American Pastimes

Amongst skateboarders that have actually been to more than one skatepark, American Ramp Company is easily one of, if not the most hated so-called skatepark companies. They’re basically a playground equipment manufacturer that has done really well for themselves with clueless park districts and municipalities across the country. Well enough that they’ve acquired other companies in order to break into the concrete market. They’ve used questionable financial logic in proselytizing their prefab metal ramp program, largely based on how durable they are and cheap to install. There are examples on the web of ARC projects that ended in disappointment. Someone noticed a pattern, because the law offices of Dermer Behrendt are bringing a law suit against the American Ramp Company on behalf of the United States and a long list of plaintiffs. Why the United States of America? Not because ARC is an offense to all skateboarders and skateboarding was invented in America (Damnit!), but because ARC installed a bunch of junk on some Air Force bases. Mission Accomplished! American pastimes? Lawsuits and Skateboarding. I’m not a fan of frivolous lawsuits, but this one gives me a warm fuzzy. Still, I am worried that this could somehow adversely affect other other skatepark builders.

UPDATE:  This post originally contained links to a web site with information about the lawsuit. Almost 4 years later, the domain name americanrampcompanylawsuit . com appears to have been hacked, or lapsed and was taken over by unscrupulous parties, and as of 5/4/16  is a suspected phishing site. The links have been removed.

– Thanks to Concretin Nik for the tip.

43 Comments

  1. skateparklover on February 9, 2012 - Reply

    Yeah, right on!
    The same should happen to the german based company
    Concrete Sportanlagen – most hated shit in Germany.
    They try to look like shotcrete, but its all bad prefab pieces. http://www.concrete-sportanlagen.de

  2. Thanks for this! Oklahoma is really close to the land of ARC and I have been upset with these guys since they installed one of their first parks in Norman, OK. The have taken money and ran…and the biggest problem I see with them is they did this under the guise of being Christian. Arghh!!! ARC installed a new park in El Reno, OK and it is moderately better then the early parks they built, but is it too little too late. I skated with Jud “Farm Boy” (untitled skateboards) the other day and he seemed embarrassed that he ‘sometimes’ does demos for ARC.

  3. Brock75 on February 9, 2012 - Reply

    My day has been complete crap up until now, this makes me REALLY happy! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Military personnel: They made me skate ramps that made me fear for my life.

    Psychologist: Hmmm? Sounds like you suffer from PTSD: Post-traumatic Skate Disorder. Zinger!

    (disclaimer: in no way does this comment minimize the realities of PTSD; War is still dangerous to your health.)

  5. Tim Laidlaw on February 9, 2012 - Reply

    My local park has some of these metal ramp (can’t say if they’re ARC ramps but very similar) and the local kids seem to make the best of what they have. I skate there occasionally and sort of enjoy the ramps too, sure the locals would probably be happier if it was a better park but they make the best of it. There’s just way too much terrain these days for me to complain that some of it isn’t good enough.

    • someguyatwork on February 10, 2012 - Reply

      The lawsuit seems to be about corporate greed, putting the safety of children at risk, and unfairly restricting competition in the marketplace. If the allegations are true, then they’re worth complaining about.

      • Tim Laidlaw on February 10, 2012 - Reply

        Caveat emptor, I can see being pissed at your city for buying that crap. Who would think advertising isn’t truthful?

        • Great, I’m glad you like to skate crap. I think your missing the point a little though.

    • Tim is right. Yes, these parks CAN be alot of fun. The problem is that they are pushed as simple and “cheaper” (and not permanent-city officials love this) alternatives to concrete. Initially, yes. They are. Then after a month of heavy use, they need maintenance, but that maintenance is NEVER included in ARCs bid and is NEVER included or expected by cities. When you add in additional costs of taking care of all the ramps, the money is right back in line with lower maintenance ‘crete.

      For me, there is no question that modular skate ramps can be fun to ride… but they MUST be maintained and well cared for. I’ve yet to see a well cared for outdoor modular ramp park. It just doesn’t happen. And a big part of that is the company that sold the ramps in the first place never explained it, had no intention of explaining it, even though they KNOW what is required.

