This small-batch distillery’s storage room is packed not with stocks of bourbon or whiskey, but with hundreds of boxes containing gallons filled with hand sanitizer.
These two Texas brothers have turned their company, Whitmeyer’s Distilling, into a massive hand sanitizer operation. While most small business owners have closed their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, these guys and their team of bartenders have increased their working hours. They are now operating round the clock – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Two weeks ago, I didn’t really know much about hand sanitizer. It was crazy,” said Chris Whitmeyer, who co-owns the business with his brother, Travis.
They hired 30 furloughed bartenders to assist in the bottling, packaging, and distribution of bottles to the public for free. Their employees are moving as fast as they can, filling 16 gallons a minute and wheeling boxes of finished gallon pallets into the storage room. This time, however, they were bottling hand sanitizer instead of vodka.
“This is a way for us to kind of get on the front lines and fight this thing with the rest of Houston,” Chris said.
Being in service of others and giving back to the community is nothing new to these Iraq war veterans. Their training and service as military men prepared them for a huge request from Texas Children’s Hospital. The facility has been running low in medical supplies, and they said they needed 6,100 gallons of hand sanitizer that will last them for six months.
It’s the biggest order that Chris and Travis have ever received, but they weren’t going to let them down.
“So we called them back and said we’re going to do it. We’re going to do it on donation,” Chris said. “We’re just going to take care of you guys.”
The Texas Children’s Hospital had a special place in Chris’ heart because its doctors and nurses were the ones who saved his daughter’s life three years ago.
His daughter came down with the flu then, and her health got worse after she contracted croup, an “infection of the upper airway, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough.” Chris remembers seeing his daughter constantly gasping for air.
After a week’s stay in the hospital, she was released. But her infection only got worse. They took her back down, and the little girl had to into the ICU. His 2-year-old spent another week in intensive care. During those uncertain times, Chris watched as health care workers worked round the clock to keep his daughter alive.
“When you see them with crash carts and hooking them up to all these tubes and wires, and she’s crying and there’s nothing you can do, but they did it. They were her parent that day. And they took care of her,” he said.
He hopes the hand sanitizers they’re producing will protect the same doctors and nurses who he credits for saving his kid’s life.
Travis said it makes them happy knowing that they can “help a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.”
Watch the video below to learn more about these two brothers and their inspiring initiative.