Filling a need

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Filling a need

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 14:44
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Gemini Coatings adding production of hand sanitizer during pandemic

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An El Reno company is making something new, filling a need brought on by the pandemic.

Gemini Coatings, a wood coating and paint manufacturer, has been producing hand sanitizer for the past two months.

Between 14,000 and 21,000 gallons are produced each workday. Contracts with some large companies, including a possible deal with an airline, are in the works.

Gemini has been donating the hand cleaner to a number of local organizations. These include Community Action, The Lord’s Harvest, Youth and Family Services, Wesley United Methodist Church, First Assembly of God, Mobile Meals, Canadian Valley Technology Center’s child care and the Chamber of Commerce. The municipal buildings for both El Reno and Yukon have also been beneficiaries.

Jerry Nelson, Gemini’s human resources manager, has been bringing the product to the churches and charities. He said because of the coronavirus, hand sanitizer has been hard to come by.

“We were surprised by how many people still needed it,” he said. “We thought that this could fill the niche for people struggling to find it.”

The new endeavor began with one of Gemini’s clients, a man from McKinney, Texas. He is the middleman between Gemini and a few large customers such as Lowe’s, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He also works with hand sanitizer companies that were eager to find more producers.

Gemini acquired the needed equipment, large pumps and mixers similar to the ones used for paint and lacquer. Other machines were re-tooled.

As the company continues to produce its regular products, the hand sanitizer is made at the same location. Nelson said that different but similar machines are used for each product so there is no danger of cross-contamination. Pumps move the sanitizer from the vats to the tanker trucks outside. Two of these vehicles are filled per day.

Nelson said Gemini is receiving calls from several other companies. The operation is going so well the company has been able to keep all employees busy with no one being furloughed.

“We haven’t had to do that,” said Nelson. “That's been nice, one of the real blessings with us.”

Nelson said Gemini has been blessed in many ways through its new venture. It’s one of the reasons the company decided to give back to the community through donations.

Nelson said the process isn’t too different from what the company has been doing for years.

“It’s a lot like what we already do.”

It isn’t certain how long Gemini will continue making hand sanitizer. But Nelson said their intention is to continue as long as there’s a need.

“I hope people in town realize that we take pride in this. Hopefully, they’ll take pride that we’re providing for the community.”