Ram Jack is at the forefront with its foundation products and services.
By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
After five decades, Ram Jack not only provides reliable foundation repair services, but has its own firm foothold as a leader in its market. “There’s no doubt about it,” General Manager Scott Holland says. “We’ve always been at the forefront of the technology side.”
Ada, Okla.-based Ram Jack’s foundation repair and other specialized services include stabilization, interior floor and retaining wall repair, utility and new construction foundation solutions. Founder Bill Gregory started the company in 1968 as a pest control company.
But after his son, Steven D. Gregory, took over the business in the 1970s, he incorporated foundation repair into the company, which became its major source of revenue. Over time, the firm introduced its Ram Jack System as an alternative to the unreliable foundation repair methods that were available.
The system incorporated unique brackets to drive piles and other foundation support products made from high-grade, American-made steel. “We started out with trying to do the best thing possible for a foundation rather than just patchwork,” Holland says. “We wanted it to be a permanent type of repair.”
Ram Jack filed the first of several patents in 1985, and today, it develops, manufactures and distributes its products from its facilities in Ada. More than 60 dealers and franchisees install its products nationwide for residential and commercial applications.
National Accounts Manager Justin Presley says Ram Jack’s homeowner clients look for products that will help their homes last for the long run. “They want their piece of mind [that the] scope of engineering is going to do what their house needs,” he says. “They’re people who really care.”
Clients, Presley adds, can be certain that everyone who sells or installs Ram Jack’s products has the right expertise. “We want to make sure everything we do is absolutely going to work, every time,” he says. “We don’t do anything else than what the home needs.”
Top of the Heap
Ram Jack is adding new products to its lines, including Sign Dart™, which it will sell to departments of transportation all over the United States. “It’s a new sign post mount that’s really incredible,” Holland says.
The product provides tailored stabilization solutions for traffic signs on highways or city roads. The Sign Dart product, he notes, can be installed in a single trip.
“It also solves the lateral movement issue of a cylindrical pipe,” Presley says, noting that users can find out more about the project on www.signdart.com. “We’re kind of ahead of the game [with it] right now.” Ram Jack’s Sign Dart is a patent-pending product.
The company also recently filled a gap in its helical pile product line with its 4.5-inch outside diameter (OD) product. National Franchise Development Production Manager Josh Sanders explains that it provides a medium between its 3.5-inch OD and 5.5-inch OD products.
While the 3.5-inch has a capacity of 98,000 pounds and the 5.5-inch has an ultimate capacity of 150,000 pounds, some job requirements fall between that range. “The advantage of having the 4.5-inch to fill that gap [is that] we can offer a more economic pile for capacities between two existing sizes,” he says.
The product, which was launched earlier this year, has already earned an enthusiastic response from structural engineers. “They’re happy to have it,” Sanders says, explaining that this has helped clients avoid excess spending.
Previously, if engineers had capacities of 110,000 pounds, the 3.5-inch product was just too small. “They would have to add pilings to make up the difference, or they would have to go with a larger size,” he explains. “It puts us back at the top of the heap with the strongest pile recognized by the International Code Council [ICC].”
Today, Ram Jack has more than 60 locations across the country. “Some people find us naturally and some people seek our website and look for the technology,” Franchise Acquisition Director Shane Johnson says.
A Ram Jack franchise can be a wise investment for potential owners, he notes. In addition to protected territories and extensive training, franchisees get the benefit of licensing the Ram Jack name.
With so many franchisees offering these renowned products, the owners “can feed off each other’s successes,” Johnson says. “This also allows us to trade ideas and develop best business practices.”
Ram Jack’s Research and Development Division loves getting ideas from franchisees to create a custom product to provide a solution for a new foundation problem. What’s developed for one franchise can then open new opportunities for other locations. Ram Jack’s steel columns, for example, can provide solutions for homes along coastlines.
When recruiting franchisees, Ram Jack looks for applicants who not only have a mind for business, but also an understanding of structures. The company also wants “somebody that likes the idea of having a very niche skill that a lot of people cannot perform,” he says.
Usually, Ram Jack looks for franchisees in the most viable markets, which can be determined by the area’s soils. Areas with high clay-content soil often experience movement cyclical with weather and season changes. The clay will absorb and hold onto moisture, swelling and causing heave. Then during drought conditions, the moisture is lost, causing downward movement. This cyclical change can cause foundation damage.
