Solenoids, coils of wire used to generate a controlled magnetic field, can be found virtually everywhere parts are in motion, from sorting millions of envelopes daily at the U.S. Postal Service to keeping commercial jets and spacecraft airborne. RAM Company CEO Ray Ganowsky harnessed their power to grow his design and manufacturing dynamo into the seventh-largest employer in the St. George area.
What was your vision when you founded RAM?
My wife, Melzie, and I started the company in our garage. I was sales and engineering, and she was bookkeeping, payroll, accounts payable, shipping and receiving, purchasing and everything else.
We actually started RAM so we could make enough money to send our kids to school and make a living. We didn’t really think it could ever be this large.
How has the company evolved since 1975?
We are an engineering company first. Our product line just keeps growing all the time because almost all of our projects are research and development. We develop about 20-25 new products each year.
We have close to 2,000 parts that we’ve designed. Our products deliver fuel to and bleed air from the jet engines. Wings, flaps, rudders and landing gear use our solenoids. We’ve got product on ships, deep ocean submarines, tanks and almost everything flying: missiles, helicopters the International Space Station.
What role has technology played in this process?
What we do now with computers is just amazing. The stuff I used to have to do manually—calculations of fluid flow, temperature—it’s very complex, and now you just put it in the machine and it gives you a picture. I think that’s so cool. Our whole plant is computer-controlled.
How does the family dynamic come into play?
We’ve brought on a lot of new people in the last seven or eight years, but quite a number of our employees have worked here for 20 or 30 years. Our son is a veteran mechanical engineer and the president. Our grandson has a master’s in business and is the vice president, and they run the company now. They grew up with it, really.
We still come in every day, but what we mainly do is advise different departments. You have to back out and let people do their job.
What has been the key to RAM’s long-term success?
It’s really our integrity. I’ve been in this type of business since 1956. I know a lot of people, and they know me. They know the RAM Company.
And you have to be able to perform. Companies like Boeing or AirBus can have a $50 million airplane, and for lack of a valve on the landing gear, it can sit there. It’s like a big dance: You’re ordering the right parts at the right time, you’re coordinating all these things to be able to get the product out and satisfy the customer’s needs.
What’s next for RAM?
Moving up the food chain. What we did before is solenoids. Take a rotary solenoid, for instance—pretty simple. Now we put the solenoid in the valve; then the next stage is to put the valve in the manifold, then selling the manifolds as sort of a system.
We’ll keep doing the same thing we’re doing, but build more technical devices that work on more of the aircraft. There’s really no top end as far as how big the company could get.