In 1926, after giving his brother control of the winterized motorcycle business they had founded a few years earlier, Westye Bakke relocated from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, to Madison, Wisconsin. He sold refrigerators for Frigidaire before returning to Rice Lake in 1943 to produce in a nearby abandoned potato equipment factory.
Bakke called his company SubZero. He used connections he had made in refrigerator sales to market his product.
However, when companies like Westinghouse, General Electric and other conglomerates started making residential freezers, he gave up on home freezer production and concentrated on specialty and commercial freezers.
After building the first customized home refrigerator that fit into typical kitchen cabinet configurations in 1953, SubZero took hold of the high-end residential refrigerator market where it was still successful as of 2010.