Concrete as a material has long been used to create infrastructure. Concrete bridges, buildings, stadiums and parking garages along with pipes, vaults and foundations make up more than a healthy share of any urban or suburban landscape. Statues and occasional artwork also usually public in nature were for centuries accepted uses for concrete. In recent years concrete has become more artistic and more personal with the popularity of concrete counter tops, sinks and other quality household infrastructure.
Building a new concrete infrastructure in North America probably started in the 1970’s and again in earnest in the late 1990’s with the rise and then demolition and rebirth of skateboard parks. Skateboarding began as an activity in the concrete jungle of urban California and quickly spread into backyard pools where current infrastructure made for impromptu magic. Skate parks followed soon after. Concrete was no longer used only for it’s structural properties. Skateboarding made concrete an interactive sport. Skateboarding is an extreme sport riders defy gravity and probability to pump, air, spin, flip and grind at risk of broken bones and sometimes life and limb. The outcomes of these concrete interactions are joy, playfulness, frustration, accomplishment, healthy lifestyle and competition.
Meanwhile in China and then Europe concrete was being used for another durable sport project. This one much less extreme, but also epic in it’s scope. Table Tennis tables made of concrete first popped up in Chinese parks. They didn’t pop up one at a time, they popped up by the thousands. Rows of a dozen or more tables hosting games of ping pong became commonplace as the Gov’t of China purposefully focused it’s athletic structure around Table Tennis! Years later Germany and then other European nations followed. The relatively low cost and high use Concrete Table Tennis Tables are in schoolyards parks and other public gathering places. Germany is where we first encountered Concrete Ping Pong Tables. During a walk along a public path by the Rhine River I encountered a ping pong table made out of concrete. I was stunned, I wanted to play, and I felt a bit jilted that these weren’t in every park in America!
The Infrastructure of Joy
Fast forward twenty years and half a career later! After playing Table Tennis at a friends house and enjoying bbq and camaraderie my oldest son Josh said “Dad why don’t you build those concrete ping pong tables like you always talk about from Germany?” The flash in the pan was years in the making I looked at him and said “Yup”.
The year was 2010 and my patchwork career of construction and manufacturing culminated in that single “Yup”. My previous job in the parks and recreation construction had ended suddenly during the 2008 recession. Construction jobs were nonexistent and manufacturing had essentially disappeared in our community. Yet here was something I understood the construction project and turning it into a manufacturing process was well within my scope and my enthusiasm for Table Tennis and craftsmanship would go together to build something bigger than itself. We could build something joyful, playful, healthy that would enhance communities for decades and generations to come!
So that is it! Our niche is building the new infrastructure, the infrastructure of community. Not so much in the civil engineering terms of sewers and bridges, but an infrastructure that builds community, brings people together in fun and games and activity. It’s not as extreme as skateboarding, but it brings a wide spectrum of people together. Together in play, laughter, friendship and ultimately contributes to the joy of a community.
Another decade has passed and our games have expanded to include many other offerings. From cornhole to shuffleboard to fooseball. In all of these cases we have taken a popular game and completely changed the quality of construction to make them worthy of public installations. We help our customers change places into activity hubs filled with laughter. We measure success in tons, centuries and laughter.