2010

Why You Shouldn’t Work with American Ramp Company
An in-depth analysis of why skaters, skatepark advocates, parents and municipalities all agree that American Ramp Company is not the right choice for your next skatepark project

Why You Shouldn’t Work with American Ramp Company

Document Outline

1. Company Overview a. b. c. d. Introduction The Sales Machine Pushing Religion on Young Skaters Poor Industry Reputation

2. 10+ Years of Low Quality Metal Ramps a. b. c. d. e. Aggressively Pushing Steel Ramps Discrediting Concrete Skateparks Design Flaws Specifications to Lock Out Competitors Misleading Warranties

3. Experimenting with Concrete a. A System Designed for Selling Components b. Purchasing a Failed System c. Disastorous Results with Pre-cast Concrete d. Hardcore Shotcrete & Misleading References 4. Conclusion

Section 1

Company Overview

Introduction
American Ramp Company (ARC) is a skatepark equipment provider based in Joplin, Missouri. The company was formed in 1998 and is primarily focused on selling pre-fabricated skatepark equipment to municipalities across the US.

The Sales Machine
The majority of skatepark companies began with humble roots and usually sell their services through a few key employees. This usually includes the founder/owner of the company, supported by a modest staff of a few dedicated employees. American Ramp Company on the other hand, has an estimated 15-20 employees who focus solely on making telemarketing calls to cities across the US. In early 2008, ARC issued a press release announcing that they were expanding their telemarketing efforts by implementing a “call center solution” from Five9, Inc. “ARC wanted a powerful predictive dialer to complement their existing email and marketing campaign tools but they also wanted a complete solution that would help distributed sales teams win new business.” To get a better idea of what Five9, Inc. does, here is a description of their company from that same press release: “Five9 is the leading global provider of on-demand call center software for telemarketing, customer service, and business continuity.” Here is an example of how other companies use Five9: “Alva Pacific Franchise Corp. uses Five9 to turn internet cafes into profitable night-time call centers.”
Source: 1. Business Wire - April 7, 2008 – “Skatepark Leader American Ramp Company Boosts Productivity, Efficiency, and Cost Savings in Record Time with Five9” 2. www.five9.com

With this sales machine in place, ARC calls several hundreds of cities every single day and gets their foot in the door before any other skatepark builder or advocacy group even has a chance. Once they are in the door, they begin discrediting every other skatepark builder and make exaggerated claims about their skatepark equipment and company abilities. This means that by the time another skatepark company finds out about a project, their reputation has already been tarnished by ARC. These companies are then faced with an uphill battle with a city that wants nothing to do with them.

Photo Source: www.americanrampcompany.com

This also means that ARC is able to persuade cities to use their over-the-top proprietary information for bid purposes and lock out all other competitors. “These past few years have been a rough ride for Rampage and other freestanding equipment builders. Most of the bids that came across our desks had the same cut and paste proprietary ARC boiler plate with their exclusionary yes or no questionnaire that we couldn’t meet.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Concrete vs. Pre-Fab Steel – Anytown, USA User: Dinosaur Date: 19 Aug 2009

Pushing Religion on Young Skaters
Although there is clearly nothing wrong with having strong religious beliefs, it becomes a problem when you emphasize it where it doesn’t belong and push your beliefs onto other people. Christianity has nothing to do with skateparks, so why does it play such a huge part in American Ramp Company’s sales tactics?

“We wanted to put God first in all that we did,” Bemo says, “so from the very beginning we dedicated this business to God. A small way that we show this commitment is by our ‘Jesus' link. We get a lot of Web traffic from kids that haven't heard the ‘good news,' so hopefully it has made some type of impact…We simply love God and want others to know that is the priority in our business.”
Source: http://www.dalatalumni.com/news/25457/Alumni-News-Divine-Direction---Nathan-Bemo-92.htm

