Like many manufacturers, Ram Jack saw its sales and growth affected by the global recession, but it didn’t let that stop it from making major investments. Those investments, as well as concerted efforts to find new markets, are now placing the foundation repair system manufacturer and installer on firm footing as the national economy continues to improve.
“Our company’s owners were very conscious of making sure we had a good cash flow, and it took a lot of hard work from everyone here to find new markets and make sure we’re strong in our traditional markets,” says Ivan Matthews, a general manager at the Ada, Okla.-based company. “Our people are unbelievably dedicated to this company and brand; we did what we needed to do to pull together.”
With more than 50 franchises in the United States as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Panama, Ram Jack is a leading specialist in foundation repair. The company holds patents on a number of products including driving heads, hydraulic rams and guide sleeves used for driving piles. “The company uses a thermoplastic coating on its products instead of zinc or galvanite coating, making them more environmentally friendly,” he adds.
Ram Jack serves customers in the residential, commercial, and public sectors. Its experience ranges from residential home foundation repairs to large construction projects. “The company recently formed a utility division concentrating on green energy projects,” Matthews says.
The utility division is working on a major project driving foundations for a solar energy field. Ram Jack has completed 23,000 of a total of 72,000-plus solar tower foundations for the project, the world’s largest solar field.
In addition to establishing the solar division, Ram Jack is also working to incorporate lean manufacturing principles into its operations. “We will continue to invest in machinery and training and plant layouts that will make our operations more lean and efficient,” Matthews says. “We are training new staff while at the same time focusing on expanding our dealer network.”
Training includes pairing new employees with experienced staff to familiarize them with Ram Jack’s processes and deadlines. “We’re pretty fast-paced here; we try to get orders out within 10 working days, so everyone has to learn the most efficient ways of doing that,” he adds.
The company twice a year provides its Ram Jack University training program to dealers and franchises. The program is highlighted by a tour of the manufacturing plant.
“This is a great time for our employees to meet the people who use the products they work hard every day to produce and to hear feedback from the field,” the company says. “It gives us a chance to also show new techniques in equipment and design.”
Ram Jack produces 300 different components at its 8-acre manufacturing facility in Ada in addition to custom components. “One of our strengths is our ability to adjust to whatever a customer’s needs are and custom-build systems to fit those needs,” Matthews says.
The company’s full-service machine shop features threading, turning and drill operations to produce both threaded and bolted helical piles as well as other components, General Manager of Manufacturing Mike Pinley says. One key piece of equipment is a robotic plasma table used to cut and fit parts.
“A second table, designed especially for Ram Jack’s products, will be installed this year,” Pinley adds.
The company works closely with suppliers to forecast its needs for materials including tubing, flat steel and welding materials.
“Ram Jack’s products undergo extensive testing both in-house and in the field,” Matthews says. “Field testing includes testing the soil capacity of piles.”
The company is in the process of attaining ISO 9001 certification. Both Matthews and Pinley say this goal will be relatively easy to attain because of an evaluation report the company received in 2011 from the International Code Council (ICC) for its helical pile system.
The evaluation report outlines Ram Jack’s compliance with ICC code standards, which are widely accepted by engineers. “ICC standards are similar to those mandated by the ISO,” Matthews says.
“Our engineering staff here worked tirelessly and at great expense to get (the evaluation) done,” he adds. “It was a lot of hard work, and I think it will propel us further.”