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Amway will produce free hand sanitizer for Spectrum Health and Kids’ Food Basket

The health and safety of communities is built into Amway products. So, when the need arose in our hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., we stepped up. Combining our passion for community stewardship with our core competencies in manufacturing cleaning products on the Ada campus, we responded to an urgent need from our local Spectrum Health System for hand sanitizer to protect health care providers as they serve the growing population of patients affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified healthy hand hygiene as a key strategy for preventing illness and the spread of germs. When soap and water aren’t readily available, hand sanitizer is second best, yet it’s become nearly impossible for manufacturers to keep up with health care and consumer demand.

In alignment with our purpose of helping people live better, healthier lives, and to do our part as a global employer and leader in the West Michigan community, the company is working to alleviate demand by rushing production of hand sanitizer and providing it at no cost to Spectrum Health hospitals––epicenters for COVID-19 care in West Michigan.

Additional batches of Amway hand sanitizer will be sent to local hospitals outside of Spectrum’s network and Kids Food Basket, a longtime local partner that works to end childhood hunger. Our partnership with Kids Food Basket will help ensure the health and safety of workers and volunteers as they assemble meals for West Michigan children and families in need.

Fittingly named Project Light Speed, the initiative hit the ground running. In just 24 hours, we pulled together a cross-functional team of more than 40 local employees to develop an immediate action plan to repurpose onsite raw materials to produce approximately 14,000 units of Amway hand sanitizer, set to ship this week. Additionally, we placed an order for materials to produce two more batches (28,000 units), which will roll off the line in the coming weeks.

“Our team designed and built new filling equipment, printed labels, produced bottles, and expedited raw materials from all over to make this happen so quickly, and they’ve done it with tremendous enthusiasm, which doesn’t surprise me one bit,” said George Calvert, Amway chief supply chain officer. “Helping others has always been part of Amway’s culture and we need to support each other and our communities now more than ever.”

The team made quick work of process and packaging protocols, while simultaneously developing a formula and mix instructions based on a hand sanitizer the company developed for China during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in the early 2000s. The formula contains 66% ethanol, above the CDC recommendation of 60%. Because natural ethanol is used in other Amway products, the team was able to repurpose 9,000 onsite gallons for immediate production. Another 8,000 gallons were ordered to fulfill the project.

To expedite production and ship time, bottles and labels were immediately produced in our Plastics and Paper Products facilities and multiple pieces of equipment were moved from our Personal Care plant to our Cosmetics plant, where the team set up home base. The mixing process began on Monday, March 16, with filling set to begin on Tuesday or Wednesday. From start to finish––mixing, filling, coding, labeling and packaging––the project will be completed in the Cosmetics plant.

When it came to packaging, the team elected to use current 400mL pump bottles currently on hand for other products. Creative services quickly designed a label, which was produced in the Paper Products plant, and applied to the thousands of bottles produced by the Plastics team on Monday.

“I am so impressed with the fast, hard work of the Amway team to make this project a success. It is inspiring to see that across our enterprise, employees are energized and unified to make good things happen within their communities,” said Amway Chief Executive Officer Milind pant. “It is inspiring to see that across our company, employees are unified to support our communities during this unprecedented situation.”

“In my 13 years at Amway, I have never seen something like Project Light Speed. Across our enterprise, employees are energized and unified to make this happen. To see more than 40 cross-functional partners and teams from four of our plants produce a product in just three business days is an absolute testament to our people, culture and values at Amway. It’s exciting.”

- Troy Finnestad, manager, Amway national accounts and contract sales