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After 40 years, Hilltop Homes closes its doors in New York Mills

After 40 years, New York Mills will no longer have a manufactured or modular home business.

Hilltop Homes is closing its doors after opening so many for customers across the region for a long time.

The familiar staple overlooking Highway 10 is another victim of poor economic conditions and sluggish home sales.

"We just ran out of money, that's all," said General Manager Mike Conlon.

Conlon has been in the manufactured and modular home business for over 38 years.

The industry started in the area in the mid 1960s when Jim Larson sold homes out of the Ford garage. Eventually Future Homes opened and was key player throughout the 1970s.

After the demise of Future Homes in the late 1970s and early 80s, Hilltop Homes was opened in 1983 by Jack Bishop who moved to NY Mills after working for Jensen Mobile Home Sales in Fergus Falls starting in 1970.

In 1997, Bishop sold Hilltop Homes to Conlon and some business partners.

After selling, Bishop, who was inducted into the Minnesota Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame the same year, stayed on as a sales consultant until the end.

On the company's website, Bishop is quoted as saying, "Since selling the business, I've stayed on as a salesperson, helping my customers buy homes -- some of them for a second & third time. I enjoy seeing a lot of old faces -- and meeting new people, too!"

Bishop declined to comment on Hilltop's closing or the history of the business.

Two years ago, Conlon bought out his partners.

"Then the rug came out from under us," Conlon said. "Financing (for new home buyers) is tougher now. It doesn't have anything to do with the banks. It has to do with the regulations that have been imposed on the banks."

Conlon said it is really tough for people to get financing because they don't have the 20 percent necessary for a down payment on a home.

"In our area, when you have a lot of the people that would buy our low to medium priced product having just jobs, not being business owners or making a good wage, they can't afford it."

Credit for perspective buyers had been easier to attain in the past.

With the closing of Hilltop Homes, nine people have lost their jobs.

"The biggest hurt belongs to the people that have been laid off. That's not good for the area. It's not just the people, it's their families and the benefits that we offered that they no longer have. Those people will be hurt the most," Conlon said with a crack in his voice and tears in his eyes.

Through out the years, Hilltop's provided quality homes, while making home ownership easy, with features that fit family lifestyles. The company strove for complete customer satisfaction by providing quality homes, a personal sales touch, and full service after every sale. They were dedicated to solving their customers' housing needs by listening to their dreams and assisting with expert planning to make them come true.

The staff at Hilltop Homes was well-trained and offered professional assistance throughout the whole home ownership process. From selecting a home to the final move, their customers experienced professionalism at the highest level.

Their reputation was solid and they did business with many people in the area.

As of now, there are no plans for the property on top of the hill. It will be sold after the remaining inventory is liquidated.

"Hopefully there will be a new business there that will be very fruitful for the community," said Conlon.