EPA Awaits Test Results On Nice-Pak’s Hand Wipes For Efficacy In Fighting COVID-19
By Tina Traster
The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered innumerable businesses, put people out of work, and thrown into question the value and viability of companies going forward.
Not Nice-Pak, an Orangeburg-based producer of disinfecting wet wipes. At the company’s headquarters in Rockland County, and its manufacturing facilities in Indiana and Arkansas, the lights are on 24/7, staff has been added, and short-term prospects are good. Very good.
It may get better still: Nice-Pak is in the process of having its products tested for efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. Testing results will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal regulator that allows a company to make a claim that its products are effective in wiping away the virulency of the virus. If its products pass muster, sales for Nice-Paks wipes will likely soar as the world adapts to the demand for chronic sanitizing in the pandemic age.
“Business has skyrocketed in the last two months,” said Jim Dalton, vice president and head of R&D at the company, which manufactures cleaning products including disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizing wipes and personal hygiene wipes. “I’ve worked in the industry for 30 years and I’ve never seen a spike like this. It’s unparalleled.”
Nice-Pak is one the first companies in the category to have intensive testing conducted on its wipes. It is partnering with Microbac, a premier contract testing laboratory. Samples were sent about two weeks ago. The contract testing laboratory conducts antimicrobial/antiviral testing for disinfectants, antiseptics, sanitizers and medical devices.
“We already have a lot of data on how our products fight bacteria, virus and mold,” explained Dalton. “We also have data on how our products respond to viruses and influenzas but these are a different strain from COVID-19.”
The company’s brands are Nice n’ Clean® and Grime Boss®, but it also sells under private label. The disinfectant wipes are already on an approved list by the EPA as a disinfectant to fight against viruses, bacteria and mold. The EPA will determine if the test results show the wipes will help fight the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus.
Nice-Pak’s sister company, PDI Healthcare of Woodcliff Lake, NJ, is also having products tested by Microbac.
COVID-19 is an “emerging pathogen,” and initially the Food and Drug Administration was focused on testing and vaccines, Dalton explained. “Until recently, testing wasn’t available. Now we are one of the first companies to get tested.”
Nice-Pak, a 60-year family business, has been able to step up to the demand. Production has risen by 30%. The factories are working 24/7 shifts compared to five-day workweeks, 16 hours a day. The company has hired an additional 200 employees for its Jonesboro, AR and Plainfield and Mooresville, IN facilities, and a handful of new positions have been created at the Orangeburg site.
The consumer hand wipe segment grosses about $100 million annually but Nice-Pak reports a 200 percent growth in sales since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the disinfecting wipes segment exceeded $800 million in the US. “We have seen similar increases in the hand wipe category since the pandemic started with sales increasing 150 percent” Dalton said. “These sales would have been higher if there was more supply in the market.”