Ritz-Craft co-owners Paul John gives a tour of the Mifflinburg facilities to state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin and other local leaders in this 2018 file photo

A Union County manufacturing company looks to hire about 60 new employees as it launches a new line of affordable modular housing.

Ritz-Craft Custom Homes of Mifflinburg wants to hire immediately with the goal of reopening a temporarily shuttered plant in less than a month, according to Aaron Hufnagel, digital marketing specialist.

The positions include carpenters and electricians, with Hufnagel encouraging potential workers of all skill levels to apply online at www.ritzcraftjobs.com. Workers furloughed by the company will be given preference, Hufnagel said. A job fair will be announced at a later date.

“We’re trying to hire people, especially in the Mifflinburg area, and provide people with good jobs,” Hufnagel said. “We need more labor.”

The affordable housing line is named Master-Craft. It emphasizes “affordability and “high-quality solutions for the entry-level market,” according to a company press release.

Hufnagel said wages start at $13.50 hourly and can climb to $19 or higher depending on experience and job type. The shifts are eight hours, five days a week. The company offers up to a 4-percent match on 401k plans and out-of-pocket health plans as low as $15 weekly with a $1,000 deductible.

Bob Delsite, human relations safety director, said the new employees would be trained in Plant 3 before transferring to Plant 2 to work on the new line.

“I need to start hiring now,” Delsite said. “In three to four weeks, we want to have the other plant up and running.”

Ritz-Craft last announced a hiring boom in May 2018, having sought up to 150 new employees, according to a company announcement at the time when it opened a new commercial division, Johns Buckley Construction.

About a year ago, however, the company closed Plant 2, Delsite said.

With new hires on the way for the new product line, Ritz-Craft is renovating the plant to add new tools, catwalks, ceiling and wall jigs along with new employee restrooms, lunchrooms and areas for safety demonstrations and equipment servicing.

“These renovations will allow Master-Craft plans to be built up to 76 feet in length, a full 6 feet longer than previous plans. This additional length directly results in added value to the builder network, who can now offer additional square footage without dramatic increases in pricing or costs associated with transportation,” the release states.

Ritz-Craft’s builder network gave “overwhelming support” of the new line in recent soft launches. According to the release, several builders pre-ordered multiple model homes for Master-Craft.

“In all the markets we serve, we continue to see mortgage rates holding steady, or even declining, while prices of existing homes keep rising. This is great news for current homeowners but can make it difficult for new buyers to enter the market,” said Paul John, Ritz-Craft co-owner and CEO. “With this Master-Craft division, we are returning to the types of products and plans that made Ritz-Craft what we are today. Our focus has been on honoring the heritage of our company and the entire HUD industry while bringing unmatched value to the entry-level market.”

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