Today, “There are extensive plans in the central part of the United States,” he says. “We do a lot of work there.”
However, he stresses, Ram Jack’s products are applicable in any climate. “The piles we put in the ground support any structure, whether it’s commercial applications or homes in the North or homes that are sitting on the soil in the South,” he says. “What we do works everywhere because we torque or drive our piles down to load-bearing strata to provide stability to the structure above, even if the soil in the ‘zone of influence’ is moving.”
Being the Best
Ram Jack has a strong focus on manufacturing quality and industry standards. Darin Willis, the president of Fortified Engineering Solutions, a sister company of Ram Jack, says that the company has invested strongly in this area so it can “be the best in the industry.”
This includes staying current with ICC regulations. “There is testing criteria they have for helical piles,” he says, adding that Ram Jack’s products are tested by ICC-Evaluation Service-accredited labs to ensure they meet those regulations.
ICC also has independent auditors that come and perform random test selections on Ram Jack’s products to ensure quality. The company’s operations “are also ISO 9001:2015 certified,” Willis says, noting that this has been verified by independent auditors as well.
Ram Jack also is affiliated with its industry through seismic testing sponsorships. Willis himself is a member of the Helical Piles and Tiebacks Committee of the Deep Foundations Institute.
The committee, he notes, has been performing seismic testing with helical piles. “Right now, in several countries [such as] New Zealand and Japan, helical piles are the preferred deep foundation system in seismic areas,” Willis says.
However, until now, no testing had been performed in the United States on helical piles in seismic events. “We’re doing testing on that now to get it into building codes,” he reports, noting that results so far have shown very little damage to structures.
Recently at the University of California San Diego, the committee performed tests with the largest shake table in the world. “We were able to test 10 piles,” Willis recalls, adding that more studies are being performed at The University of Nevada, Reno.
“They’re going to liquify the soil where it becomes a fluid,” he says, noting that this happens with saturated loose sands.
Spreading the Word
Ram Jack recently held a live engineer webinar that not only spreads the word about the company, but also helps engineers earn continuing education units. Through the program, “We cover and present technical information and benefits about Ram Jack and helicals,” Marketing Coordinator Hollie Kosemund describes. “This webinar is available on-demand to engineers for 12 months, so earning a PDH is still an option.”
The webinar also discusses how Ram Jack manufactures helicals, their strength and different applications, which also include wind mills and light posts. “Most engineers use concrete and they may not know about helicals,” she says.
This marks the second webinar that Ram Jack has offered, but it has enlightened veteran engineers who were not previously aware of the products. “A lot of people are liking what they’re hearing,” she says.
One Big Family
Holland is proud of Ram Jack, its staff and franchisees out in the field. “It’s like one big family,” he says. “We have passion for what we do.
“Our staff will do whatever it takes to make sure things are done the right way,” he says, noting that these include Willis. “He’s doing a tremendous service to make sure we stay on [top of technology in] our business.
“He helps all of us,” Holland continues. “His staff works with everybody across the country.”
Holland sees a strong future for Ram Jack, which will continue to grow and expand the reach of its staff. “We’re working with our group to add more services to what they already do,” he says.
For example, the company plans to add more products with higher and lower capacities, Sanders notes. “We’re always developing both large and small to come up with the most useful and economic pile options available to cover many capacities,” he says.
Sanders notes that the possibilities for Ram Jack’s products are endless, with applications that need to resist compression or tension. “Those forces can be resisted by helical piles in everything from homes to commercial structures, bridges, light poles and big banners that are tied to poles,” he says. “Anything you can think of that has to be solid and rigid, helicals can achieve that.”
The company also wants to improve its marketing campaign. “We’re constantly looking at ways to [grow] our reach from social media,” Holland says. “I have a staff of people keeping us on top of the world.”
Ram Jack also plans to expand its international reach. Although the company has locations in Costa Rica, Uruguay and Canada, “I have leads that are developing in Nigeria and Mexico,” Johnson says.
“There’s so few people that work at the level that we do with steel pilings,” he says. “Our network will be able to grow and handle these needs at an international level.”