ST. GEORGE – A major expansion is underway at a St. George company that was founded in a garage in 1974 and is now an innovator in design and manufacturing of precision products for the commercial, aerospace and space industries.
Ground was broken Tuesday morning on an $11 million, 75,000-square-foot expansion of the RAM Manufacturing Company’s facility in St. George.
The company currently employs 251 people in a 55,000-square-foot facility. The expansion will allow the company to continue to grow and also to spread out from what has become a very cramped manufacturing space in the current building.
“Forty-two years of Ray and Melzie’s company,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike told the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It just doesn’t get any better than that.”
RAM Company is named for founders Ray and Melzie Ganowsky; “RAM” stands for “Ray and Melzie.”
“When you consider the kinds of jobs that RAM has, this is exactly what we have wanted for all these years,” Pike said. “They were really a pioneer, among the very few to offer these kinds of really high-tech manufacturing jobs.”
All of RAM’s clients, many in the aerospace industry, are located outside Utah, Pike said. This makes RAM a “value-added” company that brings in outside money and helps grow the size of the economic pie.
The company was founded by the Ganowsky’s in 1974 in the couple’s garage, Ray Ganowsky said at the groundbreaking.
“And our first employee was my father,” Ray Ganowsky added.
The first major move was in 1979 when the company moved to 64 N. 800 East in St. George.
“At the eastern end was a bar. And one of the big problems of being there was we’d come to work and there’d be people sleeping in the dumpster,” he said with a laugh.
In 1980-1981 the company had a crisis and was paying 25 percent on a business loan; it wound up shutting its doors.
“That lasted about a week. And then we got the post office contract,” he said. “And from then on, we grew pretty well.”
A rotary gate assembly the company manufactures is used by the United States Postal Service in its mail sorting system; Ram produces 75,000 of those parts annually, Ray Ganowsky said.
The company moved to its current location at 3172 Deseret Drive in St. George in 1990. In 2006, a second building was constructed, more than doubling the company’s space.
“And now here we are … more than doubling again,” he said.
Company president and part-owner Kevin Ganowsky also spoke at the groundbreaking.
“From the beginning, our founder developed products for the space shuttle,” Kevin Ganowsky said. “Now we are developing new space products for thrusters, rocket engines and life support systems that will carry astronauts to Mars.”
RAM Company manufactures high-quality solenoids, valves and other precision parts for commercial and military customers.
“We are constantly implementing new products for a wide range of functions in aircraft, from landing gear to engines to wingtips to chilling drinks in the cabin,” Kevin Ganowsky said.
About 90 percent of the company’s business is with aerospace companies, RAM part-owner and vice president of business development Brian McCann said.
RAM’s customers are looking into the future and actively planning for projects that used to be the stuff of science fiction novels: mining asteroids, robotics, deep space travel and traveling to Mars.
“And that’s a really cool thing to be a part of,” McCann said.
Other states have actively campaigned to get RAM Company to move its operations, McCann said.
“Just last week, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in Alabama called me several times, trying to get us to cancel this (expansion) and consider Alabama,” McCann said.
“We’ve never considered Alabama. That would never happen. Our hearts are in Southern Utah,” he said.
In March, St. George City helped facilitate financing of the company’s expansion by approving up to $10 million in industrial development bonds.
This allows the company to take advantage of the city’s bond rating but does not obligate the city to pay back any of the funding.
Helping RAM Company expand is in line with city and state officials’ goals of bringing in higher paying, technology-based and manufacturing jobs.
RAM Company’s new building will be built by Watts Construction in an area adjacent to the company’s current facility and will consist of manufacturing space and a parking garage.
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