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Scholarship fund to benefit women in the automotive service industry

by Jay Sicht, 

Parts & People, River Vally Edition, March 2007

Belleville Illinois - Kay Kraft is gone, but her legacy lives on through a scholarship recently established in any other women in the male-dominated industry of automotive service.

“Our industry has been asking and dating for women to join this industry,”

Paul Stock, owner of Stocks Underhood Specialists.

“There is room for women to join this industry but there is no encouragement to do this.”

Kraft died in August at age 60 are spending more than 20 years working for Stock’s, last an office manager, and nearly as many years serving as treasurer of what is now the Metro East Chapter of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Missouri (, Stock said. Kraft was dedicated to not only furthering her education, but coming to the aid of others in the industry, he said.Kay Kraft

It was at her funeral, Stock said, that he and others discussed a way to encourage women to attend training in classes approved by Automotive Management Institute ( Students who successfully complete 120 hours of training in AMI-accredited classes can earn an accredited automotive manager (AAM) designation from AMI.

Stock said he hopes that scholarships given through the Kay Kraft Women in Automotive Service Educational Fund will spur other women to increase their knowledge and service consultants or managers independent automotive service centers.

“We know very few women in this industry pursue them for an AAM,”


“I think she 230 were 240 credits, in case 120 credits to graduate. She didn't stop just because he graduated.”

Kraft was higher in 1985 pump gas while Stock to concentrate on automotive service, he said, but she later quickly moved in to an advisory/managerial role.”

“I had a Mobil station,” he said.

“It was always frustrating to pump gas and go back to your tune up and figure out where you were. My service station at that time was in an old neighborhood with a lot of seniors.”

Those senior citizens have grown up with full-service gas stations and many were verse to the smell of gasoline but couldn't find the gas cap, Stock said.
“I told Kay I needed someone to do it for them, check the hood, and ‘give him five minutes of psychology,’” Stock said of his loyal customers, who often wanted to involve him in long conversations.

“Kay was somebody who did well that,”


“She’d talked to them and they grew on her, or vice versa.”

Those customers grew to place much trust in Kraft’s abilities, Stock said.

“They to the point where she’d be gone for lunch or something and I’d be pumping gas,” Stock said. “I would ask, ‘do you want me to check under the hood?’ They would say, ‘No, better wait till next time.’”

Some of those customers are donated money toward of fund, which is close to $1200 at press time, Stock said.

Money for the fund is being collected as part of the AASP-MO Ralph Hanna Educational Fund, which was established to offset cost training and meetings in which audience attendance doesn't cover the cost of the speaker or materials such as training DVDs, said AASP-MO Executive Director Ron Reiling.

Any donations collected for the fund will be earmarked for women's education in the automotive industry, Reiling said.

When the business got computers in 1987, Kraft attended college classes at night to learn some of the software, Stock said. And when that business stopped selling gas in 1992, Kraft quickly became a full-time service advisor, he said.

“We started with AMI sometime around that,” Stock said, “and in 1998 he graduated right along with me.”

Whether one calls it women’s intuition or just a gift, Kraft had a knack for knowing when a customer grasped the meaning of what was wrong with the car, Stock said.

Stock said he hopes the scholarships provided by the fund will encourage more women to enter into were moved up in the industry. He said he is working on applications for scholarships, which he said he plans to award around August. Although he said he expects most applications to come in from Missouri and Illinois, applications from around the country are well.

“If we can get enough funds to reach out nationwide, I'm sure we'd do it,” Stock said, “but we will start out from here. I hoping that somebody out there reading this, whether it's some larger OEM distributors or somebody saying, ‘We don't have a women's program, and we'd like to donate to it.’ As it becomes better known, I hope others will step up to the plate and say, “We would like to donate to this.”

For more information on the fund, contact Reiling at 800-288-3683


Paul Stock at 618-233-6119.

Donations to the fund can be sent to the Kay Kraft Women’s Educational Fund, c/o AASP-Missouri, P.O. Box 609, St. Charles, MO 63302.

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