Here is an excerpt from American Ramp Company’s website: Who's Jesus and why should I care? You should care because you're a screw-up. Please don't take it the wrong way; it's not just you. You see we're all screw-ups. This includes you, me, our friends, our parents, teachers, preachers and the pope! So what does that mean? That means no matter how bad your life is, you can be sure that eternity will be worse. You are guilty of breaking God's laws and the penalty for that offence is hell. But, when Jesus died on the cross, he took your screw-ups on himself and was punished for them. Your screwups have been marked "paid in full", all you have to do is believe in Jesus for this payment to take effect. You can click on the next link or go out and skate and totally forget about this "Jesus". But don't be fooled, if you choose this route when you die and stand in front of God, you will hear the words "I never knew you, Away from me" and you will be assigned a place with the unforgiven.
Source: www.americanrampcompany.com/about

American Ramp Company’s president and founder, Nathan Bemo, also sits on the Board of Advisors for a religious organization called Splinter Skateparks. This organization uses skateboarding and skateparks to convert young kids into Christians through the use of splinter cells. Evangelism is the sub plot to the whole purpose of Splinter Cells, bringing in non-believing skaters and introducing them to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead, for our salvation. Splinter Cells are aimed at skateboarders twelve years old and above, but again it may be that 11 year olds who are not plugged into the church, but do come and skate would fit in too.
Source: www.splinterskatepark.com

“I sent them a message saying that I was truly interested in the product they had to offer, then I had religious beliefs forced upon me and now have decided to go somewhere else. I hope they like it.”
Source: Aggressiveskateforum.com - User: Doogal Date: Dec 3 2009

The Walmart of Skateparks – Quantity over Quality
Since forming in 1998, American Ramp Company and its telemarketers have been on a mission to litter the entire country with as many of their parks as possible. Their website boasts “250 skateparks installed last year alone”. While most skatepark companies complete 15-30 skatepark projects per year, American Ramp Company is basically producing a skatepark per day. To undercut the competition, their model has always been low cost and high-volume. When you are producing almost 300 skateparks per year, there is no way you can have the kind of planning and thoughtful consideration that leads to a high-quality skatepark.

“American Ramp has built skate parks locally and around the world, including in Neosho and at The Bridge in Joplin. It is on track to complete 220 parks at the end of this year.”
Source: The Joplin Globe - “Skateboard ramp company celebrates recent acquisitions, tenth anniversary” – Joe Hadsall, November 24, 2008

“Nobody is claiming you haven't sold a lot of product. I wish you were emphasizing the quality over the quantity, though. The very nature of 'prefab' prioritizes mass production at the cost of quality. Companies like ARC don't seem to be striving to make each skatepark great. Neither are the customers (cities) who purchase these products out of catalogs. It's a sad case of shortchanging the end-user because the vendor and the purchaser just don't care. “
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: American Ramp Company “Skate Park” – Red Hook, NY User: Seth Johnson Date: 10 Aug 2009

“I do not have an agenda with ARC, it is only to see better parks built. In my opinion, you have keep the quality low and the quantity high. I hope you guys can change that.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: American Ramp Company “Skate Park” – Red Hook, NY User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 25 Aug 2009.

Poor Industry Reputation
You would think that if American Ramp Company created such bad skateparks, how could they have stayed in business for over 10 years? The answer is clear though. The end users of skateparks are usually between the age of 12-16 years old. This age group is typically apathetic, uninformed and have trouble speaking up for themselves. So when these skaters get an ARC skatepark, they have no idea who ARC is or why their town purchased that kind of equipment. All they know is that it is terrible for skating. With skaters 18+ who know a little bit more about how the world works, they know exactly who ARC is and the kinds of park they produce. With these well-informed skaters, American Ramp Company has a reputation for design flaws, low quality ramps, and terrible skateparks. “I would remind all of our readers that you and your employees at American Ramp Company have exerted no small amount of effort to prevent people from seeking skatepark development advice from SPS. Furthermore, you state that you are unwilling to engage in conversations with the nation's most passionate and dedicated advocates here at SPS for several reasons. In fact, I believe you feel threatened by the lack of support you detect from groups like SPS.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: American Ramp Company “Skate Park” – Red Hook, NY User: Peter Whitley – SPS Board of Directors Date: 11 Aug 2009

What this indicates to me is that ARC management and marketing do not respect the advocacy community and consider their peers not as partners in skatepark advancement but rather as fierce competitors that can be treated as unethically as they choose. For the sake of everyone, I hope that ARC considers this an opportunity to mend some of the damage that's been done and improve their fading reputation among the skatepark industry and activist community.
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Hardcore Shotcrete – what’s the deal? User: Peter Whitley – SPS Board of Directors Date: 25 Oct 2009

