By Victoria Ritter
More than 45 years ago, Pro Tapes filled a niche corner of the tape market when it began to develop adhesives for different aspects of the art industry. Today, its selection of tapes continues to expand as it begins a new chapter of its business.
Combining Forces to Help Customers
“We have a sign in the office that reads ‘Customer service is not a department. It’s an attitude.’ Being a customer-centric company with decades of experience, allows us to offer the best combination of quality, price and service,” said Steve Espinal, graphic arts business development manager for Pro Tapes.
On Dec. 5, Shurtape Technologies – makers of Duck Tape, FrogTape among many other brands – announced its acquisition of Pro Tapes & Specialties. Shurtape began in 1955 and is based in Hickory, North Carolina. It manufactures and markets adhesive tape and office products for a wide range of markets, including arts and entertainment as well as DIY.
For nearly 20 years, both companies have maintained a successful sales and marketing alliance. They also share a commitment to quality, innovation and customer service. “The acquisition solidified a natural progression,” Espinal explained. “The transition will allow for both Shurtape and Pro Tapes to deliver better service and innovation to our customers.”
The acquisition has left Pro Tapes’ management operations and employment levels unchanged. Instead, both companies intend to broaden their product options and services.
Bonding the Art Community
Founded in 1977, Pro Tapes was originally established to provide adhesive tapes specifically designed for the motion picture industry as well as theater productions in New York City.
Headquartered in New Brunswick, N.J., Pro Tapes manufactures its products in a 150,000-square-foot facility. Its tapes are useful for the performing arts as well as graphic arts, schools and libraries, building and construction companies, custom framing shops, florists and general industrial corporations. In the arts industry, its products can be used for painting, decal transfer, silk screening, mounting and photo edging.
Espinal estimates that the visual arts market represents 15 percent of Pro Tapes’ business. The company has hundreds of products, including exclusive private label items. In the arts and craft market it has approximately 50 different products, totaling hundreds of SKUs. “We’re definitely growing,” he said. “In recent years, due to our digital marketing efforts, we have been able to establish a footprint in countries where our brand didn’t have a prominent presence.”
Pro Tapes entered the fine art market with its Artist Tape, which is still popular today, according to Espinal. Artist Tape – which comes in 11 colors – is a multipurpose product, useful for color coding and labeling, photo edging and framing.
One of its most recent introductions is the Pro-788 Ultimate Masking – a pH neutral tape primarily designed for watercolor painting. It is also ideal for surface sensitive applications including scrapbooking projects and painting clean, hard lines. Pro 796 is another popular pH neutral masking tape. Double sided tapes such as Pro 154 ATG and Pro 406, are useful in crafting as they can be used in conjunction with different types of materials.
Espinal has been impressed to see how artists have used Pro Tapes’ products. One product in particular, UGlu, a double-sided tape that performs like glue, has become popular among balloon artists who create party décor and signs. Artists from all over the world have made use of UGlu’s double-sided adhesive in their projects. “UGlu has allowed artists’ imagination to run wild and let their creative juices flow,” Espinal said. “I’m equally amazed by the large balloon installations as I am by the details in smaller balloon bouquets.”
Pro Tapes exhibits at several trade shows throughout the year. In the past, it’s had booths at the FLOAT convention for advanced balloon decorating professionals, the Retail Innovation (Globalshop) trade show, Adhesives & Bonding Expo, IAAPA Expo for the amusement park and attractions industries, World Waterpark Association Symposium & Trade Show and, most recently, the WeConnect School Supply Convention in November. Several of its distributors participated in the Live Design International (LDI) Conference for special event professionals.
See the Pro Tapes ad in the Q1 2023 issue on page 3.