26 August 2010

Sub-Zero/ Wolf plant tour and seminar day two: I don't want to leave.

As was the case yesterday, today was a whirlwind of activity. Only day two was dedicated to Wolf Cooking appliances.

The people on this trip with me are all designers and all of us know the product line pretty well. So we didn't spend a whole lot of time reviewing model numbers and hearing product descriptions. That was good. So since everybody here has a basic understanding already, we could talk about more advanced uses and installations and then talk with the engineers and developers about what Wolf has planned in the coming model years. I'll be talking about some of these new products as they get closer to their release dates but suffice it to say that there's some pretty cool stuff coming from Wolf in the near term.

To get the day started though, we did a thorough walk through of the Wolf plant. The Wolf plant was a real education and for me, the real highlight of this trip. I know already that Sub-Zero refrigeration is the best in class. It was great to see up close how Wolf earns and maintains its reputation for stellar quality. Each and every component that comes out of that factory has been built from the first screw with the end user in mind. Everyone in that factory is fully aware and committed to making the best ranges there are. Their pride in their work shows through.

As an interesting anecdote, a Wolf range, as heavy as it is, never touches the ground as it's being made. They are born on the wooden pallet they're delivered on. Despite the fact that the ranges are on casters, they never use the casters in the factory. What I found interesting too is that each and every cooking appliance that comes out of that factory has been turned on and run through its various cycles at least once before it leaves the factory and Wolf keeps a record of each of those tests. Fascinating.

I met with a few members of the marketing department today including Paul Leuthe, Sub-Zero/ Wolf's Marketing Manager. Over the course of the next few weeks and with the marketing department's help. I'm going to be writing about the specifics of why a Sub-Zero/ Wolf appliance package is such a smart buy and what makes them such good appliances. This is a company that won't cut corners as a matter of principle and it makes them a very welcome anomaly. It's kind of inspiring to have been immersed in a company for the last two days that knows that there's a right way to build something and then just does it.

So stay tuned, I'll have more substantial information in the coming days and weeks. I promised. In the meantime though, I have some more shots of the Westye Bakke Center where this seminar's been held. Yesterday I showed some of the test kitchens, lounges and lobbies. Most of the public spaces in that building were designed by Jamie Drake. Jamie Drake also designed the main dining room where we've been having meals since yesterday. And man, what meals! I haven't eaten this well since... well... ever.

The building itself was designed by Zingg Design, Inc. A Madison-based architectural firm. The marketing department also promised me some of their real photos of this place and I'll run them as soon as I get them. The scale of this building is such that it really does need a real camera to photograph it. So without further ado, here's how it looks to a point and click:

After I get home tomorrow and consolidate my notes, I'll be writing more about this experience in Madison. In a lot of ways, it confirmed a lot of what I already knew about sub-Zero/ Wolf. It wasn't without its surprises though and I learned a good deal more than I thought I would.

I can't thank Cathy Bame from the Westye Group enough for nominating me. I need to mention Janet Salls, also from the Westye Group, for being such a great guide during my stay. And of course, the entire group here in Madison. It is always a pleasure to meet the people behind the brands and in this case even more so.

If any of you out there have any specific questions about either of these great brands you'd like to ask, please leave a comment here or send me an e-mail, I'll get back to you with specifics as soon as I can.

Again, the websites: Wolf Appliance and Sub-Zero Food Preservation.


  1. Sounds like you had an amazing time, I'm so jealous. And I can't wait for your sneak peeks of the product line...what a tease!

  2. Well, the big product you (and everybody else) is expecting won't hit the market for at least two more years.


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