“Your company currently engages in business practices that we generally disagree with on the points above; we feel that your company has done things within skateboarding that has been bad for skateboarders, for their communities, and has presented skateparks in a bad way.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Concrete vs. Pre-fab Steel – Anytown, USA User: Peter Whitley – SPS Board of Directors Date: 11 Aug 2009

“I made much effort to discourage hiring them and have absolutely no faith in their ability to successfully build this skatespot, but they were the low bidder, their references were deemed to be credible by Seattle Parks following a detailed review, and they got hired. I am very familiar with the ARC backstory, which is described elsewhere on SPS.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Dahl Skatespot (North Seattle) User: Scott Shin – Parents for Skateparks Board of Directors Date: 27 Aug 2009

“First off I can have fun skating anything, but to be honest with you I’ve never skated a good ARC park.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Portland, Maine Chooses ARC? User: Carter Dennis SPS Board of Directors Date: 13 Feb 2010

“With your ill-conceived little empire under constant attack, you with so little respect in the industry that you would be pummeled for showing up at most parks in the country (including the prefab jokes that you built).”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Concrete vs. Pre-fab Steel – Anytown, USA User: Grinch

Section 2

10+ Years of Low Quality Metal Ramps

Aggressively Pushing Steel Ramps
American Ramp Company figured out early on that most cities thought skateboarding and action sports were just fads that would die out within a few years. Cities didn’t want to make large and permanent investments into an activity they thought would soon become unpopular. The solution was the cheapest and easiest-to-transport skatepark equipment – steel ramps. By preying upon these fears, steel ramps became the bread-and-butter of ARC. Through mass production, ARC’s steel ramps did in fact fill the void of cheap and easy-to-remove skatepark components. At the same time though, these steel ramps were made with low-quality, offered zero creativity and provided the worst possible skateboarding experience. Despite all the obvious negatives of using steel ramps for a municipal outdoor skateparks, ARC was able to use its telemarketers and misleading claims to litter the country with over 1,000 steel skateparks.

Other than the cookie-cutter nature of pre-fabricated steel skateparks, there are three major problems with steel skateparks: they get very hot, they are loud and they are very slick. Knowing any obvious consumer would identify these problems with steel ramps, ARC devised pre-written responses to all of these issues. This way, their telemarketers and brochures could easily address the issues if they ever came up.

TOO HOT: First, ARC claims “whether or not Skatelite could burn a rider on a hot day is never an issue.” Why is this not an issue? Instead of addressing this legitimate issue, they say it isn’t one and feel like they’ve proven their ramps aren’t scorching hot. They also show a simple graph with an arbitrary number of 110 for heat threshold. What does this 110 mean? This graph supposedly comes from an unnamed “third party engineering” firm.

TOO LOUD: Once again they cite a simple graph from an unnamed “third party engineering” firm. They also say an all-steel park is about as loud as all other styles of skateparks.
Source: American Ramp Company Product Catalog

TOO SLICK: Here they say their president, Nathan Bemo has personally tested over 30 types of powder coating and come up with the perfect solution. How is Nathan Bemo qualified to perform scientific tests on polyester powder coating? And what happens when the powder coating wears off, as we’ve seen with every single ARC steel skatepark?

American Ramp Company’s vague responses and questionable graphs from unnamed “third party engineering firms” do not hold up when compared to the real life stories that are seen all over the news once an ARC steel skatepark is installed. TOO HOT: The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma purchased steel ramp equipment from American Ramp Company. Upon completing the installation, the City posted skatepark rules on their website. The 8th rule on this list states: “The SkatePark surface is extremely dangerous when wet or hot.”
Source: www.cityoftulsa.org

TOO LOUD: The City of Westport, Washington purchased skatepark equipment from American Ramp Company. After it was installed, the neighbors surrounding the park got together and filed a lawsuit against the City because of the very loud noise being generated by the steel ramps. “Noise complaints from neighbors have shut down a skateboard park at Westport where the city used metal ramps to save money. Neighbors of Dorland Municipal Park filed a $250,000 damage claim against the city because of the loud and annoying noise. City officials removed the ramps last week to avoid a lawsuit.”
Source: The Seattle Times – “Metal Skateboard Ramps Too Noisy for Westport” June 24, 2008

