My obsession with skateboarding began on the streets of Los Angeles in 1972, when I got my first skateboard at the age of twelve. Soon I was building and experimenting with my own makeshift ramps. During these early years I got a lot of bruises, stitches and broken bones, but I never had more fun. From day one I had the desire to build better places to ride…and more importantly, I wanted a place I could call my own.
Many ramps later I tried to get a municipal skatepark built for my friends and me. We lobbied the city, attended countless meetings, built models and made speeches, but to no avail. While I failed in my first effort I was unknowingly laying the groundwork for future successes.
Out of necessity, I took matters into my own hands. As a master carpenter I had all the skills. I convinced my landlord he could trust me to put a half-pipe in my backyard. I organized friends and acquired all the resources. Soon we had one of the precious few half-pipes in Southern California. Some secrets are hard to keep. One half-pipe became two and three roommates became twelve. A huge scene grew from that backyard – there would be a knock at my front door and some skater from abroad would have skated from LAX hoping to bunk down and stay a while. That’s when I first heard the term “Spohn Ranch.”
Without realizing, I had created far more than a renowned place to skate. My personal pursuit had become a community and its passion became Spohn Ranch. It wasn’t long before people were asking me to build for them as well and soon that knocking at the door was from ESPN wanting help with their vision – something known today as the X-Games.
I never intended to start a company designing and building facilities for action sports, but it was meant to be. It truly is the convergence of all my skills and passions – my life’s work. 20 years later my community has grown to include an incredible group of equally passionate friends, athletes, builders, architects and engineers.
I am amazingly proud of Spohn Ranch and our body of work. But the thing that I take greatest pride in is the building of communities. I have been most fortunate in my opportunity to travel the country and help kids, just like me, build their own places to skate. I never feel more proud than seeing young skaters ride a park for the first time. And I’ve never felt more humble than when some of these kids have told me stories of friends tragically lost and that they truly believe their park has saved their lives.
While designing and building skateparks is my business, it is also infinitely more to me and I am thankful everyday. I bring the same honesty and passion from my roots to every project.
- Aaron Spohn, President & Founder