As numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases in San Benito County increase, one local business wants to do its part. Hollister Cannabis Co. is manufacturing hand sanitizer to help protect the most vulnerable populations in the area and those on the front lines of the outbreak.
Carl Saling, co-owner along with his wife Amasa Lacy, said he felt he needed to do something to help slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the community, and that he had the necessary equipment to make hand sanitizer.
“So I was like, ‘Okay. We use all the ingredients for hand sanitizer in our business on a daily basis,’” Saling said. “‘We have a lot of it, let’s just make hand sanitizer.’”
Saling has four of his 15 employees on the project following the World Health Organization formula while the rest of the business manufactures cannabis products.
While the sanitizer shortage was a concern to Saling, what he took exception to was price gouging.
“That really upset me. Now is not the time to do that,” Saling said. “I’m a capitalist, I love making money, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. And playing on people’s fears and charging huge amounts of markup is not the right way to do it.”
To combat high prices during the emergency, Saling is providing hand sanitizer for free to the county, Community FoodBank, homeless shelters, emergency services, nursing homes and nurses.
Saling’s contribution “is indicative of how the community and individuals are stepping up to support the food bank,” Community FoodBank Director of Communications Scott Kindred said.
San Benito County Public Information Officer David Westrick received part of the donation to the county, which he will distribute to other agencies.
“I think anytime a local company supports the community it is really a testament to the company’s loyalty to its local employees and the community overall,” said Westrick, a former Hollister police chief. “This company donated this hand sanitizer because they truly care about this community’s welfare and its people.”
Saling estimates Hollister Cannabis will manufacture a total of 4,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. He said the company manufactured about 2,000 bottles last week and will distribute about 1,000 from that batch this week. The company needs additional supplies before manufacturing the final batch.
Before deciding to make sanitizer, Saling said he explored other options such as manufacturing masks, but soon realized he did not have the right equipment. Having his employees go around the community and help those in need also crossed his mind, but “I didn’t want to put my employees in harm’s way,” he said.
While he hopes the company’s effort helps save lives, Saling said it’s also about instilling among his employees a culture of giving back to the community.
“Part of my commitment to Hollister when we were awarded our cannabis licenses was to be a good neighbor and that’s exactly what I’ve done,” Saling said. “I would also put a call out to all the businesses in San Benito County to do whatever you can to step up.”
BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.