In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, SDG&E and many other small businesses are compelled to be creative in supporting health and safety needs for the community. One great example of innovation in action is our new partnership with Henebery Spirits to bring critical safety supplies like hand sanitizer to our field crews.
Spirit of innovation
When faced with state orders to close all non-essential business, Jesse Fanning, co-founder of Henebery Spirits, knew he had to pivot his business. A whiskey distillery located in Vista, Henebery was uniquely positioned to help the local community by re-focusing production on hand sanitizer rather than the alcoholic spirits they typically made. Having grown his business through the support of the local restaurant community, Fanning also wanted to make a difference for the service workers and food establishments that helped build his brand. He decided to produce hand sanitizer for all who needed it and requested a small donation per bottle from those who could afford it with a goal to raise $15,000.
Meanwhile within SDG&E, John Prsha, senior category manager for supply management, came across Henebery Spirits as he was searching for scarce safety supplies required by field teams as they worked to deliver electricity and gas to the community. He reached out to Jesse to learn more about his product, confirm that it met all required safety protocols and propose a partnership.
Fanning, who had passed on previous offers from other large companies to purchase his product, thanked SDG&E for our company’s efforts to keep the power on for the community and offered to help.
“As a small business that is supported by other small, local businesses, we are deeply invested in our community,” explained Fanning. “We were happy to help SDG&E as we know how much we all rely on reliable, safe power at times like this.”
While the product was being offered free of charge, Prsha wanted to support entrepreneurship and the community, so his team suggested purchasing 10,000 bottles for a small fee in addition to a possible donation. He also reached out to Pedro Villegas, SDG&E’s director of community relations to share this story. Inspired by the work Henebery was leading, Pedro responded by offering a donation of $30,000 to support Fanning’s charity of choice – doubling the company’s fundraising goal.
“Jesse and his team at Henebery are doing an extraordinary thing,” said Pedro. “Their distillery is helping to keep our SDG&E colleagues, and the people we serve every day, safe, all while supporting nonprofits that are feeding kids and helping hospitality workers. Henebery is a company with a noble purpose to help others in a time of need, and SDG&E is proud to support them.”
“At SDG&E, we always try to purchase locally and support smaller businesses through our supply chain programs,” said John. “It was an honor to help create this innovative approach to a partnership that will keep our field teams safe, support a local business, and help the community in such an impactful way.”
We’ll have a double, please
“When we heard the news that SDG&E wanted to donate $30,000, we were overwhelmed,” said Fanning. “To think that we were able to not just meet, but also double the amount of support we can offer our community, is truly amazing. We are thankful for the partnership and truly believe that we will get through and be stronger together.”
“We are thrilled to be able to support a local entrepreneur and the community through this partnership,” added Mike Kelsey, SDG&E’s director of supply management. “We are proud of the important role SDG&E plays in helping the San Diego region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and this collaboration is a great example of our leadership in action.”
This past week, SDG&E picked up the first order of 2,500 bottles. The team at Henebery has been producing hand sanitizer around the clock and will have thousands more available this week. The $30,000 donation will be distributed to local charities to provide food for children in need and to aid hospitality workers such as chefs and servers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.