Locally owned and operated OC Hair Bath & Body Co., a manufacturer of cosmetics, has received $185,425 in provincial government funding to ramp up production of hypochlorous acid, a much-needed medical grade surface disinfectant used in hospitals.
The money, from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), was announced by Sault MPP Ross Romano Friday via Zoom.
OC Hair Bath & Body Co. is already a major manufacturer of medical grade hand sanitizer in Canada, and the only manufacturer of hypochlorous acid disinfectant in northeastern Ontario, Romano stated.
“It’s been a fantastic project,” said Tyler Onofrio, OC Hair Bath & Body Co. owner.
“Initially the project was to increase the production of cosmetics to around 6,000 bottles per hour to put us on an international scale. Prior to this grant we were Canada-wide… (then) we basically went completely international.”
Then COVID-19 came along.
“We noticed that our global market in November of 2019 started to slide down. Because we expanded out to the global reach, as COVID started affecting China, we realized we had to do something else,” Onofrio said.
OC Hair Bath & Body Co. opened up a separate medical side to its operations to help front line workers as COVID spread.
Supplying hand sanitizer to such health care centres as Sault Area Hospital (SAH), Onofrio said his company then found there was a huge need for surface disinfectants for hospitals, meat processing plants and other facilities.
With the NOHFC funding for equipment, Onofrio said his company can process 18,000 bottles of hypochlorous acid disinfectant in a 20-hour time frame.
The funding has added six full time employees to the shop (for a total of eight), located at 298 Wellington Street West.
Moving forward, Onofrio said 12 hours out of a 24 hour work day, six days a week (employees working in shifts), will be devoted to production of disinfectant.
“This will be on a permanent basis,” Onofrio told reporters at Friday's announcement.