Two businesses in Idaho refused to let supply chain snafus stymie their plans to make hand sanitizer to hand out to people on both sides of Teton Pass.

When New West Knifeworks in Victor and Grand Teton Distillery in Driggs each came up short on different ingredients, including moisturizing agents and bottles, they combined what they had to produce thousands of bottles and begin distributing them for free at the end of last week.

Both businesses want to make sure Tetons residents could get sanitizer at a time when it’s being swept off grocery store shelves.

“People are in need of it,” said Andrew Boczar, vice president of Grand Teton Distillery.

For New West founder Corey Milligan the sanitizer giveaway is part of his We Are Jackson Hole public relations campaign to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus contagion through social distancing and hand cleaning.

“Every day that a person is not doing their part we are increasing the risk of a faster spread,” he said.

A few weeks ago he decided to make 10,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. Grand Teton Distillery, which makes vodka, was planning to make several thousand itself. Each found that getting bottles and ingredients wasn’t easy during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It immediately turned into a game of whack-a-mole,” Milligan said. “We ordered, and then we learned that something was not available or that shipping was delayed.”

Hand sanitizer

New West Knifeworks and Grand Teton Distillery made thousands of small bottles of hand sanitizer for the Teton Valley and Jackson Hole communities.

Andrew Boczar, vice president of Grand Teton Distillery, said, “There’s a lot of other distilleries doing the same thing. We are all trying to buy from the same places to make it.”

The ingredients Grand Teton Distillery was waiting on included those needed to denature ethyl alcohol. Without denaturing, Boczar said, one of the problems is “people just drink it.”

Milligan had isopropyl alcohol, which could be mixed with the other to take care of that problem, Boczar said.

At the Driggs distillery the mixture was “proofed down” to 65% alcohol, which is just above the level required for sanitizers, Boczar said.

New West employees went to the distillery to screw the tops on bottles; the labeling was then done at the knife factory.

New West’s stores in Park City, Utah; Napa Valley; and Jackson are closed, and this is a slow time of year for Grand Teton Distillery, giving both businesses extra time to do good.

“We’re not actively producing,” Boczar said “We were sitting around doing other stuff anyway.”

Local businesses make and distribute free hand sanitizer

Corey Milligan, the owner of New West Knifeworks, left, chats with a Jackson residents in their cars as New West Knifeworks employee George Glod fills an empty container with hand sanitizer Friday afternoon at the Jackson Hole High School parking lot. New West Knifeworks along with Grand Teton Distillery and WE ARE Jackson Hole have been working together to make and distribute free hand sanitizer to the community. They ask that residents return their bottles to the New West Knifeworks location in Jackson so they can reuse the bottles.

Contact Jennifer Dorsey at jennifer@jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5908.

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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