The Raab Sales Story, Part II: 1980–2018

The Raab Sales Story, Part II: 1980–2018

Raab Sales is now celebrating 60 years of serving amazing customers and providing state-of-the-art solutions for industrial packing, labeling, marking, printing, and coding.

If you caught Part I of this post, you learned how the company started off small. Our founder, Lou Raab, had a vision to be not just a salesman for his industrial tape machine employer, but a reliable distributor for the greater Kansas City area at large.

From its founding in 1958 to 1979, the company evolved in significant ways. They expanded from tape machines to industrial printers. 1975 also marked the year Lou Raab proudly brought his sons aboard his company to run it as a true family business. In 1979, the company trademarked a new name “Raab Sales, Inc.”

After Lou Raab brought his sons on board, industrial printing equipment and other technologies really took off. Read on to learn how the company began to offer more sophisticated equipment lines and how it finally outgrew its headquarters at the Raab family home.

1980 – 1996: Growth, Evolution, and Expansion Into Industrial Printers

In 1980, Raab Sales decided to extend its product line beyond shipping room supplies and hand-coding machines. Their first new product lines were large character printers (LCPs), which were revolutionary in their ability to mark shipping cartons and packaging materials efficiently.

The family business also got even bigger, with Tricia Raab – wife of Mark Raab – taking over accounts receivable and the youngest Raab brother, Tom, signing on as an employee.

By this point, operations expanded so much that the home-based business outgrew the Raabs’ basement in Kansas City, Missouri. Product offerings now included Domino Amjet “High Speed” continuous inkjet printers. In 1991, Raab Sales moved to its first combined warehouse and office complex in the North Kansas City area.

Over the next few years, Raab would grow its available product lines even further. In 1991, the Marsh company introduced its single-line coder, the Unicorn, which quickly became a Raab best-seller. In 1992, manufacturers received a worldwide mandate to include “sell by” dates on its packaging, growing the market for industrial labeling machines and inkjet printers.

By 1995, Raab Sales expanded its product offerings further to include hi-resolution inkjet printers and print & apply label machines. These technologies enabled Raab customers to meet industry demands that required secondary packaging to include barcodes, SKU numbers, and date codes. Operations and client needs also grew more complex by this time. This prompted Raab Sales to adopt an ERP system so that it could manage and track all of their assets more efficiently, in addition to their ongoing supply contracts.

1997 – 2008: Lou Raab Passes the Torch, and Raab Sales Enters Its Next Phase

In 1997, Lou Raab decided to hang up his hat as president of Raab Sales and transition the business to the next generation. Mark Raab became President of the company, with Steve Raab as Vice President, and Tom Raab as the company Secretary.

The Raab brothers quickly proved the business was in capable hands. In 2002, just five years later, the company entered a new phase of scale by adding additional employees and service capacity. Plans were made to move operations to an owner-occupied office complex and industrial equipment distribution facility in Lenexa, Kansas. From this location, Raab Sales could offer a broader range of industrial equipment than ever to its growing list of clients, while supporting them with factory-licensed sales representatives and technicians.

In 2005, Raab Sales stepped up to an industry leadership role when Mark and Steve Raab became a founding members of the Product Identification Network (PIN) group. Members of PIN include “a select group of independently owned, long-standing companies that distribute marking, coding and labeling solutions from the top manufacturers in the world.” By being a PIN member company, Raab Sales can provide consistent service and expertise to clients, potentially all over the globe.

The next few years saw Raab’s product lines grow even further, adding industrial dryers in 2008 and thermal transfer overprinting (TTO) equipment in 2009.

2009 – Present: A Third Generation Joins Raab Sales, and the Company Sets Sights on the Future

2009 marked a momentous occasion in the history of Raab Sales – a third-generation Raab family member joined the company. Laura Raab, Mark Raab’s middle child, joined the business as an In-House Service Technician. A year later, Katie Zotti (née Raab), Mark’s oldest child, became the company Marketing Director.

In 2013, Chris Raab, the youngest of Mark’s children, joined the company’s ranks of accomplished salespeople. Finally, in 2016, Daniel Raab, the youngest son of Steve Raab, became an official warehouse employee.

Over the years, Raab Sales has also kept up with the latest advancements in industrial labeling, marking, coding, packaging, and shipping technologies to include UV printing, handheld inkjet and thermal inkjet (TIJ). We currently supply state-of-the-art equipment for dozens of world-recognized brands.

Our clients also enjoy a fuller range of support and consulting services than ever. As the industry evolves, so do we.

We look forward to many more years of fulfilling client needs and acting as an irreplaceable part of the greater Kansas City and Midwestern business community. Thank you to our clients and customers for getting us where we are today, and we hope to continue to raise your expectations as our founder and family patriarch, Lou Raab, once did.

As part of our anniversary celebrations, you can get 10% off the price of equipment in our QuickShop: Handheld Inkjets, Tape Machines, and Stencil Cutting Machines. Just order and pay in the QuickShop and apply coupon code 10AT60 at checkout. The 10% off even apply in addition to any volume discounts.

Here’s to many more decades to come!

The Raab Family and the Raab Sales Team



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