Who, on Jan. 1, would have predicted that 2020 would be a massive growth year for Purell?
Sure, the brand created and produced by Akron, Ohio-based Gojo Industries had a fine niche. The name itself, Purell, is nearly synonymous with the overall product of hand sanitizers. But it was kind of just "there." You'd see bottles at schools and offices and sanitizer stations at convention halls. If you're like me, you also ended up with a collection of sample-size bottles given away at trade shows and other events.
But as the coronavirus spread, Purell and other hand sanitizers became highly sought items, with store shelves stripped bare. Gojo has seen "an exponential increase" in demand for its products, President and CEO Carey Jaros said in a story in our sister publication Crain's Cleveland Business.
In February, the company ramped up production, adding shifts to support around-the-clock manufacturing. Over the last few months, Gojo has hired more than 300 full- and part-time employees, bringing its Ohio workforce to nearly 1,800 people.
So it should not be a surprise that Gojo is adding a new production facility in Maple Heights, Ohio, and a distribution site in Navarre, Ohio. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine even announced the growth plans at a regular briefing on the state's response to COVID-19.
Gojo has some in-house blow molding in Wooster, Ohio, but also depends on outside suppliers for packaging, with new sources stepping up as demand raged.
"We have sourced all kinds of components, bottles and caps and all kinds of things from places that are very unexpected in order to be able to respond," Jaros said. "It's been a roller coaster. It's been a wild ride for us."