KENT, OHIO - Kent Adhesive Products Co., a converting company that has gained fame for making baseball player Joe Carter's sticky-polymer replacement for pine tar, is building a new factory in Kent. Kapco sold its 52,000-square-foot headquarters to the city of Kent in April for $2.2 million. Kent's Service Department will move into the facility. Not included in the deal is a smaller building behind the main one.
Construction has begun on a new, 80,000-square-foot building down the street. Kapco hopes to move in Oct. 1, said Brenda Shick, marketing manager.
The new, $4 million facility will put all Kapco operations under one roof. The site also has land for future expansion.
Kapco does custom conversion, by die-cutting, applying adhesives and other methods, of flexible products such as film and foam.
Its largest business, the Graphic Products Division, converts PVC film into stock for sign companies.
Kapco Library Products' markets - complete book cover and repair kits, and industrial tape - are not exactly household words. But the low-key company has gained star power from its association with Carter.
The Toronto Blue Jays star worked with polymer scientists and students at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio, to develop Tack Tube.
Carter wanted a replacement for pine tar, the sticky stuff hitters apply to their bats in the on-deck circle.
The hitter wraps Tack Tube around the bat handle and twists, applying a special polymer to the bar and improving the grip. The polymer is a closely guarded secret.
Carter unveiled Tack Tube at the university's polymer science building in the fall of 1994. Kapco officials heard about it and contacted Edison Polymer Innovation Corp., which links industry and university research in northeast Ohio.
Now when orders come in, Kapco manufactures the entire product for Joe Carter Enterpris-es Inc. of Edmond, Okla. The Kent company applies the patented polymer, developed by UA re-searchers, to felt. Then, using a custom-designed machine, the felt is laminated to foam rubber, purchased by Kapco in tube shape.
The company die cuts the product and uses heat-transfer to print the product name and Carter's signature on each one. The finished product is shipped to the distributor, Franklin Sports Inc. in Stoughton, Mass.
Kapco was the only local company able to do all the manufacturing steps in-house, according to James Colangelo, Epic's director of business development.
University of Akron officials have touted the Tack Tube project as proof that high-level polymer research helps the local economy, saying that eight new jobs have resulted.
Nobody at Joe Carter Enter-prises, Kapco or Epic would say how many new jobs can be credited to Tack Tube. Kapco makes it on an as-needed basis, said Philip Zavracky, vice president of operations.
Bill Hildenbrand, president of Joe Carter Enterprises, said the company did not want to release production figures. Carter continues to promote Tack Tube.
Meanwhile, Kapco's 100 em-ployees still talk about Carter's visit to the factory last year.
``He was quite a gentleman and signed as many autographs as people wanted,'' Zavracky said.