  6. Thank Chad Balcom on February 9, 2012 - Reply

    Thank Chad Balcom

  7. Tim Laidlaw hit the nail on the head – nothing to complain about here:

    • Tim Laidlaw on February 10, 2012 - Reply

      Several years ago we vacationed in a motor home hitting many skate parks throughout Washington. In Moses Lake there was a park consisting of nothing but metal ramps even a metal half pipe and all the local kids had smiles ear to ear and were ripping the place up. Deer Park near Spokane was the same way, granted I had more fun at Hillyard, but the local kids at Deer Park were tearing the place up and had no complaints. I wasn’t defending ARC in any way just giving my observations on the topic. I guess those metal parks weren’t built by ARC since people were actually enjoying themselves?

    • Jim Bemo on February 10, 2012 - Reply

      Wow, that’s disgraceful junk. To think these supposed
      “veteran skaters” are pimping this crap out to cities
      all over the world is just sad.

      But hey! The kids are makin the best of it, so we shouldn’t
      care right? That’s what kids do? That doesn’t make it OK?
      Ah shucks.

  8. Masterochicken on February 10, 2012 - Reply

    A warm fuzzy? Is that a euphimism?

  9. Tim, go back now and see the shape they are in. For the same price, those kids would STILL have big smiles on their faces (and fewer tetanus shots) if the park was built out of concrete.

  10. Kids can enjoy a pit of mud, a plain brick wall, or just about anything… All they want is a place to call their own without getting yelled at constantly. Skateparks provide that, but the young ones aren’t critical because they have nothing else to compare it to. ARC is a complete FRAUD.

  11. Tim Laidlaw on February 10, 2012 - Reply

    I’m not disputing whether concrete is better or not, that’s a no brainer. Damn kids, making lemonaid out of lemons, we should learn them not to do that? The demand for something/anything to skate provided by our cities led to a demand for this kind of crap…

    • cronyism, shrewd marketing, and preexisting relationships with park and rec departments led to the demand.

  12. lou sassel on February 11, 2012 - Reply

    I wonder how many energy drink pros (and local bros) called ARC to build their private backyard projects?

    total crap, but come on lets get real, this is the devils work and you all know it.

  13. Confused on February 11, 2012 - Reply

    so what i want to know is this- from what I’ve read and experienced nearly 100% of skaters think this shit and the company that sells it suck, so why do so many cities get bamboozled? How do they continue to get away with it? When are the warranties going t catch up with them?

  14. One big part of the problem is that ARC aggressively tries to stifle competition; if their product was superior, it would sell itself, and skaters would demand it. Instead, they create slick, misleading brochures, often claiming work they didn’t actually perform in order to get jobs, and frequently “help” towns write the bid proposals, structuring the language to favor their product or entirely disqualify other competitors from bidding. An example would be directing cities to include a requirement that any bids must include a 20-year warranty, or an ASTM certification, or a fastener-free surface, or any other number of meaningless and deceptive terms ARC routinely uses.

    Again, if their product was superior, it would sell itself, and this lawsuit wouldn’t exist.

  15. jameslee on February 13, 2012 - Reply

    This lawsuit seems really great like justice is finally being brought to ARC. BUT did anyone look at The Parties?
    All this is is a direct competitor (Spohn Ranch skateparks are equally shitty) finding a way to weaken the walmart of skateparks. Before we all start patting each other on the backs, let’s read the fine print.

    “Spohn Ranch, Inc. is what is known as the “Relator” of the lawsuit. Spohn is what is often called a “whistle blower” – a private party that discovers what it believes is fraud against the government. The Relator then brings the claim on behalf of the various governments. If the Relator prevails then it is entitled to share in the proceeds of the recovery. Spohn intends to place any relator share into a trust fund for the replacement of Pro Series skateparks with concrete parks.”

  16. Well, look at the bright side: At least they’re crap is ephemeral.

  17. my enemies enemy is my friend

  18. I can live with a few steel ramp parks turning into this:

    http://skateandannoy.com/2012/02/long-beach-skate-plaza-opening/

  19. Spohn Ranch is improving, but they have a long way to go to make up for the amount of utter garbage they’ve already left in their wake. Suing ARC is almost surreal.

  20. Any skater who skates skateparks with a passion to skate. I don’t mean simply carving or gently cruising, I mean skates the parks, will or should get it.

    With the internet and availability of information as well as even constructors, today; no city should be taken advantage of by these money sucking beast (there are many to add to the list, along with these 2).
    Parks do not need to be enormous, nor should they cost the amount that they tend to these days.

