Executive Q&A: Oklahoma City sock manufacturing firm marks 60 years in business

Mark McCubbin, the chief executive of Oklahoma City-based McCubbin Hosiery, follows the path set by his paternal grandparents.
by Paula Burkes Published: November 4, 2012
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A: Yes. I'm repeatedly told how great a teacher he was, but never had him. Along with preparing long and hard every night for his classes, he coached basketball and baseball. I excelled in academics and played soccer. One of the great things about Casady was it was small enough that you got to, had to, participate. Many of my classmates and I remain very good friends.

Q: And college?

A: As a family, we spent the summer of '73 in Hanover, N.H., where my dad was completing his master's degree. It's a beautiful location, and I fell in love with it and decided to pursue a history degree there. Dad's advice was to study what I liked, and things would work out OK. I expected I'd join the family business, but I was never pressured to.

Q: When did you take the helm?

A: In the spring of 1982, upon the death of our grandmother. She was 80. David and I were 24 and 25 when we took over. Our grandfather had died six years earlier, at age 82. We had 18 employees at the time. We grew up quick, because we realized their livelihoods, and abilities to feed their families, depended on us. In general, I handle internal operations and David, external.

Q: What have been some of your biggest struggles?

A: C.R. Anthony Co., our biggest customer, went bankrupt in '86, which forced us to seek other customers. And in '95 we began offshore production, realizing it costs one-third as much to manufacture in Asia (China, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines) versus here. It's not just about the lower labor costs, but also the capacity. There's now no domestic mass production going on here, like there once was in North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.

Q: What's on tap for McCubbin?

A: Since 1999, we've bought a portfolio of licensed brands, including Keds, Stride Rite and most recently, Robeez (pronounced Robbies) soft-shoe infant prewalkers. Today, 80 percent of our business is focused on the kids' niche. Fashion is very important, and our designers work closely with our licensors to come up with a multitude of patterns and designs, appliques and bows. Next year, we expect to grow an additional 20 percent, partly through the direct sales of Robeez.com, which will launch in February. Robeez shoes retail from $22 to $30, while our socks retail from $1.99 to $9.99.

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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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PERSONALLY SPEAKING

Position: Chairman, McCubbin Hosiery

Birth date: Halloween, 1956.

Family: Marta, wife of 30 years (“Mutual friends introduced us in 1981, and it was love at first sight for me.”); daughters Sarah, 25, of Stillwater, and Alison, 24, of Washington, D.C.

Education: Dartmouth College, bachelor's in history.

Community involvement: Board member, A Chance to Change and the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City; Crossings Community Church; Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, former board member; and Casady School Board of Trustees, served two years as chairman and seven years on the board.

Pastimes: Books (his favorites are histories and biographies). He's currently reading a biography of John Adams and, in August, took a two-week cruise to Greece and Turkey, on which the late University of Oklahoma history and classics professor Rufus Fears facilitated daily tours and lectures. (“That checked every box for me.”)

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