Firm makes reusable tape labels


People across the country soon may be using a product made in Westminster: Peelables.

The Strouse Corp. is manufacturing the reusable labels that can be stuck to videotapes, computer discs and file folders, company founder and President Dale Chambers said.

The label for computer discs reads "Peelables . . . because things change."

The labels are sold in Europe now, Mr. Chambers said. Users peel off layers of the sticky label to write new identifying notes instead of having to cross out old notes. Peelables have 10 layers.

The reusable labels for file folders are not on the market yet, and the videotape labels are being tested in five cities, Mr. Chambers said.

Products such as this have helped Strouse Corp. grow in eight years from one employee to 18, with annual sales increasing from $80,000 to an estimated $3 million this year.

Three years ago, Mr. Chambers, 37, created a sister company called Scott Web Converters Inc., which mostly does work for 3M Corp.

The rapid expansion of Strouse and Scott Web meant the companies needed more space for presses and fabricating machines. Mr. Chambers purchased a 41,000-square-foot building at Air Business Park north of Westminster and moved the businesses late last month. He had been renting about 14,000 square feet in several buildings in Finksburg.

At an open house Friday, employees showed local elected officials, family and friends through the offices and plant.

Strouse rents about 20 percent of the building to a subsidiary of F & M Machine Corp. Inc., Mr. Chambers said, but expects to reclaim the space. "We're going to fill it up pretty quick," he said. He has hired three employees since moving to Westminster and expects to hire two more soon. Five employees work for Scott Web Converters, he said.

3M, which makes Post-It Notes, Scotchgard fabric protector and Scotch tape, has been working with Mr. Chambers for a number of years, said Jim Pietrick, a 3M division sales manager in St. Paul, Minn.

"They've been a good customer for us. I have high regard for them," said Mr. Pietrick, who visits Westminster regularly.

3M is both a supplier and customer of Mr. Chambers. 3M sells laminated adhesives and labels to Strouse, which converts them into products to sell to customers, Mr. Pietrick said. Strouse products are sold worldwide through a network of distributors.

Scott Web takes jumbo rolls of 3M material and cuts them to the specifications of 3M customers, he said. The Westminster plant also is a distribution point for 3M materials in the Northeast, he said.

In five years, Mr. Chambers said, he expects that annual sales will be about $10 million and that the two companies will employ at least 50 people.

"I think we can achieve that. I think it's a reasonable goal," he said.

The name of each company comes from Mr. Chambers' two middle names -- Scott and Strouse.

Strouse Corp. has a long list of customers, including Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Black & Decker Corp., the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution.

Automobile manufacturers use many labels, Mr. Chambers said. Strouse makes tape to hold a plastic piece on the shift lever of Jeep Cherokees to identify the gears and labels to mark wires in General Motors Corp. cars.

"There's 200 to 300 pieces of tape in your car," Mr. Chambers said.

Strouse also makes "Post A Dot," small circular-shaped adhesive pieces used to attach business cards or other papers to brochures or other surfaces. "If that's not cool, I don't know what is," Mr. Chambers said.

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