Carmel distiller turns hand sanitizer pivot into a community fundraising platform

A Carmel distiller has launched a new company manufacturing sanitizing products, including hand sanitizer, that’s sold through an online fundraising platform that benefits schools, churches and other not-for-profits.

EARL Clean Solutions (EARL stands for Easy Accessible Reliable and Lasting) officially launched in Carmel on Monday producing alcohol-based sanitizing products that include hand sanitizer and cleaning sanitizer at 12405 Old Meridian St., where Crossroads Distillery also operates.

EARL founder Eric Stam co-founded the distillery last year after his 150-year-old family farm in Seymour received the Indiana State Fair’s Hoosier Homestead Award. Determined to retain the farm another generation, Stam opened Crossroads with a single product: Almond Bite, a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, corn-based cream liqueur.

When the pandemic hit, Stam, like many other distillers, diversified his production facility to also produce branded sanitizing products for schools, churches and other fundraising organizations. EARL operates separately from the distillery.

“It wasn’t just the large organizations and cities that were having trouble getting sanitizer or (personal protective equipment),” Stam said. “It was small communities, and really the most at-risk, such as long-term care facilities and local hospitals. We wanted to give people a reason to support us as a manufacturer, while at the same time allowing them to keep money in their community by giving them their choice of what foundation they’d like to support.”

Stam started sourcing materials and going through the FDA’s regulatory processes for turning denatured alcohol into sanitizer last April. The six-person operation currently includes himself, a chemist, a marketer and sales representatives in southern Indiana, Westfield and Washington, D.C.

EARL Solutions, the parent company of EARL Clean Solutions, received a $100,000 Manufacturing Readiness Grant the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Conexus Indiana in November. Stam said the company used that money to invest in automated liquid fill equipment and label-making equipment to improve manufacturing processes and increase the speed at which the company will be able to fulfill and deliver orders.

The new equipment has enabled EARL Clean Solutions to produce more than 300 gallons of sanitizer per month.

“What we want to do is bring essential products and American manufacturing of these products to market. That includes not only hand sanitizer, but other cleaning agents,” Stam said. “The intent is to reinforce America’s critical infrastructure and partner with organizations that provide like-products.”

Now that the company is operational, it plans to sell its products through partnerships with not-for-profit organizations looking for fundraising opportunities.

EARL’s first partner is Southeastern Career Center, a vocational school that supports 11 school districts in southeast Indiana. Partners market the company’s products to neighbors, friends and family to use in their homes, and in turn, receive a portion of the company’s revenue plus a donation.

Customers buy the products on EARL’s website, and when they checkout, they have the option to pick the organization they would like their purchase to support. Each partner earns more than 10% in revenue-sharing on those purchases. On top of that earned revenue, EARL Clean Solutions makes an additional 10% donation to the partner.

Katie McCauley, EARL’s chief marketing officer, said the company provides its partner organizations with tips for marketing the products in their community through social media and text message campaigns. The products are also branded with the organization’s logo.

Derek Marshall, director of Southeastern Career Center , said in a written statement that he’s excited the partnership offers a new fundraising opportunity for students.

“As a school, we really depend on fundraisers to support our students and their families, and to continue to provide the best opportunities for them,” he said. “Partnering with EARL Clean Solutions is a win-win for us. Our school earns money with every purchase, and our students and families are getting the high-quality sanitizing products that they need to use on a daily basis.”

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