TOO SLICK: In 2009 a young boy died while riding his bike on American Ramp Company skatepark equipment in Plainfield, Connecticut. It had been raining earlier that morning and when the boy started riding on the equipment he slipped and hit his head. Photos from the park show the powder coating had worn off. “Police said witnesses told them the boy was attempting a maneuver at the top of a ramp at the skateboard park in the Little League complex on Lions Drive when he lost control and fell, striking his head.”
Source: Norwich Bulletin – “Family grief-stricken at boy's death in Plainfield bike accident” May 3, 2009

Discrediting Concrete Skateparks With the popularity of skateboarding and action sports on the rise, it was becoming clear that these activities were not just a fad. At the same time, it was becoming very apparent that the lowest-cost, easiest-to-transport equipment was not adequate for providing skaters with a safe and enjoyable place to ride. Concrete skateparks are a lot quieter, do not get scorching hot, require less maintenance, are more durable, and are preferred by 99% of skaters. Despite all the advantages of concrete skateparks, ARC only knew how to sell steel ramps. Through their literature and telemarketers they would intentionally discredit concrete skateparks with false claims.

“There are a few things that you should consider before going with an in-ground concrete park. 1) Poured-in-place concrete is not maintenance free. 2.) The cost of a concrete skatepark is going to be many times more than steel. Often you can get a complete steel park installed for the same price as what a concrete design alone will cost. 3.) We have visited many parks that local concrete contractors or cities have built and have seen wavy transitions, misplaced coping, and incorrect radiuses. 4.) Concrete parks cannot be modified or moved if the need ever arises. Our recommendation: With an all-steel park you can get a more versatile park, more equipment, at a lower cost and still avoid maintenance issues common with other materials.”
Source: American Ramp Company 2010 Product Catalog

Instead of advocating for the highest-quality skateparks, ARC was aggressively pushing the cheapest and easiest-to-move skatepark equipment.
“No legitimate skatepark builder co-opts the 'engineered to fail' possibility the way ARC has. What does their "moveable pieces" pitch imply other than a pending decline in popularity? There is no reason to rearrange a well conceived skatepark.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Newton, CT User: Bill Helene Date: 27 March 2009

“I’ve been advocating for skatepark for twelve years, it is very rare a city takes down a skatepark. Usually the ones they take down are modular parks because they are falling apart and replacing them with concrete parks.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Warren, PA User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 3 April 2009

Design Flaws
Instead of focusing on the quality of each of one of their skateparks, American Ramp Company has produced hundreds of uninspiring skateparks with design flaws that are obvious to skaters. “The problem I see with ARC is the designs are usually out dated, and the poor quality on the equipment. The Woodlands, TX is a perfect example. The design for Tamarac Park looks like something from 2002 compared to what some of their competitors are doing. Plus these ramps have major kink and kickplate problems.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Portland, Maine Chooses ARC? User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 13 Feb 2010

“A handful of in-line skaters and skateboarders doing tricks Sunday morning in the park doubted the park would be an extreme sports magnet unless some improvements were made. "There are a lot of design flaws," said Vince Morrentino, 28, Indianapolis. "There's no fluid movement through the park, and some of these metal edges need to be ground down. My skates already have some weird grooves in them from skating here." Morrentino, who said he's been skating more than 13 years and has visited more than 100 skate parks, said but unless improvements are made, it's unlikely to draw skaters from outside Lawrence.”
Source: The Indianapolis Star Nov 2, 2009

“In the photo there are obviously huge design flaws such as kinked flat banks (no tranny at the bottom), the hubbas are RIDICULOUS and that handrail is just a joke. There is no normal handrail or ledge near the stairs and no step up or manny pad anywhere in sight. For the budget (according to the newspaper) of $320,000 this is just another take-the-money-and-runbut-blame-the-kids-for-a-poor-design ARC job.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Lawrence, Indiana User: Grinch Date: 27 March 2009

“Skaters in the Portsmouth, VA. area are making a public push to have more of a say in the construction of the Cradock Skate Park. They say the current plan is far too generic and has not nearly enough concrete. There is $200,000 in the bank for this project and how the money is spent should be up to those who will use it everyday. To rally support for a design change, skaters should write to Mike Morris, at the Dept. Of Parks & Recreation, to let him know that the skaters want concrete.”
Source: www.skatedaily.net Feb 23, 2010

Almost every ARC steel skatepark is designed with one of these kicker ramps. It is designed with a very sharp edge to it that can easily injure skaters as they jump into the ramp.

