Holten: A unique business opportunity

"Instead of North Dakota putting itself on the map again with an oil boom, we might just do so with a 'snow boom' of epic proportions while simultaneously turning a negative into a positive," writes Kevin Holten.

Kevin Holten
Kevin Holten

Are you looking for a “sure thing” business opportunity to invest in? I think I’ve got one for you.

Now, as you know, some of the best ideas come to us at the oddest of times. And this idea came to me in the midst of one of our worst spring blizzards ever, here in North Dakota, at a time when venturing any distance from the ranch on snow-covered roads is more risky than a moonwalk.

That’s because, in addition to dumping a couple of feet of snow on this frozen, drought-ridden ranchland, Mother Nature has decided to also add hurricane winds to white things out and make checking on calves less safe than climbing Mount Everest in a t-shirt and shorts.

So, as snowbanks here rise to shoulder-level, I got to thinking about how many people in the world there might be who have never seen snow. And guess what? There are a lot. In fact, most haven’t.

You see, according to , 95% of the people in India have never seen snow and that represents approximately 1.1 billion people. And in China it is estimated that only about 5% of their population has never seen snow, but that still represents 67 million people or the equivalent of the population of California, times two.


In America, approximately 5% of the population has never seen snow and that adds up to about 15.6 million. While in Indonesia, 213.8 million people have never seen snow or about 90% of their population.

Overall, it is estimated that about two-thirds of the world’s population has never seen snow. And to me, that overwhelmingly reveals that there is a huge market out there for one of our most abundant natural resources: snow.

So like the Marquis de Mores, who, in the 1800s had the brilliant idea of shipping frozen beef east from Medora, North Dakota, to Chicago in refrigerated railroad box cars instead of live on the hoof, we need to export inches of our frozen precipitation by air to eager recipients living in the world’s most snowless regions.

Imagine, for example, if we were to sell a 5-pound box of snow for $5 to the snow-starved population in India alone. That’d gross us at least $5.5 billion, or in these inflationary times, at least $1.1 billion net.

And in many ways we owe it to these people, don’t we? After all, can you imagine living your entire life without having heard snow crunch under your feet? Or going without making a snow angel?

Plus if we do this we might find ourselves anxiously awaiting the next major snowstorm rather than dreading it, because each storm will initiate a new “snow harvest” and major earnings.

Instead of North Dakota putting itself on the map again with an oil boom, we might just do so with a “snow boom” of epic proportions while simultaneously turning a negative into a positive.

It reminds me of a quote by Victorian era English art critic John Ruskin, who once said that sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating. Thus there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”


That is a really positive attitude to have and it brings up another point: do you think we could box up our wind and sell it too?

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