Case Studies

Ronald Lane Inc.

A family-owned pipeline construction business built on quality and safety

Striving not to be the biggest, but to be the best has been the mantra for Ronald Lane Inc. (RLI) since the company began in 1979. As an industry leading pipeline contractor, RLI has provided construction services to the oil and gas industry of West Virginia and surrounding states. The experienced team at RLI provides a turnkey solution that covers every step of the process from right-of-way clearing to commissioning a pipeline for authorized use.

Founded by Ronald Lane in 1979, RLI has established itself as a premier pipeline contractor due to its exemplary safety record, minimizing its environmental impact and never missing a deadline. Pipelining on steep slopes is an extremely dangerous occupation; it requires men working on the ground close to heavy equipment held in place by winch lines from other equipment. “Every morning, the crew meets in the office and on every jobsite,” Lane explains. “During these meetings, our team members prepare for the day’s pipeline job by filling out job safety analysis (JSA) forms, a risk assessment tool used to proactively identify and prevent workplace hazards. At the end of each meeting, all of our employees are well aware of any potential risks and take every precaution to prevent them from happening.”

Ronald Lane

22,000 feet of 16-inch pipeline in Pennsylvania

When Lane founded RLI, the company was comprised of just three employees. Today RLI employs approximately 170 people. Despite its exponential growth, RLI has never lost sight of being a family-owned business. “I’ve always refused to grow our company faster than we could keep up with maintaining the highest level of quality,” says Lane. “I’ve instilled that philosophy in my sons and daughter who will someday take over the company. I can trust that they won’t ever forget that.”

Lane’s son, Chris Lane, echoes his father’s testament of consistently focusing on safety and quality. With its strong reputation, RLI maintains the philosophy that winning contracts is only half the battle. “We have to stand behind our work on every project,” says Chris. “Quality, safety and efficiency are the founding principles of the company and will continue from generation to generation.”

Nontraditional methods

With some of the major oil and gas companies as primary clients, RLI has found a niche in its operation method. By laying pipe a joint at a time in the ditch, the company is able to use smaller equipment than most contractors. This requires fewer people on each jobsite, which in turn minimizes the risk for accidents. “Not only is this the safest and most environmentally friendly way to do things, it’s also the most cost-effective,” Lane Explains. “Many of our competitors are using twice the manpower and equipment for the same types of jobs and they aren’t completing them any faster.”

Fewer pieces of equipment also equates to local roads being held up less by the transporting of machinery. “When moving equipment, you impact the local traffic,” Lane explains. “Our equipment is on the right of way and is not moved around excessively compared to other contractors.”

As a company that specializes in steep-slope pipeline construction, RLI has found that it is safer and more stable to use a 40,000-pound excavator than a 100,000-pound one. On these steep slopes RLI’s operators and its equipment are secured by winch lines for safety. “For five months out of the year, you’ve got changing weather conditions all the time and that impacts the ability to lay pipelines here,” says Lane. “You can have five days below 25 degrees and the ground freezes hard, and all of the sudden, there’s sunshine and it’s 50 degrees. That makes for 2 inches of red clay grease on top of frozen ground, which can become very dangerous.”

Carrying on the tradition

In addition to an impeccable safety record and high standards, RLI remains environmentally friendly by installing perforated plastic pipe drains in a water vein to avoid a potential pipeline slip. This method of draining water veins out of the ditch to the lower side has proven to be successful. Pipeline slips have become an expensive problem for many companies laying pipelines in West Virginia. By developing a technique of constructing horizontal directional drilling bores without the use of bentonite or chemicals used by most contractors, RLI is able to eliminate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) code violations for frack-outs in streams.

The safety and quality that RLI provides to its clients is the most important aspect that Lane hopes to leave behind with his company. With his son Eric as vice president and 12 family members involved in the business, the company takes pride in its minimal environmental impact and exceptional safety record. “Our family name goes on every job,” says Lane. “We want all of our employees to go home safely to their families every day.”

As RLI moves forward, Lane says that the company will maintain manageable growth, all the while never straying from its standards of quality. “With each big job we do, we usually pick up one or two new people that join us permanently,” he adds. “We’re always looking for the right kind of person to help us grow.” With many family members involved in the business, Ronald Lane Inc. is positioned to carry on its tradition of safety and quality for many more generations.

Published on: March 29, 2016



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