You've probably never heard of Summit Appliance, but the Bronx-based manufacturer quite literally fills an important niche for consumers with small kitchens and unique spaces.
"We're the king of odd sizes," said Summit's Steve Ross. He was speaking at the company's booth at Las Vegas' Design and Construction Week, and it seemed as if every builder and designer stopped to say hello and check out the narrow fridges and compact ranges that surrounded him.
It's understandable, since most of them are like nothing else on the American market, where bigger seems to always be better.
Instead, Summit specializes in manufacturing and importing major appliances in widths and depths that the major players just won't touch. From 15-inch under-counter wine coolers and single-burner cooktops to stainless-steel kegerators, Summit sells small appliances in small volumes through small independent retailers—and it's a big business.
Summit sold the first mini-fridges in the U.S. back in the 1970s, and still offers models with dedicated freezers that fit in even the smallest kitchenettes but offer better performance than a dorm fridge. And if you want a classic 40-inch, three-door gas range, a Summit is your only choice. The company also sells medical and laboratory fridges, in addition to commercial microwaves and refrigerators, but it's the European-style 24-inch fridges and all-in-one washer/dryer combos that really bring the Summit brand into American homes.
The family-owned company has been around since 1969, and assembles many of its products in a factory right in the Bronx. Other products are sourced from manufacturers with little or no U.S. presence, like Turkey's Arçelik, Italy's Ariston, and Mexico's Mabe. Without Summit, Americans wouldn't get access to these specialty products, and those manufacturers would have little incentive to sell in the U.S.
While some products are pretty basic, others offer higher-end features. At Design and Construction Week, for instance, Summit showed off the new 26-inch Ingenious refrigerator-freezer. With a capacity of 14.12 cubic feet, the Ingenious features a digital control panel, a door-within-a-door compartment, and a rapid cooling bin in the freezer—all features you might not expect in a compact fridge.
Summit also had on display its White Pearl range, which measures a slim 20 inches wide. The gas oven has 2.62 cubic feet of space, and the electric cooktop is made of ceramic glass and features four cooking zones. Like full-size ovens, the White Pearl also has a storage compartment under the oven, but it'll fit in the galley kitchen of the tiniest New York studio.
In addition to these more traditional appliances, Summit also makes compact pull-out drawer fridges and induction cooktops. For some people, living space is limited, but their appliance selection doesn't have to be.