FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — For many, the name Kruse is synonymous with car auctions. The family started the first Labor Day car auction in Auburn in 1971.
“Auburn, Indiana is the birthplace of the collector car auction industry,” John Kruse said. “It has been historically one of the largest events in the state on an annual basis. It’s been a big part of the automotive heritage that we have going all the way back to E. L. Cord and the Auburn Automobile Company. It certainly has been a lot to our family. Growing up around it, as a lot of people in our area did, was great. I remember learning from my grandfather and my father and uncles a lot of things through the auctions and through the Auction Park. It’s certainly been an important part of our past, but I’m excited about the future.”
Kruse, whose uncle Dean Kruse started the first Labor Day auction, remembers being a kid going to the auctions to watch his family in action.
“I would say my favorite memories are probably being with my dad. I remember we’d sit there or if he was working and on a break, and we would actually watch cars go across the block and he would have me guess what they would sell for,” Kruse said. “Several of my family members are regarded as some of the best auctioneers in the world. So just listening to them sell.”
The auction used to be held at Dekalb High School before moving to the auction park that people know today in 1989.
“We feel our new complex will be something everyone will really enjoy and and we’re looking forward to it and we hope it will make our event even bigger and better,” Dean Kruse told WANE 15 in 1988.
John Kruse is still in the auction world, running an auctioneering school in Auburn and is co-owner and an auctioneer for Worldwide Auctioneers. Even with his classic car auction heritage, he sees the youth sports complex coming to the Auburn Auction Park property as a chance to put Auburn on the map – again.
“I think it’s great for our community. And, I think that as just being a resident of Auburn, that it can really do a lot of great things,” he said. “Auburn is a special place and there aren’t many places anywhere in the world that you can go where somebody hasn’t heard of Auburn, Indiana and a lot of that is because of our automotive heritage but, really is for our innovation and leadership in a lot of different categories.”
RM Sotheby’s Auction Company, which currently runs the Labor Day auction, confirmed Wednesday that it would no longer hold an auction in Auburn.
At the time of WANE 15’s interview with Kruse he indicated that was unaware of RM’s future plans, but said his auction company might expand to fill the void if there’s no other Labor Day auction. Worldwide Auctioneers operates across I-69 highway from the auction park.
“We’ve been following what’s been going on and we’ve really been focused as a boutique company, but we are prepared and we are going to have a much larger event. So, a lot of the aspects that folks in the area love and appreciate, we’re going to be doing. We’ll have a multi-day event and we’re looking forward to inviting everybody out to that and continuing the tradition that you know, my family members started a long time ago, and that a lot of us in the community love,” Kruse said.
The auction park sale will not affect the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival and the events that go with it.