From humble beginnings to global success – The story of Ryan Schlam

From humble beginnings to global success – The story of Ryan Schlam

From a young apprentice to a visionary leader, Ryan Schlam’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, innovation, and relentless hard work. Have you ever wondered how the rise of Schlam Group came to be?

Having embarked on his apprenticeship as a boilermaker in his father’s precision welding business in Yarloop at just 15 years old, Ryan’s entrepreneurial spirit has propelled Schlam to become one of Western Australia’s largest privately owned mining services companies.

Although Ryan originally aspired to be a mechanical fitter, his love for the boilermaking trade quickly took hold, leading him to briefly venture out on his own in Boddington before returning to work alongside his family.

At only 22 years old, Ryan led the expansion of the business and bought the company’s first Field Service unit, borrowing against his own home to purchase it. Ryan worked long, hard hours, often finding time for bookkeeping at 2 a.m. He expanded the company from 5 to 50 employees and secured its first official contract with Newmont two years later in 2009.

By the age of 25, Ryan officially took over the reins of the family business, acquiring it from his parents and becoming the sole owner. He renamed the company Schlam Engineering in 2010, marking the beginning of a new era.

With the opening of a new fabrication workshop in Waroona that same year, Ryan solidified Schlam’s position as a formidable player in the South-West. As the team expanded and the physical infrastructure took shape, the company’s presence in the industry became undeniable.

With a consistent reputation for being reliable, honest, and efficient, Schlam’s profile skyrocketed. Doing simple things well, being agile, and delivering on promises were just some of the things that the bigger players struggled with, but Schlam excelled at.

In August 2015, Schlam expanded operations into the Pilbara at a time when the iron ore market had bottomed out, and times were tough. Guided by a solid set of core values, a commitment to building strong relationships, and an unwavering passion, Ryan’s vision for the business remained steadfast.

At that time, Ryan recognised the need to shift Schlam’s engineering focus to encompass a broader mechanical approach, keeping pace with industry trends. He understood that Schlam needed to be multi-disciplined at its core. While everyone was leaving the Pilbara, Ryan saw an extraordinary opportunity for growth. Trusting his gut instincts, he knew it was time for Schlam to change gears.

As a strategic move during a precarious time, Ryan actively pursued TPCM, a highly reputable high-pressure cleaning company, to add an end-to-end service to the Schlam Group. This move ultimately enabled the company to provide a more comprehensive service to the mining industry.

A year later, Schlam acquired DT HiLoad, a manufacturer producing dump bodies for mining companies that had recently shut their doors. The business case for the acquisition forecast a mere 20 units per year, but Schlam’s management saw those numbers rapidly grow to an impressive forecast of 390 units in recent times.

In early 2017, the East Coast market finally turned around and responded with good momentum. Schlam signed a contract with BHP a year later, which Ryan attests marked one of the company’s biggest achievements, solidifying its position in the WA mining sector.

In the years that followed, Schlam boomed onto the world stage, expanding operations globally, and home to over 500 employees.

Furthermore, Schlam Americas was established in 2023, and since then, Schlam’s footprint has extended beyond what most would think possible.

Now securing contracts with top-tier miners from around the globe and servicing some of the biggest players in the industry, Schlam has continued to go from strength to strength, largely on the back of dedicated staff and innovative ideas around doing business.

Most recently, Ryan Schlam was announced as one of the recipients of the coveted WA Business News 40 Under 40 Awards. This recognition serves as a testament to Ryan’s commitment to excellence, his innovative spirit, and his remarkable contributions to the WA business landscape.

But if you ask Ryan if he thinks he’s ‘made it,’- he isn’t done yet, not by a long shot!

Ryan Schlam’s story is a powerful reminder of what determination, vision, and hard work can achieve.

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