The Pioneering Legacy of Peter B. Alford

Peter Alford smilingIn the early 1970s, PNP’s founder, Peter B. Alford, created his own snowmaking design engineering company, Alford International – which would later become the Alford Design Group.  His first project was for Loon Mountain, in New Hampshire.  Then Governor Sherman Adams, who owned the mountain, was reportedly looking for “a place to go to get honest answers.”  He found Peter Alford.

Peter’s snowmaking career soon became an international affair, with projects in South Africa, Italy, Austria, and of course, the United States – there is hardly a ski area in the American West that does not boast an Alford Design Group snowmaking installation. In the words of ski industry legend and former Vail Resorts CEO, Andy Daly, “Peter was a remarkable snowmaking pioneer having designed many of the major systems that were installed in the West during the late seventies after the disastrous winter of 1976-77. I was introduced to Peter by Chuck Lewis and Fred Jones who were working with him to design a system for Copper Mountain, which I then had the pleasure of building, working closely with Peter. Peter Alford basically taught me everything I know about snowmaking and has continued to do so for the past 45 years. He was a brilliant and practical engineer.”

Peter had a determined work ethic, but more than anything, he had a passion for the outdoors and for skiing, which lent a charisma and authenticity to his company that was undeniable. Industry veteran Robbie Scholl, former mountain manager at Copper Mountain, describes Peter Alford as “one of the most prolific contributors to the modernization of ski area design and operations. Peter was a brilliant engineer whose snowmaking systems always challenged the latest technologies to perform in extreme conditions. He was a true innovator of system design and control, he continually looked for ways to improve the performance of any system he designed or worked on and always strived to bring the operational cost down for the owner.”

As the years went by, and these state-of-the-art snowmaking systems aged, Peter noticed that the corrosive nature of the welded steel pipe used in all these projects was causing major problems for the ski resorts — decreased water pressure, breaks, leaks, as well as rusting and scaling that was clogging and damaging to the snowmaking guns. Peter could see that the relatively short life span of the steel pipe was leading to the obsolescence of these systems well before their time.  Never one to settle for the status quo — or a sub-par product — Peter set out to find a solution to this problem, leading him to TRM Austria, manufacturer of the finest high pressure ductile iron piping in the world. Inspired by the superior design, quality and longevity of TRM’s ductile iron piping systems, Peter founded PNP Supply and became the exclusive supplier of this industry-changing pipe in North America. Peter was the first person to bring ductile iron piping to bear on snowmaking system design in the North American ski industry market.

To use a golf analogy,” Robbie Scholl concludes, “Peter was the Pete Dye of snowmaking design. The design and construction process could be frustrating, but in the end, the owner ended up with one of the best performing systems the industry had to offer.”