Eight Oaks to the rescue
Upon learning about the severe shortage of hand sanitizer and reading how a profiteer had been selling it for $325 an ounce, Chad Butters, CEO and founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery asked his co-founders, “What is the right thing to do here?”
The board, comprised of the retired Army pilot’s daughter Carly Snyder, son-in-law Logan Snyder, and daughter’s brother-in-law Jesse Tyahla, agreed that producing hand sanitizer to combat the coronvirus pandemic and price-gouging was the “right thing to do.”
The New Tripoli, Lynn Township, distillery switched production from spirits to sanitizer beginning March 16. They originally planned on producing and donating around 10,000 bottles to be donated locally.
After fielding phone calls from the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and other government offices, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery ramped up production between April 4 and April 9. According to Butters, they are producing 15,000 bottles of the hand decontaminant per day.
In order to keep up with the demand, they have purchased additional high-proof alcohol from industrial distilleries to supplement the 400 gallons a week they can produce in New Tripoli, as well as sourcing the high volume of glycerin and hydrogen peroxide ingredients needed for the World Health Organization (WHO) requirements.
To keep his 30 employees safe, there are 10 workers per shift, with a 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. shift followed a half hour later by a 3:30 - 11:30 p.m. shift.
“In order to support that kind of production,” Butters says, “we also need to generate some sort of revenue, or else we can’t do it.”
They are taking a two-pronged approach, part charitable donation and “part revenue generation at a very responsible rate, not at some ridiculous price-gouging rate,” explained Butters. Area hospitals are purchasing Eight Oaks sanitizer for 25 to 60 cents per ounce.
“Capitalism is a wonderful thing,” says Butters, “but it has its limits.” When it comes to supply and demand, Butters says, “Your demand is taking care of your fellow human beings in a time of national or global crisis.”
To date, 55,444 bottles of hand sanitizer have been produced at Eight Oaks, with 37,000 bottles donated to nonprofits and emergency responders within a four-county area: Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill and Carbon. Veterans’ organizations, Meals on Wheels, elder-care homes, food pantries and the U.S. Postal Service have also received donated cases.
Butters praised Fogelsville-based Nestlé Waters for its assistance with the project. “That company, reached out, unsolicited, to us and donated over 65,000 bottles for us to fill,” Butters says.
Peters Brothers Trucking and Eastern Lift Truck Co. are among several local companies which have provided trailers and equipment for the project.
Eight Oaks continues to receive funding donations through its website.
Information: Eight Oaks Farm Distillery; www.eightoaksdistillery.com