Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards


Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award

1999


Logan McCabe

Class of 1938

Logan McCabe Logan McCabe never dreamed he’d one day patent a machine that would change the way large linen supply companies do business. But he did.

 

McCabe, a 1938 graduate of Arkansas City Junior College, has enjoyed much success since moving to Lubbock, Texas in 1949. Now he can add another honor to his list of accomplishments.

 

McCabe, who was 81 on May 19, literally stumbled onto the laundry scene. The owner of a building McCabe was renting for his wholesale magazine distributing business approached him one day. “How’d you like to be in the laundry business?” McCabe recalls being asked. “I told him I didn’t know anything about it.” But he would learn quickly, because not long after that conversation, the home office for magazine distributing in Dallas called. “I got one of those notices from Dallas that I hadn’t done something right,” McCabe said. “I wrote my letter of resignation and went in with a partner in the laundry business.”

 

Primarily, the company had military contracts, picking up sheets for U.S. Air Force bases in Texas and New Mexico. The company was picking up, washing, and taking back a million sheets annually, McCabe said. It was a lot of work, work that could be lessened with the correct machine. “I decided if I could reduce the labor where the sheets were ironed, and so forth, I could control that bid with the military,” McCabe said. The result was the McCabe Spreader-Feeder, a machine he had patented in 1966. “It was the only one in the world when I invented it,” McCabe said. “We went through a drastic modification in the late 60s or early 70s and we repatented it.”

 

McCabe’s customers included large linen supply companies to those that rented linens. Military bases as well as the Veteran’s Administration purchased most of the machines. McCabe had more than 200 machines built. The purchase price was $12,000 delivered and installed. “I had my own transport and I delivered (machines) all over the United States and some to Alaska, Germany, and Japan,” he said. “I had a patent in seven foreign countries, but not Japan. You couldn’t get a patent there.”

 

Logan McCabe was born and raised on a farm five miles northwest of Geuda Springs, one of five children of Marion Douglas McCabe and the former Ruth Quinn. McCabe was the only one of his siblings to attend college. He studied psychology at ACJC. “I knew I wanted to go to college, and I had to work while I went to school,” he said. “I drove the bus that hauled football and basketball players, the band, track teams to different places. I got maybe $5 a week. But it took care of my tuition.” After graduating from ACJC, McCabe went right to work for MS News Co. of Wichita, a wholesale magazine distributing company. “I worked for them until the manager wanted me to cheat, so I told my dad,” McCabe said. “And that was all that job amounted to.”

 

American News Co. heard McCabe was available, so the company hired him. He worked there until he entered the U.S. Army in 1942, where he served as a military police officer. Somewhere along the line, McCabe switched to the U.S. Air Force, serving most of his time in Panama. He was a staff sergeant in the Air Force.

 

Once back from the service, McCabe was transferred by American News Co. from Wichita to Houston, where he worked for the next 18 months. “They opened a new division and I became divisional manager in the Odessa area,” McCabe said. “I opened that branch. I got called into Dallas three or four times to get fired. The people in New York didn’t know what the hell they were doing in west Texas. I was always (operating) in the black, and I didn’t get fired. The Lubbock division opened up in 1949 and I’ve been here ever since.”

 

In 1940, McCabe married Louise Vandever, who attended ACJC in 1937. The couple will be married 59 years on Nov. 10. Logan remembers the courtship well. “She had a job and had a car, too,” McCabe said of Louise. “You talk about up-town. She was making $10 a week and took out a dime for Social Security. She taught me how to dance. I didn’t know one foot from the other.”

 

The McCabes grew to become quite a team. They raised three children, Doug 49, Stan 46, and Marianne 40. Stan has taken over running the company. “My son’s machine makes mine look like a horse and buggy,” McCabe said. “It’s still number one in the world. It is amazing. There’s an on-board computer. Some air blasts that last a 10th of a second. It really costs money.”

 

Today, a McCabe Spreader-Feeder costs around $56,000. A company in Chicago manufactures the machines, but the McCabes supervise the construction. “They can’t make a modification on it without our say-so,” McCabe said. The machine McCabe invented has been durable. “Some of mine have been out there operating since 1971,” he said. “There’s one in San Angelo that they’ve had since 1974. They called and ordered a set of belts. They were surprised I had them.”

 

Stan, who went to college a half-semester, has a sharp, mechanical mind, according to his father. He carries four patents. “It’s all laundry equipment,” McCabe said. “Separators, folders, machines he’s put together. Delta Airlines ordered a folding unit. They have three different sized napkins on their planes, and they wanted a folder to put them on.”

 

In time, McCabe took it easier at the shop, turning over the business to Stan. That freed up McCabe and his wife to do something else. “We owned Five Bar Stables where people could keep their horses with us,” McCabe said. “We could stall 41 head of horses. Louise was in charge of that. We had 30 acres. It’s all gone now. We sold it 12 years ago. We just got tired of working. We have a motor home, and we want to travel.” The McCabes owned the stables for 22 years. “We rented stalls to people for $150 a month,” he said. “The people who used the stables had money.”

 

McCabe, whose younger brother Thaddeus is retired from the Air Force and lives in Winfield, said a big year in sales for his machine was $280,000. “That’s a lot of dirty laundry,” he laughed.

 

McCabe has been a long-time member of the Lions Club in Lubbock, and is a charter member (1949) of the Lubbock View Christian Church, where he has served as deacon, elder, and chairman of the board.

 

The McCabes get to Arkansas City about twice a year. Louise’s brother, Kenneth Vandever, lives in Ark City.

 

“It’s been a good life,” McCabe said. “We’ve done a lot in our lifetime.”