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As these things typically start out when you come up with a “eureka” idea, Shadrach Gibson thought he could do his job faster and easier. It was 2010, and Gibson, a drywall contractor, landed a big job where he had to refinish some acoustic ceilings without touching the walls. He also had to contain the dust, which had asbestos in it — putting great liability on his shoulders. This meant he had to mask with a lot of plastic sheeting, but he didn’t like any of the solutions on the market to do this. So he set to work in his garage one day coming up with a tool.
Gibson had a couple of pieces of tape, and all of sudden thought, “What if I could connect two different tapes, creating a double-sided tape?” So he tried it and affixed some plastic to a wall and it worked quite well. Then, the challenge became how to create a tool that would weave the two tapes together. Rolling up his sleeves, he created a prototype out of plywood and brought it to the job site the next day.
“It worked like a champ,” says Gibson. “We were able to pull out big, long pieces of the sheeting and walk up ladders and attach it around the tops of all the walls really quickly. It was then that I knew I had something. I saved a lot of labor on that job.”
Interestingly, when Gibson started marketing the DoubleTaper (the clever name he came up with for the tool), it went viral online and he discovered that auto body refinish technicians were finding it useful to mask vehicles for painting and he got some valuable testimonials out of it.
“Guys were sharing these really cool videos from Instagram with me and said, ‘Hey, are you on Instagram?’ And I said, ‘Well, not yet,’” Gibson says. “So then I did create an Instagram account and we got some influencers who were pretty happy with the DoubleTaper sharing their experiences, and it resulted in a lot of sales, which was really cool.
“I always knew it would be helpful for automotive masking. It’s great for any kind of masking, for all painters: aerospace, residential and commercial painting, all of it. Heck, it’s good for attaching photographs of your kids to the fridge. You can use it to attach anything.”
In fact, Gibson says he’s currently working with Kelly-Moore Paints, one of the nation’s largest independent DIY and professional paint manufacturing companies, and is getting some solid interest through their retail channels.
How It Works
The DoubleTaper is basically a masking machine that joins two rolls of tape together to make an offset double-sided tape, which is really handy for attaching plastic sheeting and masking materials. Skeptics might say, well why not just buy a quality double-sided tape and use that? That’s the problem, Gibson says. There are a ton of double-sided tapes out there, but their adhesive properties are limited and they may not be suitable for the harsh environment of automotive refinish.
“You have to go find the stuff and buy it; the thing about the DoubleTaper is you’re using whatever is in your shop,” says Gibson. “The other thing is, do they have high-temp double-sided tape? Maybe. But what’s the cost, and how easy is it to get? That’s where people appreciate this tool.
“The DoubleTaper allows you to combine two of your favorite kinds of tape, of different widths. The tape I use is very thick and resilient and can withstand high temperatures. It’s easy to tear, and you can leave it outside for 60 days and it will still be removable in the hot sun.”
The tool accommodates all different sizes of tape, like the common three-quarter-inch tape and, say, inch-and-a-half.
“So you can combine three-quarter with inch-and-a-half if you want, which is kind of neat, or you can combine two rolls of three-quarter, which works as well,” says Gibson.
You can also use a thin, fine-line tape in conjunction with another tape, or maybe a much less expensive beige or white masking tape. “It can actually have a higher tack but be half the cost,” Gibson says.
The other advantage, Gibson says, is that you can shake out and unfold all your plastic without tape already attached to it.
The DoubleTaper dispenser is made of lightweight, fiberglass-reinforced, drop-tested plastic. If you’re in the construction industry, you can set it up on a ladder and not worry about it, or drop it accidentally and not damage it. It’s very light, and the roller helps with pressing the tapes together to prevent wrinkling.
A ton of thought was put into the cutting blade, too. Gibson wanted a blade that cut tape easily but didn’t cut your finger. Initially, he went with a blade-stamping process that created a cookie-cutter effect where one side was rounded and the inside was sharp.
“We had the rounded side on the inside of the blade and it wouldn’t cut anything. They were just horrible blades,” says Gibson. “I sent a bunch of samples out to different guys and they said, ‘The dang thing doesn’t cut anything, you have to improve it.’”
Now, the blades work marvelously and cut tape easily but are pointed downward so they don’t slice the user.
Some professionals are mounting the DoubleTaper to their paper stands, while others are attaching it to their work belts via a tool holster so they don’t have to hold it while they’re using it.
To give the DoubleTaper has much attention as he could, Gibson ended up shutting down his drywall business and founded ProTekt Tools Corporation.
“Financially, that was quite a hit to the bank account. I used to make some pretty good money as a drywall contractor,” Gibson says. “But, it’s sort of the sacrifice that I’ve made. I’ve taken on a couple of drywall jobs since then just to make some money, because if you have skills and there’s a labor shortage and there are some nice projects out there to do, why not?”
Gibson estimates he has personally invested $150,000 in the tool, with an additional $100,000 coming from friends, family members and other investors.
“The first $100,000 was spent before I had manufacturing — on all the trade shows, travel, different prototypes, working with fabrication shops, et cetera,” he says.
Gibson is currently selling the DoubleTaper, which retails for $59.95, on his website, but he is hoping to have PBE jobbers stock it one day.
“It will probably be available on Amazon shortly as well,” he says. “We’ll be warehousing a lot of units down to Los Angeles soon too, so we can do drop shipping, large quantities, pallet loads and things like that. You could also order it directly in container quantities if you’re a large distributor.”
For more information, visit protekttools.com.