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KitchenAid’s Key Ingredient: Investing in Workers (wsj.com)
63 points by CaliforniaKarl 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments



Companies more likely to treat workers better during a talent shortage. Executives shocked to unearth a little-known ability called "learning", allowing untrained employees to gain skills persists well into adulthood. More breaking news soon.


You should write for n-gate


I firmly maintain that the KA stand mixer is pretty overrated. People praise it for being long lasting, but it's a mixer... just a motor and some gears. I've still got my grandmother's sewing machine, and electronic devices that are older than I am still in working condition. It's not like it's a particularly cheap product. It's pretty high up there, so quality should be somewhat expected.

That said, it's not abuse proof either. I've got the pro, and there were a few times in the beginning when I was making stiff doughs that I could see it struggling with. I imagine with bigger batches that it could probably crap out. From what I've read online, there are definitely better quality mixers out there in the price range.

The attachments aren't really worth it either. They're horribly expensive if you don't buy it on sale or as part of a bigger package and now you're locked in with your machine. For things like meat grinding, I would much rather get a dedicated all steel grinder.


> The attachments aren't really worth it either. They're horribly expensive if you don't buy it on sale or as part of a bigger package and now you're locked in with your machine. For things like meat grinding, I would much rather get a dedicated all steel grinder.

Sure, dedicated tools are superior, however each of the attachments has significantly less marginal space cost they a dedicated powered tool that would replace it, because the motor is shared (as, often, are other parts between attachments, e.g., there are a number of attachments for the grinder attachment.) If you aren't doing heavy volume use on any one attachment, and you don't have a gargantuan kitchen (or even if you are, but you have a small kitchen), space efficiency can be quite compelling.


Until your motor unit craps out, and then it turns out that particular system isn't produced anymore, so you have to throw out all your attachments too.


KitchenAid has an all attachments fit all mixers guarantee. Combined with the company being pretty old and not looking like it's going anywhere, that's a huge part of the appeal of the brand. Being fairly confident the scenario you're proposing wont be an issue.


Also the parts are pretty universal too. We got one as a wedding present. I use it at least once a week and my wife makes bread dough in it. After about 13 years of hard use we stripped a nylon gear (designed to protect the rest of the unit). The replacement gear was available on amazon for a few bucks. That was a few years ago.


Perhaps the other piece of the equation is making cheap junk and selling it at premium prices.

At some point in the past few years, KitchenAid products replaced steel internals with plastic ones. You still have a big honkin' powerful-looking mixer or blender, but it breaks just around when the warranty expires.

On the other hand, they still have a reputation for products which last forever, as their products did until a few years ago. That allows for obscene markups and short-term profits.

I'm not sure when the change happened. You can see it in Amazon reviews, though (and my own products; I have a broken mixer and, stupidly, two broken blenders, both with powerful-looking steel or cast-iron externals).


The same thing happens everywhere. My kitchen was!fully Miele. So, after around 3,5 years or so. The dishwasher broke. So I thought: call a specialist, get repaired. It is is Miele at least! (you can get replacement parts even after years) so, guy came, saw the brand. Checked, said, something with the heater. Several models have that problem. And it is super expensive.. I should just buy a new one. Asked him what I should buy, you know what he said? It is not worth anymore.just buy 2 or 3 cheap dishwashers in 10 years then just one expensive, which brakes anyway after 3 to 5 years....

I have a 15 years old Miele washing machine I bought used. Still running like a champ...



Saved me a click, thank you


Ave on Youtube has a nice tear down video with commentary on the classic Kitchen Aid mixer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qKp-0h9P18


Bought a KitchenAid stand mixer - the motor made a loud "aircraft landing" sound. When I called the number in the instructions they told me that their warranty doesn't cover sounds, and that they couldn't do anything for me. I tried to explain that I had worked with motors a lot, and this wasn't a normal sound, and asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor told me the same thing - no warranty for that type of problem. I haven't bought anything from KitchenAid since then.


NB. Taking it meta: investing in processes and methods for training workers (or robots) is better than investing in workers. Investing in managers who can do that for you is even better.


I'd say their other key ingredient is the fact that this is a perfect product. It does what it should do perfectly and it will still do it in 50 years and more.


