KRAFT AUCTION SERVICE
As a college freshman at Purdue University, Jonathan Kraft set out to build his family’s full-service auction business beyond its original “mom-and-pop” roots.
“Growing up, I helped with whatever I could and always said I was going to go to auction school,” he says. “As I got older and looked around, I realized that we could make it a pretty big business. I was sitting in my dorm room building the business during my freshman year and it started to take off.”
On weekends, Jonathan would zip home to help with auctions and source larger and more diverse lots of items. He helped launch the first anniversary auction – 30 years after Kraft Auction Service was opened in 1976 by his parents, Conrad and Tammy Kraft.
“We work on that auction all year long. This year, it was eight days long and had 30,000 registered bidders,” Jonathan says.
Today, Jonathan is the owner and lead auctioneer at the business, which now has three main facets. The personal property side deals with estates, antiques and business liquidations. Kraft Real Estate does real estate auctions as well as traditional real estate, and there is also Kraft Benefit Auctions, which focuses on charity-style work.
“We have auctioned off anything and everything. If it exists, we have probably sold it at some point,” Jonathan says. “Our real estate side ties in with our personal property part of the business as we can handle belongings from estates as well.”
Beyond his mom and dad, his aunt, Mary Govert, was the original cashier at the business, and there are long-time employees who are like family. There are now 36 employees and the company processes thousands of items a week.
“My dad still comes and hangs out at some of the auctions,” Jonathan says. “With a family business, you have that longevity, but there can be hurdles at times when you want to go in different directions. While he has always liked being a mom and pop business, I have enjoyed building a bigger company.”
Jonathan respects how his father grounded the company in relationships since the beginning.
“We have a good name. People have trusted them, and he has built off that trust. He has always cared about the client, even when there was only $2,000 worth of stuff,” Jonathan says. “Even if he just broke even, he would still go out and help people.”
Kraft Auction Service
48 N 450 E in Valparaiso