Life Skateboards is open by appointment only, for more information visit the Facebook page or send an email to email@example.com.
Editor's note: Muncie Origins is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various businesses that originated in Muncie.
Samuel Koch, owner of local business Life Skateboards, views skateboarding as an art form.
Koch began skateboarding when he was 8 years old. He remembers tirelessly riding up and down the driveway while sitting on his plastic skateboard.
“As soon as I started I couldn’t put it down,” Koch said. “I liked the creative aspect of it and the freedom of skateboarding.”
His parents were both missionaries, but he had always dreamed of owning his own skate shop.
As a teenager, however, his love for skateboarding faded while his disillusionment with the church only grew, and he found himself in the “wrong crowd,” which led him to start using drugs.
He began a life of partying, and at these parties he became friends with his future wife, Kristie Koch.
“She also believed in God, but neither of us were acting like Christians,” Sam said.
When Kristie became pregnant with their first child, however, the two decided to try to turn their lives around. They were able to stop using drugs for the health of their son, but reverted back to their previous lifestyle after he was born.
Their addiction escalated to the point where they were both physically sick from drug use. After a fight one night, he intended to drive away and leave her and their son behind. Instead, he showed up at his parents’ house seeking help.
“Where I was headed, I was going to be dead really quick or in prison,” Sam said.
His parents directed them to an opiate treatment center, which helped save the couple’s lives and marriage.
“When we got off drugs, things got good really quick and we had hope again,” Sam said. “Once I got clean, my love for skateboarding came back almost immediately.”
In 2002, Sam, with the help of his father, opened a retail skate shop in Upland, complete with ramps set up in the parking lot where people could skate. After moving the shop twice, he finally had to close the shop due to poor business. Then, in 2009, he opened Sam’s Custom Woodworking out of a warehouse on 615 S. Liberty St., where he makes cabinets and furniture.
Sam did not decide to add Life Skateboards back into his business until a friend loaned him a skateboard mold, which is used to make the deck of a skateboard, in 2012.
While Sam had never made a skateboard before, his friend knew he was a woodworker and had faith he would be able to figure out how to use the mold to make a skateboard.
“I played around and made a few boards and ended up really liking it,” Sam said.
Life Skateboards was then reborn with an emphasis on craft-made skateboard decks and accessories, pressed and designed by Sam himself.
“My shop was Life Skateboards, and now my company is called Life Skateboards because of the gift of life that was given to me,” Sam said.
Sam, Kristie and their four boys all share a passion for skateboarding. Their 12-year-old son, Elijah, even accompanies Sam to the shop to learn how he crafts the skateboards.
“We all love to watch skate videos and competitions,” Kristie said.
Sam is currently involved in pushing for the implementation of a public skate park in Muncie along Cardinal Greenway and near Westside Park. Kristie is excited to see the people coming together to build a skate park for the community.
“There are a lot of people interested in skating,” Kristie said. “I think it’s going to provide a fun, good environment for them to skate.”
Kristie hopes to see skating grow in the Muncie community and for people to become more aware of Sam’s handcrafted skateboards.
Contact Adam Pannel with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.