US Builders Review                                                    

Iseman Homes Inc.

Leading the manufactured housing market in the upper Midwest
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Joe Atwood

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Iseman Homes Inc. is one of the oldest manufactured housing dealers in the Midwest. Since 1920, Iseman has pioneered modular and HUD manufactured homes by bringing more housing options to the market. Today, the company has 110 employees across 14 locations in several states throughout the upper Midwest including North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming.

“Our industry is different from most in the sense that the product is, for the most part, built in a controlled environment — that’s the No. 1 advantage,” explains Ken Ward, president of Iseman. “This makes for greater quality control and also less waste, so by nature, our homes are a greener product. Our industry is really one of the first green industries.”

Moving into modular

Surprisingly enough, even with its standing today as a leading manufactured housing dealer, Iseman’s roots are far from homebuilding. The company launched in 1920 as Sioux Tire and Battery Company, founded by Charlie Iseman.

“Through World War II the restrictions on these products made for a short supply and Iseman had to diversify,” recounts Ward. Charlie Iseman recognized the need for portable, quality housing for the growing population in Sioux Falls.

He began to focus his efforts on housing and this eventually became the sole focus of the business. “In 1936 the company started selling the first Schult homes,” recalls Ward. “Shortly after, Iseman branched out into Rapid City as the market continued to grow.”

After several acquisitions, Iseman came under the ownership of U.S. Industries, but Ward, along with six other partners, purchased the company outright in 2005. “Under U.S. Industries we had four factories and at one point, more than 60 locations,” says Ward. “Since then, we’ve scaled back and now we no longer manufacture homes. Today, we sell and set the final product.”

Financing to floor plans the one-stop shop

Iseman now offers manufactured and modular homes from many trusted U.S. builders, including Champion, Clayton, Schult, Highland, Redman, Crest and more. From a modest home to a modern, deluxe model, Iseman provides the service and support to make the home buying experience hassle-free.

Iseman is there every step of the way in the home buying process. In terms of financing, the company’s credit department, HomePride Acceptance Inc., offers a range of financing solutions from a number of trusted institutions. Once a buyer has secured financing, Iseman steps in to help develop a customized product. From the carpet to shingles, doors to kitchen counters, Iseman offers a range of floor plans and options to help buyers stop dreaming and start living.

“We cater floor plans in multiple ways — it’s like reading a book in a sense,” explains Ward. “If you walk into a house that’s closed off on the left, it needs to be open on the right. Door placement and walls all matter. It comes down to the details. Our buyers have a number of options; they can pick a stock unit or special order a house. Certain product lines offer more customization.”

Iseman Homes Inc.

Ward says there’s been a big push in Energy Star products in the modular market. “At first this didn’t take off, but now everyone has caught up and the program is more noted,” he says.

Ward adds that Iseman is always on its toes, looking for new ideas and what’s trending in the industry. “As an example, we’re working with Clayton Homes, one of our largest manufacturers, to introduce more homes geared toward family entertainment and another concept that supports retirement space with two suites and in-law apartments added on,” he says.

Overall, Ward says the market is moving swimmingly in the years following the recession. “Our downturn in this region came closer to 2001 to 2002,” he says. “It all came from the zero-dollars down, 45-year loans that just were not going to work out in the long run.”

Looking to millennials next

Although the market has recovered from the collapse, Ward says low interest rates are now a factor. “With interest the way it is, it’s cheaper to own now than rent in this area,” he says. “This doesn’t hurt us, but doesn’t necessarily help us. People can buy a bigger house today than if rates were higher. It will be interesting to see how this goes if interest goes the other way.”

Ward says the push to build retirement homes for baby boomers is still a major part of the market, but in the coming years the next driver will be millennials who are slower to settle down. “Most millennials aren’t ready to own yet so rentals are hot, but they will eventually get married, have children and want to own — it will just be more in their early 30s than 20s as the baby boomers,” he says. “That will be the next big push I think.”

With more than eight decades in the manufactured and modular industry and many longstanding employees, Iseman Homes Inc. is poised for whatever demand brings. Iseman Homes Inc. will continue to be a leader in manufactured and modular housing in the upper Midwest for decades to come. 

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Adventure Homes
Champion Home Builders Inc.
King Insurance
Northern Wholesale Supply Inc.
Starfleet
West River Industries