Here ARC dumped a bunch of steel equipment on a slab without any design consideration. There is not enough space to get proper speed to approach or land a trick on any of these features.

These two features are virtually unskateable. The rails are too low to grind when coming off the ramp and the ramps are too short to perform simple tricks. These are mistakes that are obvious to skaters.

Specifications to Lock Out Competitors
Through their army of telemarketers, American Ramp Company reaches most cities before any other skatepark company even has a chance. Once they’ve started communicating with a City, they immediately provide a rigid set of specifications that will only allow them to win the project. They use lies to convince cities that steel is the best from the very beginning, and since other companies can’t match their tight specifications – ARC is always the winner. One of the most absurd statements in this specification is the “20-year warranty”. Any company that doesn’t have a 20-year warranty on their equipment is automatically excluded from the bid. If you look at any ARC skatepark that is more than a few years old, you will see that this “warranty” is just a sales pitch used to lock out competitors, not an actual guarantee of a quality product. “However, my discussions with any client are in regards to product that I have personally seen fail, methods that I personally know don't work and bid specs which I know for a fact allow your company to enjoy a fantastic margin since no one else can bid. This series of foolish bid specs have been discussed here and elsewhere many times and we needn't waste time doing it again. Fact is your minions take the low road as much as anyone and you're a fool or liar if you claim otherwise.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Hardcore Shotcrete – What’s the Deal? User: Grinch

“The fact is that these special specs, offered by only one vendor, are as archaic and unnecessary as slalom boards and 78mm wheels in today's skate scene. Yet they survive for one reason- to bar others from bidding on publicly funded projects. Advertising dollars and well-trained salesmen have trumped creativity and the pursuit of quality and creativity.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Mattoon, Illinois User: Grinch

Misleading Warranties
American Ramp Company offers a 20-year warranty on its steel ramp equipment, which goes by the name “Pro Series”. To a city, this 20-year warranty assures them they have made the right decision and that they will be protected in case anything happens. When you read the fine print of the warranty though, it becomes very clear that their “20-year warranty” doesn’t amount to much.

"Equipment should be inspected weekly to ensure that all screws, nuts, blots, and nails are firmly in place. Should the purchaser neglect any suggested maintenance, this warranty is rendered invalid. Purchaser assumes all liability for site location and any and all problems resulting from such placement (noise, vandalism, traffic, etc.)."
Source: American Ramp Company – Pro Series Warranty & Maintenance Schedule

This statement basically states that if you aren’t keeping detailed records of your weekly skatepark inspections, your warranty becomes invalid and you have no protection against faulty equipment. "Your steel components have been coated polyester powder coating or galvanized. However, if scratched deep enough, the steel underneath will rust. Although there is no structural danger in this, spend an hour or so touching up with ARC provided color/texture to match paint to maintain aesthetics."
Source: American Ramp Company – Pro Series Warranty & Maintenance Schedule

This statement basically admits that your skatepark equipment is going to rust and it will not look aesthetically pleasing. They say rust doesn’t create structural danger, there is clearly danger from skaters falling and cutting themselves on rusty edges.

