Making hand sanitizer is nothing new for Enviro Tech Chemical Services Inc. of Modesto, California. But three months ago, the product was swept up in an unexpected surge in popularity thanks to COVID-19.
In response to the pandemic-fueled market, Enviro Tech began manufacturing its Bac Stop 3A labeled product in March at its Arkansas chemical plant in the Helena Harbor Industrial Complex. Now the facility is operating around the clock to fill orders from customers throughout the Midwest and East Coast.
“Demand obviously exploded,” said Brent Bankosky, chief operating officer at Enviro Tech. “We saw the demand pick up in early March and quickly mobilized our team to start making hand sanitizer in Helena.”
Started from scratch, Arkansas hand sanitizer production began after four days of training personnel as monthly output quickly scaled up from a few thousand gallons.
The Enviro Tech facility in Phillips County is now cranking out as much as 50,000 gallons of its blend of ethanol, glycerine and hydrogen peroxide daily. “This [heightened demand] fits the sweet spot of our portfolio,” Bankosky said. “We’ve been making this product for the past 10-plus years.”
The ramped-up production of Bac Stop 3A boosted overall employment at the Arkansas plant to about 120, divided among three shifts working 24/7.
Hand sanitizer here is produced in 2.5-gallon jugs, 5-gallon pails, 15-, 30- and 55-gallon drums and 330-gallon totes. The empty totes weigh 150 pounds, 2,500 pounds when filled.
Bankosky said most customers are industrial users and large companies that want to distribute the sanitizer internally.
In addition to Helena, Enviro Tech employs 140 at its Modesto plant, where its EPA- registered, FDA-registered product lines include 1-gallon jugs of hand sanitizer.
“The need for sound science and innovative chemistry is more acute now than ever before,” said Mike Harvey, president and CEO of Enviro Tech. “While our growth is certainly a source of pride, what makes me most proud is the dedication of our teams in both Modesto and Helena.
“We could not have risen to meet the challenges of the pandemic without the hard work they do every day to ensure we can supply this essential weapon against pathogenic viruses to the front-line essential workers.”
Founded by Harvey in 1991, the private specialty chemical company is one of the largest manufacturers of peracetic acid (PAA) in North America.
The Helena plant continues PAA production in support of the company’s lineup of antimicrobials used by customers to maintain food safety and water quality.
Since opening its Arkansas plant in 2015, Enviro Tech has expanded the operation twice and now encompasses 170,000 SF under roof. Two years ago, the company opened a 25,000-SF automated packaging addition on its 30-acre property, less than 8 miles south of Helena-West Helena.
“The bottom line for us is that production continues to expand at Helena,” Bankosky said. “We plan to produce antimicrobial hand soap starting later this summer and additional health care products in the near future.”
The Enviro Tech product catalog also encompasses disinfectants and hard surface sanitizers. The company specializes in manufacturing products for the food and beverage, agriculture, industrial water treatment, municipal wastewater and oil and gas markets.
Enviro Tech products are used to treat meat, poultry, seafood and fruits and vegetables to reduce the potential for food-borne illness.
“Our business is biocides,” Bankosky said. “The use of biocides has increased this year to improve sanitation in food-producing facilities, in agriculture and other areas as well.”
In addition to Arkansas and California, Enviro Tech operates warehousing and sales offices in Mexico and
Chile and is developing a new 75,000-SF chemical manufacturing facility in Levelland, Texas, about 17 miles west of Lubbock.
“We see the market for hand sanitizer continuing in schools, hospitals, grocery stores and in retail for years to come,” Bankosky said. “We don’t see this going away.”