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Mount Clemens importer shifts responsibilities amidst COVID-19 crisis

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 31, 2020

 Prestige Imports LLC in Mount Clemens is doing its part by working with an Iowa distillery, converting from making craft whiskey to now producing hand sanitizer.

Prestige Imports LLC in Mount Clemens is doing its part by working with an Iowa distillery, converting from making craft whiskey to now producing hand sanitizer.

Photo provided by Tom Cleaver

“There’s got to be some way we can help. We’ve got a building, trucks and the space. I’m very happy to provide this.”

Mike Sullivan, Packaging Products owner

MOUNT CLEMENS — Helping America overcome the COVID-19 pandemic is an all hands on deck effort.

Across the country, stories are emerging of examples of goodwill.

Locally, Prestige Imports LLC in Mount Clemens is doing its part by working with an Iowa distillery, converting from making craft whiskey to now producing hand sanitizer approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. 

Prestige Imports is an importer, wholesaler, private label and brand owner of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

The changeover began on March 9. Production is scheduled through the end of June.

Once manufactured, bottles are sent to companies across the U.S. The product is sold under the Red Fox label.

Prestige is offering hand sanitizer in 1.75 liter refillable plastic bottles for $20, with six bottles per case available for $120.  

Thomas Cleaver, marketing director at Prestige, said the hand sanitizer is manufactured by Dehner Distillery in Clive, Iowa.  

No mixing is required, and each bottle consists of 80% alcohol antiseptic.

“We have to denature it, then we put the other formulation in it like water and disinfectant, blend it together, and put it on our production line,” Cleaver said.  

He added that Prestige received calls from hospitals, state health departments, chain stores, distributors and janitorial companies. 

“We are doing our patriotic duty to convert alcohol product to alcohol hand sanitizer,” he said.

The Iowa facility was easily able to convert production by using existing half-gallon vodka bottles to hand sanitizer.  

About 15 pallets a day of hand sanitizer are being produced. Cleaver estimates around 25,000 bottles have been shipped out thus far. 

Mike Sullivan, owner of Packaging Products in Detroit, said he will judge demand on how fast the hand sanitizer is selling.

Packaging Products works with Prestige in distributing products. 

Sullivan said the sanitizer could appear in retail outlets the week of April 6.

“Tom contacted me and I view it as an opportunity,” he said. “There’s got to be some way we can help. We’ve got a building, trucks and the space. I’m very happy to provide this.” 

The idea for the production changeover came when Prestige was contacted by a representative from Anheuser-Busch who suggested it make hand sanitizer.

To date, 6,498 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Michigan, with 184 deaths. In Macomb County, 728 people have contracted the virus, with 27 deaths.