Pittsburgh’s Ram Jack offers customizable products to support all foundation needs
Don’t do it twice. Do it right. This is the tagline of the Ram Jack brand, an iconic trailblazer in the foundation industry. Ram Jack is one of the first companies capable of putting steel in the ground, creating a dual-cylinder driving method in the 1980s that became a game-changer as a highly efficient, stable and permanent solution for installing foundations for new construction and repairing existing ones. The organization has since spent the last several decades building its rock-solid reputation, developing a diverse array of rigorously tested products for residential, commercial and industrial applications.
“Doing things the right way, and offering our customers products and services that are not anything less or more than they need, is what we stand for—this principle has gotten us to where we are today,” says Randon Gregory, Ram Jack’s Director of Franchise Development. A deep commitment to integrity, quality and reliability permeates the corporate culture, setting the tone for the company’s franchisees to deliver advanced, long-lasting solutions for their regional customers.
Ram Jack Comes to the Steel City
Such is the case for Ram Jack of Pittsburgh, a franchise owned by Dan Palmer Jr. and his father, Dan Palmer Sr., members of a family that has spent three generations in the construction business. The Pittsburgh operation is one of more than 60 Ram Jack locations spread across the United States, Canada, Central America and South America.
“Ram Jack is a true pioneer in the foundation industry and offers products that are far superior compared to the competition,” Palmer Jr. says. “The properties we support will stand the test of time because we provide lasting solutions—not temporary ‘fixes’ that result in future failure.”
At Ram Jack of Pittsburgh, the skilled staff routinely performs helical pile and driven-pile installations. Crew members handle remedial work related to foundation raising, chimney leaning, concrete slab raising and retaining wall repairs. Specialized services include slabjacking, driveway and sidewalk repair, column installation, slab-lift concrete repair, house lifting/raising, timber pile support, crack repair, crawl space repair, drainage and French drain installation. The company also provides helical piles for deck building, interior waterproofing using products manufactured by Richtech Industries, and an array of carbon-fiber repair options for column and beam reinforcement.
Chris Crowley, the dedicated Manager of Sales who joined the Pittsburgh team in 2018, is another staunch believer in the Ram Jack brand. He proudly shares how only highly engineered, American-made carbon steel is used in the manufacturing process, which takes place at an ISO 9001:2015-certified facility in Ada, Oklahoma. These commercial-grade products are fabricated using cutting-edge technology, including plasma cutters and robotic welders, to ensure consistent quality and field performance. All components are finished with an eco-friendly thermoplastic powder coating for long-lasting corrosion protection.
“The longevity of our products is a huge selling point,” Crowley says. “Many of our competitors use galvanized material, which is a lower-quality material in this kind of application.”
Ram Jack currently holds 12 (and has filed over 20) patents on products and equipment used in foundation repair and support. “We also have International Construction Code Evaluation Service (ICC-ES)-recognized products and are the first manufacturer of helical piles to receive an ICC Evaluation Service Report (ESR-1854),” Palmer Jr. says. “This means that engineers, architects and contractors can trust that our products and equipment have been verified to meet load capacity and compliance with the International Building Code (IBC).”
Plethora of Products
Today, Ram Jack offers over 150 standard products, including its signature steel-driven piles (also known as push or resistance piles), steel helical piles and brackets. In addition to foundation repairs, Ram Jack offers solutions for new construction projects as well as services in wall tiebacks, bridges and boardwalks, pedestrian bridges, tower/guy anchors, light poles, sign supports, pipelines and bulkheads.
The company’s in-house engineers are also on standby to personally assist with customizing or creating new products to fit any project requirement. “Ram Jack can fine-tune products to meet any specific regulatory standards and guarantees that every solution remains code compliant,” Palmer Jr. affirms. “Providing this level of engineering to assist with project development—and at no extra charge to customers—is unique in our industry.” What’s more, Ram Jack of Pittsburgh is the only foundation contractor in its region to offer this advantageous service.
“The properties we support will stand the test of time because we provide lasting solutions—not temporary ‘fixes’ that result in future failure.” Dan Palmer Jr., President, Ram Jack of Pittsburgh
Lunch and Learns for Engineers
Industry leadership is important to the Ram Jack corporation, especially when it comes to educating design professionals about the functionality and value of helical and driven-pile systems. Like many other Ram Jack franchises, the Pittsburgh team hosts lunch and learns for local engineers to help them better understand the advantages and applications of Ram Jack’s sophisticated product line.
