Krause Publication’s first office commemorated
By Jane Myhra
A historic marker now marks the site of Chet Krause’s first office building.
“Krause Publications, The Early Years” is the eighth historic marker set by the Iola Historical Society.
Located at 160 N. Chet Krause Drive, Iola, the building currently houses the Iola Car Show Office and two other businesses.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by Krause’s friends, family, past and present employees, and business associates.
Speakers included IHS President Cliff Mishler, Historic Marker Chair Greg Loescher and John Gillespie, founder of Rawhide Boys Ranch.
“Next to Bart Starr, Chet is the person that provided the most help to Rawhide in getting on a sound business footing in the early years and thereafter,” Gillespie said. “He became a business mentor and second father to me. What a wonderful man. I sure loved and appreciated him.”
The official unveiling was performed by Gillespie and Mishler, to whom the building has special meaning – Mishler started his career with KP in March 1963.
“A lot of the construction was done by Chet himself,” Mishler said.
Krause (Dec. 16, 1923- June 25, 2016) founded his publishing company in 1952, working out of his parent’s home in Iola.
After 12 years of growth, Krause Publications was organized as a corporatation, and Krause built the company’s first office building at the site of the marker.
With the completion of the 1,600-square-foot project on Aug. 18, 1964, Krause’s career changed from that of a builder to that of a publisher.
“This is the date that forever changed the fortunes for many,” Mishler said.
Over the next 40 years, KP expanded into numerous collector hobbies and leisure interest communities, serving 21 specialized fields. At its peak, the company published 48 titles plus books and reference catalogs.
Krause Publications eventually became the world’s largest hobby publisher with a combined subscriber list numbered well in excess of one million from 1999 to 2001, and annual revenues peaking just shy of $100 million annually.
Although the original building was expanded to quadruple its capacity, the business continued to grow. In 1975, a new facility was built on Iola’s east side.
After some ownership changes, it is now known as F+W Publications.
In addition to being a business man, Krause also supported the community with generous donations.
Some of his favorite charities were Rawhide, Marshfield Clinic, Children’s Hospital, Iola Hospital, Iola Living Assistance and area health care facilities.
Three of the Historic Iola program’s eight markers are tied directly into Krause’s business and his community involvement.
According to Loescher, there are plans for about 25 Iola Historic markers.
The current markers include: Iola Winter Sports Club (100 years), Father’s Day Fire, Birth of Numismatic News, First Iola Old Car Show, Iola’s Early History, Dr. Loope/Wisconsin Badgers Football and Spud Alley.
The Iola Historical Society’s marker program is funded by donations from businesses, organizations and community members.
For more information on the Iola Historical Society and its Historic Iola marker program, visit www.iolahistoricalsociety.org.