Things were booming at Muncy Homes, Inc. in 2007.
The modular home business near the village of Clarkstown built more than 1,800 homes that year. The U.S. economy was strong and people had money in their pockets for buying new housing.
"We built over 30 homes a week," recalled Muncy Homes Vice President Mike Clementoni.
Mike Clementoni, vice president of Muncy Homes Inc., center, shows off his company’s facility Wednesday to a group of state officials including two from the state Department of Community and Economic Development: Mike Cortez, right, and Clyde “Champ” Holman, left.
Then came the recession of 2008.
Suddenly, many people lost their jobs and banks were no longer making many loans to prospective home buyers. Although the business is not close to what it was back in those boom days of 2007, signs are pointing to better times, according to Clementoni. The first quarter of 2014, he said, is the best the company has seen in six years.
He anticipates adding to his workforce of about 175 people too. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc along the coast of New Jersey in 2012, but that has created a market for new housing there.
"We are seeing the benefits of Hurricane Sandy," he said.
He doesn't foresee a boom in the modular home industry. It's still not particularly easy for many people, particularly those of modest means, to get bank loans. And that's a big reason the company has altered its manufacturing strategy.
"We are building much different homes than in 2007," he said. "We are building more expensive ones now."
The company manufactures strictly residential housing and everything is custom built. The goal for this year, Clementoni said, is to exceed last year's total of 450 homes.
"Right now, we are trying to increase production," he said.
The company employs both skilled and unskilled workers and trains many of them in the manufacturing process. He said hiring more people is not easy.
"There is a shortage of labor here," he said.
The local labor pool includes people who often choose to work at gas companies or related industries. Others may be simply reluctant to put in a hard day's work. Muncy Homes Inc., founded in 1973, includes three manufacturing divisions: Muncy Homes, Premium Builders and Superior Builders.
The company has manufactured some 20,000 homes, shipping them throughout Pennsylvania and the northeastern U.S.
The Muncy Homes website is www.muncyhomesinc.com.