On December 31, 2018, Ramtech’s Accounting Manager, Harleene Hackler, retired after a dedicated 28+ year career. Harleene joined The Ramtech Group in August 1990 as Assistant Accounting Manager to Don Burkett, ultimately replacing him in 2002 when Mr. Burkett retired. Over the past three decades, Harleene has meaningfully contributed to our success, providing guidance and leadership to both our Accounting and Human Resource departments. This culminated in 2018 with a successful transfer of responsibilities to her successors, and while we will miss Harleene deeply, we are grateful for the training and experience she bestowed upon her peers that have allowed for such a smooth transition. Thank you, Harleene, for the many great years you gave to us; you will always be a part of the Ramtech family!
After a long and successful career in the commercial modular industry Gary White, Ramtech’s longtime VP of sales, has retired. A 30 year veteran of Ramtech, Gary was instrumental in helping to direct the efforts of both Ramtech’s sales and estimating departments for the last 19 years by possessing a rare combination of being a terrific one-on-one salesperson while also having keen instincts in his approach to pricing turnkey commercial modular building projects. After working in sales for multiple companies within the modular building industry for 10 years, Gary came to Ramtech in June of 1985 just three months after Ramtech opened its manufacturing plant in Mansfield. His first position was in the role of the company’s senior sales person then quickly rising to become its sales manager. As the Sales Manager and ultimately the VP of Sales, Gary supervised all sales and estimating activity while also serving as a key component of Ramtech’s marketing team. Gary’s team included five people in sales and estimating that now have a combined tenure within Ramtech of over 115 years. (more…)
As a modular manufacturing and construction company, Ramtech’s customers often refer to our buildings as being prefabricated. When a customer was referring to one of our permanent modular buildings, that made sense. However, when they were referring to relocatable modular buildings, that was surprising. As I did some research by visiting various websites and blogs, the results were even more interesting. Many people feel that all residential and commercial modular buildings are outside the definition of prefabricated. They associated prefabricated with panelized wall sections, piping racks, or switchgear components that were manufactured inside a plant, delivered to the site, and became component parts of the building. Others felt that prefabricated merely referred to steel building systems. In either case, the impression was that virtually all the work is completed onsite. After giving this a lot of thought, and researching the websites of many different construction companies, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many different meanings to what constitutes “prefabricated construction.” (more…)
Financial instruments known as Time Warrants have been available to Texas public schools since 1995, however their flexibility for use in construction projects was limited due to their $500,000 maximum loan amounts and terms that were restricted to no more than five years. Now that’s all changed, thanks to the efforts of Southlake, Texas-based Government Capital Corporation and the Texas Rural Education Association. Effective September 1, 2013 the legislature passed House Bill 2610 which dramatically improved the efficiencies of using Time Warrant financing by expanding the terms up to 15 years and increasing the maximum loan amounts to $1 million. This means that school districts that have a need for capital improvement projects can supplement their available cash balances with Time Warrant financing, eliminating the need to obtain additional voter approved bonds. (more…)
As Ramtech begins to see more and more projects that are requiring LEED certification and sophisticated sustainability requirements, we have begun the process of developing an informational guide around sustainable construction alternatives that can aid public school districts in their decision-making process when planning for permanent school expansions. Planned during the first quarter of 2014, Ramtech’s Green Benefits guide will help educate schools on the efficiencies of using sustainable construction techniques that can be realized through the use of permanent modular construction like Ramtech’s highly adaptable Accelerated Building System process. Recognized by the Modular Building Institute, the trade association that represents the commercial modular building industry in promoting permanent modular construction across a wide variety of industries for public, private, and institutional applications, the Green Benefits advantages provide for sustainability through:
- Less material waste using pre-fabrication in order to make it possible to optimize construction material purchases while minimizing the on-site waste caused by weather related damages.
- Less site disturbances since the modular structure is constructed simultaneously off-site while the foundation and other site work takes place, thereby reducing the time and impact on the surrounding site environment including reducing the number of vehicles and equipment needed.
- The off-site construction which helps eliminate the hazards associated with materials, equipment and incomplete construction processes that are typical of construction sites that can attract curious and unwelcome “visitors” (i.e. students on a school expansion project).
- An adaptability inherent in modular buildings which are frequently designed to quickly add or remove one or more “modules” minimizing the disruptions to adjacent buildings and surroundings.
