Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Frank J. Zamboni invented the world’s first self-propelled ice resurfacing machine and wanted to name his company the Paramount Engineering Company, as he helped to form the Southern California city, Paramount (by bringing together the cities of Hynes and Clearwater) in the late 1940’s. The name Paramount Engineering was already in use, so he used his family name.
Frank Zamboni and his brother built an ice rink (after being in the refrigeration/ice business) which opened in Paramount, California in 1940. Frank found that the process of ice resurfacing was labor intensive, and so he began to innovate with various prototypes until the Zamboni Model A ice resurfacer was able to produce a good sheet of ice in the summer of 1949.
The Zamboni Company has delivered more than 10,000 machines since its founding in 1949.
The basic process involves the machine’s sharp blade, which shaves a thin layer of ice as screw conveyors (augers) rotate above the blade to remove the shavings. The shavings are collected in a large bin, known as the snow tank. Meanwhile, jets of water clean the ice by flushing dirt and debris from the remaining grooves in the ice into a vacuum hose. Finally, a towel spreads the ice-making water (usually warm water), which sprays out of holes at the back of the machine, leaving behind a smooth sheet of ice.
As the sizes and options of the Zamboni machines vary greatly according to each ice arena’s individual needs, so does the price. The Model 100 (a small tractor pulled unit) may be in the neighborhood of $10,000.00 or more and the 500 Series machines and Model 700 (which is used for large surfaces, such as speed skating rinks) can be up to or in the low six figures.
As each machine is custom built to the customer’s specifications, the machines are ordered about six months in advance. Once all of the needed components are on hand, it can take a few weeks for the process of assembly, paint, etc. to be completed.
There are two manufacturing facilities: Paramount, California (located 20 minutes away from Los Angeles) in the United States and Brantford, Ontario (located about 45 minutes from Toronto) in Canada. The Company also maintains a presence in Europe and has distributors around the world.
Are there any competitors in the ice resurfacing business? I didn’t know that there was any other type of Zamboni machine.
Only the Zamboni Company makes Zamboni® ice resurfacing machines. There have been five competitors that have come and gone in the United States and eight in Canada, of which one still manufactures machines. In addition, there have been competitors in Europe and a couple of them currently manufacture machines.
The name ZAMBONI is a federally registered trademark of Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc. Zamboni is the brand name and an “ice resurfacing machine” is the product being sold by the Zamboni Company and its competitors. In addition, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has recognized the configuration (design) of the machine as a federally registered trademark.
The very first machine, the Model A, was completely restored and when it is not traveling to special events around North America, the machine is on display at its original home, Paramount Iceland. Although it is more of a museum piece, it is fully operational and has resurfaced at some special events. There are many vintage machines in operation, and it is not uncommon to see some of the older “paddle and chain” technology in operation.
Zamboni machines are manufactured in a factory, which is a busy, working facility and tours are not available. However, the Company has put historical photos and other information on display at Paramount Iceland, along with two vintage machines: The Model A (the world’s first ice resurfacing machine) and Model E34, both of which have been fully restored.
The Company has spent quite a bit of time bringing its archives to life on-line at the web site, www.zamboni.com, which features the “Zamboni Story” in its entirety, a biographical timeline of the Company’s development, an extensive collection of vintage and contemporary photos, a pro shop with themed gear, the Company’s press releases and other information. There are a number of books about the Company as well.