A History of the Raabe Company
Our roots run deep.
Over a half-century ago, Richard Raabe ventured into his garage with an idea. He was determined to fill a niche he discovered in the marketplace by providing automotive paint and sundry items to local body shops.
After just one month in business, Mr. Raabe moved out of his garage and into the first retail storefront in West Allis, WI. The grand opening of this store was the start of the Raabe Paint Company on September 21, 1951.
In 1956, Mr. Raabe purchased a small aerosol packaging machine in his drive to remain successful. Aerosol technology, at that time, was still fairly new and Mr. Raabe saw uses for it in the automotive jobber and retail paint arena.
The late 1950’s brought years of growth. Contracts with American Motor Company and Chrysler Outboard sparked a dramatic change in business. With constant growth, came the need for expanded facilities. In 1960, Raabe purchased a second building at 6430 West Fond du Lac Avenue in Milwaukee, WI. This new location added extra aerosol filling space and additional retail space.
Old Color Machine
Later that year, Raabe closed the original West Allis location and opened an even larger store in Milwaukee. By the end of 1960, Raabe Paint Company had two stores and two backroom aerosol packaging operations serving customers throughout the entire southeastern portion of Wisconsin.
In 1968 Raabe opened its third retail store in Brookfield, WI. The new location featured a variety of home decorating items including: wallpaper, carpeting, and draperies. Raabe continued adding to its home decorating business and in 1971 opened a fourth store in Oak Creek, WI. This store added furniture sales to the mix. The Raabe Paint Company had become a one-stop shop for decorating tips and services.
With the recession that soon followed, the company started to feel the fierce competition from the national home furnishing dealers and home improvement stores. Raabe decided to refocus the business on its greatest strength, manufacturing and packaging of custom match touch-up paint and coatings for industrial applications. Over the next 10 years, Raabe sold the four stores.
The restructuring proved to be successful, profits and business increased. In 1977, Raabe opened its first manufacturing headquarters in Wauwatosa, WI. However, it soon became apparent that this location would be too small to house the ever-growing company. A location was needed that would allow the company to expand if the need occurred in the future. So, in 1986, the company was moved to its permanent home in Menomonee Falls, WI with a 54,000 square foot corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility. This new facility featured high speed filling lines, which increased production by 75 percent. It was during this time that the company also changed its name to the Raabe Corporation. As the demand for aerosol filling became apparent, Raabe installed a second high speed line in 1988.
On July 18, 1994, the 100 millionth aerosol can rolled off the production line. This moment solidified Raabe’s position as one of the country’s leading packagers of aerosol coating products. Raabe’s rapid rise created additional demand for manufacturing space. The company constructed a 26,000 square foot addition to the headquarters in March 1995. This new space included a state-of-the-art research and development laboratory. March also saw the launch of Raabe’s Precision Color® line of touch-up coatings and the installation of an automated color dispensing system. The dispenser was the only one of its kind in North America that used gravimetric technology to product exact match touch-up.
Growth was still Raabe’s main priority. In February of 1998 the company completed its second expansion. The 37,500 square foot addition increased the size of the facility by almost 50 percent. As a result, yearly output also increase by 33 percent. In May of that same year, a fifth and final aerosol line was installed providing flexibility for both large and small-scale production runs.
Before the end of the 20th century, Raabe had a few final improvements on its plate. The first CB Mills color dispensing head was added. The older, outdated system was replaced allowing Raabe to fully automate its color matching process.
Six 2,500 gallon mixing tanks
The last and final addition was completed in August 2000. It houses formulation, blending, and mixing operations and is highlighted by six 2,500 gallon mixing tanks. This expansion increased the company’s liquid manufacturing capabilities by 500 percent. Raabe also became ISO-9001 certified that same month. This certification required the company to adapt more than 20 quality systems requirements into their facility.
In 2002 and 2003 Raabe continued the trend of improvement. The company purchased a basket mill and a horizontal media mill along with the supporting equipment. These purchases allow Raabe to make paint and various intermediates to meet their own demands, as well as, give them added capabilities to offer their customers.
After more than 50 years of family ownership, Raabe Corp. was acquired by Quest Specialty Chemicals, Inc. In November, 2004, Frederick Quinn, chief executive officer and Gerard Loftus, chief operating officer took over the reigns. At this time, Raabe also changed its name to the current Raabe Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Quest Specialty Chemicals, Inc.
From the garage of Richard Raabe to the state-of-the-art facility of today, the Raabe Company has become the number one manufacturer of custom match touch-up coatings and a leading supplier of private packaging and liquid filling services.