Back in the old days: Above left, a picture of our first working garden hose snowmaker prototype. It took two
winters and several design changes to get this snowmaker to make snow. It only made a tiny amount of snow,
but it was a start and proof you could make real snow in your backyard. Above right, a picture of our very first
high pressure snowmaker prototype that operated with a small pressure washer.
|Prototype Garden Hose Snowmaker- circa 2003
|Prototype High Pressure Snowmaker- circa 2004
How the Idea to Make Snow Came About...
Ben Houser, the Founder of SnowStorm Snowmaking, was an avid skier growing up. Living in the outskirts of
Allentown, PA he lived a short distance to several ski resorts in the nearby Pocono Mountains of eastern
Pennsylvania. Although these ski resorts receive natural snow, they rely heavily on snowmaking equipment
to get open and keep the trails covered with snow throughout the unpredictable Pennsylvania winters.
One night in November 2002 while reading a local ski area message board, he came across a link that
someone posted about being able to make your own backyard snowmaker. Being a diehard skier and snow
lover, Ben was instantly intrigued.
"At the time I was 12 years old and to me this was the coolest thing in the world. I mean imagine being able
to make real snow in your backyard like the ski resorts do," Ben recalls. "Who wouldn't get excited about
that?" He quickly found out his parents weren't as excited.
"My mom hated the cold and my dad only took up skiing because it was something I really wanted to do. But
one thing they could agree on was not spending money on things they didn't deem necessary. Making snow
in the backyard obviously wasn't necessary," Ben explains. But there was one saving grace, the Orefield
Middle School science fair.
"I was always one of those people that thinks five steps ahead. I knew that if you took a gifted science class
in 8th grade that you were required to participate in the school science fair. If my project was about making
snow, my parents would have a hard time saying no to funding my 'educational' project. Needless to say, I
made sure in January when we picked classes for the following year that I got in that gifted science class.
The only reason was to build the snowmaker, " Ben jokingly says.
In September 2003, Ben found himself in the gifted science class. Within the first two weeks, discussions
about the science fair took place. While most students struggled to figure out what project to do, Ben already
had his project figured out. When it came time to tell the teacher about his project, she was doubtful.
"I remember telling the teacher I was going to build a snowgun that makes real snow. She looked at me and
said you are going to build what? At first she was doubtful about it but after some convincing she agreed to
let me move forward. It all went downhill from there," says Ben while smiling.
After going home and telling his mother he was going to build a snowmaker for the science fair, she too was
skeptical. Mainly because the snowmaker required an air compressor and they didn't own one. Luckily, Ben's
uncle lived next door and had a large air compressor he agreed to let him use. "Again, it's all about thinking
ahead, I had my doubts my parents would buy the compressor but I knew my uncle had one," Ben says.
After building the snowmaker according to the vague directions, Ben and his uncle did a warm weather test
to see how it worked. "It looked impressive and I could not wait for the cold weather to try it out for real," Ben
says. But winter was still almost 2 months away and it would end up being a warmer than average winter.
At school, every Friday was dedicated to working on the science fair project in class. "We would have to
report to our teacher and let her know how we were progressing. After weeks went by, I only had the
snowmaker built and was unable to use it because of the weather. My teacher thought I was slacking but
really it was because I couldn't control the weather," Ben explains.
Finally around Christmas 2003 the weather broke and Ben tried the snomaker for the first time. It didn't work
as planned. As Ben recalls, "I was really disappointed. The snowmaker looked awesome when it ran but the
water didn't freeze into snow. I don't even think we got ice on the ground."
Not wanting to give up, Ben tried several more times in the following weeks but still could not get the
snowmaker to work. The science fair was quickly approaching and he had nothing to show for it. By this time
his uncle had lost hope and basically wrote off the snowmaker ever working. "That really let me down but it
taught me that If something was easy, everyone would be doing it," Ben says.
Things weren't any better at school. The teacher was beyond frustrated that hardly anything for the project
was completed and the science fair was about two weeks away. She suggested Ben change his project to
something else to try and salvage his grade. Being a stubborn teenager, Ben wouldn't have it. He went home
that weekend and convinced his uncle to try the snowmaker one last time.
"I remember going to his house around 9:30pm on a Saturday night with my snowmaker in hand. He was in
his recliner watching television. I asked him if he'd help me try the snowmaker one last time. At the minimum
I had to get pictures of the snowmaker running," Ben says.