There are many challenges to modular construction, especially commercial modular construction which includes both temporary as well as permanent modular buildings used for schools, hospitals, office and retail facilities. Here in the U.S. it is challenging enough that the states having different regulatory requirements that control commercial modular construction, however the biggest problem usually occurs when a modular dealer, manufacturer, or general contractor takes on a project that they do not have the past experience to successfully complete. (more…)
Tom Hardiman, MBI’s Executive Director recently opened a discussion on the specter of prevailing wages being applied to offsite fabrication. Needless to say, this posses a serious threat to the commercial modular building industry. If the states of California, Ohio, New York, and Washington are successful in forcing prevailing wages on the modular industry it would not only be very detrimental to the industry, but also to the industries that the modular industry serves. (more…)
A month ago, I asked the following question on the “School Construction News” discussion blog: “Have any of you used a Permanent Modular Building System to expand existing school campuses or build entire new campuses? It appears to work especially well with rural schools.” I expected to hear primarily from small rural districts. Instead two large, prominent school districts, Milmont School District in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Miami-Dade School District in Florida commented that they regularly used permanent modular construction to add new campuses and expand existing ones. Click Here for LinkedIn Group Discussion
While Ramtech worked in Texas with both the Arlington and Alief Independent School Districts in expanding a number of their campuses, most urban school districts throughout the Southwest do not realize that permanent modular construction is a perfect building system for expanding existing school campuses. Ramtech has been active in school construction for over 30 years and its Accelerated Building System saves both time and money compared to traditional site construction. Why do districts like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Ft Worth, and Austin not think of modular construction as a means to expand their campuses? The reason is simple: When large school districts throughout the SW (with the possible exception of California) think of modular construction, they think of temporary, portable buildings. They do not realize that permanent modular buildings can be built non-combustible, with the same concrete foundations as traditional site constructed buildings, while built to the same model building codes. Recently, the Modular Building Institute (MBI), the trade association that supports the commercial modular industry, committed to investing both time and money on educating both architects and school districts on the benefits of permanent modular construction. This would aid those school districts that are working hard to get within their reduced budgets while providing high quality buildings much faster. Click here to learn more about permanent modular school construction
Mike Slataper is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Ramtech Building Systems, Inc.
Recently there has been considerable discussion within the Modular Building Institute on the use of the term “modular”. Some industry leaders believe that the term modular is confusing, and using it to describe both temporary and permanent commercial buildings is a mistake. In the residential industry, modular only refers to permanent homes, while manufactured housing refers to relocatable HUD Coded homes. In Europe, most modular companies refer to their building system as “off-site construction.”
The commercial modular industry in the United States has changed significantly over the last 30 years. When Ramtech entered the industry in 1982, the commercial modular industry concentrated on relocatable mobile offices and temporary classroom buildings. Most modular projects were built on outrigger frames set on block foundations, and if they were not moved within 5 years, they were considered permanent. Operating and finance leases dominated as these mobile buildings were considered personal property.
During the last 5-10 years, the industry has changed dramatically. While temporary buildings are still an important part of the commercial modular industry, permanent modular building systems are becoming the norm and are now thought to compete well with site framed buildings, as well as tilt-wall and steel building systems. Architects, major contractors, and owners are beginning to see “Permanent Modular Construction” (PMC) as a means of completing commercial projects faster and at a lower cost.
While there may always be some confusion when the term “Modular” is used, a lot of time and money has gone into educating architects, large contractors, and owners on the benefit of commercial modular construction and progress is being made every day. Virtually every week we see a news release or blog posting that speaks to the growing acceptance of modular construction as a viable alternative to stick-built construction. Commercial modular buildings are built in a manufacturing plant, in a controlled environment, to the same building codes as site constructed buildings. They can be Type 5 wood construction or Type 2 non-combustible construction, and in the case of Ramtech’s permanent modular building system, can utilize a concrete slab foundation.
As more hospitals, schools, office complexes, and military facilities are built using permanent modular building systems, the overall construction industry will come to better understand “Permanent Modular Construction.” Let’s not change the name of our industry or the product we produce. Let’s continue to educate the public so that 5 years from now “Permanent Modular Construction” will be viewed by everyone as a great option for commercial construction. The industry’s goal should be to grow the size of the industry from approximately 2% of commercial building construction to 20%. Staying consistent in our message to owners, architects, and large general contractors is critical to achieving this goal.
Mike Slataper is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Ramtech Building Systems, Inc.
From the flooding of the Mississippi River to the tornadoes that have spawned throughout the country, the rash of weather-related natural disasters has placed enormous stress on local communities and stretched the resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The destruction of homes, schools, medical facilities, commercial structures and government buildings have resulted in an unprecedented need for temporary facilities while the plans for rebuilding the devastated areas take shape. One example is the modular buildings that have been tasked for temporary fire stations and classrooms by the US Army Corps of Engineer’s Critical Public Facilities Team as they attempt to restore public services in tornado ravaged Joplin, Missouri. (more…)