Attwill Medical Solutions on Development Drive has modified part of their hydrogel line to the production of hand sanitizer–with the help of Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, and Dancing Goat Distillery in Cambridge.
While it may be unknown to many in the area, Lodi has a third major industry besides canned vegetables and smokehouses: Biotechnology. Until recently, that company was Anteco Pharma, sitting in medium-sized facility in the middle of Development Drive. Anteco chose to sell off their business in 2017, and one of their very satisfied clients stepped up to purchase them. That client was Attwill Medical Solutions (AMS).
Meeting the New Normal
With the onset of COVID-19 and the shortage of hand sanitizer, AMS sought to find a way to shift their production of hydrogel into a product that could fill that need. Angus Jackson, Director of Business Development explains:
As the pandemic was really causing a lot of chaos, we asked ourselves “what can we do to help?” We look at our filling machine for the hydrogel and thought “we can make hand sanitizer pretty easily.”
The active ingredient in hand sanitizer–ethanol–was something they didn’t have, however.
A Helpful Barrel
Their initial search brought them to Wollersheim Winery & Distillery. Wollersheim’s distillery produces brandy–which isn’t high-enough proof for what AMS needed (sanitizer requires 70% alcohol). They did, however, have a barrel of grain neutral spirits (GNS) in the facility for cleaning their equipment. Wollersheim had already donated some of this to the Sauk-Prairie hospital, and when approached by AMS, donated enough to get them started.
Tom Lenerz, Wollersheim’s Distiller then put AMS in touch with the Dancing Goat Distillery in Cambridge.
I put them in contact with each other, because I know the guys at Dancing Goat, and their equipment is set up to do this type of distilling. And they’re really knocking it out of the park. They’re doing a lot of distilling for producing sanitizer.
From Barrels to Bottles
When Nick Maas at Dancing Goat Distillery was initially approached to provide ethanol to UW Hospitals, he was willing to sell them the one barrel requested. When requests started coming in for more, he became more hesitant.
Originally, I didn’t want to do it. We’re selling hand santizer ourselves, at a very high volume. And every single bucket we sell–we’re selling 5-gallon buckets–perpetuates donations to charity. So we’re just making as much as we can.
So I was looking at it, and it was really going to cut into my output to supply these people. I know my stuff is going to a really good cause. So I was like… No.
But then a call came in offering the distillery thousands of gallons of expired beer. Nick and his crew ran the numbers and realized they could make it happen. The issue that arose, however, is that Dancing Goat isn’t set up to fill bottles–they’re set up to fill barrels. They needed a way to get the over 100,000 gallons–and growing–of distilled beer donated to them from Miller-Coors, Leinenkugel, and other breweries into consumer-sized portions of hand santizer.
This new supply chain opened up a wide range of possibilities, and allowed them to provide the large quantities of 80% alcohol that Attwill needed here in Lodi.
Starting Small, Going Big
With this new, large-volume supply, Attwill was able to ramp up from supplying hospitals, government agencies, and public-facing at-risk industries across the state to doing so on a national scale.
That doesn’t mean that they’ve forgotten the locals, however. The Lodi Police Department has been provided with a supply to help keep their staff–and the community members they interact with–safe.
Now that they’ve settled into making hand sanitizer, Angus Jackson says that Atwill is looking at utilizing its pharmaceutical manufacturing capability to producing reactants needed for COVID-19 test kits. While the kits will be manufactured elsewhere, the part that makes them work may very well be coming out of a small facility just down the road from you.
A Lodi native, Blaze attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where he graduated with a degree in theatre technology & design. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world–including a 6-year stint in China. He has been a teacher, a writer, a designer, and is the founder of the Redleaf Consulting Group.