Retail Observer

March 2015

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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MARCH 2015 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 9 A s a young man with an idea for a new kind of business, you could do a lot worse than having Frank Lloyd Wright give you your first big break. That's what happened to Westye Bakke in the 1930s. Wright, a fellow Wisconsin native, had heard of Westye's aptitude for designing refrigeration systems. He hired the young man as a consultant to help create uniquely sized refrigerators for the architect's residential projects. By 1943, despite the materials shortages brought on by World War II, in classic entrepreneurial style, Westye had turned the basement of his Madison home into a product development lab and was planning to launch a new company. Working alone, he used scrap metal and other salvaged materials to fashion the prototype for a new kind of freezer, more reliable than any that had come before and able to store its contents at stable, exceptionally low temperatures – literally sub-zero. If Frank Lloyd Wright provided the early aesthetic inspiration for Westye, more personal motivations spurred him to push through the technical limitations and supply shortages of the day to pioneer high-performance refrigeration for the home: His young son, Bud, had juvenile diabetes. The lack of reliable home refrigeration meant frequent trips to the drugstore for insulin. Under those circumstances, getting snowed in by a Wisconsin blizzard could be more than just inconvenient. In his basement lab, Westye worked with urgency. SUB-ZERO AT { 70 } A Company that Preserves Its Knack for Innovation 70

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