Butler County company shifts direction to donate, sell hand sanitizer

A Butler County company is adapting its business model to help others as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and adjusting to a rapidly shifting revenue landscape.

Calvary Industries, which manufactures industrial cleaners, metal working fluids and waste treatment chemicals, recently started producing sanitizers, something business manager Austin Morelock said was never in the company’s core output.

“It’s a very easy product to make,” Morelock said. “The FDA listed the formula on their website and they listed the red tapes that disallowed people to sell it without proper permits and licenses, so because of that we were able to rise to the occasion.”

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Located at 9233 Seward Road in Fairfield, the company purchased “truckloads and truckloads” of ethanol and other ingredients. It repurposed much of its equipment to accommodate to the blending process.

Morelock, whose father started Calvary Industries, said once the company ensured all 150 employees received enough sanitizer to stay healthy in their homes, it donated truckloads of the solution to fire departments, police departments and locations that care for children throughout the Greater Cincinnati area.

The company also commercialized the making of the product.

“We gained more new customers in the past three weeks than we have in the past 10 years combined, probably,” he said. “It’s been crazy.”

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The move has also meant no layoffs at a time when many other businesses are forced to furlough some or all of their workforce, Morelock said.

“(Sales of hand sanitizer) in combination with the government PPP funding, which helped us with payroll, has allowed us to keep everyone on board,” he said.

That booming revenue source comes at a time when the volume of sales has spiraled downward for the company’s existing products, which are sold to 1,300 manufacturers nationwide, including food manufacturing plants and large companies like Procter & Gamble. That downward spiral is something Morelock said was to be expected as many manufacturers are making products that are not deemed “essential.”

“We are defined as an essential business, and now that we’re making hand sanitizer, I guess we’re all that more essential,” he said.

Quickly shifting gears to manufacturing hand sanitizer presented a series of challenges for the company, including the time-consuming fireproofing and explosion proofing of storage areas for highly flammable ethanol.

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There also was difficulty in getting raw materials, he said.

“Now the FDA is allowing anyone and everyone to make and sell hand sanitizer, all these manufacturers who have lost a lot of business are trying to find ways to make up that loss and everyone is looking for ethanol,” Morelock said. “Fortunately, we have good relationships with raw material suppliers that have been able to come through and give us a continuous supply, thus far, but it’s really day-by-day.”

Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller said Calvary Industries has been a longtime business partner in the community, one with which the city enjoys a good working relationship.

“They do an outstanding job in their business and we are very happy and grateful they have been able to switch gears to address the needs of our community in this time of crisis,” Miller said. “Again, just a great company and we are very thankful for their commitment to the health and safety of the staff and residents of Fairfield along with their regional commitment to all.”

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