It’s been 6 years since I took a leap of faith and jumped on board with Stacey and joined Next Step. Personally, this has been such a rewarding opportunity where I actually get to see the impact we are making in people’s lives. I had always said that if I could work for Stacey and still live in Tennessee that I would jump at the chance, and that’s just what I did when she called me years ago.
When I first started it was just Stacey and me (and several consultants) putting all this work and effort into making Next Step huge! I knew coming on board what Stacey had envisioned for Manufactured Housing Done Right®. She was already working on it at a smaller scale in Kentucky at Frontier Housing more than 8 years ago, when I first met her.
In the last 6 years, we have grown as an organization from 2 employees to 9; we have grown the membership from 1 founding member to around 50 members nationwide, and over 200 homes ordered through our network. We started with only 1 manufacturer and 1 factory, and now we’re partnered with 5 manufacturers and 25 factories. I’m amazed at the impact we have made, not only in the lives of individual families but also on a national scale (with such a small staff) through our policy and advocacy work.
There are some specific things throughout the years that stand out to me, like learning to navigate the nonprofit side of this industry, realizing the challenges that manufactured homeowners face (which is not something you hear of when working for a manufacturer), and coming to understand how changing the way a home is packaged for a buyer can mean great changes in that person’s life.
We face challenges and we always overcome only to be better at what we do. We learn what works and what doesn’t, and that has allowed us to evolve according to the needs of our members. Growing Next Step since joining Stacey 6 years ago has been fun and challenging, and I would definitely do it all again.