We all know that when it rains, it pours. Luckily, RAM Construction Services, with offices in Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota, is only a phone call away. This industry heavyweight protects structures from water damage, restores concrete and building façades, and works closely with transportation departments across the Midwest and far beyond.
RAM Construction Services considers itself the Midwestern United States’ oldest waterproofing and restoration expert, with the largest workforce and a heritage spanning one hundred years. This family-owned company has an impressive footprint that covers the country and is a result of a century’s quality work and a commitment to continuous evolution within the industry.
President Bob T. Mazur was initiated into the industry at the tender age of fifteen when his father, Robert Albert Mazur, bought half the stock of a franchise known as Western Waterproofing in 1973. Sadly, the family lost their father to leukemia in 1977. Robert’s wife, Bob’s mother, Evelyn Mazur, was a homemaker and mother of four who, upon her husband’s passing, had to make some tough decisions.
Rather than selling, she decided to honor her husband’s legacy in a move that was not only unorthodox for the times but also immensely challenging on many levels. Evelyn took up office as president of the company the day after her husband was laid to rest. She ran the firm successfully until her sons had completed their tertiary education.
“My mother was a woman with tremendous street smarts and humility. She treated the street sweeper and the president of the bank the same,” Bob says. After completing college in 1980, Bob joined the firm’s seventeen employees. “By 1983, my mother handed me the reins and said that we would live or die by my decisions,” says Bob.
While its rise to the top was not without challenges, the success has been worth every bit of hard work, and the Mazur family is still well-represented within the company. Bob’s brother has been with the company for nearly thirty years. His daughter, who has been part of the company for six years, was joined by her brother two years ago.
RAM Construction Services operated as Western Waterproofing until 2008, when it decided to set its restoration services apart from standard waterproofing contractors. At the time, waterproofing formed only around thirty-five percent of the business, and with a nod to the past, Robert A. Mazur’s initials were chosen to honor the company’s legacy.
Its subsequent growth has been impressive. Today, its offices can be found across the Midwest, headquartered in Livonia, Michigan with satellites in Cleveland, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, Blaine, Minnesota, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The company was founded on what has become its new works department which works with general contractors and other industry professionals on new structures. It particularly specializes in waterproofing commercial and industrial basement exteriors with applications that range from sheet waterproofing, in which waterproof membranes protect surfaces, to hot-fluid applied waterproofing and even fire retardants. Its services also extend to foam insulation and much more.
It takes pride in its work, and there have been many shining moments to prove it over the years – like when electric transmission and generation cooperative Great River Energy needed help on a very big project.
When Great River Energy needed to upgrade two of its facilities, the job specification was so complex, that the existing contractor tried but failed at waterproofing the new foundation pipe penetrations. These massive efficiency upgrades at the power giant’s Buffalo, Minnesota and Underwood, North Dakota plants posed a challenge so great that RAM Construction Services was called in to save the project.
Great River Energy is the second-largest electric utility in the state, supplying over 1.7 million Minnesotans with power with more than one hundred energy substations and 500 distribution substations. When RAM Construction Services arrived on the site, all previous attempts at waterproofing had to be removed first. Then a high-performance, hot-fluid polymer rubber gel waterproofing system was applied, allowing for superior protection from moisture under tremendous hydrostatic pressure. Not only was the project technically challenging, but summer temperatures and a tight schedule added further difficulties. Despite all these challenges, the company was victorious and secured another sweet success.
Its concrete division also does not create new structures but rather restores and rehabilitates existing floors, parking structures, plazas, reservoirs, bridges, and the like. One of its stand-out projects is Detroit, Michigan’s Southfield Town Center, a $22 million, interconnected skyscraper complex that boasts a Westin Hotel, conference facilities for one thousand people, and a lush, double-story atrium that adds to its charms. All of 94,000 square feet of retail space makes for glorious shopping, and a fifth tower contains thirty-three floors of luxurious residences.
RAM Construction Services has been part of the restoration process from the beginning. “Making everything safe for the people to park was our favorite part of the project,” says Bob.
Its department of transportation division is probably the segment with the most interesting start. “Somewhere around 2011, I heard President Obama say on television that the government was going to invest in infrastructure. Our educated guess was that he was referring to roads. As we weren’t doing much in that area, we created this specialized division as a result,” says Bob.
The company’s DoT Department has a particular specialization in bridges, with the capacity to complete as many as ninety renovations in a single year and solve any challenge. It does everything from carbon and glass fiber wrapping to extend the structural properties of concrete to corrosion resistant coatings, high-pressure shot-blasting to clear surfaces using metal particles, and expansion joint maintenance.
What makes this department special are the aggregate-filled epoxy coatings that it applies to bridges to enhance the non-slip surface properties in cooler, northern environments like those of Minnesota and South Dakota. The materials also improve the longevity of the surfaces in warmer climes like in Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina.
“Most states’ departments of transportation are looking at this treatment to enhance bridge surfaces. As such this division has taken us into twenty-five states this year,” Bob adds.
Probably most recognized due to its placement of company banners is the exterior façade and restoration division which returns old or damaged structures to their former glory through reworking and cleaning all brick and stone applications and adding decorative tuck-pointing between bricks if desired.
With the current upturn in downtown Detroit’s property market and economy in general, there is one particular building that stands out for Bob. The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit originally opened its doors as the tallest hotel in the world in 1924. Sadly, the once grand, imposing structure fell into disrepair as the city’s economy started declining, and 1984 saw the beginning of several failed attempts at saving it. Finally, after the city closed a significantly large restoration agreement with developer Historic Hospitality Investments, restoration started in 2006 and was completed with a wonderful celebration in October 2008. RAM Construction Services’ sterling contribution to this project has stood the company in good stead ever since.
Another project of which the company is very proud is the current $70 million upgrade of the Michigan State Capitol, which dates back to the 1870s. RAM Construction Services is in the process of waterproofing this grand old building and giving it back to the people of Michigan as beautiful as its designers had intended it to be.
The company’s list of phenomenal achievements goes on, but this it is more than just a contractor. RAM Construction Services is known for its philanthropy, and one of its favorite causes is the Angels of Hope, a volunteer organization that supports families with children or parents who suffer from cancer. To help these families make ends meet, the company sponsors an annual golf outing.
“We try to give back as much as we possibly can. Over the past eight years, we have managed to give them in excess of $1.3 million,” says Bob. A number of other groups also benefit from the company’s generous contributions.
Despite not seeing himself as a philosopher, Bob’s thoughts on achieving such success are prudent. “It’s not all that difficult. You can’t go wrong with hard work and doing the right thing. I’m not somebody who loses sleep over regrets. When I close my eyes, I go to sleep. People find that hard to believe, but it is just because I leave nothing unsaid, and I try to leave nothing undone.”