65ºF

Adapt or die: San Antonio manufacturing companies are changing the way they do business amid the coronavirus

CEO Mona Helmy of Helmy Associates & Co wears a protective face mask her company is making to help health care workers fight the battle during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by GABE HERNANDEZ
CEO Mona Helmy of Helmy Associates & Co wears a protective face mask her company is making to help health care workers fight the battle during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by GABE HERNANDEZ (San Antonio Business Journal)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between the San Antonio Business Journal and KSAT.

As manufacturers around the country are scrambling to shore up the nation’s inventory of equipment needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, they are increasingly competing with each other for the same supplies.

It took two weeks and a significant investment to secure 80 drums of industrial alcohol for Acme Soap Co., a San Antonio company that has been in business since 1952. On April 22, the Chinese-sourced alcohol finally came onshore in California, and Acme General Manager Tom Stratil expected it at the company's Fulton Avenue warehouse on April 24.

Stratil and his team will use it to produce more than 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to be distributed to H-E-B LP’s bakeries, snack and meat processing plants, as well as several smaller food manufacturers and restaurant chain Bill Miller’s. Some are old customers of Acme Soap, which has been owned by Stratil and his wife Barbara — the company’s president — since 1986. Acme has also received a huge influx of new customers from walk-in orders for hand sanitizer and disinfectants since the outbreak started.

Local whiskey distilleries have also gotten in on making hand sanitizer, as has San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp., which is able to use its own ethanol to make sanitizer. For companies like Acme, which depend on outside suppliers for raw materials, the situation has begun to turn dire.

"Everybody's producing more and more for the coronavirus," said Rey Chavez, president of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association. "And it’s hard to get certain items to produce or make manufactured goods."

Read more about how local manufacturers are working to prevent shortages in a time of need from the SABJ.