Highlights, History and R & D

SMI 50 Year Logo

SMI celebrates 50 years!

In the late 1960s, amidst the burgeoning ski industry, Snow Machines, Inc. (SMI) emerged with a vision that would revolutionize snowmaking technology and establish itself as a global leader. Founded by Jim and Betty VanderKelen, SMI began its operations in their home and a small section of a carpet company’s warehouse. This modest beginning launched a significant force in the snowmaking industry.

Today, as SMI celebrates its 50th anniversary, the company stands on a solid foundation of technological innovation, industry leadership, and a deep commitment to sustainability. With a strong leadership team and a clear vision for the future, SMI is poised to continue its legacy of innovation in snowmaking technology. The company’s focus on developing solutions for warmer and wetter conditions underscores its ongoing commitment to the ski industry and the environment.

"The future will continue to evolve around energy efficiency and easier to use and maintain equipment."

SMI Company Highlights

SMI Snowmakers is a service-oriented firm, dedicated to creating and delivering energy-efficient, quality snowmaking solutions to our customers. This commitment is underscored by the highest standards of loyal, ethical and fair interaction with our customers, employees and suppliers, as well as the communities in which we live and work.

Our customer-focused commitment to snow-making innovation and technology, as well as our extensive history and range of experience, has made SMI a world leader in snowmaking systems and services.

"Your snowmaking equipment is a long-term investment that earns the same level of commitment from SMI. Legendary for performance, efficiency and value, our snowmakers blanket trails and slopes crisscrossing the globe."

Millions in R & D
Years in Business
Customers Worldwide
SMI Snowflake


Our Commitment to Innovation

  • Over $1 million invested in snowmaking research and development each year
  • Headquarters and Research and Development facilities in Midland, Michigan, USA
  • Technology leader in developing new solutions and products
  • SmartSnow™, V2, Axis, Grizzly, FreedomX, Puma, PoleCat and Wizzard product families for snowmaking solutions
  • Automatic snowmaking systems since 1992 with over 800 projects worldwide
  • Pioneer in ducted fans for snowmaking such as Wizzard and PoleCat families
SMI Snowflake


Our Wealth of Experience

  • In business over 40 years
  • Industry pioneer and contributor since 1969
  • Highly experienced sales and technical service personnel
  • Leading snowmaking company and a global market leader
  • Sold more than 25,000 fan snowmaking products worldwide
  • Committed to being a low-cost manufacturer with a strong financial base
  • We have a proven track record in the snow industry and will continue to remain here for you
  • Largest snowmaking portfolio
SMI Snowflake


Our Customer-Driven Approach

  • Excellent technical support and response for all aspects of snowmaking
  • Over $3,000,000 in snowmachine spare parts inventory
  • Representatives carry spare parts and provide technical service
  • Customized snowmaking products and solutions
  • Full solutions snow systems provider – from engineering and design through construction and installation, from turn-key projects to one machine
  • Future snowmaking products designed to retrofit older products protects your investment

SMI Company Milestones

SMI Research & Development

We welcome you to visit our main factory at our headquarters in Midland Michigan. This factory has been in place since 1974 and has expanded over time with the company. The main equipment design, testing and fabrication and assembly happens at this facility.

Research and Development of new and improved products and processes remains an important aspect of meeting SMI’s mission of providing the best snowmaking products and values for our customers. SMI spends thousands of man hours each year on new product design and testing along with competitive benchmarking. At the SMI factory in Michigan we have the only dedicated and integrated snowmaking research and testing facility at a snowmaking production facility in the world. And this allows us to design, test and modify right out our door!

We have a 10 Million gallon lake (40,000 cubic meters) along with 4 differing pumping systems and a large air compressor to feed resources to the test snow guns. We have 6 hydrant and vault snowmaking stations, along with digital air and water flowmeters and pressure and temperature transducers. We use fiber optic, radio and hard-wired communications.

The SMI manufacturing facility in MI also houses 4 CNC machines in our machining center. We build parts in-house to help control the quality, delivery and costs for key technology components in our products.

"Our state-of-the-art Michigan facility and full CNC machine shop is the breeding ground for next-generation ideas and systems."