June 24, 2020



When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., pandemonium followed shortly thereafter. People were stockpiling the essentials and, in some cases, straight up hoarding them. On any given trip to the grocery store, actual or virtual, you’d be hard pressed to find some of the basics we take for granted, such as canned foods and cleaning supplies. Forget about toilet paper. One of the major impossible-to-find items was hand sanitizer. And for our clients on the front lines continuing to do business as usual, this was a must-have item to keep their employees healthy and safe. So to provide this necessity, we had to get creative.


We knew there was going to be a spike in orders of products from across our Jan-San offering. But this flood of requests from our clients was something we’d never experienced before—especially for hand sanitizer. To attempt to stay ahead of the curve, we ordered 25,000 bottles of hand sanitizer in early March. Whether it was due to backorders or cancellations, the simple fact remained: it wasn’t being delivered. “Wasn’t” is something that doesn’t sit well with clients. And the word “no” is definitely not our mantra at Ernest, either. With major food manufacturers, schools, public works and healthcare facilities counting on us, we couldn’t drop the ball. We needed to come through to provide for our community.


When it comes to keeping hands clean and sanitized, we’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. For this particular challenge, we started by searching for the substance itself. With the help from one of our Jan-San suppliers, Envirotech, we were able to secure a massive 3,000-gallon vat of hand sanitizer. But now that we had the product, we needed bottles. One of our suppliers stepped in and did the unthinkable: he sent us his whole in stock inventory of 15,000 bottles. That’s what happens when you’ve been in business for 74 years and have been steadily building relationships. People help you as you help them. So now, only one question remained: how do we get the 384,000 ounces inside of them?


Pablo Picasso might have defined it best when he said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” And we were working our tails off. After brainstorming, cold-calling and rejection after rejection, we finally cracked the solution as to who could (literally) fill our order. It came in the form of a wine bottler. Namely, Chris Neutill, owner of CORK Mobile Bottling. Whereas his normal day job involves traveling to small vineyards after the grape harvest, this March, he took a wild departure into bottling hand sanitizer. It was no easy task. To go from 75 milliliters (or 25 ounces) to 8 and 12 ounces is a challenge in and of itself. But he also had to figure out how to cap the bottles. Thanks to modern technology and a whole lot of inspiration, his team decided to 3D print caps. Since they were custom made, however, they had to be secured by hand. A lot of hands.


In a time of need, it’s time to take action. And that’s what we did at Ernest. By understanding that our customers and our community simply couldn’t be let down. From disparate parts, unusual sources and industry-crossing ingenuity, we were able to provide a product to keep our essential services up and running, as well as safe and sound. If your company is in need or you’d like a free virtual consultation, please reach out to us here. Until then, we wish you a healthy and happy summer and sincerely look forward to a time when we can all wash our hands of this COVID thing.