While Utah businesses were beginning to open their doors Friday, a Lindon manufacturing company was steadily supplying small businesses with spray-on hand sanitizer to meet the growing demand.
In the days leading up to May 1, when Gov. Gary Herbert announced some nonessential businesses could open under strict guidelines, Streamline Manufacturing put major projects on hold to manufacture locally sourced hand sanitizer when several large companies had fallen behind.
On an average day, the company’s primary focus is mixing, manufacturing and batching liquid products, dietary supplements and cosmetics. As a contract manufacturing company, Streamline Manufacturing doesn’t manage any of its own brands but rather oversees the production of merchandise for other companies.
When the pandemic began to affect supply chains across the world, especially in the state of Utah, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer John Durling said the company began to see sales dwindle across industries.
Clients began to pull out and became more judicious with their ordering, and Durling said this was largely because of the pandemic’s affect on raw materials.
“Since China shut down, essentially, most of the raw materials that we use in the production of products for our customers come from China,” he said. “When we started to see that downturn in the market and as components and materials started becoming a lot less prevalent in the marketplace, we had to make some fairly significant decisions on making a strategic pivot.”
When large companies began to see a shortage of hand sanitizer, the federal government opened the manufacturing of hand sanitizer to anyone, publishing a formula and pleading with businesses able to contribute to make as much product as quickly as possible.
That’s when Streamline Manufacturing jumped into action.
“We noticed that there was huge need,” Durling said. “The biggest thing for us was when we started hearing there were reputable companies in our area that were charging upwards of $280 per gallon of sanitizer. We’re a manufacturing company, so we know how much it costs to manufacture and bottle a gallon of sanitizer, and that kind of markup is just not appropriate in this marketplace, especially right now, during a pandemic.”
Selfishly, he said, the company also wanted to keep their doors open and their staff employed, as well, and the pivot was largely focused on maintaining jobs, providing tasks for employees and keeping the lights on.
The company immediately began manufacturing 70% alcohol, spray-on liquid and gel hand sanitizer and is selling it to local businesses at cost, which is about $35 per gallon. This offer is valid for any company or small business in the state of Utah.
Now, Streamline Manufacturing is supplying hand sanitizer to county and state offices, nonprofit organizations, Navajo Nation communities and myriad companies.
Durling said he is grateful to be involved in an initiative that can help employers create a clean and safe environment for their employees to return to.
“We are so blessed that we can be responsible for such a small portion of how the companies can now be successful as they reopen and do it in a way that’s responsible,” he said. “We want to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. I think some companies let capitalism get in the way of doing the right thing, and we didn’t want to do that. We didn’t want to be a part of that.”
The materials used to produce the hand sanitizer are sourced within the nation, using relationships with businesses that had access to alcohol, which is becoming increasingly scarce, to purchase large quantities and fulfill a need in the market.
Each liquid-filling manufacturing line is currently completely consumed with the production of hand sanitizer to ensure Streamline Manufacturing is keeping up with the increasing demand, which is a significant risk, Durling said.
For Durling, there is virtually no end in sight.
While the company has been fairly busy, he said once larger companies catch up and federally over-the-counter certified manufacturers are meeting needs on their own, Streamline Manufacturing will not be permitted to make and sell hand sanitizer any longer.
“Until that happens, we are 100% focused on making sure our communities have what they need,” Durling said.
Since the beginning of the strategic pivot, which was to satisfy communities’ needs as well as avoid layoffs, the company has been able to maintain jobs and hire dozens of people while state and national unemployment rates continue to spike.