The Brightest Spot


Change is hard.

But sometimes change is necessary.

Figuring out how to change is the tough part.

I hope to help you make the changes that are necessary for us to put lots of people in this country to work in the manufacturing sector.

As you may or may not know, I believe that we can create a million or more jobs for members of our extended American family, just by making a small change in our attitude when we are considering a purchase.  It’s simple.  Instead of buying consumer goods manufactured abroad, we would buy consumer goods made here on our shores.

I got a copy of a great book on the subject of change recently.  It’s titled Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  It’s written by Chip and Dan Heath and I highly recommend it.  The Heath boys argue that to affect change, you have to (1) Direct the Rider, (2) Motivate the Elephant and (3) Shape the Path.  The Rider is our analytical mind while the Elephant is our emotional side.  The path is, well, the path.

In the section of their book, Directing the Rider, the Heaths argue that Riders should not endlessly analyse what is needed to change a situation, but should rather search out examples of where change has already occurred.   They call these examples “Bright Spots”.  In their book they have a great example about malnourished kids in Vietnam.  Rather than spending five years studying all the possible causes of malnourishment in the village in Vietnam, the researchers in Vietnam that were attempting to reduce childhood malnourishment did something simple but brilliant.  They found the well nourished kids in Vietnamese villages, discovered what those kid’s mums did that kept their kids well nourished, and then had these mums show all the other Vietnamese mothers what they did to keep their kiddos well nourished.  And it worked.

On my recent trip to Wisconsin, I discovered a very bright spot in the Heaths’ parlance.  It is a company that is the gold standard in its industry.  Its products incorporate cutting edge technology, rock solid quality, and stylish design.  Its workers are committed to producing the finest refrigerators and ranges you can buy.  The company that I think deserves to be emulated by other American firms hoping to be the best is Sub-Zero/Wolf.

Sub-Zero was founded just after the Second World War by Mr. Westye Bakke.  I began my visit to the Sub-Zero facility in Madison, Wisconsin at the Westye Bakke Center.

My gracious host, Michele Bedard, showed me around the Center which was really amazing.  It boasts an auditorium, several beautiful test kitchens,

and a recreation of a Paris pub.

After my tour, I had the good fortune to have an opportunity to interview Mr. James J. Bakke, the current President and CEO of Sub-Zero/Wolf.  After my interview with Mr. Bakke, I toured the Subzero plant with Mr. Ricard Rauls.

The Sub-Zero plant is simply breathtaking. The floor of the plant is probably cleaner than the countertop in my kitchen.  I spoke with a few Sub-Zero employees during my tour, all of whom had worked at Sub-Zero for more than 20 years.  These people were really invested in making sure that the refrigerators being manufactured by Sub-Zero in Madison were simply the best in the world.  Their commitment to Sub-Zero was perhaps only bested by their commitment to the Packers, who were due to play the Bears later that night.

After my tour, Mr. Rauls and I walked through the Sub-Zero museum attached to the manufacturing facility.  What became clear to me after visiting the museum was how invested the Bakke family is in the City of Madison.  With the purchase of the Wolf brand in 2001, the Bakke family ensured that their family would produce the world’s best refrigerators and ranges.  Mr. Bakke decided to construct a completely new 300,000-square-foot Wolf factory in Madison.  Sub-Zero made the investment in the new production quarters, including the purchase of all-new machinery and tooling for the manufacturing of the Wolf  appliances.

Sub-Zero/Wolf products run the gamut from stand alone refrigerator/freezers,

to more sophisticated combinations.

I would take anything Sub-Zero/Wolf makes, but their outdoor kitchens are really spectacular.

No matter what Sub-Zero/Wolf product you buy, you can rest assured that you will get a product of the highest quality and reliability that has superior features and impeccable style.  And you will get another important benefit.  You will know that your purchase provided employment for members of our extended American family working for Sub-Zero/Wolf.  And in my book, you can’t put a price on that last feature.

I wanted to give special thanks to Ms. Bedard for all the work she did to make my visit to Sub-Zero/Wolf very memorable.

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About tapirking

I live in Seattle and love telling stories about Americans, the places where they work and the things that they make.
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