Just six weeks after opening its doors to the public, Cantilever Distillery is shifting gears.
While it is still producing spirits, the Ranier-based distillery this week made and donated more than 70 gallons of alcohol-based disinfectant to local medical facilities, first response agencies and people on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were really inspired by everyone in the nation who are pulling together,” said Lindsey Goulet, co-owner of Cantilever. “Everyone was doing their part, so we wanted to do ours.”
Cantilever staff joins distillers across the country who are producing high-content alcohol products during a time when hand sanitizers have disappeared from store shelves as people stock up during the pandemic.
Marty Goulet, Cantilever co-owner, said making the sanitizer is another way to utilize the people and equipment Cantilever has.
“We’re thankful for the support the community has given us, this is one of the opportunities for us to say thanks back and keep people working,” he said.
Willi Kostiuk, Koochiching County Emergency Management director, said Cantilever’s donation came at a critical time.
“Because of local supplies being bought up by citizens, supplies are very hard to get a hold of, specifically hand sanitizer,” he said.
The donation of disinfecting spray allows first response agencies to more thoroughly clean surfaces that are frequently touched.
“It really does the job,” Kostiuk said. “We appreciate that local distillers can retool their manufacturing process to make hand sanitizer and disinfecting spray that they donated to the public. That’s going to help us.”
The Koochiching County Board Tuesday declared a state of emergency for the county which allows Kostiuk and others to implement an emergency operations plan. Part of that plan takes in donations given to the COVID-19 response.
“We’ll document everything we have brought in and have it stored in one centralized location,” he said. “Then, we’ll reach out to different organizations that may need these specific supplies... Supplies are limited, and we want to make sure everyone gets what we can give to fulfill their needs.”
In addition, Kostiuk said organizations shouldn’t get rid of sanitizing pumping devices when they’re empty.
“We can reuse and refill them,” he said.
Lindsey Goulet said the plan is to make more disinfectant for first responders in the area.
“We’ve had Fort Frances (officials) call us to supply all northwestern Ontario,” she said.
In addition to making sanitizer, Marty Goulet said while Cantilever’s cocktail room is closed, staff is using this time to build up inventory and ship out orders.
“We want to keep people working,” he said. “Now the challenge is with the supply chain being shut down and us being able to operate business... It’s an interesting time. We look forward to when we can get people back up here and showcase our area.”