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Apr
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Backyard Half-Pipe: Just Add Water

Written by Greg Pressler
Posted Jan 21, 2008

It’s a situation common in today’s busy world—we have plenty of access and means to enjoy recreational activities like snowboarding, but just not enough time to hit the slopes. Short of dropping a few hundred thousand on a slopeside condo, it can be tough to find the time to head for the hills.

Matthew Pittman knew this when he developed Snow At Home, a revolutionary home snowmaking tool designed to deliver snow to any cold-climate location.

“Our snow makers are so versatile,” says Pittman from his office in Cheshire, Connecticut. “Everyone from families creating sledding hills and winter wonderlands for holiday decorating, to clients and distributors attracting business and media attention are using our snow machines.”

Along with his business partner Ken Jacquie, Pittman developed the snowmaking machines after a slow winter four years ago.

“Ken and I are both avid skiers,” says Pittman. “We thought it would be really cool to bring commercial snow making machines home to entertain our kids. After a lot of trial and error with the machines, we finally had some success. We were obsessed to make at much snow as we could until we perfected the process. We would come into our shop at 2am if the temperature was right for making snow.”

Unexpected problems cropped up during the design process, including the relatively warm water supply found in most cities and towns. While commercial ski resorts pump aerated water out of shallow holding ponds to get the temperature just above freezing into their snow guns, the coldest water that comes out of your garden hose hovers around 50 degrees.

“We had to make the droplets smaller, use a lot of compressed air, and address a few other issues in order to get the process right,” recalls Pittman.

 

Although their website began as more of a resource guide for would-be home snow makers, the duo ended up producing custom nozzles and a completely marketable product, supported by wild consumer demand. Eventually, the site was transformed to a storefront.

The process for the home snow maker is relatively simple—just hook up a hose from your house to the fancy pump/pressure washer, include compressed air from a compressor, run the lines to the snowmaker, and presto!—instant snow. Pittman has even included super-bright LED lights to bring a little life to the process and adding a safety/locator factor to the unit. Determining proper climate conditions is also a breeze, thanks to Snow At Home’s easy-to-read temperature chart. Essentially, at 27 degrees and below (with fairly low humidity), you’ve got snow.

As both a horrific example of our hard-earned tax dollars at work and a testament to the company’s popularity is Pittman’s most famous customer: The President of the United States.

“Apparently he didn’t like the brown snow lining the driveways at Camp David,” says Pittman, who has received orders from companies involved in scientific testing and numerous other technical applications.

Demand has even reached across the Atlantic, with orders starting to come in from Europe. Pittman ships at least one unit every day outside of U.S. borders.

But make no mistake about it—the largest market for the $500 and $800 models is in the realm of backyard terrain parks for snowboarders and freestyle skiers. “We want to be instrumental in making home based parks possible for everyone,” he says. “Our goal is to bring ski resorts to the home. We even have a prototype of a portable tow rope and a rail system for terrain parks. Basically, we’re selling a ski resort for home use. There’s nobody doing this right now, and we already have the market. We’re growing rapidly, and doubling virtually every year for the past few seasons.”

Necessity might be the mother of invention, but the lack of snow is really secondary to Pittman’s passion for the process—a passion that now benefits the average snowboarder.

“We really love making snow. It’s almost a religious experience. You become obsessed with it…it’s addictive. You can’t wait for that next cold night to make snow.”

www.SnowAtHome.com

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