Sno Gem Inc., a manufacturer of snow-retention products for self-storage and other industries, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The company was launched in 1994 by the Smeja family, who were looking for a snow-guard product for their commercial sheet-metal and roofing business, Metalmaster Sheet Metal Inc. After doing some research, the family discovered there were few snow-guard manufacturers available to meet the increasing demand for snow-retention products.
“The roofing business was growing, and they were doing a large portion of the work in the Chicagoland area,” said James T. Carpenter, vice president of operations. “The business was consistently buying snow guards for its projects and, at one point, the Smeja family made the decision to design their own.”
The company started with an original polycarbonate snow-guard design featuring a 25-square-inch base. With such a large footprint, Snow Gem offered increased attachment strength, according to a company press release. The Smejas also released Snow Gem Junior, with a 12.5-square-inch bonding surface and narrower base. It was intended for metal-panel systems with intermediate ribs or corrugated metal panels commonly found in pre-engineered and post-frame buildings.
“The Smejas are an innovative and business-minded family,” Carpenter said. “Early profit was directly invested back into the company, and they consistently increased their marketing budgets by advertising in more trade publications and attending industry tradeshows. These efforts increased market awareness of all of the Sno Gem products for consumers, architects and contractors.”
Sno Gem ultimately developed snow-retention systems for slate, shingle and membrane roofing. Additional products include Sno Barricade, the company’s first bar snow-retention system for standing-seam metal-roofing applications. The iClad and Sno Blockade bar/fence systems, made of aircraft-grade aluminum extrusions, feature Snow Gem’s patented WaveLock Technology. The company recently introduced the PV Cube, a clamp-to-seam racking and mounting system for solar panels, which also uses WaveLock.
“We’re proud of the innovations Sno Gem has introduced into the industry over the past 20 years, and we’re looking forward to working with our customers to meet their needs in the future,” said Rock Smeja, a third-generation member of the family business and vice president of marketing. “We remain very hands-on within the day-to-day operations of Sno Gem to ensure we are always on the cutting-edge of not only snow retention but the overall industry as well.”
Based in McHenry, Ill., Snow Gem’s principals have leveraged more than 100 years of combined experience in architectural sheet metal and roofing to develop the company’s line of snow guards.
The Smeja family management team. From left: Michael V. Smeja, principal;
Rock M. Smeja, vice president of marketing; and Daniel F. Smeja, principal.