Greenfield manufacturer of massage oils, creams switches focus to hand sanitizer amid pandemic

  • Dianna Dapkins of Pure Pro with the hand sanitizer the Greenfield company has started to produce amid the pandemic. Ordinarily, the business’ focus is on massage oils, lotions and creams. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Dianna Dapkins of Pure Pro with the hand sanitizer the Greenfield company has started to produce amid the pandemic. Ordinarily, the business’ focus is on massage oils, lotions and creams. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Dianna Dapkins of Pure Pro sells hand sanitizer to Kim Trust of the Justamere Tree Farm in Worthington at the Greenfield business. The hand sanitizer comes in 1-gallon and 8-ounce bottles. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/29/2020 1:25:56 PM

GREENFIELD — Dianna Dapkins and her employees at Pure Pro were going about business as usual earlier this year manufacturing massage oils, lotions and creams, when she heard the United States might get hit with a terrible pandemic.

“I immediately started calling around to see if I could get materials to switch our focus to hand sanitizer,” she said. “When everything was shut down, we stopped making the oils, lotions and creams. Massage therapists, chiropractors and the others we sell to were also closing down.”

In the second week of March, the shutdown happened and Pure Pro, located in the Greenfield industrial park, started producing hand sanitizer, which it now sells in 1-gallon and 8-ounce bottles.

Having owned Pure Pro for 28 years, Dapkins is no stranger to creating new products. She moved from the Boston area, where she opened her business, to this area 20 years ago, settling into the industrial park.

“I had friends out here and loved the area,” she said. “I started the company to offer natural products that don’t contain petrochemicals. People with sensitive skin love the products. I did the same with the sanitizer.”

She said many people buy a gallon and pour it into a spray bottle to disinfect mail, car door handles, hands and grocery carts, to name a few, making it easier to sanitize during a pandemic.

Before the pandemic, Dapkins ran the business with three full-time and two part-time employees, but once the governor shut down businesses across the state, it was just her and eventually one of those employees working out of the more than 7,000-square-foot building.

Dapkins said Pure Pro sells to everything from libraries and food co-ops to schools and businesses. Sales are mostly web-based, she said.

“We’re offering free shipping on hand sanitizer,” she noted. “People are struggling and we’re trying to do what we can to help.”

Dapkins said she was able to start making hand sanitizer because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) waived its regulatory steps so that people could produce it during the pandemic.

“So I did the research and bought the materials, using the money I had,” she said.

Dapkins said she uses the World Health Organization’s all-natural formula, an unscented sanitizer that contains a vegetable-based alcohol (ethanol), glycerin derived from coconut, water to mix them and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. All materials come from within the United States — the gallon jugs are made at Hillside Plastics in Turners Falls, and the spray bottles come from five different states.

Dapkins took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan offered by the federal government and said that helped her get through eight weeks while getting sanitizer production and sales up and running.

“The PPP loan was life support for us,” she said. “I had used all I had to negotiate the purchase of materials for the hand sanitizer.”

Pure Pro plans to continue making hand sanitizer even after the pandemic is over, Dapkins said, because people will want it for a long time, though she acknowledges that may require her to go through the FDA’s regulatory process once those rules resume.

She said the good news for her business is that she has picked up new customers who didn’t use Pure Pro oils, lotions and creams before. So far, Pure Pro has sold 3,000 gallons and 8,000 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.

“We’ve kept it super simple, and it has worked,” she said.

Pure Pro’s hand sanitizer is 80 percent alcohol, while FDA regulations state hand sanitizer must be at least 70 percent alcohol for it to kill the coronavirus.

“People should definitely check the labels on hand sanitizers,” Dapkins said. “Anything 60 percent and below won’t work.”

Dapkins ships within 48 hours of an order. In the first few weeks, Pure Pro saw hundreds of orders, and business has been steady since.

“We’ve worked around the clock at times,” she said. “People are buying it as gifts and sending it across the country.”

For more information or to order hand sanitizer, call 413-775-9998 or visit purepro.com.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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