Better Winches Make a Better World

Ramsey Winch
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For almost 80 years, the Ramsey Winch Company continues to serve as a globally leading manufacturer of planetary gear winches and hoists, worm gear hydraulic and electric winches. And as the team themselves put it, when you want to work, they’re ready… and the winch will work!

With myriad uses across military, towing and recovering, all-terrain, forestry, mining, utilities, and large-scale industrial and consumer applications, the popularity of Ramsey Winch products can be attributed to their dependability and ruggedness, which is genuinely legendary. And all this is framed by committed customer service.

Designed and manufactured to the highest possible standards, Ramsey Winch products are punishingly tested to ready them for a hard, unforgiving life in the field.

As company President and Chief Executive John Celoni says, “these aren’t winches made to sit on front bumpers and look pretty,” but winches manufactured for the military, mining, and other tough-as-nails industries where working vehicles and equipment sent must be able to self-recover in any environment, from muddy terrain to deep snow and ice.

Far from an ordinary winch company, Ramsey employs highly trained, dedicated staff who ensure their products function under these challenging conditions – every time!

The people factor
Responsible for the design, machining, assembly, sourcing, finishing, painting, and outfitting of 50 to 60 different products, Ramsey’s team is composed of mechanical engineers, manufacturing engineers, electrical engineers, machinists, supply professionals, warehousing, and shipping and receiving with both domestic and international capabilities.

“The differentiator between Ramsey Winch and any other competitor is our people,” says Celoni. “It’s our people and our culture standing behind the product and service. We have staff with over 40 years’ experience in the winch business – specifically the Ramsey Winch business,” he says.

“We machine our own products, and we take it from concept to delivery, and everyone collaborates to solve problems and find opportunities to grow the business. It all evolves. Anybody can have a great strategy and a great product, but it’s the people that differentiate Ramsey Winch from anybody else.”

Unlike many companies where clients call and are immediately placed on hold, the opposite is true at Ramsey Winch. When customers phone, they talk to a live person, not a recording. “This is a people business, and Ramsey Winch is a people-first business, both internally and externally,” says Director of Sales and Marketing, Samuel Rooke.

With an extensive background in heavy equipment, Rooke knows the challenges of the industry, and the importance of working closely with customers. “We take care of our employees internally, and they want to take care of our clients externally. The single biggest piece of what makes our customer service team successful is that they care, and they’re going to work through a solution until it’s resolved, not give you piecemeal answers.”

Hard-won skill sets
Much of the company’s strength comes from the scope of its skill sets, which are shared among three wholly-owned subsidiaries: Ramsey Winch, Auto Crane, and Eskridge.

Ramsey represents the winch side, while Auto Crane designs and manufactures truck-mounted electric and hydraulic cranes, crane-control technologies, mechanic service bodies and work ready trucks, with Eskridge designing and manufacturing power transmission products such as planetary gear drives, anchor drives, and associated integral brakes. The three entities complement one another and continue the vision of founders Claude and Rayburn Ramsey.

Established as Ramsey Brothers Tool & Die in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1944, the company started off making tools, dies, and parts for the world-famous Douglas Aircraft Company.

The next year, the brothers unveiled their first winch, a design by Claude called Model 101, a heavy-duty worm and gear model. Ideal for pulling stuck vehicles out of sand, mud, snow, and through rough terrain generally, the Model 101 was soon seen on “Willys,” the iconic jeeps conceived and manufactured by Willys-Overland Motors for theater-of-war use.

The winches produced by the Ramsey brothers soon became essential equipment in the towing and recovery industry. Demand for products grew so much that Claude and Rayburn renamed the business Ramsey Brothers Winch Company in 1947.

As Ramsey Winch phrases it, “due to the significant impact that Ramsey Winch had on the Towing and Recovery industry, in 1987 the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame inducted Claude Ramsey as the first member who was not actually a towman.”

Still steadily growing, the company continues to manufacture products that set the benchmark of quality and endurance, including the PowerMaster™ Series – made for power and utility markets – and the Wildcat Series, used in oil and gas production.

