Kesler-Schaefer Auto Auction has been a big part of Steve and Mary Ann Kesler’s lives. Steve’s grandparents founded the company in 1943, and Steve grew up in the business. About a decade after Steve married Mary Ann, she began her career at the auction in 1998, and they now oversee an operation that runs 1,000 to 1,200 vehicles each week through its five lanes.
Steve is currently secretary of the National Auto Auction Association’s Midwest Chapter and is a past president. He co-chairs the membership committee and has attended more than 40 NAAA conventions, many with Mary Ann accompanying him.
For the Keslers’ professional achievements, contributions to the industry and service to the association, NAAA recognized them as Warren Young Fellows.
NAAA presented the honor in Indianapolis at its 2019 Annual Convention earlier this month.
The Keslers join a group of 113 others who have attained the lifetime distinction. The couple received a gold medallion and a framed commemorative certificate. Their names will be engraved on a plaque of esteemed Fellows at NAAA headquarters.
The NAAA award included a $2,500 donation in the couple’s name to the association’s nonprofit Warren Young Scholastic Foundation. A Fellow is someone who contributes at that level, or in whose honor or memory a contribution is made in that amount, to the scholarship organization. NAAA represents 347 auctions and 144 associate members.
The Scholastic Foundation was established in 2004 and has raised more than $2.3 million toward helping 180 students pursue higher education. Each year, it awards $52,000 in merit scholarships for study at accredited institutions. The scholarship fund was named in honor of the late Warren Young, an auto industry pioneer with a more-than-35-year career who served as NAAA secretary, treasurer, president, and president emeritus.
More on the Keslers’ industry involvement: Steve’s father, Jack, took over the business from Steve’s grandparents, Ken and Eleanor Schaefer, in 1956. Steve and his brother moved rocks on the lot until he got his driver’s license, and he officially joined the auction in 1978. Steve proposed to Mary Ann at an NAAA meeting on Hilton Head Island.
“Kesler-Schaefer was started 76 years ago by a couple, Ken and Eleanor, and this independent, family auction has always been team-driven,” outgoing NAAA president Chad Bailey said during the presentation ceremony.
He continued, “And today it’s no different. As individuals but also as a team, Steve and Mary Ann have played a vital part in their business, the industry, and our association. So it is my pleasure and privilege to award them both as Warren Young Fellows.”