Ramaker and Associates: When Employee Ownership Leads to Longevity


Ramaker and Associates, Inc. is a “true A&E firm,” according to James Kaiser, Telecom Market Leader. With 115 ‘employees-owners,’ it’s been an engineering firm for nearly 30 years and has supported the telecom sector for nearly 25 years.

“Enhancing the lives of our client and employee owners,” is the mission statement Ramaker lives by, brought to fruition by “going above and beyond expectations,” according to Kaiser. The company’s permanency is a testament to that.

The company was founded in 1992 in Sauk City, WI at the home of Terry and Sandy Ramaker. Ramaker’s roots are survey work and environmental consulting, with an emphasis on remediation of contaminated sites. This unique skillset opened doors into the world of wireless infrastructure.

In 1994, a local cellular carrier was having an issue with foundation design on a tower. Terry provided the necessary guidance to resolve the carrier’s issue and the relationship flourished from there, with Ramaker diversifying and cultivating its telecom service offerings ever since.

About twenty years after its first telecom project, Ramaker continued to break ground. It was instrumental in facilitating the first on-air small cell site in Milwaukee. “It wasn’t a short process,” explains Kaiser. From MLA negotiation to customizing the poles for lighting and emergency systems, Ramaker saw the development through completion. “The experience gained from that has made it much easier to take a small cell into a city now,” says Kaiser.

In-house work is the name of the game. “Everything we do is in-house when it comes to architectural engineering services – structural, regulatory and site surveys,” explains Kaiser. Ramaker’s spectrum of solutions comprise Site Audits, Zoning Drawings, Construction Drawings, Photo-Sims, Site Surveys, 1A Certifications, Structural Analysis, Modification Designs, Geotechnical Investigations, NEPA review, archaeological survey, Phase I and II ESA, FCC/FAA Filing, material handling and waste disposal coordination as well as wetland delineation.

Still headquartered in Sauk City, Ramaker’s geographic reach now extends nationwide thanks to additional offices in Minnesota, New Jersey and Colorado along with field staff in Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Puerto Rico. Last year, Ramaker worked in every state of the country.

The company structure changed in 2007, when Terry sold the business to the employees. Having an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) firm is advantageous to all team members and complements the company’s core values: Treat others as you want to be treated; approach challenges from a broad perspective; be willing do whatever it takes; deliver innovative and efficient solutions. “By doing all of that, being an ESOP company,” explains Kaiser, “we act like owners.”

Recruitment and workforce development, timely topics in wireless, are also a priority for the Ramaker team. “We actually like to look outside the industry,” says Kaiser. Ramaker seeks talent across several disciplines including architectural, environmental, civil and structural engineering. The goal is to find candidates who fit the Ramaker culture. They are subsequently grown from ‘green’ recruits to seasoned professionals. This approach is exemplified by employee longevity. According to Kaiser, it’s very common to come across a Senior Project Manager that started as an intern fifteen years prior.

Ramaker’s cross-functional group of architects and engineers touches their multiple sectors including aquatics, hospitality, living environments, renewable energy and even cemetery management. “Having that broad range of markets that we serve allows our technicians to be well-rounded,” says Kaiser, “It makes us diverse and helps us understand the site civil and site development side of telecom.”

Kaiser says Ramaker’s IT department executed a nearly seamless transition to work-from-home operations. “I feel like there’s been increased collaboration and efficiencies,” as a result, says Kaiser, who expressed empathy and appreciation to employees for their dedication and gratitude to clients who have been steadfast despite unparalleled circumstances.

So, what’s next? “I don’t know if we’ve ever stayed the course,” says Kaiser. “We’re always looking to grow and expand and enhance the services that we’re providing to our clients.” This year, Kaiser hired Paul Fanos as Director of Business Operations to boost Ramaker’s presence in the Rocky Mountain region, a focus area for the company.

While the industry continually adjusts to an always-advancing world, Ramaker’s differentiators remain constant. In addition to premier customer service, internally, “We strive for open communication, a collaborative environment. And with employee longevity, comes long-term friendships. That’s one takeaway I’ll always have from Ramaker,” says Kaiser.

To learn more about Ramaker or to contact a representative, visit https://www.ramaker.com/.



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