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Business Observer Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020 2 weeks ago

Area hand sanitizer manufacturer increases production in wake of coronavirus

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Durisan’s facility is running 24/7.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

As people worldwide react to the spread of the coronavirus, certain items have flown off store shelves, among them, hand sanitizer.

An area manufacturer is experiencing that demand first-hand — Manatee County-based Durisan. The 5-year-old company makes hand sanitizer, hand soap and disinfecting surface wipes. It sells its products to institutions, businesses and consumers through outlets including Amazon, Rite Aid, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart and Home Depot.

Durisan Business Development Manager Alexandra Lin says the major uptick in business follows an already elevated period of growth for the company. “We’re super busy with the virus, but we were actually getting quite busy before that,” she says.

Durisan’s products are alcohol free, and its solution “causes microbes to be drawn to nano-spikes where they are pierced on contact,” physically destroying the cell wall. According to Lin, after applying the firm’s product, it lasts for up to 24 hours. Because of that, prior to COVID-19, the company was working with the U.N. and other organizations to move its products into areas that need alternatives to clean water hand washing.

As coronavirus concerns have grown, Durisan has increased production efforts at its 55,000-square-foot facility. To meet demand, it’s manufacturing 24 hours a day now, including weekends. Depending on the specific item, Durisan has a lead time of two, three or four weeks. 

According to Lin, the company will need more space, and not just because of coronavirus. “We will be expanding and staying right where we are,” she says. The company is also adding to its workforce, which a week ago stood at 44 people before it hired several more warehouse, customer service and sales employees. It’s working with a staffing agency to build up its base quickly.

Courtesy. Durisan makes hand sanitizer, hand soap and disinfecting surface wipes.

For manufacturers, the challenges of meeting sudden overwhelming demand abound. One advantage Lin says Durisan has is local control. “We’re producing in the U.S.,” she says. “We do everything here — manufacturing and shipping. We are really lucky.”

Over the past several weeks, Durisan has gained new clients as more people have become aware of the company’s products. Lin says that’s an upside to an otherwise negative situation; it has given the firm a chance to explain its products to high-level executives. “Now they’re actually getting the science and the correct information,” she says. “You hate to say it’s a blessing — there’s no blessing in this — but at least the information is getting to the people who need it.”

In the future, Lin says Orlando tourist attractions along with multiple airlines and cruise ships will use Durisan’s products. “That’s because we were able to educate," she says. "This is not a short-term change. This is going to be a long-term, game-changing environmental upset, to say the least.” 

Lin says one of the biggest lessons for moving forward is, “We need to educate even more than we thought we were.”

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