By Stew MacInnes
My name is Stew MacInnes, founder and CEO of Maximus Extreme Living Solutions. My company builds self-contained living units. Self-contained living units (as we see them) are tiny homes that are permanently affixed to a mobile steel platform and are designed to have the hell kicked out of them time and time again and keep coming back for more!
In all seriousness, we originally designed our homes to withstand the extreme rigors that are associated with the exploration and extraction of domestic energy. We designed our homes to withstand the weather conditions and terrain of the oil fields located in Alaska and North Dakota. We figured that if our homes could handle those conditions, then they could withstand a weekend jaunt to Yosemite.
One of our core values is to continually seek out “Great Ideas” to incorporate into our ever evolving product. It doesn’t matter to us where we find the “Great Idea” – the goal is simply to find them!
For instance, the whole concept of a Tiny Home is a great idea in and of itself. Tiny Homes have a low energy profile, are relatively inexpensive to build, relatively easy to operate and are highly functional. We have found a number of “Great Ideas” that we have incorporated into the production of our homes. We utilize SIP’s (Structural Insulated Panels) in all of our wall, roof, and floor systems; which make our homes incredibly energy efficient and safe. We have elected to install either composting or incinerating toilets in all of our homes; the toilets have a zero load factor on any municipality. We also use either commercial grade metal roofs or a synthetic roof system, with the brand name of GACO, both of which have fifty year warranties. We believe that our “Great Idea” is that we have taken the back yard Tiny Home concept and transformed it into a high performance industrial application. We assemble the best residential and commercial construction products and then incorporate them into our units. By incorporating the best residential and commercial grade products into our units; we can confidently offer a product that can perform at an equally high level in either an industrial or recreational setting.
“Great Ideas” are fine and, as I mentioned earlier, we feel our “Great Idea” is our ability to identify other “Great Ideas” and assemble them into our final product; but “Great Ideas” alone are simply not enough.
“Great Ideas” by their very nature are transient. An idea must evolve from mere synapses to that of motion and matter. Work provides an idea with breath; sweat becomes the blood that courses through an idea’s veins. An idea by its very nature yearns to break the bonds of grey matter and dwell in the world of absolutes. An idea without work will simply fade away.
My personal theories regarding ideas have evolved over the past twenty one year’s, largely because of my involvement in business or more specifically the business of real estate sales. I have learned that the person with the best idea is the one who actually can get that idea to market. Their idea may not be the most glamorous idea, the most innovative idea or the idea that holds the most potential profit; however the person who can transform an idea from thought to product and from product to market ultimately possesses THE “best” idea! During my own limited involvement (to date) in the Tiny Home market, I have found more validation for my ever evolving theories on “Great Ideas.” Having spent more than a year researching the Tiny Home genre, culture and marketplace I have found that there are and has been incredible people who have delved into the world of tiny homes. I have seen great design work, incredible craftsmanship, really cool web-sites, and the list goes on and on. Yet during that same length of time I have seen the all too familiar patterns of “Stew’s Idea Theory” play out to their logical conclusions; some good, some not so good.
In researching a project this past week, I found myself going through my favorites tab on my computer to revisit some really cool Tiny Home sites; but I found that a significant number of those sites were either abandoned, inactive, or completely dead. I was sad for those folks, because I know the emotional capital required to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. I’m sure that many of those folks hated to see their “Great Ideas” just fall by the way side. I too, have been the victim of failed “Great Ideas” many-a-time throughout the course of my life. The level of remorse one experiences due to their failure is often in direct proportion to their level of emotional vesting in their particular project or idea. IE, if you’re all in and fail…it hurts like hell!
I know that there certainly no guarantees to ensure the ultimate success of Maximus Extreme Living Solutions; however there are quantifiable steps that can be taken to better the odds of our success. As I looked for those above mentioned (MIA) web-sites earlier this week, coupled with my own Tiny Home research over the past year, it appears as though there are specific challenges faced by our industry that have already claimed a good number of folks and their own respective “Great Ideas.”
From what I have found it appears as though the issue of finance is a huge obstacle. Obviously start-up capital in this market is as dry as a bone. A weak pool of venture capital coupled with the fact that the Tiny Home movement (by its very nature) has a built-in novelty factor and a relative lack of market longevity; which tends to make a difficult situation even more challenging. However, it appears to me that the start-up financing or capital is a secondary issue in the grand scheme of things. The bigger issue is the financing for the end user! I have read countless blogs of both Tiny Home advocates/wanna-be consumers and Park Model enthusiast alike, bemoaning the lack of financing of any sort! The reality is that there isn’t a complete lack of available financing; one just has to embrace their inner Sherlock Holmes to find it. There are fewer and fewer financing options and outlets that are willing to provide financing for an end user that is interested in purchasing a Tiny Home.
As the Tiny Home movement continues to evolve, we have seen the construction of Tiny Homes gravitate from the (do it yourselfer) and (garage band builder) to the individual and/or company that has realized that there is a viable consumer base. The Tiny Home movement is starting to become commercialized. Purists of the movement shouldn’t fret, they should be flattered. Their efforts have brought the light of day to a product that is transformative by its very nature. The Tiny Home movement is a great housing alternative; it’s also an affordable alternative for a large number of people! There-in lies the rub, the Tiny Home is only relatively affordable. If one cannot successfully gain financing then the entire economic chain breaks, thus killing many a “Great Idea” and company alike along the way.
So my own observation is that it is of paramount importance to find viable financing options to move the movement forward on every level. Whether one is the garage band builder…with all due respect or a classic profiteer, financing is the key. We (MAX E.L.S.) are fortunate because we have found the missing link or ingredient so to speak!! We DO have fantastic financing options for our customers. We have found several lenders that are excited about the prospect of lending in our particular industry. They can offer great rates; great terms and in many cases allow for a zero down option! Our financing vendors are committed to breaking down the finance barrier that has existed in our industry since its inception, thus opening the door for the general public to the Tiny Home movement in ways that weren’t possible just a short time ago!
For our company the steps that we can and will take to (hopefully) keep us alive and kicking for an extended period of time is the following: we will always strive to seek and more importantly implement “Great Ideas.” We will provide the highest quality workmanship and product in every project that we undertake. We will under-commit and over-deliver. We will strive to put the needs of the customer first. And lastly, we will always strive to be people of our word!
As I mentioned earlier, I love “Great Ideas” and I don’t care where I find them, the above “steps that we can take” aren’t germane to Stew MacInnes, they are just “Great Ideas” that have been around forever. Core value kind of stuff…it never really goes out of style. I don’t need to re-invent the wheel to make a great company; I just need Great People who love “Great Ideas!”
“Ideas are a capital that bears interest only in the hands of talent” Antoine Rivarol (1753-1801) French writer and epigrammatist.