Island firms team up to help first responders

A collaboration between two charitable local companies is putting key medical supplies into the hands of first responders, clinics and hospitals in rapid fashion.

Maximum Express Courier, a local courier and freight company, has offered its services as a way of assisting Victoria Distillers of Sidney, which began manufacturing a line of hand sanitizer, with help from Victoria’s Nezza Naturals, on an emergency basis last week.

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A Times Colonist story about the distillery’s goodwill caught the eye of Maximum Courier president and CEO Al Hasham, who contacted Peter Hunt, president of the Sidney-based distillery, with an offer to help offset the distribution costs through no-charge delivery. “When I read what he was doing in the Times Colonist, I told him if he needed a hand I would be happy to help,” Hasham said.

With an ever-growing waitlist for the product, a key element of which is produced during the gin-making process, the offer came at an opportune time. Maximum Express Courier picked up its first round of product from the distillery on Friday, a lot which included 50 1L refills of sanitizer and 700 60ml spray bottles of the same product. That was immediately shipped out to several key locations, including police and fire departments, hospitals, and social service agencies.

“The demand has been larger than expected,” said Tomas Dosil, hospitality manager for Victoria Distillers. “We are really working hard to try and keep up. It’s one thing to produce it, but the logistics of getting it to where it needs to go wasn’t something we could handle.”

Dosil said Victoria Distillers received thousands of emails last week from groups desperately in need of hand sanitizer. The courier will pick-up another load from the distillery — one of several on Vancouver Island making the emergency product — at some point next week.

Hasham said it is one of several no-charge stops the company’s drivers will be making during the outbreak.

“We’re getting so many request from so many people we normally don’t work with. But everybody is helping each other out. In this business, we have always worked together. Anything we can do to help, we will.”

Maximum Express Courier often handles the overflow business for other shipping companies such as Purolator, FedEx, and UPS during busy periods, so his fleet of 15 trucks is ready when needed. Regular routes for banks and realtors are not being filled at the moment, he said.

“Everybody has put everything on pause, because their office is closed or their volume is down.”

Maximum Express Courier will be delivering product from Munro’s Books to its customers over the weekend, and is supporting seniors who don’t want to venture out for their medication with free delivery of their prescriptions.

“This is a time where we want to step up,” Hasham said. “We want to make sure everyone is looked after and no one is suffering.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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