“Many engineers are surprised to learn that we design all of our products in-house and have the capability to devise solutions that meet their unique needs,” Crowley says. “We don’t have a single product—we have thousands of things that we can do.”
Palmer Jr. concurs. “Engineers are not constrained to the product. The product is made to fit their needs,” he says.
Lunch and learn participants can also earn continuing education credits by attending these technical presentations, which cover everything from theory and design to ICC/IBC building codes and standards. In addition, Ram Jack uses this opportunity to share the benefits of its proprietary helical pile design software created specifically for engineers.
Foundation of Family Values
While promoting awareness of Ram Jack’s products is definitely good for business, Palmer Jr.’s biggest priority is building enduring relationships with clients. His personal experience as a company leader, paired with the mentorship and guidance of his father, has taught him that traditional family values are fundamental to operating a thriving company.
For Palmer Jr., these principles include respect, authentic listening and quality workmanship. “We treat customers as we would want to be treated—with respect. Respect is thoroughness,” he emphasizes. “We strive to be good listeners as we engage with each customer so that we can meet and exceed expectations.”
Going Above and Beyond for Clients
When needed, Ram Jack of Pittsburgh also handles certain tasks that do not fall under the purview of foundation construction and repair. The crew members specialize in large, multifaceted projects, giving them the necessary experience and resources to handle other various requests.
“We don’t turn customers away,” Crowley says. “We want to help them out no matter what the problem is.”
As a case in point, Palmer Jr. describes a situation where a large tree fell and smashed into a residence. Initially, two other contractors were called upon to remediate the damage, but each one failed to meet the customer’s expectations. Then Ram Jack of Pittsburgh stepped in and made all the necessary repairs.
“It was a complex job with a lot of intricate work,” Crowley explains. “Our team had to install helical piles for foundation support, demolish existing foundation walls, construct and waterproof new foundation walls, install French drains, demolish existing concrete flooring and re-pour the basement floor.”
Many times, Ram Jack of Pittsburgh is called on due to its reputation for out-of-the-box solutions and expertise in handling logistical challenges. Palmer Jr. recalls, “We did a commercial job about a year ago on a South Side property in Pittsburgh with significant site constraints. The client called us because they could not use a large caisson drilling rig next to the existing neighboring condos. As an alternative approach, we used a portable hydraulic drive to spin 80 helical piles to depths of 50 to 80 feet so that the client could build four new condos.”
He adds, “No other foundation company in Pittsburgh had the manpower or the right type of helical piles to do this job. We had to drill through rock for about 15 feet, which no other contractor could do, and then spin in the helical piles by hand, which were specially designed 14-inch disks.”
Having the proper resources makes all the difference when it comes to foundation construction. Palmer Jr. notes, “Instead of looking for reasons why we can’t do something, we look for reasons on how we can—and it all comes down to the equipment. We have all the equipment—from a range of excavators and hydraulic equipment to specialty attachments and gauges on our machines to help us monitor psi, torque, etc. We also utilize various technologies to enhance our understanding of things such as soil conditions, which helps us choose the most effective methods and means to complete each job.”
A Pledge to Quality Workmanship
Ram Jack’s strict quality-control procedures and specifications, combined with the extensive training and guidelines provided to all Ram Jack installers, ensure the company’s products will virtually never fail. But, just for good measure, many franchises (including Pittsburgh) offer lifetime warranties on all Ram Jack products.
Crowley adds, “Ram Jack is keen on keeping its services affordable and cost-effective. We also offer a range of financing options, including same-as-cash and reduced-interest loans, so clients don’t have to wait on resolving urgent foundation problems.”
Ensuring the job is done right the first time remains a prime focus for Ram Jack of Pittsburgh. This commitment to quality workmanship helps to ensure customers aren’t hit with foundation failures down the road. “I’m very selective about who I hire; this is a very precise field of work and not everybody can do it,” Palmer Jr. says. “My employees take pride in the fact that they were chosen based on their aptitude and skill sets. After they undergo an initial two-week training course at Ram Jack’s corporate office, I supplement their training in-house and keep them updated on all new products. They learn new skills by problem-solving on the job too.”
The Ram Jack corporation also sponsors an annual training event to provide franchise owners and employees the opportunity to gain more knowledge and experience in areas such as production, marketing, sales, and new products and installation equipment.
“My team really enjoys working with Ram Jack. The organization has a top-notch reputation due to its robust, versatile product line,” Palmer Jr. says. “Plus, my guys can always move up the chain here. They’re not stuck as laborers. Our franchise in Pittsburgh is primed for incredible growth—and we plan to continue adding expert staff members as we head into the future.”