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Building Moxie Archive: Building Moxie with DAP Products :: A Tour of DAP Product’s Baltimore Facilities

Dap's World Headquarters Location in Baltimore's Can Company


aka Baltimore Barry DAP Products and Me

One additional perk for us, taking part in the DAP’s Seal Your Home Blogger Challenge, was an offer to tour DAP Products‘ HQ and plant. Living in close proximity kinda helped with that too.  In fact, it’s funny, the back story — I know/knew the World Headquarters location very well.

DAP Products‘ World HQ is located here in Baltimore’s Can Company complex – a neighborhood called Canton.   This building, as the name would suggest, was a one-time canning plant. (Irony here, so please read on.)

It, the Can Company, had been vacant for many years, but reopened after extensive renovations in 1998.  DAP Products was instrumental (one could say, “an integral component”) in this storied and very successful re-development project. From that day, DAP Products has maintained the building’s entire 2nd floor.

And I’ll stop here, but look for more personal connections in the Outtake at the bottom of this post.


Our visit consisted of three parts:

A walk-through of company’s primary Product Lab, a trip to the East Baltimore/Baltimore County Manufacturing Plant, as well as an afternoon with, and all around general “Q Time” of, DAP‘s Vice President of Marketing, Michael Gorman.

But first, let me roll back.

DAP’s History

DAP, if you did not know, is a world-leading manufacturer of caulks, sealants and adhesives.  It is likely the most recognizable name in caulk, but is also often known for its window glazing, wood filling and wall repair products.

The company’s roots can be traced back to 1865 when the founders began by manufacturing wax rings used in, yep, the can sealing processes. (Ironic, right?) Some of the company’s most recognizable product lines include:  Alex Plus (standing for Acrylic Latex plus Silicone) and DryDex spackling (25 minutes to white), but they also offer adhesives, such as Weldwood contact cement, as well as a full array of silicone products.

DAP Products on Amazon, here. Disclosure: Building Moxie is a participant in the Amazon’s Affiliate Marketing Program. We receive a small commission with any purchase. Thanks

Now, on with the tour.

For more Factory Tours, including visits with Delta Faucets, John Deere and more, please see our category – Tours here.

The Lab

DAP‘s primary Product Lab, housed in the Canton location, is responsible for product development and support for all of DAP‘s product lines.

While we asked about and discussed such fancy things as “Elastomeric” qualities and “Extrusion” — it really didn’t take long for Barry and I to jump into the meaty, million dollar questions:

. . . But back to that in a minute. (Click to the links above to jump to that section below.)

A highlight was speaking with Lan Huang, DAP‘s Lead Chemist. Of Chemistry, in general, she says, “Little changes can yield big results.”  She continues to say that a lot of what she does is in response to what she hears as the “needs” from/for outside sources such as vendors and inside sources such as marketing or sales.

She was very excited, and in fact, the entire team is pretty amped about their Advanced 3.0 product. To quote Lan, “It provides the best of all worlds – the paintablity of a latex, the durability of silicone, and the adhesion of a polyurethane.”  (Note that Advanced 3.0 is one of the products I will be using as part of the “Blogger’s Challenge.” A proper review, here – Caulking Wood Siding at a Brick Chimney.)

The Plant

From the lab, we headed with Mike down to the plant.  About a 25 minute drive, and yep, the home of six giant caulk tubes.  There we met with Plant Manager Bob Masetti and we did ultimately get to see the giant tubes of caulk.

Using the points on DAP’s iconic knife blade as a backdrop, Bob starts by identifying the company’s US locations. While a Dallas plant could be seen as one point on the blade, a Tipp City plant, Ohio – and DAP’s original home, another.

The knife is symbolic of the company’s heritage in repair products.

Here in the Baltimore County plant, caulk and sealants are made.  Built 1974, the signature silos were added in 1995. They seem massive when standing at their base and are as tall as an 18-wheeler standing vertically.

Along with caulks and sealants, this plant is responsible for the company’s repair products.  When asked how production has changed over the years, Bob says, “. . . Sustainability has always been important to DAP, and it continues to be a major focus going forward . . . .”

Conscious of course of its impact on the environment, the plant is committed too to both the community, and especially as it represents its employee workforce. Safety is paramount in the culture of the plant.

Mike Gorman

On the day we visited, we were accompanied by Vice President of Marketing, Mike Gorman – one of the more down to earth execs you’d ever want to meet.  During the drive across town (in his Ford Edge), we learned he was the son of union electrician, who worked in New York City.  Mike cut his teeth right out of college with Baltimore-based Black & Decker.  He actually started in 1993 behind the wheel of a DeWalt-branded cargo van.  Yep, and he worked his way up, later joining Masco Bath, but ultimately landing back in Baltimore and with DAP just last year.

He talks now of the end user, and of community; Mike believes there is a more personal side to the DAP story.  He says, “Think about when we use caulk, or when we should be using it … every time we paint.”  He continues, “It takes a good job and makes it great.”

He points to research that shows a heavy-use pro buying about 100 tubes a year; a heavy-use diyer purchases about seven, yet . . .  as Mike puts it, “We have all found ourselves standing in the caulk aisle in a state of ‘availability shock’.  With all that … everything, sometimes all we see is nothing.”


The Value of Caulking

That day, peeling through Baltimore’s aging housing stock, it reminds that caulk is used for sealing gaps.  And as we are now entering the high season for both weatherization and inside projects. Mike and the entire team at DAP appear not only tirelessly dedicated to coming up with great application solutions, but they are also continually working towards better ways of communicating the myriad of benefits that come with using their products.

Again, in the context of weatherization, here’s one >> 20%-40% in energy savings.  But caulk can not only seal in energy waste, it is more than that.  Again with Mike, “The emotional gratification, the confidence that comes along with doing a job right . . . is unmatched.”


Big shout from me and Barry both, thanks everyone — Mike, Bob, Josh and Lan. Thanks for having us.  And thank you for reading, back with more on DAP soon. (The follow up post, in the DAP’s Seal Your Home Blogger Challenge, is here – Gettin’ Weatherized with Caulk.)

Oh! and I almost forgot . . .

When asked, Josh Ryan, DAP‘s Trade Marketing Director says “It has to do with the letting go of pressure — at the end of use, and the type of caulk gun you are using.  We test for this — called ‘Extrusion.’  You simply can’t expect a $2.99 or $3.99 gun to perform as well as a good, quality caulk gun.”

Note . . . I have tried many methods myself.  Off the top of my head, I have sealed/attempted to seal open tubes of caulk with a nail, a screw, a wire nut and even electrical tape, and Barry actually asked this question. Josh says, “What I usually do is make sure that the nozzle is filled, and let the caulk form a seal of itself. When I go to it for its next use — I simply pull out the cured material and get it going before I begin.”

Mike would say instead, “Grab a DAP Cap.”  And I do have a few.


Outtake :: More on the Can Company Building

Now, in context and at a time not too long ago, the Can Company was not much more than a crown jewel in the sad wasteland that was an East Baltimore waterfront. As a boy, I sometimes roamed this area (with some of my more unruly cousins).  And on some given Sundays, we could have been found breaking windows out of this very building.

And now, not to go too much more into the history of the building, or into my personal attachment to it, I will say — the Can Company helped lead the way in the movement toward re-gentrification that Baltimore experienced in the late part of the ‘90s and early ‘00s.  Now, buzzing with activity, and surrounded with high end properties, the Can Company sits exactly 4 blocks from our rental property and our/my frequently mentioned brick project.  Yep!

DAP Products — a mainstay.

For much more from Building Moxie on DAP Products, read on. Cheers. ~jb @BuildingMoxie.

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