As part of our #TXBusinessCares series, ASSET is highlighting the good work of businesses across the Lone Star State that are stepping up to serve their communities and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many thanks to ASSET coalition member NFIB for passing along Coastal Bend Distilling Co.’s story.
You may know Coastal Blend Distilling Co. in Beeville for its whiskey, but in the wake of COVID-19, they’ve stepped up to produce much-needed World Health Organization (WHO)- and U.S. Department of Health-grade 80% alcohol antiseptic topical hand solution. Here, Lindsey Horton shares how they have pivoted to address a critical need, and their (new) philosophy: “Work hard. Wash your hands. Live the good life.”
“In the longer-run, [it] wasn’t difficult to transition [to hand sanitizer production]. The initial transition had some difficulties. We were fortunate enough to have plenty of grain neutral spirits (also known as GNS) which is the alcohol base for sanitizer. If we didn’t have this it would have been much harder or next-to-impossible to switch over as GNS orders can take weeks, if not almost a month to arrive. Locating bottles, glycerin and hydrogen peroxide were a little more difficult. It took some creativity at first, like purchasing hydrogen peroxide from our local H-E-B grocery store or clearing our local Walmart shelves of travel size empty bottles. Once the supply chains caught up again around the end of February, our industry orders began coming in and we were able to get these supplies a little more easily.
Altogether it took us one to two weeks to produce the product. Some parts came together earlier than others depending on what shipments arrived, when, but we couldn’t have done it this quickly without the help of individuals and industry partners who helped prioritize our production goals, and we are incredibly grateful for that.
Initial production at the end of February was donated to local civic, health and first responders who we had been in contact with, or who had reached out to us. Once we had fulfilled that immediate and urgent need, we were able to launch the rest of our production to the public on March 1. We’re a small crew of 3, so we aren’t able to fulfill requests for shipping or delivery of sanitizer, but the sheer number of people able to walk through our doors was incredible. People would drive in from Victoria, Corpus Christi, Kenedy and other cities—the demand was that dire. We have all kinds of people visiting our tasting room to buy a bottle of sanitizer, from the grandma down the road with a few dollars in her wallet to the refinery manager requesting gallons of sanitizer for their employees… we serve everyone with the same respect and equal opportunity to acquire the sanitizer they need.
From the beginning Coastal Bend Distilling, Co. has been centered around three principles: craft, culture and community. The community has been a huge focus of ours in our first year, and it was a no-brainer that we needed to take action and create sanitizer for our community during this time in need. One of our brand taglines we use fairly often is “work hard, and live the good life.” It evokes the culture of South Texas. Down here we’re rural. We all work hard to make a living, and there’s something redeeming for the soul and noble about putting in a good day’s work. But we also value that hard work brings great rewards like kicking up your boots and enjoying a drink at the end of a long, hard day; or spending quality time with family and friends around some good barbecue. That attitude is at the core of our brand identity, and it just fit perfectly to add in an extra line to show that Texans are in it together during this time in need – “Work hard. Wash your hands. Live the good life.”