Interview: Next Step New Co. (2013)

Stacey Epperson of Next Step Newco interviewed by MCN on August 5, 2013.

Today we have the opportunity to learn more about Next Step NewCo. from Stacey Epperson, President and CEO. Based in Louisville Kentucky, they are working to provide low income and first time home buyers with quality affordable prefabricated homes. 


What is your role in  the company?

I am the president and CEO.

Where is Next Step NewCo based?

We are based in Louisville Kentucky but we have other contract employees in Delaware and California. Our customers are in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Who are your customers?

Next Step NewCo’s customers are nonprofits who are members of our network. We supply the home that they then provide to the consumer. So in the end our customers are low to middle income families who are mostly first time home buyers.

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

There is a large problem concerning the lack of affordable housing solutions. We are trying to create a more efficient, scaleable solution that provides energy efficient housing units. We are also working to help nonprofits minimize their costs and save funds through our reliable and affordable distribution channels and breakdown barriers to entry in the prefab housing markets. Next Step NewCo is also working to help replace earlier model mobile home units that are not energy efficient with affordable energy efficient units.  

How did you become interested in this problem?

I’m from rural Kentucky and I have also worked the last 10 years in Appalachian Kentucky providing manufactured houses. While doing this work I saw that there were no high quality affordable homes on the market and that my, then, position was contributing to that. So I started looking at what it would take to not have this problem persist and instead deliver these homes to the families that need them. In doing this I thought about what it would take to deliver this service right for these families. This led to the development of Next Step’s principles:

  1. Homebuyers prepared and supported through certified homebuyer education programs;
  2. ENERGY STAR homes on FHA Title II permanent foundations;
  3. Life-cycle pricing that is transparent to the nonprofit and to the homebuyer;
  4. Mortgages with fair terms that enable families to earn wealth and/or preserve assets; and,
  5. “A Home is a Home” policy commitment advocating that owners of manufactured homes have the same rights as owners of site-built homes.

What are your annual revenues?

They are between $100k -$1mm. And as far as making a net profit we have been generating a surplus but as a nonprofit it’s different how we deal with the excess.  


(Primavera Foundation Staff on site of Next Step Home set in Arizona, November 2011.)

What are your major challenges?

Globally the nonprofit sector has a black eye with affordable housing sectors, and are incredibly skeptical of the prefab housing industry.

For us personally as a startup there is always the challenge of raising capital, and for our customers it is finding the most appropriate mortgages for the consumer.

How has WJF helped you?

I would say that the recognition we’ve received has been a great asset. It will help us combat the challenge of raising capital.

Are there any other resources that you’ve found to be helpful?

I’m an Ashoka Fellow and they have been great in identifying resources and providing a network. Another great resource has just been having discussion with other social entrepreneurs.