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Interview with Danny Warshay, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman G-Form
G-Form uses its proprietary Reactive Protection Technology (RPT) to protect athletes from injury and consumer electronics from damage. Unlike standard protective equipment that attempts to displace impact by using multiple layers of foam and plastic, G-Form products are thin, lightweight and flexible, and utilize RPT to absorb the energy from an impact and convert it in to protection.
Rather than have products created from the “boardroom-down,” G-Form develops products using athlete-generated feedback, or from the “locker room-out” and utilizes state of the art materials and polymers to make innovative products that meet the specific needs of athletes across multiple categories. Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Danny Warshay shares his thoughts on G-Form’s philosophy of innovation—by and for the athlete—and how their creative edge has allowed for the expansion of G-Form’s product line to include electronics protection and military/tactical gear.
Q. Where did the idea of G-Form originate?
G-Form started in a barn in North Scituate. The founding group was involved in chemical discovery at Polyworks, where we found that we could mold a chemical into a lightweight, thin, soft and durable composite. The discovery was accidental. Yet, after roughly 80 patents and 105 trademarks we have determined that this composite is the best way to protect athletes as well as electronics.
Q. How does having a RI-centralized company aid your business production and strategy?
In order for G-Form to work the way it does, a local supply chain is a key ingredient. We move quickly, and having local product development and manufacturing enhances our efficiency and enables our innovation, allowing us to make rapid advances. Our Dubai-based distributor, for example, wished we could get him a table-sized device case for a trade coming up in five days. As soon as he said it, we dove in to design the case in our CAD software, emailed the design to North Smithfield where we cut a mold and molded the pads, then drove them 40 minutes to Fall River where our cut and sew partner, Griffin, sewed the material together, and we then had one of our recent hires out of Brown jump on a plane to New York to transport the case to Dubai. Even a glitch with his visa in New York did not deter us as we had someone else quickly drive up to JFK where he jumped on a plane to Dubai. Five days after the initial brainstorm we had a prototype in the hands of that distributor. If not for our local supply chain which now employs over 400 people, that would never have been possible, and we would have missed an ideal opportunity to present our products to the global market. Given the way we manufacture, we experience no cost disadvantage, and this local supply chain enables us to innovate at lightning speed.
Q. How did you come to develop two very different focuses for product lines?
The main two product lines we offer protect athletes from injury and electronics devices from damage. The athletic protection came first from our passion for biking and developing pads that were protective but did not restrict movement. Currently, our pads are protecting athletes of all kinds especially bikers, skateboarders and longboarders, soccer players and hockey players. The electronics protection was a happy accident. My colleague posed the question that if our athletic pads can effectively protect bones, why can’t they also protect electronics? So he put his iPad in between two of the G-Form athletic pads and dropped a bowling ball onto it -- and it still worked! The iPad was not harmed at all. After that, we immediately decided to expand our line and develop protective cases for electronics. Given the combination of protecting bodies and devices, you can also see why we are working with the military.
Q. Give us three words that describe your culture.
Speed, creativity and innovation.
Q. What advice would you provide other small business owners in Southern New England regarding workforce development?
We are flexible regarding placing people in specific roles. We have a mix of experts in their respective fields as well as generalists who have worn many hats. At G-Form, we are more focused about the cultural fit of the person versus the richness of the resume they are bringing with them. We look for, and attract, self starters who will move quickly based on company and product objectives. Most of our employees are from Rhode Island, or have studied here.
Q. Define success.
Success means achieving whatever objection you have and loving the path to getting there. It’s about the product and the process.
Q. Why affiliate with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce?
It’s a ready-made network. With the nature of New England -- everyone knowing everyone -- it makes so much sense to be part of this network. The Chamber offers an efficient way to learn and connect in the community.
Q. Can you share some of the rewards experienced since the conception of G-Form?
A rewarding experience for me is the importation and maintenance of US jobs. It has been great to see first hand how much the “Made in the USA” sticker means to people. Also, I am proud of our culture within our company. We believe in doing well while doing good and in giving back to the community philanthropically.
Q. What’s on the horizon?
We are beginning to develop partnerships with team sports manufacturers and will have some exciting news to announce about those first partnerships soon. Additionally, we are shortly introducing our Pro-S Shin Guards, which are the first flexible, washable soccer shin guards on the market. And new phone cases are always on the horizon.
Q. What lessons have you learned along the way?
I have learned three related lessons in the effort to keep our competitive edge:
First, if you make three chess moves in the time that it takes your opponent to make one, no matter how expert the opponent is, you will win every time.
Second, it’s sometimes best to throw the dart and then draw the bull’s eye around it. By this I mean sometimes it is necessary to try something and then develop the strategy to support it. Don’t analyze things to death and have fun while figuring out your game plan.
The third lesson I have learned is the three-putt approach which means get effective product out there and then tweak it through customer feedback. Trying to line up the perfect putt won’t allow you to sink it any faster. Better to learn from experience.