Made in Michiana: Kem Shield

Made in Michiana: Kem Shield

ELKHART, IN.-- Our Made in Michiana series continues as ABC57 follows up with a Michiana company who turned pandemic problems into a business solution.

In May, ABC57 visited the Kem Krest facility in Elkhart where I showed just how this manufacturing company reimagined their production lines to create disinfectant products.

Now, three months later they have opened the doors to a whole new business.

“The last time you were here, we were very new to it all and just moving as quickly as possible to bring a product sanitizer in an environment it was very difficult to find," said Director of Supply Chain, Ben Decker.

A company known for manufacturing a bit of everything for the automotive, power sports, and defense realms then doing a 180 to start making what the community and our country needed the most--hand sanitizer.

“It is a very challenging and to be frank annoying thing when you can’t go to the store and find what you need to stay safe right now," said Decker.

A problem Kem Krest immediately began to solve.

“For our hand sanitizer, we have done about 600,000 gallons in the last 90 days. We continue to see great need there," said Decker.

A great need bringing with it, new opportunities.

“Well since we started producing hand sanitizer back in early May, we’ve launched our own business model, business unit. This new model that we have launched is Kem Shield and it’s designed to be a separate business from Kem Krest a whole separate business subsidiary," said Director of Growth Initiatives, Rudy Yakum III. “Solutions we are offering is things like hand sanitizer combined with a dispenser telling kids how much they should use. Or a botanical disinfectant with the sprayer and other applicators and also informing them what they should use and how much they use.”

And you could find these new products in a variety of places across Michiana.

Your child's classrooms, “Elkhart Christian Academy, Elkhart Community Schools, and now Edwardsburg School Systems as well," said Yakum III.

To even the University of Notre Dame,  “In partnership with the University, is manufactured the HERE sanitizer brand.”

And it's not just here in Michiana.

“The United States Air Force Academy is also ordering our products," said Yakum III.

“We also have customers in Canada," said Decker.

"About a third of the NFL teams through one of our distributors who have ordered our products. Not only for hand sanitizing stations around their stadiums but for disinfecting their lockers rooms to keep players safe," said Yakum III.

New partnerships that are helping Kem Krest get back on their feet faster than even they thought.

“In the early days of COVID we didn't think that our core business would be back to 100% until closer to the end of the year, but July was actually the first month since the beginning of COVID where we saw our core business back to 100%," said Yakum III.

Their new products come in a variety of sizes, “We have from 4 ounce bottles to 55 gallon drums to 275 gallon totes," said Decker.

That is just of their hand sanitizer and disinfectants, then they have created various applicators to help homes, schools, and businesses use their product safely and effectively.

From gallon holders, to autocratic dispensers, and even spray guns!

The way products are distributed and sold is changing too. Now, customers can buy these items directly from Kem Shield's website.

“Which is the first direct to consumer ecommerce site within our company. We’ve also launched our own Facebook page and started making use case videos as well," said Yakum III.

For the company, this is just the beginning.

“Where’s the next challenge and gloves are a huge issue still, will be our next round of release," said Decker.

“We're starting to manufacture and have ready for sale really by the end of September essential branded wipes that will be everything from hand wipes to surface disinfectant wipes," said Yakum III.

While COVID-19 has brought uncertainty and frustrations, for Kem Krest it's also brought new hope and initiatives.

“It’s been a unique 90 days but we’ve been able to keep pushing through," said Decker.

Thanks to a strong, dedicated workforce learning to adapt.

“Social distancing, were still wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces, we’re still sanitizing our hands," said Yakum III.

And a drive to protect the Michiana community.

“For us to be able to provide these products locally is meaningful for us and speaks to one of our core values of impact and we want to have impact in the communities that we live, work and play in," said Yakum III.

If you are interested n purchasing your own sanitizer or disposal methods for personal or large scale use, visit their website at

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