Ongoing innovation
To satisfy every extreme of customer requirements, Ramsey developed two types of winches: worm-gear driven, and planetary-gear driven. While the early years saw a focus on heavy-duty industrial worm gears – which, even today, some customers prefer for their ruggedness and durability – the technology grew to include planetary gear sets, the company’s primary focus today.

“The planetary tends to give you a faster and more efficient product,” says Rooke, “and therefore can potentially give you better return on investment.” He does point out, nevertheless, that with more moving parts, planetary winches can be more expensive than the worm-driven models. But whatever the final choice, Ramsey Winch quality is never in doubt.

Paying close attention to customer requirements, Ramsey Winch constantly designs and produces new series to meet the needs of the marketplace. These now include Wildcat and the Hercules series which was unveiled to the market about a year and a half ago, with 2021 seeing the full release of this exciting product along with Helios.

Focused on tow and recovery, the company’s Hercules has a line pull of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) to 50,000 pounds (22,679 kg), while the Wildcat has a line pull from 50,000 pounds (22,679 kg) to 250,000 pound (113,398 kg), making it well-suited to the oil and gas industry.

With a pull of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg), the Helios 20000 has a speed of 37.5 feet (11.4 meters) per minute, and a cable capacity of 155 feet (47.2 meters) short, and 260 feet (79.2 meters) standard. The model is also available in other specifications. “When you need it to work, the Helios will pull it for you,” says Rooke.

Although relatively new to the market, client feedback on the Hercules and Helios lines has been overwhelmingly positive, both in terms of quality of manufacturing and of product performance.

“People are excited about these products coming into the market,” says Rooke. “They are a new iteration, and perhaps a little bit more modern than the older series of winches. Efficiency and return on investment is what we strive for.”

Like all Ramsey winches, they are subjected to rigorous testing internally, and undergo a four-step gate process for new product development at the company’s facility, which is ISO 9001:2015 certified. Meeting additional external standards including those set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and SAE International standards, products are then field tested with customers in real-life situations before being rolled out.

Future growth
At Ramsey Winch, it can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to bring a new product to market. Winches are never rushed out the door, but thoroughly tested over and over to ensure they’ll easily stand up to client demands.

Among its many innovations, Ramsey has developed and patented thermal limiting modules and overload limiting indicators for electric winches, which allow customers to maximize the cycle duty time of a product while in operation.

Since electric winches generate a lot of heat, this is essential to their successful operation. By working with thermal technologies, heat is better controlled, with winches cutting off once they reach a certain amperage level or heat level. This allows them to cool down and recycle to become more efficient, critical in applications such as military.

“What was happening before we got in with this patented product is that the winches would burn up, then you’d be stuck out in the theater, so to speak, and at risk,” says Celoni. “So this prevents the motor from overheating and the winch from not being able to operate.

“It takes an operator’s knowledge and reduces the need for it, because technology manages that process for them. It’s a differentiator, and it saves lives.”

With the belief that the business is only as good as its people, Ramsey Winch continues to attract top-notch employees like Chad Martin. Vice President of Operations, Martin is responsible for all three businesses – Ramsey Winch, Auto Crane and Eskridge – and says what drew him to the company was its culture, people, and products (and super duper boss!!)

“It’s a very cool product with a long history of performance, and fantastic name recognition in the industry,” he says. “Everybody knows Ramsey Winch, and there are high expectations for that product. So the challenge I was ready to accept, coming to work for this organization, was to make sure I help continue that legacy of Ramsey Winch, as well as expand its capabilities and breadth across multiple industries.”

In business for 76 years, Ramsey Winch’s past achievements and sustained reputation for quality will ensure its success long into the future.

“We are a mission-critical component on a very critical piece of equipment that’s time-tested, with almost eight decades of experience and reliability that’s been out in the marketplace,” says Celoni. “And it’s all wrapped up in innovation and responsiveness when there’s a need. When you want to work, we’re ready… and the winch will work.”



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