J. Rieger & Co.: A Case Study in COVID-19 Response

In this time of uncertainty and distress, one Kansas City company is providing a remarkable example of how to produce what their customers need when they need it.

As the looming threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to sink in, store shelves were emptied of hand sanitizers and disinfectants by panicked consumers stocking up for the duration of the crisis. The initial rush on disinfecting products left many people, including some of the most vulnerable to illness, unable to find what they needed to keep themselves safe and healthy. Consumers didn’t know where to turn.

Rieger’s Remedy Hand Sanitizer

J. Rieger & Co., a local distillery with a rich Kansas City history, quickly decided to step up and provide their community with a solution. While continuing to offer the spirits that we enjoy so much (in convenient take-home cocktail kits that allow consumers to re-create their favorite Rieger cocktails from the safety of their own kitchens), J. Rieger leadership and staff pivoted to producing hand sanitizer using excess alcohol distilled on-site.

Dubbed “Rieger’s Remedy,” the 70% abv hand sanitizer was made available to the public for curbside pick up on Thursday, March 19th, and sold out within minutes. Rieger’s Remedy is sold at “pay what you can” prices, but the suggested donation is $5 for a 2-ounce bottle and $30 for a 2-liter bottle, which provides much-needed revenue to support their staff during a dark period for bars and restaurants. Demand has been so high that the company has ordered additional supplies and is now hard at work producing tens of thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer for medical professionals, first responders, consumers, and health care facilities across the city. Updates are posted daily on the company’s Facebook page.

J. Rieger & Co. first opened in Kansas City in 1887 and operated with great success until 1919, a casualty of prohibition laws. 95 years later, the great-grandson of the original J. Rieger revived this historic brand with a commitment to the family legacy of high quality local, artisanal distilling. Today, the brand is adding a bright new chapter to its storied history.

Leveraging Your Skills to Contribute in a Crisis

Across the country and world, many companies are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak with generosity and quick thinking, leveraging their unique skills to make vital contributions to the effort to keep as many people as possible healthy and safe. Business leaders who take the initiative to provide vital goods such as hand sanitizer, face masks, and even ventilators are doing heroic work, and it’s certain that consumers will reward those efforts with their gratitude and loyalty.

Companies like J. Rieger & Co. that demonstrate their ability to pivot for the public good are shining a bright light on the resiliency and community ethos that mark truly exceptional businesses. Their swift response proves that “what customers need” should always guide decision-making, whether during a crisis or not. I anticipate that when this difficult period has passed, J. Rieger & Co. will still have lines of customers eager to show their appreciation.

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