Editor’s Note: This news item was updated to include our podcast with Michael Caputi, Epoxytec president, and his wife Silvia Caputi, Epoxytec vice president.
Dwindling supplies of hand sanitizer at Epoxytec’s headquarters in south Florida prompted some quick thinking that would eventually lead to the company producing its own line of Mano-Care Hand Sanitizer.
As its supplies were running low, Epoxytec’s office manager Victoria Nixon suggested making some in-house for Epoxytec’s own internal office use. As a supplier of coatings and linings for critical infrastructure throughout the nation, Epoxytec’s headquarters is equipped with a research and development (R&D) lab and has two polymer chemists on staff.
Nixon presented the idea to Ross Davison, Epoxytec’s R&D manager. “It’s easier than making epoxies. I think we can do it,” was the response. The team then presented the idea to management. At this point, the idea was still to make the sanitizer for internal office use only.
But by the end of that week, things around the nation began taking a turn for the worse. Cities were shutting down. Michael Caputi, Epoxytec president, and his wife Silvia Caputi, Epoxytec vice president, tuned in to President Donald Trump’s Task Force briefing that day: “I’m calling on small businesses, the heartbeat of America, to step up. To use their ingenuity and resources to help. Americans from all over the country are repurposing their facilities to help meet the demand for and shortage of critical supplies.”
Michael and Silvia turned to each other at that moment. “I think we can do this,” was the conversation that took place next. That’s when the real work began and the idea began to evolve, from creating hand sanitizer for one office to manufacturing it in larger quantities. They spent the weekend studying the FDA’s Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19).
Michael contacted every governor in the nation, to get a feel for the demand. Silvia began to take the temperature of the community. “I called my friends who are firefighters, police officers, nurses, and first responders. I found that the need right here in our own south Florida backyard was tremendous,” she said. “Particularly with first responders, who are on the front line. They needed supplies and protection to help them continue doing their job. I told Michael, ‘Let’s start local.’”
And from there, “I think we can do this,” turned into “We’re doing this.”
Epoxytec’s skeleton office crew met on March 23. As an essential business that provides products to protect and conserve critical infrastructure such as water and wastewater, Epoxytec remained open, although by that time the city was under a county ordinance for all non-essential businesses to close.
Epoxytec had safety measures in place to protect those staff members still coming to work, including temperature checks, social distancing, and additional cleaning, among many other measures. The four remaining Epoxytec staff members sat 6 ft apart, wearing masks and gloves, and got to work.
That work has continued around the clock. Every member of the Epoxytec team has played a part, from the sales team working remotely from home, to the warehouse operators, office management, and R&D. Tasks ranged from securing raw materials and packaging, preparing labels, authoring Safety Data Sheets, obtaining an FDA Labeler Code; the list goes on and on.
Epoxytec has been forced to think outside the box every step of the way, as supplies are scarce and “normal” business operations no longer exist. This included working with a local Fort Lauderdale distillery in order to obtain alcohol, the main ingredient of hand sanitizer. Extraordinary people have been encountered along the way. People from every walk of life and all types of businesses are coming together, asking, “How can I help?”
After less than one week, Mano-Care Hand Sanitizer by Epoxytec International, Inc. is ready to hit the market.
“This is the best of south Florida and the country as a whole right here. Hardworking people coming together to make things happen,” said Michael. Silvia echoed that sentiment. “This is our community. It’s the community we grew up in, work in, live in. It has served us well and now it’s our honor to give back. We are all in this together and sometimes the worst of times brings out the best in people. That’s what I see going on in our America.”
Epoxytec is a family business, founded by Joe Caputi over 30 years ago. The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in the Caputi family. The ability to repurpose its manufacturing facility in less than a week to produce hand sanitizer for the community has felt like nothing short of moving a mountain.
“But I know this is nothing compared to the real heroes,” says Silvia. “The doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and first responders on the front line — what they are doing is truly inspirational. Epoxytec is simply trying to help in whatever way we can, and manufacturing hand sanitizer to give the heroes one thing less to worry about is something we can do.”
Epoxytec is proud to offer its Mano-Care Hand Sanitizer and will work endlessly to fulfill orders and play its part during these unimaginable times.
SOURCE – Epoxytec