Dwell on Design exhibitor, Sub-Zero Group, Inc., celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Based in Madison, Wisconsin—where it was originally founded—the third-generation, family-owned company has specialized in the beauty and performance of refrigeration for seven decades, breaking new ground with the introduction of dual-compression refrigerators in 1955, integrated refrigerators with built-in drawer units in 1995, and the introduction of the Wolf Appliance Co. cooking line in 2000.
Sub-Zero's founder Westye F. Bakke built his first freestanding freezer prototype out of salvaged scrap metal in his basement in 1945, and from that moment on belived in the traditional value of quality over quantity. Westye would say, "Quality is going to be the cornerstone of this company," says president and CEO Jim Bakke (Westye's grandson).
“It’s a family business, and family is at the center of everything we do. That sets us apart in the appliance industry,” says Jim Bakke. “Since the beginning, we’ve been dedicated to making quality products, in the USA, in direct response to homeowners’ needs. We further extend that quality to our valued customers through the high level of service and support we offer them. We’ve done this for 70 years, and we’ll continue to do so for the next 70 years.”
In addition to Sub-Zero's quality products, Bakke also credits the company's excellent customer service, contemporary aesthetics, and the growing relevance of kitchen design, as the reason the company has stood the test of time. "The purpose of the kitchen has seen so many transitions over the last 40-50 years," Bakke explains. "In the 1950s and 60s, the kitchen was more a utilitarian area where people only went to cook. Now, the space has increased dramatically and has become a multiuse area where friends and family gather. It's morphed over the years from being a service area to becoming the hub of the home."
In addition to maintaining an internal value system that's worked well for the company through the years, Sub-Zero Group introduced the Wolf cooking line in 2000, an acquisition of a company with 75 years of experience known for its ranges and cooktops. This, in addition to the latest launch, the Wolf Gourmet line, a luxury set of countertop appliances and kitchen tools, and their forthcoming line of dishwashers—COVE is set to launch in 2016—Sub-Zero Group, Inc. is expanding its reach to a larger group of dwellers.