Kansas City Industrial Council (KCIC) Members J. Rieger & Co. and Cargill form a partnership to bring hand sanitizer to Kansas City’s frontlines
A little over a month ago, Andy Rieger, President/Co-Founder of J. Rieger & Co., shared a photo on Facebook of an employee using their overproof Gin to disinfect equipment. The post garnered attention from all around the metro. It wasn’t long before Andy received a phone call from a local nursing home frantic for help. Desperately needing hand sanitizer but unable to buy it anywhere, they asked if J. Rieger & Co. would consider making some.
Though the Rieger team had heard of a small distillery in Portland, Oregon that had begun manufacturing bottles on a very small scale, they weren’t sure the work involved would be a prudent investment for their company given the slowing economy.
A few days later, Mayor Quinton Lucas called for all gatherings over 10 people to be banned, schools to be closed and restaurants to move to carry-out service only – effectively crippling the Kansas City service industry and businesses across the metro. If ever there was a good time to make the shift to producing hand sanitizer, the team reasoned, it was now.
As the company geared up, they looked at the manufacturing requirements for hand sanitizer. According the World Health Organization’s guide to local production, hand sanitizer required three essential components: alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and glycerin. A local partner had plenty of hydrogen Peroxide for the J. Rieger & Co. project. Being a distillery, the alcohol was easy to come by. The glycerin was more difficult. Supplies were already limited and channels to get it, overburdened.
Andy took to social media, asking if anyone had access to large amounts of glycerin. Their next-door neighbor and fellow KCIC member, Cargill caught wind and wanted to help. Cargill manufactures glycerin at its East Bottoms plant and as an essential business, they themselves needed hand sanitizer to keep employees safe.
Both J. Rieger & Co. and Cargill are members of the Kansas City Industrial Council, an organization that brings awareness and representation to industrial business in the metro area.
By March 20, J. Rieger & Co. was producing hand sanitizer by using Cargill’s glycerin, forming an unusual partnership that would bond the two companies together during the pandemic. Together, J. Rieger & Co. and Cargill have stepped up to help the Kansas City community in a time of need and extreme uncertainty, while also shining light on the importance of organizations like KCIC.
“Cargill has been compassionate, helpful and accommodating. It’s impressive to see a national leader like them allow a local need to take precedence… to see people from our City say, ‘this is what’s right, and what we need to do’ – and do it.” said Andy.
J. Rieger & Co. has transitioned to full-time production of hand sanitizer, while managing to keep its 65+ employees at full employment. To date, they have made more than 110,000 hand sanitizer bottles for first responders, health institutions, critical manufacturers and the public.