Locally Produced Hand Sanitizer Keeps the Community – and the Local Economy — Healthy
Local distilleries aren’t just producing hand sanitizer to keep individuals healthy – local businesses now need hand sanitizer to be allowed to open their doors again. On May 12, new regulations went into effect for Nevada County that allow certain businesses to open with strict protocols in place, which include lots of hand sanitizer. Andy Barr, co-founder and CEO of Truckee Craft Ventures, which is the majority owner and General Manager of Old Trestle Distillery, has been producing hand sanitizer in his distillery since mid-March. “There is not enough [hand sanitizer] available for every business to turn on,” said Barr. “We have been contacted by groups and businesses who can’t find the hand sanitizer they need to open.”
Barr never planned to be in the hand sanitizer business. He and wife (Truckee Craft Ventures co-founder and CXO Alicia Barr) have channeled a passion for home brewing and cooking into three local businesses under the Truckee Craft Ventures umbrella. Local Truckee favorites FiftyFifty Brewing Company and Drunken Monkey Sushi restaurant are their other two. Like hundreds of other distillery owners, Barr saw the hand sanitizer shortages and realized that they could help their local community by filling that need.
However, hand sanitizer is not a sustainable new business model. “We don’t want to be in the hand sanitizer business. We want to sell whiskey and gin and single malt,” said Barr. “But, we don’t want the cost of hand sanitizer to keep people from staying healthy in our community.” Old Trestle Distillery sells bulk hand sanitizer at a below market rate to large organizations who can afford to pay, but they give away the bulk of the hand sanitizer they make to individuals for free.
Satellite Spirits co-founder Jonathan Dorfman has taken a similar approach. Dorfman and his business partner Daniel Kennerson produce Grass Valley’s award-winning South Fork Vodka. They realized early on that the supply chain would be affected by COVID-19, and Dorfman immediately started ordering what they needed to produce hand sanitizer, starting with orders of 150 containers and quickly ramping up to 20,000-container orders. “We wanted to see our local first responders be protected and have the resources they needed to fight these battles on our behalf,” said Dorfman. At publication time, Satellite Spirits had donated almost 1800 gallons of hand sanitizer to Nevada County nursing homes, fire departments, and hospitals.
Like Barr, Dorfman has no plans to make this a permanent pivot. “We want to make sure everyone in our community who needs hand sanitizer has it,” he said. “At the same time, I’d like to see Purell get back on line and maintain their supply chains within our county. We’d like to get back to working on high quality, unique local spirit products.”
Both Barr and Dorfman plan to continue producing hand sanitizer (and keeping as many locals as they can employed) to fill the needs of local businesses until the supply chain rebounds. “We are happy to be able to provide this resource to the community that we love,” said Dorfman.
Visit the South Fork Vodka website to purchase their award-winning vodka, and visit Fifty Fifty Brewing Company or Drunken Monkey Sushi for take-out in Truckee (limited in-restaurant seating coming soon!) or purchase Old Trestle Distillery spirits online.