Several local companies coming together to make hand sanitizer

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we've spotlighted several businesses finding creative ways to stay open.

One such group of businesses we've shared has been local distilleries shifting from making strong spirits to hand sanitizer.

Now, Chippewa River Distillery in Chippewa Falls is partnering with several local businesses to brew up their own batch of hand sanitizer.

"We have to get through this together, we’ve got to get it done,” said Kurt Schneider with Chippewa River Distillery.

Schneider says he is happy so many local businesses can come together at a time their community needs them most.

"It's really great to see the companies that want to make a difference, you make a quick call to them and they're more than happy to support us any way they can,” he said.

It all started when Mark Ruff of Catalytic Combustion in Bloomer was just looking for enough sanitizer for his employees.

"I reached out to my staff to ask to make hand sanitizer in a small volume just for our production people, then I reached out to Kurt,” Ruff said. “we've known each other for a long time and we got to talking and said how about we make a difference."

And that is what Ruff and Schneider started doing, with help from some notable businesses in the Chippewa Valley.

"It didn't take long, we contacted Leinenkugel's and they donated over 5 thousand gallons of their Summer Shandy beer,” Schneider said. “We called Great Northern, no problem, they're delivering boxes on Monday so we can start shipping products out. Silver springs jumped in and said hey, we can help donate bottles."

"I'm good friends with Steve Rooney at Rooney Farms and Grain, I reached out to Steve, he's very familiar with the ethanol industry, through his networking we found access to food grade ethanol,” Ruff said.

There are also several volunteers from around the community coming together to help bottle and label the hand sanitizer.

“We're all going stir crazy sitting at home so this gives us an opportunity to get out and do something good rather than sit at home and feel like you're helpless,” said volunteer Steve Gibbs.

"We're actually just volunteering, helping out bottling some hand sanitizer,” said Eric Luebstorf of then Cadott Area Fire and Rescue. “It is a great cause.”

And while the distillery will be selling the sanitizer to help with costs of production, they say they will also be giving some away for free to industries on the front lines of COVID-19.

"From a community standpoint to be able to provide hand sanitizer to the healthcare industry, local rest homes, emergency response, police departments, EMTs,” Ruff said.

"The idea is we are giving away what we can afford to give away, and then whoever asks for it that has to have it we're giving it away, there is no question,” Schneider said.