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November 20, 2017

“‘I’m playing the long game’” – Nashville Post

Original Article

 Publish Date: 20 November 2017

Simple living advocate David Latimer patiently progresses with his New Frontier Tiny Homes.

David Latimer is CEO and founder of Nashville-based New Frontier Tiny Homes, a company that constructs small fully equipped freestanding homes while advocating for simple living movement principles.

After recently debuting its Alpha tiny house on HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living, NFTH  launched an enterprise division catering to companies looking to step outside the traditional brick and mortar model.

Via its Escher tiny home, the NFTH division will offer brands and companies a distinctive opportunity to reach and retain customers.

The Post recently enjoyed a brief exchange with Latimer (read more here).

Why did you start the enterprise division of New Frontier Tiny Homes?

A number of reasons. It allows tens of thousands of more people to experience a quality tiny house, continues to normalize tiny houses and creates tiny house champions in people who aren’t already.

Also, for all intents and purposes, tiny houses are still illegal, unfinanceable and not a narcotic. So selling them, even to people with land and cash, is extremely challenging for the short-term foreseeable future. Companies have money. Tiny houses that aren’t permanent residences can be used anywhere in the country. I could go on for hours.

What was the inspiration behind offering mobile showrooms?

Necessity, imaginative problem solving and demand. We’ve had more and more companies reach out for these. So, we decided to formalize our offering and announce it.

How did you start your relationship with New-York-based apparel company Rhone? And what was it like creating the first mobile showroom for them?

They found us and reached out. Their office is in a beautiful old factory that they renovated. The aesthetic is similar to the Alpha (a NFTH model). As an online brand, they don’t get touch points with their customers. This helps bridge that gap. It helps them attend the big shows and expose their brand to thousands of new people.

Also, our companies’ ethoses are very aligned: integrity, quality, sustainability, nature as a tonic for the human mind and body, and the principles of H.D. Thoreau. Thus the reason it’s called the Walden House. Rhone has incredible human beings who also happen to be very talented: Michelle Barone found us and led the charge. She’s amazing. The CEO, Nate Checketts, is just a righteous dude. Great people, great brand.

It was super fun. Very collaborative. More intensive and required more communication and approvals than a residential customer.

Do you see New Frontier Tiny Homes building home models in the $50,000 to $100,000 range?

Yes for sure. One step at a time. The obstacles to tiny houses are suffocating and overwhelming. I’m playing the long game. I refuse to compromise quality. Long-game strategy. By building quality, I am chipping away at negative stigmas. I build to code, and I win over detractors. Many $40,000 tiny homes are negative for the longevity and credibility of the movement. My product has mainstream credibility and approval. A social movement can’t last if it doesn’t get normalized by a large chunk of detractors.

Also, building at scale will drive down costs significantly. I am working behind the scenes all the time on a few larger projects. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when.

See the Tesla business model. Innovation and pioneering a new way of life and a new product is costly and extremely time consuming. But as Elon Musk has created a pathway to making top-quality electric cars available to the masses, I intend to do and am doing the same with tiny houses and microhousing.

Do you continue to talk with Metro regarding a space within Nashville to operate a tiny home community? What could be the potential obstacles?

Yes, it’s a long process but we are continually trying to work out a way to make this feasible. The city really is great about this. They are privately rooting to make this happen. They just want it done right and in a very positive way. They also have an enormous list of other priorities. So hats off to the city and respect and gratitude for all they do.  The process is just slower than molasses running uphill in Antarctica. The Metro Codes Department is super busy. Changing code is just an extremely slow process. It is a matter of when, not if. But it is not something to wait around on to fund a business. Case and point for Enterprise.

As to potential obstacles … how many hours do you have? Is this a 15,000-word essay? Land is super expensive in Nashville. So economics are a huge obstacle. Codes and zoning are an obstacle and time consuming.

Time can’t pay my bills, so I’m doing all I can to come up with creative ways to do so near term.