Punahou Parents Lead Massive Effort to Produce Hand Sanitizer

Natalie Wacker ’21, Miles Brand ’27 and Cady Brand ’29 lend a hand labeling hand sanitizer at the Ko Hana distillery.

Punahou parents Jason Brand and Malindi Fickle are leading an extraordinary effort to assist during the coronavirus pandemic. As co-founders of Ko Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum, and with the support of local business partners and fellow Punahou parents Rich and Eileen Wacker, they organized a hui of Hawai‘i companies that are now mass producing hand sanitizer for local hospitals, first responders, front line workers, the Department of Education, the prison system and other groups.

Brand says it became clear in early March, as the crisis unfolded, that the nation would need more hand sanitizer. Realizing that alcohol is the main ingredient for sanitizers, Ko Hana began to tackle the problem. “We pulled together different Hawaiian corporations to gather the supplies, and reached out to the State and the FDA to see how we could become registered to produce FDA-approved sanitizer for Hawai‘i,” said Brand, father of Miles Brand ’27 and Cady Brand ’29. “We knew that we had the equipment and the drive to make a difference.”

The Ko Hana team was joined by HonBlue, American Savings Bank, Halm’s Enterprises, Tamura’s Fine Wine & LIquors, BEI Hawaii, Hawaii Agriculture Research Center and Pharmacare, and have since been joined by other corporations and distilleries across Hawai‘i to produce enough hand sanitizer collectively to meet the needs in the Islands.

Ko Hana Rum has already produced more than 1,000 gallons, with other members of the hui contributing an additional 4,000 gallons, all of which is being distributed at no or very low cost. Now that the initial supply chain and processes have been established, production is expected to ramp up even further.

The Wackers’ daugher, Natalie Wacker ’21, and Miles and Cady Brand are assisting on the production line, while following social distancing guidelines. “We’re all in this together, and if we all pitch in, we can help keep our community safe,” Natalie said. “We can move the needle in the fight against the virus.”  

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