“My personal opinion is that ARC warranty does far more to protect ARC than it does to protect the purchaser or the end users.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Pitfalls of Vendor Warranties User: Tim Gordon

“That seems to be a warranty that would never cover any claim. This is pretty bluntly telling the customer that this company won't fix anything that breaks during the product's expected usage. Imagine Ford telling customers they won't replace a head gasket on an engine with only 3,000 miles because it's a "repair required by normal wear."
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Pitfalls of Vendor Warranties User: Seth Johnson

Section 3

Experimenting with Concrete

A System Designed for Selling Components
For ten years, American Ramp Company was exclusively focused on pre-fabricated ramp equipment. In late 2008, they saw the writing on the wall. Word was finally starting to spread around the country that steel skateparks did not hold up and were hated by skaters. Realizing this, ARC began pursuing ways in which they could offer concrete skateparks to their customers. With zero years of experience, ARC would soon begin using Cities as guinea pigs as they tried to figure out how to build concrete skateparks. Their army of telemarketers was built around selling components (a basic commodity) and was not prepared to handle the complex concrete skatepark projects that could last years and involve very technical approaches.
“I’ve seen some good precast installations and I’ve seen some bad ones. This one is particularly interesting because the company who installed it has been installing metal parks for years. However, these metal ramps parks require very little creativity on the builders part. You throw some ramps down on a slab. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. The attitude seems to be, "Throw the ramps down and on to the next town." Quantity over quality.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Summit, Ill – Precast Eyesore User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 13 March 2009

“Regardless, it is my opinion that ARC does best selling 'components'. Their business structure is designed to deliver components.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: ARC/SOLO Skateparks User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 24 June 2009

Purchasing a Failed System
In late 2008, American Ramp Company purchased SOLO pre-cast concrete ramps from Tessier Recreo-Parc Inc. Tessier was a manufacturer of playground equipment that had been unsuccessfully dabbling in skateparks for the past few years. “Before the Solo acquisition, American Ramp’s product offerings were made mostly of steel, wood and composites, said Jim Moss, chief executive officer. That meant the company was at a disadvantage when it came to serving clients who wanted concrete products.

“We were getting about five bids a week for concrete parks, and all we could do was send bid alternates,” Moss said. “This acquisition opens up a whole new segment of the market for us. We can now give clients the only product we didn’t have access to before.”
Source: The Joplin Globe - “Skateboard ramp company celebrates recent acquisitions, tenth anniversary” – Joe Hadsall, November 24, 2008

Unfortunately for American Ramp Company, SOLO was a terrible product that had been poorly engineered and none of the company’s prior installations were holding up. Tessier was not a skatepark builder and had very little understanding of how their system would function from a skater’s perspective. Despite all of these problems, ARC pushed forward and used their army of telemarketers to convince cities that SOLO was the best concrete skatepark solution.

Disastrous Results with Pre-cast Concrete
After ten years of selling pre-fabricated ramp components, American Ramp Company began selling concrete skateparks. Concrete skateparks and pre-cast concrete technology are very technical processes that cannot be learned over night. Not having built a single concrete skatepark though, ARC would claim SOLO’s old references as their own. When people questioned the low quality and skateability of SOLO though, ARC would say they didn’t build those parks. “First ARC/Solo is a new company. They have yet to install any solo skate parks in the US. Nor have they made any of the Solo products in the US. Solo was a division of Tessier Recreo-Parc Inc. A Canadian company that I use to rep for. As far as I know, ARC has no experience working with the Solo product.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: ARC/SOLO Skateparks User: Dedrec Date: 6 Jan 2009

“I have heard that they are claiming that warranties under the previous SOLO ownership are not valid so the customer needs to contact the OLD owner in Canada. At the same time ARC is claiming that they are remedying all of the issues with the former iteration but I ask this- if they are not warrantying the old product, are they still using the completed projects in their reference list? And while they're experimenting with these solutions whose really footing the bill? The clients buying more prototype equipment? THESE ARE THE WARRANTY QUESTIONS THE WORLD WANTS ANSWERS TO ARC!!!”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Summit, ILL – Precast Eyesore User: Grinch

“This same company also bought ANOTHER concrete ramp company and we have seen many, many examples of them claiming that the OLD product wasn't warrantied but that no changes have been made to the NEW product.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Hardcore Shotcrete – What’s the Deal? User: Grinch

“They use those Solo parks as references to boost their concrete credibility, but when they get called out on them because they suck - then they say "oh, those aren't our parks". You can't have it both ways!!! And those engineering flaws have not been corrected, Carter proved this point over and over again.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Newtown, CT User: Vincent Onel

The following are recent skateparks built by American Ramp Company using the failed SOLO system.

