Made in the Northwest: Sneva Manufacturing

These days, the Sneva name is synonymous with snow sports from its 25 year history of making skis and snowboards.

“We just do some hard work and make good skis,” said T.J. Sneva, the CEO and founder of Sneva Manufacturing. “That’s how it goes.”

But the Sneva name used be known for racing. T.J.’s father, Jerry Sneva, was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1977. And his uncle, Tom Sneva, won the Indianapolis 500 in 1983.

T.J. currently races a winged sprint car on tracks all around the northwest and even briefly moved his ski manufacturing business to Indianapolis.

“After a while, I kind of realized I wasn’t going to be an Indy car driver,” recalled Sneva. “So I brought the business home to Spokane.”

The idea to make skis first came to Sneva in the early 1990s.

“Wanted to do what the snowboarders were doing at the time, but we didn’t have the skis to do it.”

So in 1994, Sneva Manufacturing became the first company to make twin tip skis.

“No spin weight. Really easy to do tricks on,” said Sneva.

And these are premium skis. Each pair is painstakingly crafted by Sneva himself, who says one thing that sets his skis apart is using Maple in the wood cores. Another factor is the way the skis are shaped.

“We’re constantly tweaking on our shapes and making them better,” explained Sneva. “We’ve got over 30 models of skis now.”

From cutting the original strips of Maple to putting them through the planer over and over again, each pair of skis takes about six to eight hours of hands on work to make.

“So just a ton of steps, but in the end, you get a rad ski and that’s what we’re looking to do,” said Sneva.

In addition to skis and snowboards, Sneva is also making snowskates for a company called Boyd Hill Snowskates in Coeur d’Alene.

“Just about anything somebody wanted, we could probably pull it off.”

And word seems to be getting out about the quality from this Spokane company.

“We’re doing an order for Iceland coming up, which is cool,” said Sneva. “We’ve done snowskates that went to Japan. We’ve sent skis to Norway.”

Sneva makes about 1,000 pairs of skis and snowboards a year, but says there’s definitely room for growth.

“It would be alright to increase to maybe 2,000-3,000 pair a year and get a couple guys. Train some guys.”

And while Sneva was born with racing in his blood, he says the family sport shares a lot of similarities with skiing.

“The way you arc your turn. And smooth and fast. So yeah, I think that’s part of the reason I like skiing so much. It’s a lot like racing cars.”

And it’s the future for the Sneva name.

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