Red Fork Distillery shifts products to serve community need
When Mike and Dana Hoey established the Red Fork Distillery in 2015, they did not envision using their business to help local law enforcement agencies through a pandemic, but they are, and they are glad they can help.
The Red Fork Distillery came to market with its product in October of 2018. The west Tulsa-based distillery is located in the Red Fork District on Southwest Blvd. positioned between Goodwill and Billy Rays BBQ.
It is a distillery, which produces craft spirits such as various types of vodka, moonshine and aged whiskey. As of March 20, it now also produces hand sanitizer.
The Hoey family lives in Jenks and their children attend Jenks Public Schools. They were in Atlanta visiting family in the first part of spring break when the COVID-19 pandemic began to engulf the country and specifically the Tulsa area.
“We made the decision to cut our trip short and come back home,” Dana said. “We left Atlanta that Wednesday, March 19, and on the drive back we started to get the notifications that the Federal government was lifting restrictions to allow distilleries to step in and make hand sanitizer to help in the time of need. We were literally in our car driving home figuring out how to make hand sanitizer.”
State Representative Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) sent a text to the Hoeys while they were on their drive home expressing the need for first responders to have hand sanitizer, particularly the Tulsa Police Department.
The Hoeys returned home to Jenks that night of March 19, worked out the formulations and by the afternoon of March 20, had hand sanitizer in the hands of the Tulsa Police Department.
“We were packaging it in empty whiskey bottles because that is all we had at the time,” Dana said. “The word began to spread, and more and more law enforcement and first responder agencies were contacting us about hand sanitizer. We were producing the product as fast as we could and getting it out to everyone who needed it.”
The Hoeys said they realized that following Friday, March 21 that they had a packaging issue and began reaching out to local sources to find help in that department. They contacted Sims and he made a connection through another State Representative out of Ft. Gibson, who put the Hoeys in touch with the Refresco Group.
The Refresco Group specializes in packaging for large corporations.
“We started the conversations with Refresco that Friday afternoon and by Saturday, we were needing a tractor trailer to bring 12-ounce plastic bottles to us from their Missouri plant,” Dana said. “We were still working fast and furious to get these bottles of hand sanitizer out. We had police officers, police units and others coming by to get some throughout the days.”
Dana said the experience has been incredible for her and her family.
“When we started the distillery, we knew it was a neat and happy industry,” Dana said. “We loved the idea of providing craft sprits for the Tulsa community, but being able to use the resources from the distillery to give back has been the most rewarding thing we have ever done. The love and support we have received from people thanking us for doing this has been nothing short of amazing. This is a very difficult time for everyone, so to be able to do something positive is great. We are very grateful we can help.”