Made in Caldwell: High-tech tape manufacturer has N.C. roots, worldwide reach

Sep. 01, 2013 @ 07:52 AM

In Hudson, a company manufactures enough of its product each year to circle the globe five times.

And if the product were wrapped five times around the globe, it would probably hold it together too.

Shurtape Technologies Inc. makes a number of packaging and duct tapes.

The company was founded as Shuford Mills in 1880 by the Shuford family, who still own the company today, and specialized in making textile yarns, cordage and twine. But soon, packages were being taped closed instead of bound, so in 1955 Shuford Mills created a new tape division at its headquarters in Hickory to meet the growing demand for basic paper tapes.

Eventually, tape manufacturing took over, the name changed to Shurtape Technologies, and the company now operates 12 factories worldwide producing 800 million square yards of tape annually.

In the late 1990s, Shurtape opened the 100,000 square-foot facility in Hudson, manufacturing high-quality hot-melt carton sealing, or packaging tapes. Soon, Shurtape bought the Duck brand of duct tapes, opening a what is now one of the company's biggest markets.

The Hudson plant produces a wide array of tapes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and employs 88 people, plant manager Bob Zendel said.

The company focuses a lot on its employees, with profit and gain sharing and a number of initiatives to make sure that employees share in the company’s successes, Zendel said.

Zendel, who has been with Shurtape since 2002, said the company plans to expand eventually, but it has adequate capacity for the foreseeable future.

At the Hudson plant, technology is at the forefront, with a line of computerized machines and high-tech ovens that turn the raw materials of rubber, polypropylene and resin into an assortment of tapes for companies such as Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, Office Max, Sears, Staples and Wal-Mart.

In Zendel’s office, on a shelf high behind his desk sits a roll of Shurtape’s Duck duct tape, printed Carolina Blue, with the University of North Carolina logo printed in white every few inches. As far as the company has come, from hemp cordage to high-tech tapes, Zendel joked, as he put the roll on the table, Shurtape might have to stop before the company prints a Duke version of duct tape.