As the second generation owner of Speedway Auto Parts, Sean Krause brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role at ARA.
By Caryn Smith
ARA announced that Sean Krause from Speedway Auto Parts in Joliet, IL is the incoming the Association Executive Committee Secretary for 2023-2024. Sean is the CEO of the company along with his father, Paul Krause, who is currently still active and working at Speedway.
Speedway was established by Paul & Indra Krause in May of 1969. Paul and Indra came from England to build the ‘American Dream.’ Paul was working in the parking lots of downtown Chicago for his stepfather when he first came to America. He didn’t like working so far in the city or for someone else and wanted to start his own company. Paul saw an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune for salvage yard and house for sale and he bought it in the same year his son, Sean, was born and moved his family to Romeoville, IL.
In 1991, Sean joined the family business after attending St. Norbert College in Wisconsin studying business and finance. He had grown up in the business, but never showed any real interest in the industry until his senior year at college. Sean finally realized that his father needed him most and he also saw it as a great opportunity to join the family business. During his first weekend out of college, Sean’s father, Paul, sent him to ARA convention in Chicago. He never imagined how interesting used auto parts were and the many possibilities of recycling automotive parts. He started attending conventions, thereby, gaining wisdom through education and training and was asked to serve on committees and boards throughout the industry.
For more than 20 years, he has served on the board of Auto Truck Recyclers of Illinois (ATRI) and was promoted to President. “Sean is a role model for this industry,” said Michelle Lechner, executive director of ATRI. “He stays connected in the industry by keeping involved.” Sean was instrumental in passing the mercury bill in Illinois and helped push for a state green card program. Recently, he was in Springfield talking with representatives about electronic junk titles. Back in 2008, Sean was named one of the most influential recycler of the year by Parts Locator and was on the front cover of Upfront magazine and during the same time served as the ARA Regional Director in Illinois.
Sean is currently on the vendor relations committee for Team PRP. Prior to Team PRP and QRP merging, Sean served on the QRP board as well.
When Sean is not serving on industry boards, he is helping the community by being the Secretary on the Nature Foundation of Will County and supporting and sponsoring many local organizations such as the Spanish Community Center, Joliet Junior Women’s Club, Purple Project, United Way, Easter Seals and many more.
Sean has also held many coaching positions within the Joliet Jaguars and Romeville Huskies hockey clubs. In his spare time, he likes to watch his kids play sports, go boating on the river and play golf with his wife and children – Max (age 21), Cameron (age 18) and Sophia (age 13). Sean’s hope is that one of them will want to join the business and possibly take it over so he and Coleen will travel the world. This year, Sean and his wife, Coleen, are looking forward to celebrating their 25th anniversary together and planning a trip to Europe.
Today, Speedway sits on 10 acres with 70,000-sq-ft warehouse with over 30 employees and four delivery trucks that run daily and coordinate through the EZ QC work order management flow. Sean also manages his other 30 commercial and real estate properties with his father. Without a great team behind him at Speedway, Sean would not be able to commit the time to ARA.
“We have been a member of ARA since 1972 and I am honored to join the Executive Committee,” said Krause. “I look forward to giving back and contributing value, but I still have a lot to learn and re-learn. Before accepting the position, I called Marty from Northlake for his advice and his support then agreed to the position knowing I have the support of fellow board members and a great association behind me. My strengths are helping people connect in this industry and I plan to use that to focus on certification and how important it is to be “Gold Seal,” not only for accolades but for the safety of all our employees too.”
Krause will be formally confirmed by the ARA Board of Directors and Membership during the ARA’s 80th Annual Convention and Exposition taking place October 12-14th in Kansas City, Missouri. “Sean has been in auto recycling for 32 years. In addition to that, Sean is a hardworking, hands-on guy and he is concerned with what is best for the industry. He will do a great job and will be a great addition to an already great team,” said Marty Hollingshead, Immediate Past President and chairman of ARA’s Nominating Committee.
What was it about the business that your father built that drew you to it out of college? How did you feel you could contribute to its success? I was very green back then, what drew me to the business was I saw my older friends struggling to get good jobs and decided to take the opportunity to join the family business. I had worked in the business since I was seven years old doing windows, cleaning parts, etc. My father never dreamed I would join the business, but I did and the rest is history.
Please share your prior industry service or positions in state chapters or ARA. I was regional director of ARA I believe in 2007-2010; I was on the Auto & Truck Recyclers board for 20 years and serviced as President for two or three years of that; I served on the QRP board for several years as well; currently on the Team PRP vendor relations committee.
Why is now the best time to say yes to service on the ARA EC? It has been a few years since I was involved with ARA and thought it was time to start giving back again. Plus, my children are older so that makes it much easier to make time for ARA.
What do you expect to get from your experience on the EC? Well, it is early, luckily I have been able to learn and listen on a few calls, so I would say it is too early really to say what I expect out of this position.
What perspectives, insights or vision do you think ARA can benefit from in your time of service at this level? I believe it is a team effort, we have some extremely dedicated men and women currently on the EC that have given hours upon hours to develop programs for our membership. I hope the my 32 years of experience, the good, bad, and ugly can help the EC and our members streamline their businesses through ARA education and training programs.
What are you passionate about when it comes to automotive recycling? This industry is second to none, there isn’t another industry out there that strives to help one another get better. Most are so eager to help other recyclers get better. I believe this is the strength in our industry, almost like family.
As a long-term ARA member, how has that connection to ARA helped your business growth? ARA has been an incredible networking opportunity. When I was young I would walk by the booths, because I was a little bit shy to engage. But, then my wife was doing trade shows for her industry and said you need to engage with your vendors. That is why they are there to sell their products – to make Speedway better. Well, I listened and truly respect all those that sacrifice their weekends standing at those booths. Plus, I have become good friends with several of them over the years.
What is the significant value that ARA brings to the industry and to ARA members from your perspective? Training and education, the modules that ARA have built to make our members better are fantastic. Honestly, the hardest part for the recycler is getting their people to the table to stop and watch, so much great information. Also, the relationship that ARA has built on an International platform, very impressive.
What obstacles or advancements do you think the next generation will encounter in coming years? Of course, the future of the electric vehicles; this will impact so many different industries. Also, I believe with technology the buying, selling, inventorying, etc. will evolve. We all have to stay in the know. I believe ARA does a very good job of doing this for their membership.
What is your perspective on the future of certification and the industry? I believe the certification will become a must as we work with more and more companies like eBay that will give us greater opportunities to sell our parts faster. Also, the social media platforms are quite complex. I had to hire someone much younger than me to handle this project of getting our name out there through social media, Google analytics, etc.
What is unique to your business or experience that you would like others to know? My parents are the American dream; we started out in a house trailer and a mud pit. It is my responsibility to protect and carry on my parents’ legacy. I have three children, ages 21, 18, and 13, and maybe someday they can join the business.
For more information on Speedway Auto Parts, Ltd., visit www.speedwayap.com or to contact Sean directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the main office at 815-726-0666.