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Henkel to invest $17 million in Geneva plant, create 180 jobs

German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel AG & Co., KGaA, plans to add nearly 200 jobs in the Greater Rochester area with a $17.3 million investment in its Geneva manufacturing facility. The company, known for its beauty care brands like Dial soap, Schwarzkopf, Alterna, Kenra, Pravana, Sexy Hair, Joico and Zotos hair products, will invest a total of $23 million in its North American manufacturing facilities.

The funds will provide new equipment and a series of improvements that will support additional production of Dial liquid hand soap and hand sanitizers at its Geneva, N.Y., and West Hazleton, Pa., sites.

“We are thrilled to announce a supply expansion of essential products in North America,” said Doug Parkinson, vice president of operations at Henkel’s Geneva facility. “It’s not only a win-win for our business, it will support our local job and economic growth. Investing in Dial will provide consumers and businesses with much-needed home and personal hygiene products.”

Henkel plans to invest $17.3 million at its Geneva facility, seen here, and create nearly 200 jobs. (provided)
Henkel plans to invest $17.3 million at its Geneva facility, seen here, and create nearly 200 jobs. (provided)

To support new lines, which will contribute some 45 percent to 55 percent of total production at the Geneva facility, the company plans to create 180 new jobs at the plant. The company’s facility in Geneva, acquired by Henkel in 2018, also will be re-branded from Zotos Professional to Henkel to reflect the expansion of its operations beyond professional hair care products to supply essential products like antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers.

“There are now 180 new reasons to cheer every time we wash our hands thanks to the expansion of Henkel’s manufacturing facility in Geneva,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in a statement. “This will lather up a major economic boost in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes region by harnessing our skilled workforce to manufacture the sanitizers and soaps needed in our homes and workplaces during the pandemic, all while investing over $17 million to create 180 new jobs. I applaud Henkel for doubling down on its Geneva workforce and committing to grow this facility now and into the future.”

Some aspects of the new technology will be installed in October and be operational in November 2020, while the remainder will be up and running by June 2021.

“This new investment builds our long history of commitment to the Geneva community and sustainability efforts,” Parkinson noted.

In 2011, the company invested $6 million to build two 1.6MW wind turbines that now provide up to 20 percent of total site consumption equivalency, and on a windy day, the turbines can fuel the entire plant, he said.

“Additionally, the facility is investing $5 million in a wastewater treatment system that will ensure a clean effluent stream, ultimately enabling reusable water as a pillar of our community sustainable strategy,” Parkinson added. “With this new Henkel investment and the addition of the powerhouse Dial brand, our modern operations support the addition of 180 highly-skilled and talented employees that we are attracting from our local community to help further strengthen the Finger Lakes economy. We are extremely proud to be increasing our essential manufacturing of Dial soap and sanitizer products, during this challenging time.”

In North America, Henkel operates across its three business units: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care. With sales of roughly $6 billion in 2019, North America accounts for 26 percent of the company’s global sales. Henkel employs some 9,000 people across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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LiDestri to donate $1 million in hand sanitizer

LiDestri Foods Inc. plans to donate $1 million in medical-grade hand sanitizer this summer to camps and school districts to keep staff and campers safe.

Company officials on Monday said LiDestri has donated 6,000 gallons of hand sanitizer so far, with a value of roughly $250,000. In addition to summer camps and schools, the Rochester food and drink manufacturer will donate the sanitizer to first responders, medical facilities, charities and more.

Last weekend, every family entering Seneca Park Zoo was given complimentary hand sanitizer. The YMCA of Greater Rochester Inc., the Harley School, and school districts in Greece, Fairport and Brighton have stocked up for the school year.

This spring, LiDestri pivoted its spirits lines to produce hand sanitizer using the formula recommended by the World Health Organization. The sanitizer can be used on hands and surfaces and is available in four sizes, including 1 gallon.

The family-owned company, headquartered in Fairport, produces locally more than 3 million food and beverage products each day and nationally employs more than 1,300 in the Rochester area, California, and New Jersey. LiDestri dates back 45 years, under the leadership of Giovanni LiDestri.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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LiDestri Foods now offering Recipe 21 hand sanitizer to public

Recipe 21, a division of LiDestri Foods Inc., on Thursday rolled out its hand sanitizer line for the general public in direct response to COVID-19 relief efforts and the nationwide supply shortage.

LiDestri previously had adjusted its spirits production at its Lee Road facility to produce the hand sanitizer and meet the growing needs of essential businesses, health care workers, first responders and consumers. Orders are now being accepted online at and being shipped directly to consumers.

