Missouri-grown ethanol has found a new purpose these days as a key ingredient in hand sanitizer that is helping people across the country stay safe from the spread of COVID-19. Like many in the industry, Show Me Ethanol, in Carrollton, transitioned a portion of their operations to produce ethanol for hand sanitizer and has forged new partnerships that have created a unique opportunity for their product to get into the hands of a new market.
While the ethanol industry was quickly identified as an essential business, the distilled spirits industry did not receive the same designation, so many were faced with difficult business decisions. One of Show Me’s partners was facing unavoidable layoffs and looking at creative ways to re-open operations after social-distancing measures prevented them from keeping their doors open. By producing hand sanitizer, they were able to rehire their staff and put them back to work while helping to keep their community safe.
“The news that one of our partners was able to rehire their staff made for a great day in an otherwise really difficult time,” said Brian Pasbrig, Show Me Ethanol’s General Manager. “Being able to fill these orders quickly was important and our team has been amazing in making the transition. The ability to give back during this crisis has been instrumental in keeping spirits high.”
After altering operations to make ethanol for hand sanitizer, Show Me Ethanol quickly built a network that spanned the entire state of Missouri by forming partnerships with distilleries in eastern, central, and southern Missouri including:
- DogMaster Distillery – Columbia, MO
- Missouri Ridge Distillery – Branson, MO
- StilL 630 – St. Louis, MO
Among the broader community of Carrollton, Show Me Ethanol helped to provide hand sanitizer to residents in Carroll, Lafayette and Livingston counties by partnering with emergency management agencies and even two local car dealerships to get the product to residents who otherwise would not have access.
In addition to their impressive network in Missouri, Show Me Ethanol’s response to COVID-19 has positively impacted the lives of those living outside of the Show Me State, providing product to companies in Indiana, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
DogMaster Distillery was their first contact whose initial decision to alter operations came after they heard from their community’s police department and took initiative to help. Since receiving their first batch of ethanol from the team at Show Me on March 26, DogMaster Distillery has since donated and sold hand sanitizer to children’s homes, homeless shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other high-priority locations across central and northern Missouri. DogMaster Distillery owner Van Hawxby says that their recent transition to manufacture hand sanitizer fit naturally within their mission to be an advantageous partner to their community.
“We’ve always looked at opportunities to give back to our community and typically do so by providing financial support to non-profits,” said Hawxby. “We were aggressive in seizing this opportunity and quick to alter operations because important members of our community were facing a shortage and we wanted to help in any way we could. COVID-19 has posed a new and unique opportunity for us to diversify our revenue, maintain operations when our many of our staff would likely be laid off, and continue to be a great community partner.”
Missouri Ridge Distillery in Branson, Missouri, is a family-owned-and-operated distillery that has been producing 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week since March 27. As a federally licensed alcohol distributor, they have built networks in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas with other distilleries that are donating hand sanitizer or selling it below cost to hospitals, fire fighters, police departments, long-term care facilities, and other high-priority locations. One member of their distribution network, Cane Creek Distillery in Boynton, Oklahoma, has donated over 300 gallons of hand sanitizer.
“We’re blessed to partner with Brian at Show Me Ethanol and have the ability to form a network of distributors to meet the needs of those most impacted by COVID-19,” said Greg Pope, co-owner of Missouri Ridge Distillery. “Since the beginning of the crisis, Missouri Ridge Distillery and our partners have been doing our best to get the hand sanitizer to hospitals, medical groups, first-responders, and those facing a shortage. Now, we’re seeing a surge in requests from restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industries as many states look to reopen in the next month and we’ll continue to do what we can to get the product to those who need it.”
This post is part of the Renewable Fuels Association’s new #RFACommunityPartners series spotlighting individual member companies’ heroic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.