New Leadership Pursues Community Business, Strategic Partnerships
Sunshine Homes for 52 years has been selling spacious floorplans for land-home deals through its multi-state dealership network.
But times change.
Gary Dobbs is the new president of Sunshine Homes, taking over leadership of the Red Bay, Ala., builder in mid-2021 upon the retirement of his father-in-law John Bostick. He had been in sales, worked as the sales manager, and GM. He now finds himself operating in a market that’s transitioning from the traditional dealer network toward a greater number of home sales through communities.
“We just started this a few months ago,” Dobbs said. “We started a new plant in February of 2022. It’s been up for about a year. We were able to double our production, doing four to six a day, and the new plant can do four a day.”
The homes at the new plant will be more compatible with what a homesite in a manufactured home community can take, at a good price and built to last.
Dobbs said Sunshine is working with National Capital Group and Brent Harris of Southern Housing to arrange for sensible partnerships on the community side of the business that will augment their retail sales.
The new Arc line will be made in a 30,000-square-foot facility.
“We have both ends of the spectrum with big kitchens and bathrooms, but we were missing out on that lower price point,” Dobbs said.
Sunshine started in 1971 with Fred G. Bostick, and was carried through the decades by his aunt Harriet and then his son, John.
Michael Huffaker, who had been in sales and the CFO at Franklin Homes joined Dobbs to help run the company.
“We’re not looking to go sell to every developer or park owner out there, we’re looking for the right three or four relationships throughout the year. We can do something that’s very simple, it works for them and allows us to keep up with our dealer base,” Huffaker said.
Sunshine has beefed up the infrastructure on the homebuilding teams and the offices to help support the expanded business. They upped resources in training and salary for the homebuilding team, but also in the customer service team on the back end. Dobbs said they completely revamped the customer service approach, separating out efforts into three-state areas to make the queries more manageable.
“If I’m a sales guy and I know that it’s a better quality home and will have the best service on the back end, that’s a pretty easy decision,” Huffaker said. “We have to keep our identity. Quality has to be the first consideration.”
The company also added Brad Wit, an industry veteran.
“He’s an engineer, a problem solver,” Dobbs said. “He’s someone you can kick ideas around with.”
Sunshine has shown its commitment to innovation with the recent partnership with Beko, a top-selling appliance maker in Europe with that an expanding presence in the U.S. in recent years.
In a home the company showed at The Biloxi Manufactured Housing Expo the utility room included a stand-alone Beko freezer.
“It was a good fit for us when it came to appliances, and they have been a great partner,” Huffaker said. “We can see that we’ll be using more and more of Beko appliances over time. It’s a sleek-looking product, and it is priced right when you compare it against the higher-end options.”