RAM Enterprise Inc. employee Scott Spring places a heavy rubber panel on his workbench at the manufacturing facility in Elko and trims away the flash remaining after the molding process.
The piece is one of 500 sections of profile liner he made this spring to protect a steel tank at a mining operation in Alaska.
To make each panel, he feeds strips of raw rubber through an extruder then transfers them onto a press to be shaped under a temperature of 300 degrees and at a pressure of 1,800 pounds per square inch. He cleans up each piece and arranges them on pallets for shipping.
The job took about four months and used 35,000 pounds of rubber.
This project and other custom rubber manufacturing jobs fall under IMTECH Rubber Products, a subsidiary of Ram Enterprise that has helped sustain the Elko-based company for much of its decades-long history.
RAM Enterprise is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2021.
The company gets its name from its founder, whose initials are R.A.M.
Richard A. Milroy Jr. launched the business in 1991 in Oregon when he purchased several truckloads of used conveyer belt from mines, refurbished and reshaped it then resold the material.
He later hired his brother David Milroy and father Richard “Dick” Milroy. With their help and a growing staff, RAM expanded from a conveyer belt service company to one that offers professional labor services and industrial products, primarily to the mining, power generation and food sectors. David Milroy still works for RAM.
The family business added services including field vulcanizing (making continuous conveyer belt systems on-site); doing custom rubber molding for conveyer belt attachments through Cleating Resources (later sold); and manufacturing wear and abrasion rubber products through IMTECH.
“We provide conveyer belt services all over world to many customers, primarily in mining,” said Tim Horn, RAM president.
Horn previously worked for Newmont but has been with RAM since 1995 except for a two-year break to develop a mine in Peru. Wife Sharon Horn also worked for RAM in management and administration since 1995 but recently retired.
To stay competitive and diversify its business base, RAM has branched out into industrial services, and employs teams of electricians, welders, millwrights and mechanics. RAM continues to offer conveyer belt services and a specialized array of products to complement the services.
“The way that we have grown and branched out is at the request of our client,” Horn said.
RAM has employed 200 people during peak operation and now hovers at around 150 employees.
“We like to tell people that when you come to work at RAM you join a family,” Horn said. “It is not just a job, it’s a career. It’s up to you how you see that.”
The company boasts a good retention rate among the leadership team, with about 35 people celebrating 10- to 15-year tenures, but Horn said keeping a steady, skilled hourly workforce can be a challenge because of tough competition.
“We structure our company on safety and quality,” Horn said.
After RAM incorporated in Nevada in 2011 — at the same time it celebrated its 20th anniversary — RAM moved its headquarters to Elko. Other service centers are located in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Alaska. Elko hosts RAM’s largest service center and manufacturing facility.
“It was a great statement to Elko when they decided to put the headquarters up here,” said Quinn Westmoreland, RAM director of operations.
The facility off of Main Street houses executive offices, a fabrication shop for the construction of items such as underground mine ventilation parts and man baskets, a mechanics’ garage to maintain the signature red vehicle fleet, plus a truck loading area and storage yard.
The industrial services division has become RAM’s biggest revenue generator, according to Horn. RAM offers a broad array of services for a single project — civil, mechanical, electrical and conveyer belt work, for example.
“We recognized that that’s an area that we want to continue to grow our company,” Horn said. “That’s the area we need to continue to develop.”