Every filled barrel at the Do Good Distillery bears an inscription. They are messages to Paul Katuszonek, an Oakdale police officer killed in a car accident nearly two years ago.
Katuszonek was the brother-in-law of Do Good founding partner Jim Harrelson. The two met when Harrelson, then a sheriff’s deputy, served as Katuszonek’s field training officer. Harrelson later introduced him to his sister.
Now Harrelson, along with partner Ryan Woods and four other backers, has launched Do Good in an industrial park not far from the Modesto airport. They hope to do for hard alcohol what craft brewers have done for the beer industry.
“Everything has our own little twist on it,” Harrelson said. That includes the notes to Katuszonek, as well as another tradition the partners keep when filling a barrel.
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“We play the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ ” Harrelson said. “It’s a way of reminding us how lucky we are to get to do this.”
After several years of research, followed by a year of finding a location, getting the proper permits and building a tasting room, Do Good is nearly ready to open.
Harrelson and Woods said they are aiming for a November opening date.
The thing is, while they can charge people to come in and taste, they can’t sell their product. Yet. The law requires distillers to go through distributors. That has changed in some states, Harrelson said, and he is hoping California follows suit.
With luck, the timing will work out and Do Good’s products will be ready about the same time the law changes. Much of the product has to age for a couple of years before it’s suitable for sale, anyway.
Harrelson and Woods said they hope to have classes on-site, and they also are operating as sales reps for the equipment they are using in their work.
In the meantime, the partners of Do Good – named for the quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Do well by doing good” – are distilling away.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat: Modesto’s Computer Tutor Business & Technical Institute has received a grant from the Workforce Investment Act to train Stanislaus County residents ages 17-21.
Qualified applicants can receive free training to become administrative assistants or medical or accounting clerks. Participants also will get help with job placement.
Sessions are Monday through Thursday from 8 am. to 5 p.m. and last 18 weeks. Thirty-two openings are available. For more information, call Computer Tutor at (209) 545-5200.
And finally: You may recall that last Christmas, people across the country, including several in Stanislaus County, reported not getting their holiday gifts in time. Shippers blamed the delay partially on some weather problems in the East and Midwest, but the bigger issue was a huge influx of packages being sent near the end of the holiday season.
Several people commented on The Modesto Bee’s Facebook page at the time. The feeling was it wasn’t the biggest problem in the world, but it was kind of a bummer.
Hoping to head off a similar bummer this year, delivery giants FedEx and UPS both announced this week they will hire more seasonal employees than ever before.
UPS will be adding up to 95,000 workers nationwide. That’s way up from the 55,000 hired at the 2013 season. Last year, the company ended up hiring an additional 30,000 people to handle the influx of packages. FedEx said it will add up to 50,000 seasonal positions, an increase of 10,000 over last year.