People of Industry - Dale Ball
The members and staff of the Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute (CMHI) were very saddened by the passing of our President, Dale Ball. Dale was an exceptional leader in our industry, serving as a member of the CMHI Board of Directors since 2008, and as CMHI President from 2013 until his passing on March 10, 2015. The following is a compilation of interviews we held with Dale in 2005 and 2013.
Dale Ball learned early that the key to a successful business and a good life is to enjoy what you do, enjoy your customers and above all, make your customers comfortable.
Dale was President of Brookswood Homes, a manufactured housing builder in Langley, British
Columbia. A family business started by Dale’s father and a partner in 1971, the company provides homes to consumers throughout the province with a singular purpose—”to make sure our customers get the home they want. There is a difference between a house and a home,” said Dale, “we want to make sure that what we sell to our customers is their home.”
Dale began working part-time with Brookswood Homes while still in university, doing set-up, site completion and service. He was in the manufactured housing business long enough to have a keen appreciation of the evolution of the industry.
In the early 1970s, the industry primarily served the first-time buyer and retirement buyers. “Now there is a full spectrum of buyers who look to factory-built homes, because contractors and trades can be hard to find, or because of the speed. People don’t have time to wait six to eight months for a new home.”
Dale thought that one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry in British Columbia was the divergence of the market. Factory-built housing traditionally had a high percentage of the rural marketplace. With the vast majority of people living in the urban marketplace, the industry needed to take a different approach.
For Dale, one of the biggest changes he saw was in the quality of factory-built homes. “Today’s product is excellent, people walk in and just can’t believe the quality.” He said that the people in the industry had evolved too, and he had solid respect for his peers and competitors. “Many have been in the business for a long time, and have a deep understanding of the business.
A registered Manufactured Housing Consultant (MHC)®, Dale believed strongly in industry education. “Having the MHC program is of great benefit,” he said, “the more the industry can do to be professional, the more credible we are.”
Dale took the same approach to working with his customers—professional and deliberate. “People must feel confident and comfortable, and salespeople must be able to answer questions or get answers. Salespeople also need to understand that people moving are under a lot of stress. We try to deliver as perfect a home as possible. If there is a problem, we fix it as quickly as possible.”
“I want to be able to walk down the street, be glad to see a customer and be able to walk up to them and say “hello!’ with comfort. I don’t want to be ashamed. If my customer is comfortable, then I am comfortable.”
In his honour, and in appreciation of his exceptional contribution, the CMHI Board of Directors has created the Dale C.E. Ball Award. It will be presented annually to an outstanding member in recognition of their dedication and service to the Institute and to the manufactured building industry at the national level. Nominations for the 2016 Award should be submitted to the CMHI office by June 30, 2016.
Dale was a mentor to many of us, and a person of great intellect, honour, humour and kindness. His colleagues and friends in the manufactured housing industry across the country will miss him very much.