Jennifer Pierce, a territory manager in the Katy area for State Chemical‚ also known as State Industrial Products, said she has seen a jump in demand for the company’s disinfecting products over the past week.
“Overall, there’s been a dramatic increase in the industry for products that work against the coronavirus,” Pierce said.
State Chemical began preparing by increasing its supplies for this expected surge long before it became a news item, she said.
Over the past few weeks, Pierce said she had been visiting clients and, more recently, sending out emails to help businesses train their employees on how to properly disinfect, to ensure they have enough supplies and to ensure they do not hoard cleaning items.
“People are taking it seriously,” she said. “I haven’t seen the people in our area panic buying.”
Pierce noted that many businesses and organizations are increasing their cleaning procedures, which will be the new normal going forward. Cleaning supply companies—including State Chemical, which has its own manufacturing facility in the U.S.—is working around the clock to keep up with the increased demand.
“Everyone has increased their amount of cleaning,” she said. “So it will take a while for the world’s stock [to resupply].”
Because of limited cleaning supplies, MKT Distillery LLC at 5373 First St., Katy, is helping the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office by making hand sanitizer at its location, according to a Feb. 20 Facebook post.
“The first five gallons of hand sanitizer left MKT yesterday, and we are working on producing more today and this weekend,” the distillery stated.
The sheriff's office will use the supply for the You Are Not Alone program, which helps seniors and disabled citizens who live alone.
However, Pierce is more worried about businesses that are not properly using disinfectant solutions.
“Reading and following the directions [of disinfectant] can make the difference between containment and making [the coronavirus] worse,” she said.
Some solutions need up to 10 minutes to properly disinfectant surfaces, she said.
Meanwhile, Merry Maids’ Katy location at 22503 Katy Freeway, Ste. 31, Katy, has seen an increase of requests for disinfectant calls and steady business, said Brian Houtman, who owns and operates three locations of the home cleaning chain in the Greater Houston area with his wife.
“All our cleanings right now include a disinfecting service for all high-touch areas as recommended by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” Houtman said.
Houtman said his Merry Maid team uses disinfecting products that meet Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for the coronavirus. Employees have all gone through training about how to clean and disinfect for the coronavirus. Additionally, maids are equipped with masks, and between service calls, the cleaning kits and gear is sanitized.
“We definitely have enough supplies for the next few months [to ensure we can operate],” he said and clarified that he is not stockpiling but rather ensuring the business can operate.
In addition to gathering additional supplies, Houtman said his team gathered together at the start of the coronavirus to ask how they can help the Katy and Greater Houston areas.
“Community is really important,” he said. “First thing we did is we reached out to customers at high risk [for getting the coronavirus], such as the elderly and homebound.”
Merry Maids offered to deliver groceries or provide other help, he said.
“It’s important that the community comes together and share resources,” Houtman said.