Oliver C. Ritchey founded Ritchey’s Dairy on August 3, 1940 just outside the rural town of Martinsburg, PA. A farmer for most of his life, his dream was to operate his own dairy. He realized that dream by building a 36’ by 40’ processing plant and dairy store on his farm.
Utilizing the milk from his own farm, Oliver produced Golden Guernsey milk (a slightly higher fat content milk), whole milk, ice cream, cottage cheese and other milk products. All the milk products were packaged in returnable glass bottles to be sold through the dairy store, or door to door on the two home delivery routes that were started.
In just three years the dairy had grown to the point that Oliver brought his son Paul on to take over as general manager of the dairy. With Paul’s help, the dairy continued to grow and expand its operations. Soon milk was needed from other local farms to keep up with demand.
Throughout the rest of the 1940’s, delivery routes were expanded. By the early 1950’s, Paul’s son Reid decided to expand delivery routes into the Altoona area. Competing against several other Blair County dairies, Reid was able to establish and grow these routes. The Ritchey name was becoming well known for quality products delivered right to your door. Also becoming well known at this time and continuing to this day is Ritchey’s Premium Ice Cream. Whether it was a half-gallon delivered to your home, or that special trip to the dairy store for a cone or sundae, our ice cream had made a name for itself by the 50’s.
The late 50’s and throughout the 60’s brought many innovations to the dairy industry. Ritchey’s was the first dairy in the area to switch from picking up milk from farms in milk cans to using a tank truck. In 1960 the first paperboard cartons were being used. These first cartons were sealed on top with staples! 1965 was our 25th anniversary, and we had glass bottles commemorating it. By 1968, all production was switched to paperboard cartons and glass bottles were no longer used.
With the passing of Oliver in 1963, Paul took over ownership of the dairy. With the help of his wife Mildred, he ran the dairy through these innovative times. In 1973 Paul turned the leadership of the dairy over to Reid. Reid, following his grandfather and fathers lead, continued to expand and improve all areas of the dairy operations. New and bigger trucks were utilized to take care of the growing stores that were carrying Ritchey’s milk. By the early 1980’s, new state of the art bottling machines were installed. In 1986, Reid expanded the building to accommodate a new ice cream production room, cooler and freezer space, and new offices. The late 80’s also brought with it the addition of iced tea to our product line. Always wanting the best product, Reid made the decision to use Roaring Spring Spring Water and cane sugar to make the iced tea.
The 90’s rolled in with our 50th anniversary in August of 1990. To celebrate and show our appreciation to our loyal customers, we sold 5 cent ice cream cones for the day. With the computer age firmly upon the dairy industry, Reid, always looking forward replaced key operating systems in our production plant with computer controlled equipment. He also added more milk storage tanks to handle the growing business. By the end of the 90’s, the business model that started with Oliver, then to Paul, then Reid, had left Ritchey’s Dairy as the only remaining processing dairy in Blair County.
The new millennium also brought with it a new general manager. Andrew, Reid’s son, came to take over that position. And just like the generations before him, Andrew strived to keep the dairy up to date and moving forward. A new warehouse cooler was added that allowed for more efficient loading and unloading of delivery trucks. The milk never leaves cold storage until delivered. New machinery was added that allowed us to package milk in light blocking plastic jugs, replacing the paper milk cartons.
During the first decade of the new century, we also expanded our iced tea line to add diet tea and flavored teas. We expanded our delivery routes eastward into new areas. By the end of the decade a total modernization of the building was completed, adding new office, warehouse, and freezer space, as well as remodeling our ice cream shop.
In the current decade, we have continued to update our fleet of delivery trucks and added an additional route to cover the Centre county area. A processing tank was also added to our plant that resulted in introducing three new flavors of iced tea to our growing iced tea line. We celebrated our 75th anniversary in August of 2015 with live music and ice cream specials for an entire weekend. The following spring we underwent a complete remodel of our ice cream production area, adding extra freezer space and brand new state of the art production machinery.
As we move forward, the Ritchey family would like to thank our current and past employees who have worked with us to get us where we are today. And to you, our loyal customers, we say thank you! Without your support, we would not be where we are at today. We have been proud to serve you, and look forward to serving you in the years to come!