X Series, like this one in Hutchinson, Kansas, is one of three options American Ramp Co. offers.
American Ramp Co.
American Ramp Co.
Kickflips and Nosegrabs
“There's a saying—if your city doesn’t have a skate park, it is a skate park,” says Jim Moss, chief executive officer of American Ramp Co. at Joplin, one of the nation’s most reputable designers and manufacturers of skateboard park components. That means skateboarders, lacking alternatives, will ride on public stairways and railings, jump curbs, and speed down sloped concrete lanes in parking garages. Too often, this leads to property damage and injuries.
There was a time when skaters were maligned for such improvisation. “No skateboarding” signs showed up just about everyplace kids might be tempted.
Joplin skaters had Nathan Bemo to thank for providing an opportunity to engage in their pastime without incurring the wrath of their elders. In his late teens and early twenties, Nathan, now thirty-six, moved to Joplin after a childhood spent abroad. (He was born in Taiwan and grew up in Asia on account of his father’s missionary work.)
An avid skater, he built an apparatus called a half-pipe in his backyard so he could perfect his tricks and technique. Local skaters forked over a small fee to use the half-pipe, as well. Nathan eventually co-founded American Ramp Co. in 1998 with Daman Schuber, whom he met at church.
First he opened an indoor skateboarding facility and retail outlet and then embarked on a short-lived and unsatisfying career in finance. By this time, he had a reputation for building skateboard ramps and figured he could make money at it—especially since municipalities were beginning to see the advantages of opening skateboard parks. At the same time, “parents started seeing skateboarding as a legitimate sport, instead of an act of rebellion and a way for their kids to get hurt,” Jim says.
Initially, Nathan and Daman—the company’s president and vice president, respectively— thought their main product would be wooden half-pipes for backyards. But interest from municipalities mounted, and their line evolved to include more durable steel structures.
Since 2002, the company has offered three lines of equipment, all made of prefabricated, modular components that are bolted together on-site.
The timing was perfect. “They got in right before the playground equipment industry smelled money and dove in with their deep pockets,” Jim says. “Some of the designs the playground companies were coming out with were dangerous, with collision points where kids could run into each other at high speeds. The advantage we’ve had from the beginning is that Nathan is a skater, so he knows what designs work and what materials work.”
Word spread, in part because of the company’s ambitious sales plan that involves maintaining a database of every municipality in the nation with the aim of reaching out to all of them. American Ramp Co. has done business in every state besides Hawaii and in countries as far as China, Saudi Arabia, and Iceland.
“Sales have gone through the roof in the last couple of years,” Jim says, adding that sales revenue in 2007 more than doubled compared with 2005’s figures.
Visit www.americanrampcompany.com or call 417-206-6816 for more information.