In Rochester, New York, Black Button Distilling is churning out 9,000 bottles of hand sanitizer each week while continuing to offer its signature bourbon and gin. The distillery is used to producing the new product by now — but it wasn't always like this.
When hand sanitizer began disappearing from shelves across the country in March, it created new avenues of supply and demand. Workers on the front lines, from healthcare to trucking, needed it but couldn't find it. Nontraditional producers, including the small-batch maker, had an opportunity to fill the gap.
On March 16, Black Button was shutting down operations, anticipating a state-wide mandate that would keep employees and customers in their homes. But by March 19, the distillery had pivoted and produced 5,000 bottles of ethanol-based hand sanitizer.
"I think I would describe it as running an obstacle course, where each time you would turn the corner, there would be a new obstacle you had not seen 10 minutes before. We'd figure one out and a new one would pop up," Jason Barrett, president and head distiller at Black Button, told Supply Chain Dive. "It all has come together, but it didn't just fall into place for us."