"He said it wasn't cold enough to make snow and I said it was. He put on the local weather channel and saw it
was cold enough. He rolled his eyes and gave me a look. Then said lets go you pain," Ben says laughing.
On the way to the garage, Ben explained that he needed to get good pictures for his project. When his uncle
asked what he was going to do if it didn't work again, Ben said, "We're just going to get action shots of me
holding the snowmaker. There is still a small pile of natural snow under the tree that didn't melt from the last
storm. We will spread that out and say we made it with the snowmaker."
In other words, "It was a fake it until you make it situation. I figured as long as I looked serious in the picture
the teacher would buy it. How would she know I didn't make the snow? And you know something, it worked,"
Ben says laughing.
After the science fair project was over, Ben tinkered with his snowaker for the rest of the winter. The
following winter he finally got it to make snow. After being thrilled it finally worked, the next challenge was
making a more efficient snowmaker. "I quickly learned garden hose snowmakers were not efficient in terms
of snow production," Ben says.
At the time there was not much on the internet regarding home snowmaking. "It was new and people didn't
know you could do it. I along with a handful of others were basically pioneers in a new hobby and new
industry," Ben explains.
After doing a lot of research on commercial snowmakers that ski resorts use, the key to efficiency seemed to
be by utilizing high pressure water. "It basically makes the process more efficient because the water droplets
are smaller and as a result, requires less compressed air to nucleate the water," Ben explains.
After several failed designs and a lot of trial and error, Ben finally built a working high pressure snowmaker
that ran off of a pressure washer. The amount of snow that was being produced blew even Ben away.
"Literally what the garden hose snowmaker made in an hours time, the high pressure snowmaker made in
about 5 minutes with a small pressure washer. It was that much more efficient," he says.
SnowStorm Snowmaking is Born...
After spending years refining his snowmaker designs and
figuring there were more people out there who wanted to
make their own real snow without the hassle, Ben decided
to start SnowStorm Snowmaking in 2005.
After lots of planning, incorporating the business, and
building a website, SnowStorm Snowmaking officially
began selling snowmakers on the internet in December of
2006. At the time, Ben was a junior in high school.
"The early days were sort of funny. At first there were not
many sales. It started picking up as time went on and I had
to juggle school and running a business," Ben says. "At
times it was rough, but I made it work. There was no better
feeling then knowing all my hard work paid off and that
other people wanted to make snow."
|Above left is a First Generation Veyron Snowmaker. At right is the
Fourth and Current Generation Veyron Snowmaker.
SnowStorm Snowmaking Today...
With a customer base worldwide, SnowStorm Snowmaking has helped people from around the world make
real snow in their backyards just like the ski resorts do. Besides homeowners, the company has also helped
several large businesses, universities, and the US military make snow.
SnowStorm Snowmaking is dedicated to designing and manufacturing the highest quality home snowmaking
equipment at an affordable price. We are proud to say that all of our Snowmakers and Snowmaking Pumps
are designed, engineered, and manufactured right here in the USA. We continue to develop cutting edge
home snowmaking products that allow you to make even more snow.
Over the years we have improved the performance and ease of use of our home snowmaking equipment.
Advancements such as our Automatic Nucleation Valve gave our customers the first completely "plug and
play" internal mix home snowmaker on the market that required no adjustments. This feature continues to
make our snowmakers one of the best selling on the market today.
For the "Snow Man" it's All About the Memories...
"When you look back over the years and realize your middle school science fair project has in turn helped so
many people around the world make snow, it blows your mind," Ben says.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I think we would be here today. There is nothing more that I enjoy then
receiving pictures and emails from customers that made snow for the first time. I especially enjoy when kids
who live somewhere where it doesn't snow get to experience snow for the first time. That's what I live for."
Asked about his favorite customer story, Ben recalls a customer from Alabama that emailed pictures of his
entire front yard covered in fresh snow.
"A guy from Alabama emailed me pictures of his front yard covered in snow. He told me a school bus was
driving through his neighborhood and came to a dead stop in front of his house. The kids all had their faces
against the windows, smiling, and looking at the only snow covered yard in town. He said they ran so fast to
the one side of the bus he thought the bus was going to flip over," Ben says laughing.
Make Real Snow In Your Backyard!
WE ARE THE HOME SNOWMAKING EXPERTS!
|About SnowStorm Snowmaking
PO Box 633
Orefield, PA 18069
WE ARE THE HOME SNOWMAKING EXPERTS!
Entire Contents Copyright 2005-2018 SnowStorm Snowmaking, LLC