We had the good fortune of connecting with Cory Keen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cory, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Not a whole lot really! Just kind of went for it haha I always knew in the back of my mind that I’d end up doing my own thing (hopefully in the vein of skateboarding) but just never knew what exactly it would be. Through some trial and error and saying yes to anything and everything thrown my way in my early twenties, somehow building skateboard ramps for a living stuck and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What should our readers know about your business?
The big thing that sets Keen Ramps apart from competitors is that I’m a skate rat through and through. I’ve been obsessed with it since the age of 10. Anything my company makes is tried and tested vigorously by myself and all the KR employees. There’s a lot of passion behind the brand and we stand behind our reputation like no other. Where Keen Ramps is today has a lot to do with myself and all employees just being super nice/ respectful. We’ve always treated any customer with the upmost respect and excitement whether they’re buying a little kicker ramp off of us or if they’re having us build a private backyard skatepark. Giving back to the local community and skateboarding as a whole as much as possible has also been a common theme of Keen Ramps. You receive what you give and I’ve always been eager to give whether it be time, product, dollars, friendship, mentorship, etc. Getting to where we are today was not easy! It’s taken hundreds of late nights, working on the weekends, saying no to friend and family gatherings, tough employee firings, and so on. One of the major challenges has been separating the work and play attitude with employees. Since the nature of the work is so fun it’s hard not to have a happy go lucky attitude in the workplace. Often times employees will perceive this as a relaxed management style which leads to them trying to take advantage of my kindness. Over the years I’ve learned how to create a healthier, more balanced relationship with my employees which has been a godsend!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well lets see, if they were visiting Long Beach for a week I’ve got a pretty solid handful of some musts: – first stop: the iconic Cherry skatepark followed by a trip to Salud juice bar – fish tacos at the Pike for the best fish taco in town – bike ride along the beach/ bluff bike path – boat ride to the Queen Mary/ shoreline village followed by some wake skating in Marine stadium – Joe Jost and/or Good Bar for some drinks and pool – take a drive over Vincent St. Thomas to San Pedro – Rosies Dog beach parking lot to skate some curbs, maybe take a Keen Ramps flatbar to supplement the session – 6am surf session at Bolsa Chica state beach – Dinner at The Attic on Broadway – sushi from 39 degrees on Redondo – Ballast Point at sundown
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Definitely my family for being ok with the off the wall idea of me trying to make a living off skate ramps, namely my dad. He’s the one who taught me how to use work with wood and use tools at a very young age, without that familiarity I may have never started Keen Ramps. I also have a deep appreciation for Mike Donelon and the Action Sports Kids (ASK) Foundation Long Beach. I started volunteering with them back in 2012 when Keen Ramps was in its infancy stages and during that time I was fortunate to make a lot of skate industry as well as local Long Beach business community connections.