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Made in Valdosta: Alpha Pro Tech

October 26, 2014

Valdosta Daily Times, Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stuart Taylor

VALDOSTA — The story of how Alpha Pro Tech came to Valdosta is a story of two companies meeting together.

Alpha Pro Tech got its start in acquisitions, picking up Barriers for Disease in Alabama and joining it with a company in Salt Lake City that was making medical face masks.

In 1992, Ludan Corp opened in Valdosta on Cypress Street.

“We were taking fabrics and putting coatings on them to make them fluid-resistant,” said Danny Montgomery. “Between OSHA and what was going on in the AIDS community, there was a need there for fabrics that were impervious to bodily fluids.”

One of the companies Ludan sold fabric to was Disposable Medical Products in Nogales, Arizona.

Disposable Medical Products would turn the fabric in disposable apparel for medical use.

When Alpha Pro Tech bought Disposable Medical Products in the early 1990s, they contineud DSP's relationship with Ludan Corp, even going so far as to buy stock in Ludan.

A year later, Montgomery sold the rest of Ludan Corp to Alpha Pro Tech and took a position with them.

"We've had continuous success here. It was a good move, the relationship with Alpha Pro Tech... It was really a good move for everyone.”

In the mid-2000s, Alpha Pro Tech’s Valdosta location came up with a new product line.

“We came up with an idea for construction products,” said Bruce Hayden.

“It may sound weird... [but] it's just a different form of plastic.

“It's very normal for us to think of facemasks, disposable apparel and building products as the same family.”

APT’s line of what came to be known as Engineered Products started with two products: synthetic roof underlinements and house wraps.

“With synthetic underlinements, one of the things you get is efficiency in installation because the rolls weight one-tenth of what a tar paper roll weighs.”

“The other advantage is your structure is completely dried in once you put the synthetic underlinement on it, so it can be left exposed for up to six months without any leaks into the interior.”

The second construction product APT started on was housewraps.

“We entered into it with entry level products and we've grown up to higher end technology for more customer built, higher end homes and commercial construction.”

All of their products start the same way with giant rolls of material that come in from APT’s plants in India.

From there, the rolls are through custom designed and custom built machines to treat the fabric, print on it if desired and cut it to make it ready for use.

While many companies have struggled at least in part through the Great Recession, APT has experienced consistent growth every year, something that Hayden attributes to two things: teamwork between departments and consistency of APT’s products.

 “We've made tweaks to it over the years, but we've very cautious of change.

“We'll make tweaks to the product and go to market with the tweaks and make sure everything is going to work, look for unintended consequences, but we've been consistent since day one.”

APT’s Valdosta plant also makes medical shoe covers; the high standards and multiple quality control checks required by FDA regulations are applied throughout the plant.

The shoe covers are a small part of the Valdosta plant’s output, accounting for roughly 2 percent of its product.

The rest is the roughly 60,000 rolls of liners, wraps and fabric sent out every month.

APT is working on a self-adhering roof membrane for tile and metals roofs, as well as a rain screen.

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