    It’s like WalMart versus McDonalds, somehow.
    Both providing what can appear as perhaps a decent product. That is, their product is only (hardly) a weak knock off of what is a good and better, or quality product.
    Neither of them produce, an exactly any where near, safe and/or, at all, cared for product (especially in comparison to quality products which 10 years down the road still can be safe, unlike within months the danger level rises and then continually continues to rise).
    Nor (I’ll assume) are they, that being who is, at the deepest level necessarily in it, what so ever, further than where the money is; or where now, it has taken them.

  21. Skatepark Adv on February 17, 2012 - Reply

    from ARC’s website:
    In 2010 Spohn Ranch Skateparks (competitor) filed suit against American Ramp Company (ARC) purportedly on behalf of the US government, 7 state governments, and 65 city government customers.

    Facts:
    • Although filed in 2010, ARC only learned about the existence of this lawsuit in Feb. 2012.
    • Anyone can file a lawsuit and is by no means evidence that someone is at fault.
    • The US Government and two other States have specifically declined to intervene in this nonsense (documents included). Moreover, not one of the purported “plaintiffs” has elected to participate in the lawsuit.
    • Every one of the customers listed in the petition that we have contacted were unaware they were named by Spohn Ranch as a plaintiff and every one said that they were satisfied with ARC and our product.
    • Many of the purported “plaintiffs” named by Spohn Ranch in this suit have multiple ARC skateparks and phases and many of those have provided us with reference letters or referred other customers.
    • Spohn Ranch solicits/builds projects using the same specifications they mention in this lawsuit. See included brochure and specs they distribute.
    • The attorney in this case is part of Spohn Ranch’s outside general council. They are known for their frequent bullying letters to us and other skatepark builders.

    In our opinion, this lawsuit and the website designed to promote the lawsuit are nothing more than an attempt by Spohn Ranch to use the legal system, as opposed to its own product and services, to gain an advantage in the marketplace.

    We at ARC are resolved to continue to manufacture quality products and continue to provide the same great service to which our loyal customers have grown accustomed.

  22. Skatepark Adv on February 17, 2012 - Reply

    http://espn.go.com/action/skateboarding/story/_/id/7586619/spohn-ranch-skatepark-construction-company-sues-rival-federal-court

    “…the [Department of Justice] has decided [the] case has no merit and it is suspending its involvement in the matter”

    • The article doesn’t say that.

      If you click on the article and read the words on the web page, you won’t see that quote.

      It’s an interesting troll tactic to quote an article with a quote that’s not in the article. Kudos to you.

      Successful troll is successful

  23. laughingman on February 20, 2012 - Reply

    Yep, its all bs. If all these cities were that upset, you’d see complaints on their bbb profile, and its just not there. Just another PR stunt. Like ARC or not, but this is just tasteless.

  24. I’m no lawyer, but I’d say perhaps that skaters properly teamed up, somehow could make a suit that could do some justice.
    Although, I can not sit here and imagine doing such, or such ever not being more than many of us all shooting our design ideas and/or skatepark dreams.

    The fact, in my mind is or remains, that ARC has wasted likely beyond millions of dollars which should have provided skaters something at least decent, rather than dangerous and hardly even skateable to begin with.
    I’d bet, that over 75% of the time (trying to be cautious in throwing a number out of my ass) they’ve not supplied their ‘guarantees/warranties’ at all, or hardly what so ever when the case was even made (?); and yes, that may be the cities fault, but the fact remains that these parks are dangerous and if there is anyone liable, would it not be ARC(?).

    I can only live in the world that I’d like to imagine; which is not very often the world in which I find myself, that is when I’ve exited the front door.

    • Tim Laidlaw on February 21, 2012 - Reply

      If Spohn were to let premiere skatepark designers bid these jobs I might be swayed to believe they wanted justice rather than that share of the market.

  25. Odhecaton Z on February 22, 2012 - Reply

    Sheesh. One crappy skatepark company suing an even crappier skatepark company. On a scale of 1-to-10, Spohn is a 2, and ARC is a ZERO.
    I’m all for Spohn suing ARC into oblivion, but Spohn ain’t no Grindline, Dreamland, Team Pain, Site Design, Artisan, Airspeed, Wormhoudt, CA Skateparks, etc.
    All those companies BLOW AWAY Spohn, who basically builds 100 crappy prefab McSkate Parks for every one “good” one they make.

  26. Spohn Ranch skateparks SUCK huge donkey balls!!!

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