Mobile Home News
News / Consumer

Mobile Home Industry Loses Another Leader

By Len Bonifield, - April 21, 2007

Bill Turney, 70, assistant executive director and director of marketing/public relations for the Florida Manufactured Housing Association, passed away on March 20.

I did not know Bill closely as a personal friend; however, through industry functions I came to recognize what a nice guy he was. He was extremely knowledgeable about our industry and I was always amazed that, whenever I had a problem or question and called on him, not only did he have the answer but he got back to me almost immediately. If you needed help he was one of the first ones to step forward and volunteer.

He was a gentle person. I know this because a small group of us had met at a restaurant in Bartow prior to a planned presentation to the Polk County Commissioners. Bill ordered a large tomato juice that arrived almost immediately. He took a sip and announced that it was warm and he would have to get some ice. As it turned out, it was a good thing it was warm. A member of our group arrived late and as he reached across the table to shake Bill's hand he knocked the tomato juice into Bill's lap. Here he was, 30 minutes away from having to stand up to make a presentation to the County Commissioners in light tan pants that were dripping and stained with tomato juice. Did he get angry? Did he use a string of expletives? No, he calmly got up, asked the waitress for some towels and water and proceeded to clean himself up. He went on to make his presentation with no one the wiser.

Ah yes, he handled that predicament in a classy and gentle way.

Turney had been affiliated with FMHA during four decades. While he was a retailer and owner of Stewart Mobile Homes in Tampa, he became a very active member. In 1983 he won the association's highest honor, the Bill Olsen Award, presented each year to an individual for outstanding service to the industry over an extended period of time. He won that honor in large part for his outstanding contributions to the association as chairman of the Florida Manufactured Housing Show for many years and a member of the FMHA Executive Committee. He also served as FMHA president for two terms during the 1980s.

He joined the FMHA staff as a consultant in 1988, working in the areas of marketing and public relations, a role that his outgoing personality was perfectly suited for. That role evolved into his coming on board full-time in 1992 as assistant executive director and director of marketing/public relations.

In the years that followed, Bill led FMHA's efforts in developing innovative approaches to promoting mobile homes. He continued through 2006 to be FMHA's point man in coordinating manufactured and modular home shows throughout Florida.

In 2004, after four devastating hurricanes in less than six weeks crisscrossed Florida, he played a key role in assessing how modern mobile homes performed. Largely through his efforts, consumers in Florida and across the country learned that not one mobile home built to modern construction standards suffered significant structural damage. For presenting the truth about the sturdiness of mobile homes, Bill accepted the Manufactured Housing Institute's (MHI) Jim Moore Excellence in Communications Award on behalf of FMHA.

Bill was also active on the national level, attending many MHI meetings and serving on various advisory boards working on national issues relating to the manufactured housing industry. Among the many awards he won is the MHI's prestigious Chairman's Award presented in 1992 in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the industry.

The well deserved recognition he received through the years is impressive, but can't begin to tell the story of who Bill really was. I know, for when I asked him to serve on an industry committee in Polk County dealing with Polk County issues, he willingly stepped forward even though he would have a long commute from his home and office to function on this committee. An eternal optimist, Bill had the unique ability to make everyone around him feel better. He will be forever missed by everyone who knew him.

The industry has lost two larger than life leaders in a short time, Don Hazelton in January and now Bill Turney. It will be hard to replace these two leaders.

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