This week I had the distinct pleasure of being whisked away to Madison, Wisconsin during Spring Break here in Georgia. While it sounds odd for obvious reasons, the pleasure and experience was like no other spring break of mine! To equally confuse the impression the purpose of the trip vastly equated to training and tours. Not your idea of fun right? Well, like I said, this trip was like no other – this time it was a treat, a 3 day visit to the Westye F. Bakke Center. While the name is likely to be unfamiliar to most, trust me in that this is unique story.
While the 1930’s was clouded with the depression, a man the name of Westye had a great vision. He worked diligently as a refrigeration consultation with Frank Lloyd Wright. And this self-taught engineer with an 8th grade education incorporated Sub-Zero in 1945 with the first freezer to hold a consistent temperature below zero. Westye taught his work ethic first hand to his son Bud, who was instrumental in the creation of Sub-Zero Refrigeration and who later led the company. The company is now lead by third generation Jim Bakke.
|Year||Stamp||Gas||# Sub-Zero Made Per Day||# Employees|
My trip was centered in the impressive training and meeting facility of the Westye F. Bakke Center that happens to nestle between the Wolf cooking appliance and the Sub-Zero refrigeration manufacturing plants. I find such solace that the headquarters are in such close ties with the manufacturing process; a testimony to the hands on principals in which this (still) family owned and operated company hold dear and near.
The main building was designed by the Madison architectural firm, Zingg Design.
Delicately suspended above the main lobby are the massive, yet delicate works of art that were commissioned for design by the Westye Group – Chilhuy Chandeliers. You cannot help but stop.. and nearly gawk at these wonders. Trust me, and the thousands of others that tour this facility, that they will leave a lasting impression!
Westye F. Bakke Center (WFBC) wants you to experience their quality every minute you visit. This is the stair case leading up to the Living Kitchen and Dining Area, the rails are manufactured of the same stainless steel material as the handles on all the refrigeration equipment.
Westye Bakke believed that if you build a quality product you will always have customers. This is clear when you study not only the history, but the processes and standards they hold true to today. In the upcoming days I will review the pages of notes and share more details of my experience in Madison. I hope to give you a true view glimpse of what I experienced, on the inside. For the most part, this experience confirmed what I had already known about Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliances. The surprise was making a stronger, more thorough connection to their rich history, the philosophies and maybe even the most impressive part – the practices of manufacturing that are second to none. Don’t go away.. too far. This is good stuff.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward
On that note, I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to Diane Coker, my local representative of the Westye Group Southeast for this amazing opportunity. Additionally I cannot go without recognizing and attributing the success of this trip to the following people: John Cooper, SE Regional Sales Manager (entertainer & trainer during my visit too!); John Bacon, NE Regional Sales Manager (who delivers a presentation as strong as his P90x workouts!); Justin Thorpe, Corporate Chef whom I can blame a 2lb weight gain to; Connie Poster, the smiling Receptionist @ the WFBC whom could cater to any desperate need of service; Heather Beal, the friendly facility and training coordinator at the WFBC, and last but not least, the countless other design professionals from across the Country who experienced this trip aside me! The networking with all of these professionals was priceless. I promise you, I have no regrets that my “spring break” was spent in a town where the ice just broke on the lake the week before 🙂 I would do it again – same time/same place next year!