Business Excellence Awards
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Isaac Newton left something out when he wrote down his theories on gravity: it can hurt.
At G-Form LLC, a Rhode Island sports equipment manufacturer, the mission is to make it hurt less. The company, launched in 2010, produces athletic pads that prevent injuries but don’t get in the way during play.
“We’re in the business of making the world a safer place,” said Danny Warshay, G-Form co-founder and executive chairman. “We don’t have to pay pro athletes to use our products. They use them because they like them.”
Before the company entered the market, most sports pads were hard, rigid and bulky. G-Form pads, made from a blend of advanced materials, are soft, light and thin. On impact, however, the material instantly stiffens to absorb most of the energy. A moment after a hit, a pad will soften once again.
The gear is also durable. According to Warshay, other companies have attempted to market lightweight pads, but those don’t stand up to water, soap and sweat. “That doesn’t happen with our pads,” he said. “You can throw them in with the rest of the laundry, and it won’t harm them. There’s no other product like it.”
They’re now being snatched up by athletes in many sports, including hockey, soccer, lacrosse, skateboarding and snowboarding. Some products are marketed under the G-Form name, but the company partners with other brands as well. Recently it signed a deal to work with Bauer Performance Sports, makers of hockey and lacrosse gear, to produce helmets, chest pads and other items made with its patented shock-absorbing material.
Building on its success with recreational equipment, the company is now moving into other areas. It is making protective cases for laptops, smartphones, notebooks and other electronic devices. Taking a page from John Cameron Swayze, who tortured Timex wristwatches in 1960s TV ads, the G-Form team has recorded several YouTube clips that show encased items being dropped from great heights or tossed from moving cars, and suffering no damage. “Watch them, and your jaw will drop,” Warshay said.
G-Form also has teamed up with a New Zealand company, Impactwear, to create pads that will protect elderly persons from dangerous hip fractures. And it is collaborating with the United States military to make devices to protect soldiers.
“It’s never a problem coming up with applications for this technology,” Warshay said. “We sponsored a smart-materials course at Rhode Island School of Design, where we challenged students to come up with ideas, and there were plenty.”