes beyond that.
When I was a general contractor, my motto was, “Build it like it is yours.”
The craftsmen at Clayton live by that same motto. We have the best crews, use the best materials, are backed by the best code compliance and have the best planning. So it’s no wonder that, dollar for dollar, we build the best homes.