Summit, Illinois

“However the largest problem with the park is there’s seemingly no drainage system. I was there the other day and half the park was completely under water and unusable, only leaving a small run up to the quarter and euro. I spoke to the locals there that claimed that at least some part of the park is always under water, and if it isn’t it’s still covered with mud and debris from previous water coverage. It seems to pool at the bottom of the stairs next to the wall ride.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Summit, ILL – Precast Eyesore User: Ruggnation

Woodlands, Texas

“I skated the Solo equipment this weekend in The Woodlands, TX at Tamarac Park. This is the third time I’ve skated there and it still has problems. The Solo precast equipment has a severe flaw in the kickplate. Then the city called in ARC and they repaired the kickplates. Here is the picture of the same ramp after it was repaired in September. Two months later. Notice how the concrete piece under the kickplate is cracked. This is what is causing the anchors to come loose.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: St. Clair, Michigan User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 23 Nov 2009

“However, the kinks are really bad. Especially the bank ramp. Even if you repaired the kickplate. The way the ramp is designed you would still have a major kink. Talked with Kelly and she said ARC will be back on the 14th to do a second round of repairs on the precast equipment.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: prefab crete in the woodlands User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 19 Dec 2009

Woodlands, Texas (continued)

So I have skated two of the new precast concrete parks. The new ramps were added to existing prefab parks, and frankly the metal ramps are better than the precast. They are maybe the absolute worst thing I have ever skated on that are meant for skating. • • • • • • •

Kickplates = chunks of wheels and potentially flesh gone instantly. The surface is so slick that they might as well have made them out of ice. There's some fairly large chips from installation, making the razor sharp kickplates even worse. The new stuff definitely adds to the park, but the problems with the equipment are already starting to show (mere days after it was installed). Flimsy metal kickplates that have some sort of coating that make them slick as ice. Large bolts taking chunks out of wheels and potentially skaters. Seams at the top of stairs. But the biggest problem is the kickplates. Hit em at an angle and you slide. And you can see em flex when even the smallest kid rolls over em.

Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: prefab crete in the woodlands User: Kevinthehesh

Then in October of 2009, the Woodlands Community Association rescinded their contract with American Ramp Company and hired a different skatepark builder for future phases on the skatepark. “In other WCA news, board members voted to rescind an extension of contracts with LDF Construction and American Ramp Company for Bear Branch Skate Park phase two and approve a bid from Parthenon Custom Concrete for the work.”
Source: The Courier of Montgomery County – “WCA gives expansion of community garden a go”
Lucretia Cardenas Oct. 15, 2009

Mt. Rainier, Maryland

Hardcore Shotcrete & Misleading References
After struggling with pre-cast concrete for a few months, American Ramp Company purchased Hardcore Shotcrete, a skatepark company that had gone out of business in 2005. “Hardcore seems to have gone by the wayside some years ago and the use of their name seems to bring little to the table in today's market.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Hardcore Shotcrete – what’s the deal? User: Grinch

In an attempt to boost their credibility in the eyes of cities, ARC began including misleading project references in Hardcore’s catalog. They were hoping they could make this company that hadn’t been built a skatepark in years look a little bit more legitimate if they added some new references. The skatepark industry quickly got on to these deceptive tactics though.

“As I understand it ARC's marketing materials included Hardcore Shotcrete's past work. Unfortunately, some of those examples had little or no involvement by Hardcore Shotcrete. The fact of the matter is that ARC's marketing materials have been distributed with erroneous and misleading information.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Hardcore Shotcrete – what’s the deal? User: Peter Whitley – SPS Board of Directors

“I really hope you change your catalog. It's full of misinformation and misleading sales tactics. Both Kanten Russel and Seth Johnson have said that Mark Leone of Academy Skatepark was not involved with the Pascagoula, MS project. If Mark was involved he definitely did not do all that is stated in the catalog. Lastly, I spoke with Matt Fluegge and Micah Shapiro of Grindline Skateparks. They think maybe Mark had worked on some designs for Silver City and Aztec before the park was built. However, these plans were discarded, and a new design was developed by Grindline to build Silver City and Aztec. Therefore, you should remove those references entirely. And according to him falsify references and taking credit for others peoples work is "petty". He says we need to take a step back and look at how "negative" and "petty" we are. I am sorry you feel that way Nathan, but everything I pointed out I backed up with facts straight out of your catalog.

