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McCabe Realtors closes its doors after 81 years

Chuck Lindhart, 3rd owner, looking forward to retirement at 84

DeKALB – After 33 years of helping people find the home of their dreams, Chuck Lindhart of McCabe Realtors is hanging up his salesman’s hat.

Lindhart, 84, said he hasn’t minded working well into his golden years as the third owner of longtime DeKalb-based McCabe Realtors, which opened its doors in 1938 and officially closed in May. The business was founded by Marshall McCabe, and has occupied two offices in Sycamore and DeKalb. The building for McCabe’s DeKalb space, 120 W. Hillcrest Drive, is now for sale as Lindhart looks to close this chapter in his life to spend more time with family.

“I’ve always enjoyed work,” Lindhart said, sitting at his desk in McCabe’s, which feels like a jump into decades past, with wallpaper lining the walls. “If you enjoy what you’re doing, then I think that’s a pretty strong incentive to keep doing it. But I’ve slowed down quite a bit. We’ve got in enough travel. I’m planning on staying local.”

He didn’t always know real estate was his calling, and dubs his time selling houses as a “second career,” since he spent 24 years with DeKalb Genetics Corp. DeKalb Ag’s original headquarters was located on Fifth Street in DeKalb, and moved to the Sycamore Road location in 1966. In 1970, the company went public on NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange. In 1998, Monsanto Co. purchased DeKalb Ag for a total company valuation of $3.7 billion. Bayer Ag purchased Monsanto in 2018.

Through the years, the company has been known as DeKalb Agricultural Association, DeKalb AgResearch and DeKalb Genetics Corp.

“I never intended to be a farmer,” Lindhart said. “But I wanted to work in agriculture, and thought I’d want to use some of the things you learn growing up on a farm.”

Lindhart was born outside Fort Dodge, Iowa, one of six children. His family farmed hogs, cattle and seed corn. He attended Iowa State University, where he earned a degree in agronomy, the study of plants and soils, in 1967. It was at Iowa State that Lindhart met Ruth, his wife of 57 years. They now live in a condo near Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb.

Through DeKalb Ag, the Lindharts traveled across the country as he climbed his way to a management sales position selling seed corn in the northeastern region of the U.S. and Canada. They moved to Sycamore, then to Pennsylvania. At each real estate junction, Lindhart grew more fascinated with the business.

“Selling or sales management is not a lot different,” Lindhart said. “Whether you’re selling seed corn or real estate, the principles are the same. The best sales people are good listeners. A lot of people think that to be successful in selling, you need to talk a lot.”

In 1986, Lindhart retired from DeKalb Ag, moved back to DeKalb and purchased McCabe Realtors in November.

“Helping people find the home they want to live in, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that,” Lindhart said.

At the height of McCabe’s 81-year run, Lindhart said he had about 20 real estate agents. Since the business closed in May, the handful left have gone to other agencies.

Lindhart said he hopes to sell the building, and looks forward to spending time with Ruth and their two children, Scott Lindhart of DeKalb and Barbara Goings of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Together, they have three grandchildren.

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