U.S. Manufacturing Answers the Call

Supporting communities means adapting to changing needs, and customer needs changed quite a bit during the spring of 2020 as the risks of contracting COVID-19 grew. Products like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and face masks were in high demand and short supply. But these Walmart suppliers adapted to get customers and associates the items they needed when they needed them the most.

Below are stories of U.S. manufacturers answering the call to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Sazerac: Distilling the American Spirit on The Huddle with John Furner

When COVID-19 started to spread, Sazerac knew just how to help. This isn’t the long-time whiskey-maker’s first time making disinfectant during a crisis. CEO Mark Brown and COO Matt Maimone distill the fine points of bottling whiskey and hand sanitizer on The Huddle with John Furner.

Rockline: Ramping Up to (Disinfectant) Wipe Out COVID-19

By Matt Smith, Walmart Corporate Affairs

The early days of the COVID-19 response in the U.S. saw the supply chain pushed to its limits. Though it seems a lifetime ago now, products like disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer were in short supply during the middle of March 2020.

The second and third weeks of March were NOT business as usual. Within two weeks, three months-worth of disinfectant wipes were sold through. Stores were sold out. Companies like Rockline had to adapt to meet customers’ needs, and they had to do it quickly.

“It truly was tectonic and unprecedented in its magnitude,” Rockline spokesperson Chris Dresselhuys said.

Rockline, a family-owned company headquartered in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was one of the first Walmart suppliers to step up and answer the call.

That’s because Rockline makes wipes. They make wet wipes in several categories – disposable wipes, baby wipes, makeup removal wipes. If you can think if a type of wet wipe, Rockline probably makes it. And that includes disinfectant wipes.

Luckily, Rockline already made the types of wipes that were in high demand, but getting more on Walmart shelves involved more than just stepping up production. The company had to think differently.

Most disinfectant wipes are sold in plastic cannisters and were already being made as fast as factories could muster. Rockline started to look at other packaging options, like the film wrapper packaging that baby wipes and flushable wipes tend to come in. Converting those manufacturing lines to produce the disinfectant variety was the quickest possible option. So, after getting the packaging approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, Rockline was ready to rock – and roll out product.

“Everyone approached it with a dedication to putting the most amount of product into consumers’ hands to help fight the spread of the coronavirus,” Dresselhuys said.

And that’s just what they did. There were still lots of challenges, like getting the amounts of raw materials necessary to make the wipes and the disinfectant solution. The Rockline team rocked it out. In about a month’s time, Rockline was making disinfectant wipes and shipping them to stores all across the U.S.

“To be able to be a part of bending down the curve and helping people create healthy environments makes it easy, frankly, to get up each day and go to work,” Dresselhuys said.

The availability of products like disinfectant wipes seemed like a small matter a few months ago, but now the sense of control and confidence products like these bring to customers is just as essential. It’s companies like Rockline working tirelessly to get customers the essentials they need that help make it possible.

Joa: Changing Diapers for Facemasks

From covering babies to covering faces, U.S. manufacturer Joa converted machines made to produce diapers into facemask factories. By implementing their patented machinery and manufacturing process, Joa was able to transform domestically-sourced materials into millions of quality-tested face masks – fast. As an FDA-registered medical device manufacturer, this Wisconsin-based factory now supplies masks to Walmart associates across the United States.