Orders for LiDestri Foods' hand sanitizer are now being accepted online at and being shipped directly to consumers.
Orders for LiDestri Foods’ hand sanitizer are now being accepted online at and being shipped directly to consumers.

Recipe 21 plans to donate a portion of the hand sanitizer proceeds to two charitable partnerships including CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving food and beverage service employees with children, who are faced with a health crisis or a natural disaster and are in need of help, including those who have been medically diagnosed with COVID-19; and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nonprofit that provides a unique healing experience to more than 20,000 seriously ill children and their families annually. Each organization will receive a minimum contribution of $21,000, officials said.

“When the country experienced such a significant shortage in hand sanitizer, we knew we needed to pivot our operations to do what we could to help. This was the perfect opportunity for Recipe 21 to make a real difference,” said Stefani LiDestri, the Rochester company’s co-CEO. “We are proud that this will be produced locally with our manufacturing teams, who work hard every day to get our products out to the market. Supporting families is a cause close to our hearts at LiDestri, so we are thrilled the sales of our hand sanitizer will benefit two charities also committed to helping families during difficult times.”

The hand sanitizer is an alcohol-based liquid featuring a World Health Organization-approved formula. The product launched on April 21 with curbside pickup at the company’s manufacturing facility, but the organization has since pivoted to increase the availability of its product. Recipe 21 is offering consumers two sizes, a pocket-sized 50ml bottle or a larger 375ml bottle, for home delivery nationwide.

For those in Rochester, the Rochester Red Wings and Palmer’s Direct to You Market are also selling Recipe 21 hand sanitizer.

“The Recipe 21 Brand has such a strong following. We feel responsible to step up and help our community and our retail partners, bartenders and customers,” said Ricky Tatar, director of sales & marketing for Recipe 21. “We love our community and our R21 fans. We are proud to work with our great partners to make hand sanitizer available to as many people as we possibly can while benefiting two meaningful charities.”

LiDestri will continue to make its popular Recipe 21 value-based spirits line, sales of which have experienced strong growth in recent weeks. Recipe 21 attributes its success to consumers and Upstate New York liquor stores for their ongoing brand support. As a thank you, many of these liquor stores in partnership with Recipe 21 will also be receiving hand sanitizer to help keep employees safe. The company also donated more than 600 gallons of Recipe 21 hand sanitizer directly to Rochester-area charities, health care facilities and essential businesses.

The Recipe 21 line is a nine-year-old brand that includes Premium Vodka; Orange, Grape and Cherry vodkas; London Dry Gin; Silver Tequila; Blended Whiskey; Cinnamon Whiskey; White Rum; Coconut Rum; Triple Sec; Peach Schnapps; and a Spiced Rum coming this summer.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Area businesses switch things up for pandemic

As the pandemic continues to clamp down on numerous industries, more local manufacturers find ways to stay relevant and help those in need.

BeOn devices
BeOn devices

L3Harris Technologies this month began offering its BeOn software application for free to healthcare and public safety workers, allowing users to turn their smartphones, laptops and other devices into an encrypted public safety radio. This enables immediate communications to individuals or large talk groups.

L3Harris has made the service available for free for 90 days to agencies responding to COVID-19 operations.

Dana Mehnert
Dana Mehnert

“While first responders rely on handheld radios for their day-to-day communications, many of these healthcare heroes do not carry or have access to handheld public safety radios,” said Dana Mehnert, president of L3Harris’ Communication Systems, headquartered here. “Agencies that are currently using BeOn in their communities have called this offering a ‘game-changer’ for their COVID-19 response efforts as they are now able to connect many users from a variety of groups without having to issue, manage and sanitize handheld radios.”

Rochester-based Herogard, a health and wellness startup founded by scientists, doctors and engineers, is offering medical-grade filter face masks to the community. The masks are available for $25 for 30 and for every purchase, Herogard will donate masks to essential workers and marginalized communities who would otherwise not have access to vitally needed protection

The first beneficiary of the masks was Foodlink Inc., the regional food bank serving 10 counties in the Rochester area. Foodlink’s essential workers will receive the masks as they mobilize resources and distribute food to food-insecure households. Foodlink said the first donation of masks would be used by its kitchen workers.

Face mask produced by Century Mold (photo provided)
Face mask produced by Century Mold (photo provided)

In March, Century Mold, one of North America’s leading injection molders, began making medical face shields for local health care facilities. The arrangement was the result of a call from Rochester Regional Health and Rochester General Hospital, said Terry Hodge, Century Mold’s executive vice president.

