GOLOCAL

Creating hand sanitiser wasn't on the radar for a family run Paraparaumu Beach liquor and spirit making business when the Covid-19 health crisis erupted.

But it soon presented an appealing opportunity to do something different, not to mention help keep other businesses going.

The Bond Store, run by Chris Barber and Bec Kay along with support from their 11-year-old daughter Ruby, make the internationally award-winning Koakoa Limoncello and The Bond Store Kawakawa Gin.

The business has three main income streams — bottle stores, restaurants and events.

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But then Covid-19 struck.

"Overnight 90 per cent of your revenue just disappears off the face of the earth," Chris said.

But the company had a few things in its favour — no other staff, the trio were in a single bubble so they could still access their factory, and they could still do online alcohol orders.

They had looked at some people in their industry venturing into making hand sanitiser but it didn't appeal too much.

Chris Barber and Bec Kay.
Chris Barber and Bec Kay.

"We're quite proud of what we do and I'm a big believer that if you're going to do something then do it properly," Chris said.

But their interest was piqued when they found out some businesses in the Horowhenua such as vegetable growers were struggling to access hand sanitiser.

So they got a permit from Customs to make hand sanitiser, studied a World Health Organisation (WHO) hand sanitiser recipe, and spent a weekend to "see if we could even make this stuff".

Finally they locked down a recipe and started making 70 per cent WHO class hand sanitiser.

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The product, in 10 and 20 litre containers, was made for the vegetable growers initially and then other businesses including Palmerston North Hospital.

Chris said the initiative wasn't about making money, although it had helped paying off some bills.

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"The main thing for us was that we didn't really want to create hand sanitiser, but we had an opportunity to do it, and it enabled us to keeping buying stuff from suppliers, also we feel good about helping other businesses keep going."

There were uncertain times ahead — would they get busy or not when restrictions were eased on restaurants? What about public events? How long before the supply chain got back to normal?

"We're sitting in this kind of limbo," he said. "It's so uncertain.

"We wake up in the morning and we go and do what we need to do, but we don't know what tomorrow is going to look like."

But there is one thing for sure.

"We will get through this and we will get stronger."

And the upheaval has presented itself with an important reminder.

"How important our local and domestic markets are. We've had such awesome support from the local community.

"If we'd said 'bugger the local stuff we're focusing on selling overseas' we'd be broke.

"It makes you quite proud actually."