Seattle-based Lindal Cedar Homes has named MIT architecture-trained Michael Harris as its next president and chief operating officer, effective Sept. 1. The family-owned, custom cedar-home manufacturing company was most recently led by Robert Lindal, who will remain chairman and chief executive officer.

Over 31 years, Harris worked his way up from sales representative to president and CEO of Deck House, Inc., now Empyrean International; he led the company from 1991 to 2006. Harris' long experience in the manufactured housing business was a key factor in Lindal's decision to appoint him its new president, according to Robert Lindal. Though Harris has never practiced as an architect, he employed his architecture training throughout his tenure at Deck House, and it will continue to influence his work at Lindal.

As part of the strategic plan for Lindal Cedar Homes Harris helped develop as a consultant, the company has added as its creative director a Harvard-trained architect, who will merge more cutting-edge design with Lindal's post-and-beam building system. Lindal's national network of 180 dealers will now be able to draw on the expertise of the creative director and other company-staffed designers, rather than having to turn to outside designers, according to Harris.

Harris believes there is plenty of room in the manufactured housing industry for design, as the industry has historically failed to deliver true custom design for a variety of reasons—among them architects' inability to work with a manufacturer's building system and the industry's own attempt to pass off modifications to home plans as custom design without regard for the building site, regional traditions, or the client's aspirations.

"In my career, I have seen success when the architects and manufacturers are part of one organization or, on occasion, when architects within the organization collaborate with independent architects to provide custom design within the system. We are now doing both at Lindal," Harris says.