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Kiefer Appliances Fixes It All

By Michael Abelson

Not many businesses can say they've been loyally serving a community since 1945, but Keifer Appliances in Madison is an exception. The folks at Keifer have been fixing any and all appliances that come through the front door. Wayne Keifer bought the shop in 1981, and he answered a few questions about his background and motivation to keep the shop going.

What was the inspiration behind opening Kiefer Appliance?

I was working for Trek Bicycle in Waterloo as the plant manager at the time in 1981 when I heard about a business, The Electric Shaver Service, for sale directly from the owner. I purchased the business when it was on State Street in downtown Madison. Two years later I changed the name of the business to Kiefer Appliance and moved it to Cottage Grove Road on the east side of Madison. In the next few years I added the Appliance Service Center's small appliance business and the Oster Clipper Store that was in Elm Grove, Wi. Through the years I have added B & D electric mowers, antique clock repair, Powerwheels car repair, Oster electric clipper repair and sales, Clipper blade sharpening, Sunbeam appliance repair and sales, antique chair caning, small appliance repair and lamp repair.

On the website it says that most of the repairs you do are on mixers, blenders, and food processors, which can be expensive products. Would you say coming to you first for repairs could help save your customer's money so that they do not have to go and buy an entire new mixer?

A lot of the appliances that we used to repair can not be repaired now because the companies that produce the products do not offer any parts for them. Some appliances like: Sunbeam/Oster, Black and Decker,Powerwheels & Kitchenaide products can still be repaired. These comprise about 70 percent of our repair business.

​I read that you have been in business since 1945. What do you think it is about your services that has contributed to your success?

At one time there were four employees running this business. Now my son runs most of day-to-day operations alone. The reason we have lasted so long is that we try to repair anything that comes in the door. We are like an old time fix-it shop. And if we can not repair it, we tell customers that we can not. We try to be upfront and honest with all of our customers. We are also the only repair shop in about a six-or-seven-state area around Wisconsin. We are definitely a dying breed.

What do you enjoy most about serving the Madison community?

About 70 percent of our business is over the counter with Madison area customers. We have a wide variety of customers because of the diversity of the Madison community. The people that we see in our shop want to recycle rather than fill up our landfills. It is just a shame that American companies are forcing the public to adapt the "toss out and buy new" philosophy but that seems to be the American way.

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