In 1968, Ralph Migliaccio was a research geologist and associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. About that time, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), the consortium now known as Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, consulted Migliaccio on certain geological points concerning the proposed oil pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez. It wasn’t long before TAPS began leaning so heavily on Migliaccio’s service that he was forced to make a choice – either remain with the University or devote full-time to his consulting work. He chose the latter and formed R&M Geological Consultants as a one-man firm.
At the time, Jim Rooney was a civil engineer specializing in cold regions geotechnics, working for the State Department of Highways. Migliaccio invited Rooney to join him at R&M. The company was at first contracted to conduct the initial subsurface soils exploration program along the proposed alternate pipeline routes. The broad objective of the project was to determine and make recommendations regarding the most feasible soil and geological conditions for the pipeline to follow from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The entire proposed alignment was subject to a drilling program that permitted identification of soils within landforms, as well as allowing the evaluation of permafrost conditions and other pertinent geotechnical considerations. The firm’s name changed to R&M Engineering and Geological Consultants in 1969.
Within six months, Migliaccio and Rooney invited Malcolm Menzies and Jim Wellman to join the firm. Menzies and Wellman joined R&M for the purpose of performing engineering and related functions connected with the design, survey and construction supervision of the original 56 miles of the Alyeska Pipeline Haul Road, what is now known as the Dalton Highway. This particular section, extending from the Elliott Highway near Livengood north to the Yukon River, followed a design-build approach that left no time for conventional design approaches. Project design was initiated in early June 1969, and construction engineering work was virtually completed in just over four months.
R&M continued to support Alyeska for many years on tasks such as construction support, erosion control, revegetation, visual assessment and restoration efforts. R&M also began to diversify, providing surveying, engineering, geotechnical, planning and environmental services on projects throughout Alaska from offices in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla and Valdez. In 1974, the firm’s name changed to R&M Consultants, Inc.
In 1982, Jim Rooney was appointed President of R&M following the loss of Ralph Migliaccio to cancer. At that time, R&M had offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, Alaska; Irvine, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Houston, Texas.
In 1984, correctly predicting a contraction in Alaska’s economy, R&M downsized and split into three firms: R&M Engineering Consultants in Fairbanks, R&M Engineering in Juneau, and R&M Consultants in Anchorage. Jim Wellman assumed the Presidency in Fairbanks, Malcolm Menzies in Juneau, and Jim Rooney in Anchorage. R&M Engineering – Ketchikan, Inc. established a separate corporation in January 1989.
To this day, people often confuse R&M Consultants, Inc. with the other three R&M offices, usually mistakenly assuming that the four firms are one. For clarification purposes, R&M Consultants, Inc. is an entirely separate corporate entity, with headquarters in Anchorage and a branch office in Fairbanks. From time-to-time, the independent R&M offices collaborate on projects, but more often than not, we stand separate, and sometimes in competition.
In 2002, R&M employees purchased the company from Jim Rooney. R&M currently has 30 employee shareholders.