The Raab Sales Story, Part I: 1951–1979

The Raab Sales Story, Part I: 1951–1979

Today, Raab Sales, Inc. marks the 60th anniversary of our creation in 1958. On this day, our founder, Lou Raab, carried out a vision to form his own industrial equipment supplier company. His ambition reflected the American dream, to provide an innovative and indispensable service for his growing network of customers. He wanted to build a legacy for himself and a means for his family.

Now, 60 years later, the second and third generation of Raab family members ensure this dream is bigger and bolder than ever. Since forming over six decades ago, we have expanded our industrial equipment lines from shipping concerns to include marking, coding, labeling, scanning, and packaging.

We have also become experts in providing service models our clients can count on. Whether it’s consulting to help them develop an efficient production line, integrating state-of-the-art solutions within their existing process, or responding to emergency service needs at any time of day, we have made our mark on the industry by significantly raising the bar for service.

The way we grew from a simple, partially home-based business to a regional powerhouse equipment and services supplier near the Greater Kansas City Metro area in Lenexa, Kansas, makes for a compelling tale. Read on to learn more about the history of Raab Sales, Inc. and how our current success comes from the seeds of an exciting idea planted over a half century ago.

1951 – 1974: A Tape Dispenser Salesman With a Dream

1951 was a banner year for 28-year-old Louis C. Raab. That year, he married his sweetheart, Kay Riley, and began an exciting new job in industrial equipment sales. The RM Jackson Company employed him to sell the revolutionary Marsh Electric Tape Dispenser to manufacturers and industrial operations in the Kansas and Missouri region.

Lou took to his new career like a fish to water. Unlike many salesmen, he believed in his product and saw the results it could bring. He knew it saved companies thousands of dollars annually on supplies and labor.

In fact, young Lou Raab was so inspired by the product that he decided he could be more of an asset to his clients and the Marsh Stencil Machine Company as an independent distributor. In 1958, he formed the “Raab Sales Company,” which sold shipping room supplies as well as shelving and material handling equipment.

After four years, the Marsh Stencil Machine Company recognized Lou Raab’s invaluable contributions by designating him a “Factory Authorized” exclusive distributor of their electric tape dispensers, stencil machines, and consumables to the Kansas City region.

1975 – 1979: A True Family Business Makes Its Mark

The Raab Sales Company enjoyed tremendous success throughout the next few decades. At home, Lou Raab proudly raised three sons and welcomed them to the family business. Between 1975 and 1979, Michael, Steve and Mark Raab joined the company, which changed its name to “Raab Sales, Inc.” in 1979.

Raab Sales, Inc. Carries on Its Legacy as an Industrial Equipment Supplier Today

1979 was a turning point for the Raab Sales company, but it is far from the end of our story! We’ll tell you all about the years from 1980 to the present in part II of our post. You can also check out our complete timeline.

If you’re eager to learn about one of the exciting ways we have recently evolved – both in terms of technology and how we serve our clients – check out our QuickShop. It’s the easiest way to reorder consumables for industrial equipment right from your browser. And right now, as part of our birthday celebrations, you can use our B2GO special: Buy 2, Get One FREE on supplies ordered and paid via our QuickShop. Just use coupon code B2GO60 with your order.

Thanks for all the great years, and we look forward to sharing stories with you of the most recent decades of Raab’s history.

The Raab Sales Team


  • Bill Cox

    Great story and history . I knew Lou and he would be very proud of what gen2 & 3 have accomplished!

  • B Fladung


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