By Gretta Becay
While the fuel industry is taking a wallop from the COVID 19 crisis, the hand sanitizer business is flourishing; as long as someone can produce the supplies to make the sanitizer. That includes the proper alcohol.
Randy Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel, based in Claremont, and the employees of the plant saw an opportunity in recent weeks instead of fear.
“Just because we weren’t selling alcohol to the fuel industry, didn’t mean we couldn’t sell it to the hand sanitizer industry,” noted Doyal.
“We changed our procedures so the alcohol has the highest purity. Alcohol that is blended into fuel doesn’t have to have all impurities removed. For example, we use gasoline to denature the alcohol for fuel and that leaves certain residues. But for hand sanitizers, our alcohol must be as pure as possible.”
Doyal and his crew set up a line one weekend in March to begin producing the alcohol and the company started by selling it into the hand sanitizer market. Now they are selling to local craft distilleries like Harmony Spirits in Harmony, Sapthre Maple Products in Adams, and RockFilter Distillery in Spring Grove.
“Boutique distilleries are set up to blend and package hand sanitizer,” said Doyle. “They have small bottling lines, and small tanks they can use to make this product.”
After the first batch, the owners of Harmony Spirits came back with a load of sanitizer for Al-Corn employees.
Doyal always sees the silver lining in any cloud on the horizon. He hopes to use the contacts he’s made during this time to continue to make and sell the purified alcohol after things return to normal.Right now, gasoline sales are down by more than 50 percent, he said. “But we are going to keep our plant up and running, and this is just one way to keep our employees. The years of training they’ve received and the relationships we’ve established make them our most valuable asset,” he said.