First responders in the Omaha area can thank a La Vista distillery for help in protecting them from the coronavirus.

Patriarch Distillers Inc., maker of the Soldier Valley brand of spirits, switched its entire operation from making spirits to making hand sanitizer and has donated the product to first responders and military groups that are on the front line against COVID-19.

The business was founded and run by people with strong military ties, and the business donates up to $1 of all sales to nonprofit veteran groups, said Richard Hagedorn, vice president of sales and marketing.

Hagedorn said when the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, the company looked into how to make hand sanitizer. It worked with the state government and followed guidelines to make a safe product, had items donated from other businesses and got the go-ahead to create the solution.

“It’s pretty cool when everything all came in line to make sand sanitizer,” Hagedorn said.

“We’re not professional chemists, but we follow the guidelines and we make it work. It was a pretty easy switch.”

The Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce helped track down bottles for the solution and made other connections to help Patriarch make the donations possible.

“The chamber helped connect the dots with things we didn’t know about,” Hagedorn said.

Patriarch is approaching 8,000 gallons donated, Hagedorn said, and the business has an inventory of spirits it is selling to help “keep the lights on.”

Hagedorn didn’t say how much the company’s sales have dropped since making the switch, but he said the connections made and giving back to the community will come full circle.

After all, the business’s slogan is “We got your 6,” or “We got your back.”

“In the long run people will remember people who do good things,” Hagedorn said.

“It helps save a life, it helps kill COVID-19. It’s an honor to do that.”

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