I am Matt Baack. I got started in concrete (the flatwork industry) in 1997. It didn't take many days of creating decorative concrete counter tops, concrete furniture and stained concrete floors, before I began to look for new ways to use this dynamic and often under-utilized medium.
As I watched our waiter sop up the icy mess, I wondered to myself why any upscale restaurant would use an ice bucket to serve a superb wine. There are few images more emblematic of a fine night out than a bottle poking above the rim of a pewter bucket. But, there had been the dripping when the wine was served and the fact that with each glass, our chardonnay got closer and closer to the temperature of a pina colada. Then came the mess.
My wife, Marge, and I enjoyed the rest of our dinner, but the wheels were turning. Why a bucket? What was missing? I have known Marge since 1998. She is the mother of our two beautiful children and my partner in everything I do. As we finished our meal, Marge’s eyes knowingly confirmed that my head was somewhere else.
There had to be a way to make this simple apparatus more functional without sacrificing the elegance of the old-fashioned pewter bucket.
Although neither of us knew it just yet, that night, Angle 33 Wine Thermals were born.
As with any entrepreneur, I’ve spent many nights kept awake by an idea I am sure is going to be a revolutionary success. Generally, those ideas wither in the light of day, but there seems to be an energizing surge with the dreaming, and I embrace the impulse to hop out of bed and head to the drafting board. Angle 33 has survived the dreaming phase.
I live and work in Missoula, Montana, not because it’s the manufacturing capital of the world or because there are great opportunities to “make it big,” but because:
I want to raise my children here.
There is an unmatched sense of community.
And, the number of fly-fishing opportunities is unrivaled.
People always ask, "What's with the name?"
When I knew that this business was one of those ideas that stuck, it took me the better part of two months to come up with a name. Marge will tell you that I am not one to just float along in the current, so I resisted choosing a name that would describe exactly what we were about to do--especially because I didn't want to be pigeon-holed into identifying solely with our inaugural product, the Wine Thermal. I also don't like ordinary names. My goal was to capture the intrigue and creativity of our work. I wanted to invite people along on the journey.
Then, I came across Angle 33: the word-of-mouth buzz a name creates. That sounded enticing enough, but next I learned that 33 degrees is the average angle that a person leans forward when they see something really cool and they want to take a closer look.
Okay, so I was definitely leaning in. That's when the chill of a 33-degree breeze hit me in the face and BAM, it was a great little reminder of how most wines benefit from a little chill.
Needless to say, the name stuck and our aim still remains to create cool products that invite a closer look.
Our company was founded on details. The Wine Thermal is about topping off an event with perfection. Every product that has followed is held to the same standards. Each handcrafted piece looks elegant and the functionality is unparalleled.
Thus far, we are able to manufacture environmentally friendly and aesthetically sophisticated products without compromising any of our values. It's not just about looking good. It's about being good to the core.
Details can be easy to ignore.
But if you’ve ever run a restaurant, hosted a dinner party or dined somewhere where certain details were overlooked, suddenly, they were impossible to ignore. You’ve learned the importance of the little stuff.
Details are everything.
The gleam of a spoon, the fold of a napkin, the crust on a crème brulee—in and of themselves, these things are minute and often unappreciated. But as a whole they are essential—they are the experience.
At Angle 33, no detail is compromised from conception, to the design board, to the manufacturing of our products. That translates into elegant additions to the ritual of serving wine and hosting guests—details that enhance the experience, instead of detract from it.
Our wine thermals, coasters, candle holders and planters are the kinds of details that make a good bottle of wine a great bottle of wine, a pretty setting unique—a good experience a memorable one.
I want to craft quality American-made products and in turn, supply quality jobs. I want to provide jobs that pay well enough to support Missoula families–the families who chose this community, like we did. This is more a goal than a hope; it is more a part of our business plan than a lofty aspiration. This is a founding principal.
We are a family business. Marge and I make our business decisions together, in the midst of children playing, learning and growing. What we choose to do is based on not only supporting our own family but also supporting the families of those with whom we work and share our community with.
My oldest daughter serves as my Priority Consultant. She keeps me in check when it comes to play time. She is ready to play outside at the drop of a hat, even in below zero weather. The energy she puts into playing is the same type of energy I strive to put into Angle 33. As anyone with children knows, the passion they have for life at a young age is something none of us ever want to lose. Her tenacious, never-give-up attitude keeps me young at heart and reminds me–every day–what is important.
The title of Executive Comic Relief Engineer goes to my youngest daughter who has the ability, even at her tender age, to captivate an entire audience, no matter the generation. Everyone needs to laugh on a daily basis, and she fulfills this for me. Even after a long day at the office, she helps me remember that laughing and enjoying life to its fullest is an important key to success.
My good friend and mentor once told me, “Building a company is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
He is just one of the numerous, wonderful people I have met through the “Angle 33 marathon". Building a successful company relies on networking and developing great relationships.
Marge and I believe strongly in giving credit where credit is due. Friends, family and employees play an incalculable role in our success–present and future; whether it’s moral, technical or unknowable, we thank everyone close to Angle 33. Without you, none of this would be possible.
Nor, would it be possible without our customers. It has always been important to me to foster close relationships with my customers, to keep a pulse on their needs and to run my business in an open and honest way. Angle 33, despite steady and rapid growth, is just as committed to these core values today as it was that first sleepless night at the drafting table. And there is no change in the forecast.
I truly love work, but to be honest, I want to play as much as possible. The people that work for me deserve to play as much as possible too. Another founding prinicipal of Angle 33 is built on the concept that the more efficient we are, the more time we have to play.
I have been doing custom concrete work for so long that I don’t exactly associate the words custom and efficiency with each other. Enter Lean Manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is based on the idea that any part of the production process that doesn’t result in the creation of value for the customer is wasteful and should be eliminated. “Value” is defined as any action or process that the customer is willing to pay for.
Our focus at Angle 33 is to minimize waste throughout our production processes, while offering you the best entertaining-related products on the market.
We know, down to the second, how long it takes to complete each of the 13 steps that go into manufacturing every single wine thermal. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make the process better.
Achieving perfection takes trial and error, and more trial and error. Inevitably, a fresh set of eyes looks at our process and a new version of perfection with a new approach comes to light. If one of our employees has an idea for how to make a step more efficient, we test it.
Perfection is in the details and the details make or break a business. These details are what I believe you, as a consumer, care about.
Our goal at Angle 33 is to constantly pursue perfection. So you can enjoy the goal of drinking good wine and enjoying the good life to its fullest potential. Any feedback that we get from you is appreciated because it gives us the opportunity to go back to the drawing board to improve our products.