In 2008, Grant Wells was a builder experiencing first-hand the slow down in the housing and construction industries on the island of Kaua'i. He had been brewing beer with friends as a hobby and it was over a glass that the idea for Hanalei Spirits was born. The Wells family keeps history alive, using the same ingredients and distilling methods practiced by ancient Hawaiians and island visitors.
He and his wife, Vindi, wanted to stay true to their sustainability roots and use local agriculture to craft a unique island-made collection of spirits. With family land, they were able to begin growing the local, flavorful products they use in their spirits. Today, Hanalei Spirits is known for its commitment to making spirits from locally-grown products along with its desire to preserve traditions through historical distilling practices.
In 2020, COVID-19 was making waves across the globe and first responders, schools, hospitals, and businesses were in need of hand sanitizer. Vindi and Grant Wells knew they could make a shift and start manufacturing hand sanitizer locally. Their first bottles of hand sanitizer were donated to hospitals, schools and first responders on Kaua‘i. They quickly saw the community need for small individual bottles.
However,, their ability to supply hand sanitizer, measured and manufactured by hand, in an individual size was not keeping up with the ever-increasing demand; the team averaged an output of 20 hand sanitizer bottles per hour. A friend mentioned to Vindi that there had to be PPE grant funding available to help.
The Innovate Hawaii team was knowledgeable, responsive, and helpful through the entire process as we worked on our grant application. This was the first time we had written a grant application and the amount of encouragement they gave was incredible. The criteria they had set for the grant blew us away with their forward thinking and really exceeded our expectations in every way.
With the assistance of Innovate Hawaii, part of the MEP National Network™, Hanalei Spirits was able to obtain grant funding through the PPE Supply Chain Program Grant to expand their hand sanitizer manufacturing operation. The grant funding from the state and manufacturing assistance from Innovate Hawaii helped management to purchase a bottling machine that let them efficiently manufacture 100 ml bottles of hand sanitizer while meeting the government’s strict hand sanitizer alcohol guideline. This new equipment and new process had an output of 1,000 bottles per hour, meaning Hanalei Spirits could help the local Kauai community bridge the supply chain gap now more than ever.
The equipment also helped the company expand their product offering into new markets because they could now offer 50 ml bottles of their premium spirits. Smaller companies do not often offer spirits in this small size because it is cost prohibitive.