Local business to celebrate 60th anniversary in March

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 21, 2010

NATCHEZ — Holder’s Mobile Homes is holding strong in a business that is sometimes tough to sustain.

Holder’s will celebrate 60 years of business as a manufactured homes dealer in Natchez on March 1. The milestone is one owner Rodney Holder said is rare.

“It is a business a lot of people get into thinking it is easy, but there is a lot more to keeping the business open than trying to sell homes,” Holder said. “It’s about the customers and how you treat them. We’ve been lucky to have a lot of good customers.

“As far as we know we are the oldest dealer in the United States.”

Brothers James and Glenn Holder founded Holder’s Mobile Homes in 1950 on a lot on U.S. 61 where the present-day Domino’s Pizza is located.

The business moved to its current location in 1959. Holder’s Homes, 648 U.S. 61 N., is open Monday through Saturday. The business can be reached at 601-442-7550.

“When we started an (8-foot by 20-foot) home was as big as you could get,” Holder said. “Now 2,400 to 2,500 square foot homes are common.”

While the location has changed and the inventory is different, Holder said one thing hasn’t changed.

“Our customers are the reason we are still around,” he said. “They trust that they will be treated well and get a fair deal when they come here.

“When someone comes to our business, they will be talking to an owner and not just a salesperson, and I think people like that.”

What started as a family business has remained just that. Rodney Holder is the third generation of Holder men to work at the lot — his grandfather, Henry Holder, was a key employee when the business opened in 1950.

“We are all involved,” James Holder said. “We all care about the business. You don’t run into that every day.”

Now the lot is managed by Rodney Holder and his father and mother James Holder and Dorothy Holder. Rodney’s wife, Janis, also assists at the business when needed.

“I started coming out here and riding on the trucks when I was 12 or 13,” Rodney said. “This is all I’ve ever done, and I never really wanted to do anything else.”

The Holders have seen first hand the many changes to manufactured homes and the industry as a whole. Rodney Holder said the most visible changes have come in the product. In the early days of the business, manufactured homes, commonly referred to as trailers then, were a “what you see is what you get business.”

Now, Rodney Holder said someone purchasing a manufactured house has almost as many options as someone building a house.

“We had someone just recently who combined three different floor plans to get what they wanted,” he said. “We’ll do anything we can to make sure people are getting what they want.”

And to make sure customers get exactly what they want, Rodney Holder said his family has always been particular about the dealers they use.

“We deal with businesses that are like us — family run,” he said. “It just seems that they put out a better product and that is what we want for our customers.”

James Holder said since beginning the business the top priority has been making sure customers leave the business happy.

And with a good many repeat customers, James Holder said he feels like they must be doing something right at Holder’s Homes.

“We get thank you cards and note pretty regularly,” he said. “That is how we know we are treating them right.”

Treating customers right is what keeps them coming back and Rodney Holder said in a business that goes up and down depending on the economy a good base of repeat customers is necessary to get through the hard times.

“Anything that affects other businesses affects us,” he said. “We go up and down just like everything else, but we’ve been able to manage in the down times.

“We’ve been around long enough to know the cycle will end, and we can get through it thanks to our loyal customers.”