Chad Butters is an Army Veteran who turned his alcohol distillery into a hand sanitizer production line following the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak.
After spending 25 years in the Army as a helicopter pilot, Butters started his business in 2015. Nestled in the hills of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery grows corn, wheat, rye and barley. The company then turns those crops into bourbon, gin, rye whiskey and other alcohols. All that changed once Butters started seeing price gouging for hand sanitizer–$320 an ounce.
“And that’s where I was like, ‘Okay, this is ridiculous,'” Butters said. “Hand sanitizer is nothing more than high-proof alcohol and a couple other small ingredients and that’s it. I think we can make it. We just made the decision right then and there that we would do whatever it took to make hand sanitizer.”
In his 25 years flying–especially in places like Somalia and Afghanistan–Butters knew that he could make a difference, and he did what he felt was right. He called it a “moment in time,” to use the company’s assets, resources, equipment and plant to take action.
“Our vision, mission and values of our company are really just at the heart of everything we do: be a positive impact on the community,” Butters said.
On a Sunday night in mid-March, Butters announced his company would switch manufacturing to make up for a national shortage of hand sanitizer. He shut down his distillery’s sales to focus all resources on hand sanitizer.
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Good Morning!! Sorry for the radio silence since Sunday, we have been hard at work sourcing ingredients and producing the hand sanitizer.. HUGE shout out to our amazing crew, it has been all hands on deck. . . First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you. We’re truly overwhelmed at the response, both locally and nationally. There are so many good people in this world – they are shining bright right now. We have been honestly moved to tears several times, Mrs. Jane in South Carolina, we’re lookin’ at you!! . . A giant virtual hug and thank you to Lynn with Emma’s Friends Soaps and Lotions! She reached out and gave us a very generous donation of bottles and pumps, which we’re filling right now, and will continue to do so over the next week so we can get them out to those in need!! . . So now what? Our entire crew is working to make as much hand sanitizer as we can to get it into the hands of the people and organizations that need it. At this time, we are trying to work through some very high priority cases, and we will try to get to everyone as quickly as we can. Please keep your eyes on our social and our website. We will be posting updates on when community members can get their bottles. . . We’ve received a LOT of requests for sanitizer and help, so what can you do? If you know of an organization that needs help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to our list. . . The other thing you can do is donate to this effort by visiting http://bit.ly/DonateEightOaks and we’ll use those dollars to pay for operations. Any dollars above and beyond that will go directly to our three nonprofit partners, Farmer Veteran Coalition, Cancer Support Community of Greater Lehigh Valley, and Tails of Valor. To the over 100 people who have already donated, we see you and we can’t thank you enough!! YOU’RE AMAZING! . . Please continue to watch our social pages, website, and email newsletter for the latest updates; it’s the easiest way to share information with you. Thank you again for your generosity and willingness to share our message. We’ll get through this together. . . Cheers, Carly 8
He said alcohol normally takes about a week to go from grain to glass. The company had to add hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, the two other ingredients for hand sanitizer. Using guidance from the World Health Organization, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery made 5,000 bottles. Through donations, the company distributed the bottles for free to help make up for the critical shortage. Butters said the company is ramping up production to 12,000-15,000 bottles per day. They are focusing on getting the bottles to health care workers, coronavirus testing and treatment sites, and first responders.
The company received so much monetary donations that they continue to generate bottles for free. Butters said these bottles are free to agencies who can’t afford them otherwise and that other companies are purchasing cases to continue the project.
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