Chris Nicely Retires from Next Step Network

Organization President & Founder Stacy Epperson to assume CEO position


Contact: Grant Beck, Marketing and Communications Manager
Phone: (202) 851-7550

LOUISVILLE, KY – November 20, 2020 –  Today, Next Step Network announced that CEO Chris Nicely has made the decision to retire from the organization effective December 31, 2020. Stacey Epperson will assume the position of president and CEO upon Nicely’s retirement.

Nicely joined Next Step full-time in 2015 after initially serving on Next Step Homes’ Board of Directors (a subsidiary owned by Next Step Network). As CEO, Nicely served a critical role in overseeing marketing and sales operations, helping to establish and broaden awareness of Next Step’s brand, and building relationships with housing developers and key stakeholders in the manufactured housing industry.

“Chris brought a wealth of expertise, passion and energy to every aspect of his work at Next Step in his role as CEO,” said Stacey Epperson, president and founder of Next Step. “I greatly appreciate his partnership and friendship – not only as leader in our organization, but as an affordable housing advocate and ally for individuals and families across the country hoping to carve out their own part of the American Dream.”

Nicely played pivotal role in the expansion of the organization’s SmartMH program – a partnership with Freddie Mac – and in Next Step’s inaugural efforts to leverage manufactured homes as affordable, infill housing in larger metropolitan communities. His philosophy of “selling-through-service” continues to be a guiding principle for the organization and its network members.

“Chris’ work ethic and leadership have helped shape Next Step’s future for the better,” said Sheila Rice, board chairperson. “The Board and I thank Chris for all that he has done in furtherance to the organization’s mission and vision.”

Over the course of his career, Nicely has been a part of – and lead – marketing and management teams at nationally recognized companies such as Rubbermaid, Mansfield Plumbing Products, Wayne-Dalton Doors, Bell & Howell and Gaylord Brothers.

Nicely also served as the Vice President of Marketing at Clayton Homes, the nation’s largest homebuilder. While in this position, he established a new corporate brand identity package, coordinated branding and positioning, led the re-positioning of the company’s web presence, led public relations efforts, and designed and coordinated the proprietary “Prospector” CRM system, while also managing corporate communications and delivering marketing support to more than 350 Clayton retail stores. Prior to becoming VP of Marketing and Sales, Nicely served in the positions of Zone Vice President, Regional Manager and VP, and General Manager at Clayton Communities. Altogether, his history with the company spans nearly two decades.

Nicely will continue his work in affordable housing space, and serve as a resource for others wanting to understand the role that factory-built housing plays in creating more affordable, sustainable housing.


About Next Step® Network, Inc.
Next Step® Network, Inc. is a national, nonprofit housing intermediary that works to promote expanded use of factory-built housing as a viable solution to address housing affordability. Our organization mobilizes a national network of mission-driven nonprofits, leaders in the manufactured housing industry and lending institutions serving home buyers and homeowners in their communities. Next Step’s system – Manufactured Housing Done Right® – connects responsible financing, comprehensive homebuyer education and delivery of high-quality, ENERGY STAR® manufactured homes at scale, creating a model that brings more value to the homeowners and communities. Learn more at