YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Heroes own and manage a local company that stepped up to help everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially first responders.
William Candella and his brother Keith Candella have a pretty successful business on Youngstown’s south side — Candella Micro-Distillery, known for its award-winning spirits and wines.
“I don’t consider it work because I’m doing something I love doing,” owner William said.
They have found themselves much busier during the coronavirus pandemic as an unexpected side-hustle presented itself.
It started in early March when the Food and Drug Administration asked if they’d be able and willing to make sanitizer in compliance with the World Health Organization’s guidelines.
“They wanted us to follow this formula and we thought, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’ Didn’t think much of it. Well, it exploded, and then once it exploded, people started coming in and trying our product. More so, they came in, they’d get hand sanitizer and they’d get some stuff to sit around the house because they were going to be bored for a while,” William said.
They say it takes about two weeks to make each batch of sanitizer.
The biggest challenge getting started was getting supplies.
“We were paying way more money. You couldn’t get your hands on it, you couldn’t get your hands on the little spray pumps that go on top. If you found the cap, you couldn’t find the bottle. If you found the bottle, you couldn’t find the cap,” William said.
Eventually, they found a steady supplier and began bottling, ranging from personal-use size to industrial 5-gallon containers.
“They’ve actually driven down from Cleveland to buy and they’re buying the 5-gallon bottles for their people,” manager Keith said.
Having the ability to make such a product during a pandemic is certainly good for the finances, but the Candellas wanted to ensure they were also giving to those on the front lines.
“These are all thank you’s from the different departments that come here for help that we’ve donated to,” William said.
Expressions of gratitude line the walls, numerous thank you’s for donating an essential item during a pandemic.
“We started at first giving it free to all the hospitals, first responders, police departments, fire departments and some of the nurses if they were first-responding nurses,” William said.
If you’re looking for hand sanitizer and want to support a local business, they sell it at their store on Market Street in Youngstown, just south of Midlothian Boulevard. You can also order it online from their website.