“I could not be more proud of our team,” Hodge said in a statement at the time. “By working 20-plus hours a day … our team was able to apply our engineering, tooling and manufacturing expertise and fill a critical need for a very important new partner. We have always been willing to help others, but now we are helping our entire community better face the health challenge in front of us.”

BigSky Technologies LLC is a materials science company that manufactures textile finishes inspired by nature. The company recently said its GreenShield Co. division is responding to the global coronavirus pandemic by evaluating its products’ effectiveness in reducing the ability of the virus to contaminate and transmit on different surfaces.

20-0421-greenshield-logo-resizedA small amount of fluorochemical used in the GreenShield finish provides a surface that repels oil-based materials such as viruses. Because COVID-19 has an oily lipid outer layer, breaking the layer causes the virus to fall apart. Company officials said that when coming into contact with materials treated with GreenShield viruses do not adhere to the surface but rather roll off the surface structure, making the product particularly attractive for lab coats, surgical gowns and other protective clothing.

“The little bit of fluorochemical-based GreenShield C6XL goes a long way towards clean, safe surfaces on personal protective materials,” said Cathy Fleischer, managing partner and co-founder of BigSky Technologies. “In the crisis that we are dealing with, GreenShield treated fabrics are easy to clean, reduce their impact on the environment and increase health and safety.”

Xerox hand sanitizer (photo provided)
Xerox hand sanitizer (photo provided)

Xerox Holdings Corp. joins a list of local companies switching things up and manufacturing hand sanitizer from frontline healthcare workers. The document company expects to produce some 140,000 gallons of hand sanitizer by June 2020 at its facilities in Webster and in Toronto.

“This is a time for every company, every person, to look at what they can do to help society,” Xerox Vice Chairman and CEO John Visentin said in a statement last week. “Essentials like hand sanitizer will continue to be in high demand. The team moved fast, figured out how to get over the hurdles and are starting to deliver product — all in under a month.”

Xerox, in a partnership with Vortran Medical Technology, is helping to speed and scale the production of the GO2Vent ventilator and related Airway Pressure Monitor for hospitals and emergency response units fighting the virus.

Carestream Health has increased production of its portable diagnostic imaging systems, noting that as unlikely facilities begin to function as urgent care units, the Rochester company’s DRX-Revolution Mobile X-ray System and DRX-Revolution Nano Mobile X-ray System bring the X-ray exam to the patient’s bedside.

“Our manufacturing plans and warehouses are operating at full capacity with employees putting in long hours and extra days to support the healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this exhausting fight,” said Charlie Hicks, Carestream’s general manager for premium tier solutions. “Likewise, Carestream suppliers and partners are ramping up production to help support this humanitarian crisis.”

Similarly, L-Tron Corp., a Victor firm that offers technology products and solutions to automate data capture, has tripled its mobile X-ray components, based on increased customer demand. L-Tron engineers supply custom-configured components for seamless integration into mobile X-ray machines and antibody blood analyzing tests, both of which are used for COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and study by medical professionals.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

LiDestri producing hand sanitizer, donating sauce

LiDestri Foods Inc. has joined the ranks of Rochester area manufacturers who are helping with health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has transferred the production of one of its spirits lines to the creation of liquid hand sanitizer.

The process included the sourcing of the necessary raw materials, as well as packaging, company officials said. LiDestri’s production capabilities enable the company to have a great impact on filling the void and has a current order for 250,000 cases of hand sanitizer. LiDestri plans to produce and sell to the public in the coming weeks hand sanitizer under the brand name of its spirits brand Recipe 21.

All 1,300 LiDestri staffers remain employed, with more than 1,000 employees continuing to work on production lines, officials said. Office staff is working from home through the company’s investment in more than 50 new laptops to ensure each employee had the tools needed to do his or her job.

The local company has established a task force to address communication and procedures to follow state Department of Health and CDC guidelines, and has formed a cleaning task force that cleans surfaces, doors and equipment every four hours, officials said.

In a recent letter to employees, company co-CEOs Stefani LiDestri and John LiDestri thanked their team for adhering to precautions and processes and promised to continue transparency in communication.

Stefani and John LiDestri
Stefani and John LiDestri

“For more than 45 years, LiDestri Food and Drink has lived by a core value established by our chairman and father, Giovanni LiDestri, to ‘do the right thing,’” the CEOs wrote in their letter. “What we do at LiDestri Food and Drink matters — and now more than ever, our communities are counting on us to continue operations.”

In addition to producing hand sanitizer, LiDestri leadership has gifted a case of sauce to each employee during the pandemic and has given gift cards for all employees to patronize a local restaurant in Greece and in Fairport, where the company’s facilities are located.

