Kenny Richard, 36, a self-taught and self-motivated carpenter said his skills as a carpenter and a craftsman are always an ongoing and growing trade.
He first began working with construction and carpentry work with his father when he was younger before enrolling in a building class in high school.
When he was 20, Kenny embraced construction and carpentry work as a career. After high school, he attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois for two years.
“That area is all unionized so the idea behind that degree would be to pursue that and get on a union site as an estimator or a foreman,” he said. “One particular summer, I began building houses with an individual. I quickly became one of his lead guys back in 2000.
Kenny said he began watching God take him on this journey where He would put him in strategic places in order to learn a particular craft or profession for a moment. He benefitted from being in a lot of places in a short period of time and became well-rounded in many areas.
From building houses to working commercially, he has worked on many different projects over that course of his career, ranging from churches to chambers of commerce.
In 2001, his wife, Julianne, was offered a job in Jackson, Tenn., and they decided to make the move from Illinois. Being so versatile in so many areas led Kenny to his own contracting business in Jackson in 2004.
MINI MOBILE MANSIONS
“One night, as crazy as it is, I had a vision of a mini house on wheels. It was another God moment again,” he said. “I’m a Christian so I believe in the power of praying so one Friday night in September of 2008, I was simply praying.”
Kenny said to a lot of people that might sound crazy, but he knew it wasn’t something that he conjured in his own mind.
After the vision, he began to do research.
“Back six and a half years ago they didn’t really exist. There were a couple guys doing it on the east coast, but that was pretty much it,” he said. “We completed our first house in September of 2009.”
About a year ago, Kenny launched this mini house on wheels business, called Mini Mobile Mansions.
“Even though we’ve been able to find and produce an income through what God has enabled me to do physically with construction and carpentry, we feel like He is taking us somewhere else now with this.”
Kenny said the process has been slow going because he didn’t want to rush things. Considering many aspects with his product, he said the mini house on wheels could become a hazard if not done properly.
He designed seven different models of the mini house on wheels and worked with a local Nashville-based architecture to make his designs become a reality.
According to their website, Mini Mobile Mansions models range from The Towgate model specifically built with the tailgating experience in mind to The Abode model which features a more practical multi-purpose design.
[Photos from MiniMobileMansions.com]
a MOVEMENT and a COMPANY
The mini house on wheels industry is growing and some are even calling it a movement. Whether permanently downsizing or used for traveling or other things, the homes, often on towing trailers, can be considered a travel trailer or an RV depending on local recognition.
“There aren’t many guidelines as far as how you build them other than the width and the height,” he said.
Locally, there are big differences as far as parking and or living in a mini house on wheels.
“In Williamson County, any RV can be parked but not permanently lived in,” Kenny said. “It has to move a couple times a year, and that would only be noticed by neighborhoods. Not only that, there may be certain guidelines or restrictions, in particular, neighborhoods or convents.”
In Davidson County, the rules are different. Kenny said he knows a couple of people who use their mini house on wheels for Airbnb and rentals in the back of their property.
“Obviously, with a mini house on wheels company I’m a little taken back by the fact that, especially in Williamson County, it’s so strict. I can see that from various other viewpoints because if you let one person do one thing then all of sudden you’ve got a whole different group of people that are allowing abandoned cars on their property and driveways.”
Kenny feels like local officials should consider something else. He said there are a lot of people who want to pursue a mini house on wheels but can’t because of all the restrictions.
“You’re seeing states like Oregon allowing whatever and there haven’t been many complaints about it. It’s not a nuisance. Around here you’ve got more upper scale people and it’s more of a visual thing for them. I wish they would embrace the movement.”
With time, Kenny said he thinks the community will embrace it. He said the movement is gaining momentum around the country and it’s only a matter of time before some ordinances and local laws are rewritten.
“Our company wants to offer a multiplicity of options for people,” he said. “That’s where we want to be now and that’s what we want to be in the future.”
“We always want to be changing and challenging ourselves as a company, as people, and as we watch the movement change or people’s preference change. We always want to be innovative and creative considering people.”
Kenny said he believes everything should be growing, fruitful and thriving and if it isn’t then it’s time to reevaluate.
“Our culture is constantly changing and shifting and that’s where we want to be as a company. I’ve done a lot of research and we’re one of the only ones in the country offering a [variety] of options.”
FROM JACKSON TO FRANKLIN
“Three and a half years ago, Karleigh, our oldest just graduated from a Christian academy in Jackson, and we were considering moving our other three to the same Christian academy because the public schools in Jackson just weren’t very good,” he said. “As a parent, you want your kids to be safe and protected and so that’s what we felt like needed to happen. We were realizing the cost and things and praying through it.”
Kenny said his wife, Julianne, was randomly offered a lateral move to Franklin through her job.
“Having an established business, it’s hard to get yourself rooted in a different area and get that business started again,” he said. “I wasn’t up for moving just for that simple reason and so we continued to pray. You always hear in church that God has a still small voice. In prayer I said, ‘Look God, I need something that’s not the still small voice. I need you to hit me in the face with it. I can’t move simply by this. Something’s got to happen.’”
Kenny said the night before he and his wife had a make a decision; he got a random call from someone offering him a job from 84 Lumber, a building material supplier to professional contractors, home builders, remodelers and do-it-yourselfers.
“Right away, we knew that was our sign, and we said yes,” he said.
Kenny said being a part of a community means considering other people.
“We have our own lives and we have our things, but yet there are so many people we pass by every day that are hurting and don’t realize it. If we could just stop for a moment sometimes and consider people, that’s what community is to me.”
He said life is about being able to rely on other people in a time of need. He said that need may not be physically but as simple as a smile, a handshake and kind words.
“Nashville is a great city, a lot of things are happening in and around this city,” he said. “There’s something about here that causes people to smile and strive and to be ambitious and passionate about life. I don’t know what it is, but it’s contagious for sure.”
He said the sense of community feels like everyone is connected.
“I’m sure there are a lot of hurts and sorrow and a lot of things that people are going through and that’s just life, but you feel like people are there for you,” he said. “This life was designed for not thinking of yourself too much and embracing others for their differences.”
Some of his concerns about the Nashville area deal with growth and transportation.
“The biggest eye catchers for most of us are the flux of population and housing which brings traffic and congestion. My only concern is the engineering and or architecture can be compromised,” he said. “I hope that all the areas around and in Nashville will stay true to its roots but remaining [open] to bringing fresh, new, cool and neat additions to our communities.”
Kenny noted in Nashville there always seems to be accidents in the same place. He suggested more law enforcement on the highways to help improve people moving throughout the city.
“I know we’ve got a safe place and that’s good, but I think law enforcement could consider some different things. Overall, it’s great community.”
Kenny said what’s important to him is his family. He and wife of 14 years have five children.
“Because I am thinking of my family, growing my business is also important and with that God as well. He’s the center of our lives.”
For more information on Mini Mobile Mansions, click on the highlighted links or email email@example.com.
Thanks for reading Nashville!
Every Thursday at noon Neat Nashville embraces the community by highlighting an individual in a feature article that tells their story and voices their concerns about the city moving forward. It is our hope to inspire good change locally, to be a force of unity, and support the people we all call neighbors.
It starts with community. It starts where you are.