Tonight I received an email from Joe Caglia and Colby Carter of California Skateparks, and they both said they did not give Hardcore Shotcrete permission to use Venice as a reference. In fact, Joe told me he confronted ARC/Hardcore about this last week at NRPA, and told them to stop handing out an ARC catalog with California Skatepark references in it.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: American Ramp Company “Skate Park” - Red Hook, NY User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 19 Dec 2009

“Yes. I spoke with Kanten Russel at SDG and Matt Fluegge at Grindline. Both have said that Mark Leone from Academy did not work on Pascagoula, MS; Aztec, NM or Silver City, NM. In fact, Kanten has said that Micheal McIntyre of SDG has sent ARC a legal notice not to use certain references by SDG.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Concrete vs Pre-fab steel – Anytown, USA User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 19 Dec 2009

“If you read the fine print in their new concrete catalog it says one of their employees who used to work for California Skateparks (the company that actually built the park) laid some underground drainline for the park. This is incredibly misleading because a City council person will look through this catalog and see the nice pictures without reading the fine print - thinking that ARC built this $3 million dollar park and is qualified to handle $3 million of their city's money.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: American Ramp Company Takes Credit for Venice Skatepark User: Vincent Onel Date: 10 Sep 2009

“I’m just joking and making fun of ARC's Christian like cut throat tactics. I mean seriously read that PDF closely and it will create nausea. Some of the concrete parks featured in there they didn’t even build.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: Summit, ILL Precast Eyesore User: Carter Dennis – SPS Board of Directors Date: 19 Dec 2009

“Please do me a favor and remove the Pascagoula Skate Plaza from your sales brochure. Your new hire was invisible to me on that project. His name NEVER came up during the many meetings we held during the construction process. If you're going to claim his portfolio as your own, at least filter it for the projects he had a significant role in.”
Source: Skaters for Public Skateparks Forum - Thread: American Ramp Company “Skate Park” – Red Hook, NY User: Seth Johnson

Malakoff, Texas In late 2009, American Ramp Company won a skatepark project under the Hardcore Shotcrete name by using false references and misleading information. If you go to Hardcore Shotcrete’s website, it says “skater owned and operated since 2001”. To persuade the city of Malakoff, Texas though, ARC claimed Hardcore had more than 20 years of experience with building skateparks. “According to its literature, Hardcore has more than 20 years of experience in "shotcrete applications and site work for the construction of custom skateparks, swimming pools, waterfalls, and other complex concrete structures."
Source: The Malakoff News – “Skating Forward on Park Project” Michael V. Hannigan

Once construction began on the Malakoff skatepark, it immediately became clear that ARC had done very little planning and was very new to the world of concrete skateparks. Several change orders halted the project early on. Hardcore requested approval for three change orders from the Malakoff City Council last Thursday. The required work was completed before the change order was brought before the council, and the price tag represented actual costs, according to Hardocre's Chris Fredricks. Although the council unanimously approved the change after nearly 30 minutes of discussion, council members were not happy about the need. Councilwoman Jerrilyn Tarver and Councilman Tim Trimble in particular questioned why a site soil survey, a typical precaution, was not conducted.
Source: The Malakoff News – “Theft, change orders impact Jake’s skatepark” Michael V. Hannigan

Section 4

Conclusion

In conclusion, American Ramp Company has done a great disservice to the skateboarding community in their 10+ years of business. They have repeatedly demonstrated a lack of concern for quality, legitimate business practices, proper skatepark design, safety and a positive relationship with the skatepark advocacy community.
After ten years of building low quality metal ramps, they have transitioned into the concrete world with disastrous results. Their company and its sales machine were designed to sell components. They have very little understanding of what it takes to complete a high-quality concrete skatepark. Their reputation has somehow escaped them for some time, but the photos and testimonials from cities across the country are finally starting to catch up with them. Hopefully this document makes it very clear that you should not choose American Ramp Company for your next skatepark project.

* This document is not affiliated with the organization Skaters for Public Skateparks (SPS). It was used only as a source for important discussions and information related to skateparks.