Moraine owner Jim Otten is flanked by his family as he
cuts the ribbon to his new store on Pioneer Road in
Photo by Mark Justesen
CEDARBURG — Kettle Moraine
Appliance of Cedarburg is now the largest appliance showroom in
Wisconsin. On May 15, the business had its official grand opening
ribbon-cutting. It took owner Jim Otten four years to reach that
Otten has owned Kettle Moraine Appliance in West Bend since 2000,
when he bought it from his brother, who founded the business in
1986. In its early days, the store sold Tappan and Speed Queen
appliances. Over time, the store expanded both in brand names and
types of merchandise sold. Otten often thought about having a second
store in Cedarburg.
“We serviced a lot of appliances in Ozaukee County for years,” he
said. “I thought this was the perfect place to expand.”
The second Kettle Moraine Appliance store opened on Washington
Avenue in Cedarburg in 2012. Within a few years, Otten noticed the
Formart Container building while driving his daughters to gymnastics
classes. “I thought it would make a great warehouse for us,” he
Otten made contact with the building’s owners, but they could not
agree on a price. The building was listed with a real estate agent
for a year, and was then for sale by the owner for a year. After
that, Otten revisited with the building’s owners and an agreement
was reached two years ago.
“They had not produced anything for three years,” said Otten. “There
were several fires and the roof needed to be replaced. Everything
had to be brought back up to code.”
Once he began to absorb just how big 72,000 square feet really was,
Otten decided to use half the building as a state-of-the-art
showroom and half as a warehouse. He served as his own general
contractor on the remodel. American Design from West Bend is
responsible for the overall design of the new space. It now has
plenty of space between displays and plenty of room for lounge
space, offices and desks on the first floor.
72,000-square-foot showroom means that a whole lot of
appliances can be showcased.
Photo by Mark Justesen
A second floor has
more offices and a conference room. The color scheme of
bold gray, muted orange and the original, rescued
medium-blue floor makes a pleasing impression. The floor
is made of acid-stained concrete. It went through a
four-step grinding process, then was stained, burnished
and finally polished. It adds a great deal of character
to the showroom.
But Job 1 was emptying the building.
“Part of our arrangement was that I bought it as-is,”
Otten said. “All the machinery and pots were still here.
It was an enormous effort to get everything out to
dumpsters. It took a whole year to do the demo. Empty,
it was something to see. I had always wanted to build
something from scratch.”
Otten wanted functional test kitchens and six feet
between everything. He added new lines of appliances;
GE, Miehle and LG. The mattress showroom was expanded
and bedroom furniture was added. Parking is expanded and
more concrete will be poured out behind the building for
“Everything here is tenfold bigger than our other
stores,” Otten said. “We are really happy with the
outcome. The shell of this building was in great shape.
It was important to the city that we brought it back.
And all the people who have visited since our soft
opening have been really complimentary.”
Moraine Appliance & Sleep Center
Pioneer Road Cedarburg
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m; Saturday, 9 a.m.
to 4 p.m.;
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.