Justin Turner: Turner Stillhouse
Launceston's sanitiser supply is in safe hands
No business has escaped untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic but the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors are among those most affected by the forced closures and the restrictions of movement. As a young business just starting to get a foothold in a competitive market, the emergence of COVID-19 spelt danger for Turner Stillhouse.
But adversity often breads opportunity and for founder and northern California native, Justin Turner, the production of hand sanitiser has both allowed Turner Stillhouse to help the Tasmanian community and keep staff employed.
“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic we had a hard look internally at whether we could play a role with stopping the spread,” Justin said.
“We had a lot of inbound request from healthcare and other essential services asking if we did have hand sanitiser we could provide.”
To produce the hand sanitiser Turner Stillhouse had to shift their entire production line and that meant putting on hold their gin and whiskey production.
“We had the ethanol already on site here as part of our production processes and then we just needed to get the other raw material for hand sanitiser and it just kind of took off from there.”
“It had a larger impact than I anticipated. We were so incredibly busy once we formally announced on social media that we were doing this that we didn’t really have a chance to breath for a good month to six weeks.”
“The response we got from our customers, especially in the healthcare sector, just of overwhelming gratitude of how we’ve helped them feel safe, I pass that along to all of the staff here because I want them to feel very much a part of helping the community out.”
Justin says the Turner Stillhouse can’t rely solely on the sale of hand sanitiser, but it has helped keep his staff employed and offset some of the losses with their core customers being closed.
“Our entire team, I’m very proud of them and they really stepped up to produce this product, especially under somewhat stressful circumstances, with the huge gap in the market and the urgent need.”
“The message that we’re trying to get to the local market is thank you for your support. We certainly appreciate your support because it does keep our employees going.”
As a relatively new resident to Tasmania, Justin says the production of the hand sanitiser has helped him feel more connected with the greater Launceston community.
“We generated a lot of good will by helping a lot of our customers. We’ll continue to supply them as long as there is a need.”
“I think the hand sanitiser really did help ingratiate us with the local community; that we were helping give back and opposed to just making a nice drinking gin.”
Founded in 2018, Turner Stillhouse took over the old Tamar Ridge Winery, and in January 2019 launched their inaugural gin, Three Cuts Gin, which draws its name from the three cuts of different roses used in the distilling process.
“We were just really starting to hit our stride when COVID-19 happened. We’d done a massive facelift on this old winery to create a really unique visitor experience with a distillery bar. We were starting to hit our stride both with visitation of locals and tourist as well as getting out three cuts gin brand established in the market which was becoming a mainstay at a lot of bars and restaurants around the state.”
Justin moved to Tasmania in 2018 with his Tasmanian-born wife. Originally from northern California, Justin grew up on a winery before moving to New York City to pursue a career in finance.
“I kind of came full-circle to doing this distillery, which is really my life-long passion.”
“I looked around [setting up a distillery] in the States but my wife had also been over there for 10-plus year and there was an opportunity to come back here, to launch it here, to be closer to her family and a new adventure so to speak.”
“I really fell in love with the people and the culture, food, wine, spirits and the craft that was burgeoning here and I felt like it was a great opportunity to launch a business here as opposed to somewhere over there.”
“When I was coming over here still living in the states looking at a potential location, I notices there was a huge amount of distilleries concentrated in the south but less so in the north. Couple that with being introduced to this amazing location in the west Tamar Valley overlooking the Tamar River and this really purpose built building, the old Tamar Ridge Winery, and it just naturally fell into place and we just immediately know that this was the right spot.”
Turner Stillhouse hand sanitiser can be purchased through their website at turnerstillhouse.com