When Tripp Phillips sees a need, he starts thinking of a way to meet that need.

Two years ago, Phillips, then 12, won the inaugural PitchDIA (Dalton Innovation Accelerator) contest for entrepreneurs with Le-Glue, a non-permanent glue that holds Legos and other building blocks together without damaging them. He went on later that year to appear on the television show “Shark Tank,” where he reached a deal with investor Kevin O’Leary to buy into his company.

When Phillips saw reports of shortages of hand sanitizer as a result of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), his mind went to work.

"My dad mentioned how to make sanitizer and I asked could we make it with our Le-Glue equipment," Phillips said. "He answered, 'Yes,' so I said, 'Let's make some for any doctor, nurse or first responders to have for free as our gift.'"

They began making hand sanitizer about two weeks ago and have made several gallons already.

"We have given it to the fire department, sheriff's department, several local nurses, and we are working on an order for 100 truck drivers," Phillips said.

His father Lee is the director of a local lab.

"My dad's lab has access to alcohol and we have just been buying the aloe," Tripp Phillips said. "We had a bunch of fragrance from running trials on Le-Glue, so that is all we need to make it."

Lee Phillips said Tuesday afternoon via email that they had "received a large donation for supplies from the Northwest Georgia Transportation Club and Southern Chemicals and Textiles. We just got off the phone with AIRL labs in Tennessee and they are sending us five gallons of alcohol. We can make more!"

The Dalton Fire Department has been one of the recipients of the hand sanitizer.

"One of our personnel was actually approached by a mutual acquaintance and the product was offered to us," said Chief Todd Pangle. "We received one gallon of the sanitizer, which we have placed in smaller eight-ounce bottles to distribute to all of our stations."

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fire department has put in place new guidelines to help reduce the likelihood that the virus spreads among firefighters.

"We have placed an emphasis on washing hands and using hand sanitizer often," said Pangle. "We have also mandated that stations be cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day. Given the increased practice of these activities, we are running short on things such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes/sprays. When we have tried to reorder our supply, most times, if not all, the items are placed on an indefinite back order."

Pangle said "it speaks to the Phillips family's character, as well as their ingenuity, to step up and do this when realizing the need existed. I cannot express our appreciation enough for their effort and generosity."

Tripp Phillips said they are still making Le-Glue.

"Our machine gets cleaned out every time we make it so the hand sanitizer and glue never gets mixed up," he said.

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