Sub-Zero Group, Inc., the leading manufacturer of luxury appliances, marks its 70th anniversary this year. The third-generation, family-owned company is based in Madison, Wis. where it was originally founded, and has specialized in the beauty and performance of refrigeration for seven decades. That dedication to creating innovative, technologically advanced products with design flexibility is why both Sub-Zero and Wolf are category frontrunners, engineering the most desired products in high-end kitchens.
“It’s a family business, and family is at the center of everything we do. That sets us apart in the appliance industry,” said Jim Bakke, president and CEO of Sub-Zero Group, Inc. “Since my grandfather, Westye F. Bakke, established the company, it has operated on the belief that if you make the highest-quality product, you’ll always have customers. 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.”
The following is a retrospective look at Sub-Zero and Wolf’s impact on the kitchen appliance industry and how people use their kitchens:
- 1943 – Westye F. Bakke built his first freestanding freezer prototype out of salvaged scrap metal in his basement. Bakke bent the unit’s coils barehanded and improvised whatever materials were lacking because supplies were scarce during World War II.
- 1945 – Bakke founded Sub-Zero Freezer Company in Madison, Wis. The Sub-Zero name was chosen because its freezers were the first to meet the strict quality standards for below-zero safety in freezing food.
- 1955 – Sub-Zero introduced Dual refrigeration ®, originally called “Tu-Temp.” Dual refrigeration ® – separate, sealed systems for the refrigerator and freezer – ensures optimum preservation conditions for each type of food and eliminates flavor transfer.
- Late 1950s – Sub-Zero pioneered the built-in refrigeration category by introducing the first-ever cabinet-flush unit. The company also modified built-in design to allow for recessed fronts. This enabled the complete customization of each unit to match the kitchen’s overall décor. The refrigerator, once considered the least attractive appliance in American kitchens, became an elegant and beautiful workhorse.
- 1995 – The entirely new concept of integrated refrigeration was unveiled through the 700 Series of modular units. The 700 Series represented “point of use” refrigeration that blended seamlessly into any décor. The series included the new concept of refrigerator and freezer drawer units, transcending the idea that all food must be stored in one place within a single unit and allowing unit placement to be designed around the homeowners’ lifestyle.
- 1999 – The 400 Series of wine storage units was launched. Much more than basic wine coolers, Sub-Zero’s wine storage units have special features and considerations that combat against wine’s four enemies: temperature, light, humidity and vibration.
- 2000 – Sub-Zero expands its expertise to the kitchen by adding a cooking line with the formation of Wolf Appliance Co. The Wolf brand was acquired from the residential side of a company known for its ranges and cooktops, with over 75 years of experience in commercial kitchens. In doing so, they created the ideal corporate companion and kitchen soul mate for Sub-Zero.
- 2005 – Sub-Zero unveiled PRO 48 professional-style refrigeration. A monument to food preservation, PRO 48 keeps food fresher longer with Dual refrigeration ® and is crafted of stainless steel inside and out.
- 2008 – An antimicrobial air purification system based on NASA technology was introduced. The technology scrubs the air of ethylene gas as well as mold, viruses, and bacteria that causes foods to spoil.
- 2013 – Sub-Zero and Wolf began the introduction of its new generation, a series of products featuring more than 70 appliances engineered to excel in both performance and design. This product rollout is the largest in the company’s 70-year history. The new generation of Sub-Zero and Wolf products includes even more advanced preservation features and sizes in the integrated refrigeration lineup and coordinates seamlessly with Wolf’s new products, which include the brand’s first-ever built-in gourmet coffee system and M series built-in oven line, featuring a completely redesigned Dual VertiCross™ convection system exclusive to the series.
- 2015 – Launch of Wolf Gourmet, a new luxury line of countertop appliances and kitchen tools. Wolf Gourmet products will maintain the high standards of quality, state-of-the-art technology, thoughtful, innovative design, and the impeccable workmanship for which Wolf is known.
“For 70 years, Sub-Zero has cultivated innovative brands,” said Michele Bedard, vice president of marketing for Sub-Zero Group, Inc. “We understand the role appliances play in the lives, and kitchens, of our owners and will continue to create products that help families connect with each other through great meals for 70 years to come.”