We got one for our wedding 6 years ago and hardly ever use the thing. Growing up, my mom had a Sunbeam mixer where the bowl spins and the beaters stay in place. Maybe just bias because that's what I grew up with, but I liked the way that mixer incorporated ingredients a lot better. Unfortunately, Sunbeam only makes super cheap products now, so I don't know that you can even buy such a thing anymore.



That thing looks really wild. Never seen one like that before.

This is the kind my mom had: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxgSd59Z4Yo

The lady in the video seems to not really understand how it works though, and is only making jello mix, which seems like a poor demonstration...


The other one is the latest generation of the original Electrolux Assistent, introduced in 1940.


I have an Electrolux Assistant that I use principally for bread making. Much better than the Kenwood and Kitchen Aid style stand mixers.

Mine looks like this: https://cbsethumb.blob.core.windows.net/534x389/69/97/90/ele...


These are HEAVY duty. Sometimes the power switch can crap out, but that can be fixed.


That's pretty nifty.


You can accomplish the same thing with a handheld mixer pretty much.


I believe on at least some of the sunbeam mixers you could detach the mixer part and use it as a handheld


My wife asked for (and got) a KitchenAid mixer as a wedding gift.

21 years later, it's still good as new and gets regular use. Incredible machine.


My mom still uses the same one she had since I was a little kid, which means it's at least 25 years old and possibly older. They're a great piece of machinery, far exceeding today's expectations of how long a product should last with minimal maintenance.


I had to replace snapped dough hooks three times with my KitchenAid and eventually the hinge started to go. Ended up going back to Kenwood and haven’t had any problems since. Anecdata though.


The regular KitchenAid is so-so, but the Pro (with the bowl-lift mechanism) has a significantly better dough hook and a stronger motor; it’s well worth the extra hundred bucks (especially if you bake bread)


Just don't throw the hook/beater/whisk in the dishwasher like this idiot did...

And that's how I learned about aluminum reacting with dish detergent.


Ah! Maybe that’s what was causing my failures.


We've been through with all kinds of machines. Either there were not strong enough or just seemed to die after their usual life time.

After seeing one really old Kitchenaid machine at my SOs parents, I finally decided to buy one. Never regretted it. We make Pizza at least once a month my GF makes cakes once every 2 weekends. It is in use a lot. Especially the dough hook looks massive and I can't imagine a dough that could break it. So what did you do with it? ;)


No idea? They were plastic plated unforged metal; the plastic would gradually flake off into the dough then finally the hook would snap. I assumed there was just a bad batch of hooks in the market until the third one broke. The Kenwood hooks are forged stainless instead.


Just to be sure we're talking about the same thing. This is how ours look like after something like a decade: https://imgur.com/a/ozd7MIY There is some use to it as you can see at the bottom and a dent where I guess it fell down. But nothing compared to what you describe.

I can't imagine what could break it. Maybe grinding bricks ;)


Yep, same thing. The white plastic chips off in the same way as it did on your base, then eventually the hook snaps. Kenwood equivalent is https://www.kenwoodchefrestore.co.uk/shop/image/cache/data/C...


Sort of tangential: it appears that many KitchenAid mixing blades have substantial lead contamination [1]. I've seen similar results in testing at my local county health office.

1 - https://tamararubin.com/category/kitchenaid/


The article isn't about KitchenAid Mixers. It's about KitchenAid/Whirlpool investing in its workers through programs such as paying for further education and training.

Please stop talking about your personal opinions regarding the quality, utility, or value of their mixers and other kitchen appliances, and please stop upvoting these posts. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the point of the article and is noise. The article is about the value of a company financially investing in their employees.


I sympathize but this happens on every thread. Articles about Google setting up a permanent Mars colony would have posts whining about Reader. Articles about an Apple credit default swap denominated in Renminbi will have comments complaining about how the latest refresh of the Macbook Pro wasn't really a "Pro". And so on.


The point of HackerNews is to spark interesting conversation as much as anything. Often that involves going off on a tangent. At least that's why I come here, and I'd guess I'm not alone.


I think it's more people who don't read the article, pattern match on a keyword in the title, and go off on a tangent on that keyword.

Article comments should be relevant to the article posted, not any unrelated topic that simply mentions the word.


Well yes, I think that's how the tangents get started. If the article itself is sufficiently interesting or the tangent is particularly off-topic, those conversations get quashed pretty quickly. There were only a couple top-level comments about the mixers, it just happened that there weren't many comments about the article itself to counter-balance them.




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