The gift card investment — which also has helped two restaurants keep their doors open during the crisis — totals more than $50,000. Gift cards for restaurants and groceries also were issued to employees in LiDestri’s California and New Jersey facilities.

The company also has donated cases of sauce to location organizations, including a senior living facility and the Veterans Outreach Center, as well as 800 cases of sauce to Foodlink Inc.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Distillery partners with Rochester Midland for sanitizer project

Iron Smoke Distillery
Iron Smoke Distillery

Fairport’s Iron Smoke Distillery is the latest craft distillery that is switching from making liquor to making alcohol-based hand sanitizer in this era of pandemic. 

But Iron Smoke is partnering with Rochester Midland Corporation, a 140-year-old company specializing in sanitation, to embark on this new line. 

The award-winning whiskey maker says it has already made more than 9,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and expects to produce 15,000 a week, aiming to supply communities where the product is scarce. First responders will get the first 2,000 bottles. 

Rochester Midland is operating as distributor for the hand sanitizer.

“We held our guns and went big with the perfect partner—RMC. This affords us an exceptional opportunity to support people in the community that have supported us for so long. Our hearts are filled to be able to help in these difficult times.” said Tommy Brunett, CEO and founder of Iron Smoke Distillery. 

A joint statement from Rochester Midland’s co-CEOs, Bradley Calkins and Katherine Lindahl, said the agreement helps keep staff from both businesses employed. 

 “The supply chain for these materials has been incredibly volatile over the last couple of weeks, and the innovative thinking on Iron Smoke Distillery’s part to convert their distilling process to manufacture hand sanitizer is to be commended. Based on a handshake and mutual interest in moving this to maximum production quickly but safely, our companies have collaborated incredibly well.”

In an effort to help those who have supported Iron Smoke in the past, the distillery has also established a “Smoke Out COVID-19”  webpage showing videos of bartenders explaining how to make cocktails. Viewers can provide some income to the bartenders by tipping them, as they’ve been out of work for the last two weeks as their places of employment were shut down across the state. 

Other local distilleries making sanitizer include Black Button Distillery in Rochester, Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, a Schuyler County town near Watkins Glen, and Antler Run Distilling on Keuka Lake.

[email protected]/ (585) 363-7275

Black Button Distilling now making hand sanitizer

Much as car makers were pressed into service to make tanks during World War II, today’s COVID-19 pandemic has led Black Button Distilling to turn over its operation from making spirits to manufacturing hand sanitizer.

Black Button is making hand sanitizer instead of vodka. (Photo supplied,)
Black Button is making hand sanitizer instead of vodka. (Photo supplied)

 “We are uniquely qualified to safely handle and bottle ethanol-based hand sanitizer, and we have an extensive network of contacts to bring bottles, labels, labor, and ingredients to bear,” said Jason Barrett, Black Button Distilling president and master distiller. “We are doing this to help our community, to hopefully save lives and to get our employees back to work. We want to do our part in these unprecedented times.”

Working through the Monroe County Medical Society, Barrett said on Thursday that the distillery already has 1,900 orders for sanitizer from medical practices, nursing homes, hospital units and others in the medical field and first responders. 

Barrett said he let go of 96 workers on Sunday when authorities urged non-essential businesses to close. But by Monday, he’d found a way to re-employ at least the workers in Black Button’s distillery operation on Railroad Street. ( He couldn’t provide work for his far-flung sales staff.) 

Black Button Distilling has moved from spirits to hand sanitizer. (Photo supplied.)
Black Button Distilling has moved from spirits to hand sanitizer. (Photo supplied)

While perhaps 100 distilleries across the nation are making sanitizer, Barrett said, “I knew if we were going to make a difference, we were going to have to do this at scale — do 200 bottles an hour.” 

Securing supplies hasn’t been simple but he expected bottling to begin Thursday afternoon. 

“We’re going to be bottling through the night and starting to ship tomorrow morning, first in Monroe County and hopefully across” the area.  

Black Button will use ethanol that had been destined for high-end vodka, and 750 ml glass bottles originally intended for spirits. Barrett has asked anyone with access to pallets of pump dispenser containers to reach out to him.  

The sanitizer will be sold for $10 a bottle, covering just costs of making the product, including labor, Barrett said. It will not be sold to the public right now, aiming to satisfy demand for high-priority concerns at first. 

Barrett said he has enough supplies on hand to produce 18,000 bottles, but hopes he can make 100,000. If production can be ramped up that high, high-risk operations can inquire about placing an order by emailing [email protected].

While Black Button’s tasting room is not open, it’s still selling spirits with curbside delivery, like other bars and restaurants that have been shut down by state executive order. (585) 363-7275