Sterling Heights cleans way for business to synthesize sanitizer

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 28, 2020


Sterling Heights city officials recently moved fast to get a local business help with its goal of manufacturing hand sanitizer, city officials said.

The Sterling Heights company normally is focused on production of items for the home health and beauty market, but the business wanted to do its part to replenish hand sanitizer shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It just needed to overcome some bureaucratic hurdles. 

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said they heard about the company’s need and sprang into action to help.

“They have connections in the business,” Taylor said. “They have the ability to source bottles and labels and caps and the raw materials needed to produce hand sanitizer. What they needed to do was they needed to apply for a liquor license through the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and to get their facility approved by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

“We’ve been reading a lot about breweries and distilleries that are doing hand sanitizer, and they already have the liquor license and the ability to purchase alcohol for commercial use. We were able to use our connections through our senior economic development (adviser, Luke Bonner,) and (were) able to fast-track it and get it approved.”

Taylor said that, based on their last conversations, the company now has all the approvals it needs to make the sanitizer, and that by the end of March should be able to acquire the materials to ramp up production to 400,000 to 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer, depending on bottle size.

Michael McGonigle, the company’s co-owner, thanked the city, the LCC and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office for their roles in quickly acting to make the sanitizer production possible so his business can do its part to combat COVID-19.

“We have the alcohol; we have the hydrogen peroxide,” he said.

He said his company’s current goal has been getting hand sanitizer out the door, and it managed to do so for the first time March 25. But he said the transition has posed its challenges.

“We made pretty much a pivot over the past couple of days,” he said. “We’ve had to (install) ventilation systems. We have new machinery that has been really helping. … We’ve been running since 6 a.m. this morning, and we plan on running 15-20 hours a day to meet the needs of the people out there that really need hand sanitizer at this point in time.”

McGonigle thanked his employees, the delivery companies and other members of society who are working hard amid the pandemic. He said his company is working with a local distributor to get the sanitizer into the hands of hospitals and nursing homes.

“We made it very clear that those are the type of industries that we want to be utilizing the product,” he said. 

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Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.