Florida Epoxy Manufacturer Repurposes Facility to Make Hand Sanitizer

Hearing about a local demand for hand sanitizer from south Florida nurses and first responders, Epoxytec sprang into action to get a hand sanitizer manufacturing operation running in less than a week

Florida Epoxy Manufacturer Repurposes Facility to Make Hand Sanitizer

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When hand sanitizer started running low at Epoxytec’s south Florida headquarters, no one at the company imagined they’d soon repurpose their entire facility and work around the clock to manufacture the product in bulk to fill a local demand.

At first, office manager Victoria Nixon suggested making some sanitizer in-house for Epoxytec’s own internal office use. As a supplier of coatings and linings for critical infrastructure throughout the nation, Epoxytec’s headquarters is equipped with a research and development lab and has two polymer chemists on staff.

Nixon presented the idea to Ross Davison, Epoxytec’s R&D manager. “It’s easier than making epoxies. I think we can do it,” he said in response. At that point, the team presented the idea to management — still with the goal of producing sanitizer for in-house use only.

However, by the end of that week, things nationwide began taking a turn for the worse, as cities were shutting down nonessential businesses and recommending people stay at home. Michael and Silvia Caputi, Epoxytec’s president and vice president, respectively, tuned in to President Donald Trump’s daily task force briefing, hearing his administration call on small businesses to step up, and use their ingenuity and resources to help the nation meet the demand for critical supplies that were running short. That’s when they turned to each other, realizing Epoxytec could help.

The real work begins

At that point, company officials started planning to manufacture hand sanitizer in large quantities. They spent the weekend studying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19).

Michael contacted every governor in the nation to get a feel for the demand, while Silvia started to take the temperature of the community. “I called my friends who are firefighters, police officers, nurses and first responders," she says. “I found that the need right here in our own south Florida backyard was tremendous. Particularly with first responders, who are on the front line. They needed supplies and protection to help them continue doing their job. I told Michael, ‘let’s start local.’”

A skeleton crew

As a designated “essential business” that provides products to protect and conserve critical infrastructure like water and wastewater, Epoxytec has remained open during the outbreak, although the city is under an ordinance for all nonessential businesses to close.

The company has safety measures in place to protect staff members who are still coming to work — temperature checks, social distancing, disinfection and more. The four remaining Epoxytec staff members, sitting 6 feet apart, wearing masks and gloves, set to work making hand sanitizer in bulk.

That work has continued around the clock, and every member of the Epoxytec team has played a part, including the sales team working remotely from home, warehouse operators, office management, and R&D. Tasks include securing raw materials and packaging, preparing labels, authoring safety data sheets, obtaining an FDA Labeler Code — the list goes on.

Epoxytec has been forced to think outside the box every step of the way, according to the Caputis, as supplies are scarce and businesses aren’t running normal operations.

The company worked with a local Fort Lauderdale distillery in order to obtain alcohol — the main ingredient of hand sanitizer — and the staff says they’ve encountered many helpful people and businesses along the way asking to help them out.

Ready to ship

After less than one week, Mano-Care Hand Sanitizer by Epoxytec International Inc. is ready to hit the market.

“This is the best of south Florida and the country as a whole right here. Hardworking people coming together to make things happen,” says Michael.

Silvia echoed that sentiment. “This is our community. It’s the community we grew up in, work in, live in. It has served us well and now it’s our honor to give back. We are all in this together and sometimes the worst of times brings out the best in people. That’s what I see going on in our America.”

Epoxytec is a family business, founded by Joe Caputi over 30 years ago. The family’s entrepreneurial spirit runs deep, and the ability to repurpose their manufacturing facility in less than a week to produce hand sanitizer for the community is a testament to their resourcefulness.

“But I know this is nothing compared to the real heroes,” says Silvia. “The doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and first responders on the front line — what they are doing is truly inspirational. Epoxytec is simply trying to help in whatever way we can, and manufacturing hand sanitizer to give the heroes one thing less to worry about is something we can do.”

Epoxytec is now shipping its Mano-Care Hand Sanitizer, and is working hard to fulfill orders and play its part in the COVID-19 response.


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