Davin Wedel Podcast Transcript

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Headshot of Founder Davin Wedel

Davin Wedel Podcast Transcript

Davin Wedel joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, Home of The Digital Executive podcast.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Davin Wedel. Davin Wedel is the Founder and President of Global Protection Corp. David has been making history and making a difference ever since over the past 30 years. The company has adapted and grown to be a respected innovator, trusted manufacturer, worldwide distributor, and public health champion.

As an undergraduate at Tufts university in Boston in 1987, David Wedel was motivated by the exploding AIDS crisis. David was determined to make condom use fun and stylish as socially acceptable as toothpaste and as a second nature as wearing a seatbelt.

Well, good afternoon, David. Welcome to the show!

Davin Wedel: Thank you.

Awesome to have you here. I appreciate you jumping on first thing and making some time to do a podcast. This is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So, David jumping right into your first question here. Global Protection Corporation began with a mission to make condoms an acceptable part of everyday life starting in 1988.

Can you share the story behind this mission and how you navigated the societal challenges of that time?

Davin Wedel: Sure. And it’s important to remember a lot of, a lot of people, especially young people now don’t have any idea how hard it was to talk about condoms in the late eighties. Condoms had always been something that was known to be in gas station bathrooms and a vending machine only really used if somebody was having an affair or to thought about as something to be used with prostitutes, that kind of thing.

So, condoms had a really dirty reputation and it’s not like today where people can really talk about anything, right? Our discourse about sexual topics is. So open, but then it really, really wasn’t. So, at the time I was in college and the surgeon general under Reagan at the time the AIDS crisis was really just getting known, but it wasn’t being talked about.

Reagan didn’t want his surgeon general talking about it. And he certainly didn’t want him talking about condoms, but Coop, as the top doctor in the country defied Reagan and went ahead and talked about condoms and said it was the one thing that could stop the spread of the AIDS virus. So, it became a big controversy at the time, and Coop almost got fired for talking about condoms.

So, on college, on the college campus. We also realized I had a friend and we were entrepreneurs. We were selling T shirts and boxer shorts and things like that. And we, we realized that nobody on campus thought that they could get AIDS that, that nobody was using condoms and certainly people couldn’t talk about them.

So, we decided to treat the condom like we did our T shirts or boxer shorts. We put the school logo on it and I came up with a fun saying, we put it in a matchbook. And really, by doing that, change the identity of the condom. It turned it from something dirty that people couldn’t talk about to something that people just had to have.

They wanted to buy it for a buck. They wanted to give it to their friend. They wanted to show it to their brother, sister, whatever. So, we really just captured this. Kind of magic ability to allow people to talk about condoms, then purchase them, then have them in their dorm rooms, and then actually use them when they were having sex or before they wouldn’t have a con around.

So, it was a magic thing that we discovered a little bit by accident. It was something that we did for homecoming. Just for fun, and we realized the power that it had, and then we really took that and continued to run with it.

Brian Thomas: Thank you, David. I appreciate the, the backstory. Obviously, there’s a backstory to everything and how things began, and the genesis of Global Protection Corp began kind of happenstance, right?

As you mentioned, and it kind of took off from there. So, I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit and the story behind that. And David, your company has been known for a series of groundbreaking firsts in the company industry. Could you highlight a few of these innovations and the impact they’ve had on public health and sexual safety?

Davin Wedel: Absolutely, at the beginning, as I, as I just said, by just using humor and fun, we were able to change the identity of the condom and tie it to continue to tie it to popular culture. So that was really the 1st. Groundbreaking activity that we did, we were the 1st company or people to use humor and make fun condoms.

So, we just continue to do that. It was kind of 1 groundbreaking 1st after another, as we continue to use and apply that social marketing method. To different areas and different channels. So, we customized condoms for schools and students all across the country using their mascots and funny slogans.

We used customizing, so we would customize packaging and products for radio stations and bars and then. Other all sorts of other outlets throughout the country, a lot of musical artists you to Prince it was, we, we customized condoms for movie launches. So that was really the big groundbreaking thing, and that extended for many years because we continue to do new things where we just.

And it broke the rules about where condoms could be and how they could be distributed and how they could be sold. So, we just continue to create fun things like condom lollipops, condom keychains. Those got condoms out from behind the counter onto the counter of convenience stores for the first time.

That was a big deal. We opened the first condom stores in the country, Condomania. And that was a raging popular thing for a number of years, having condom stores. They were all over the country. We invented the glow in the dark condom. I was still in college when I invented the glow in the dark condom.

I actually had to leave school to sit at a factory in Thailand to try to get that made successfully. But that was that caused such a stir in the country and got condoms talked about everywhere, every media outlet. So that was again, a really big deal to find. Stories and ways for our society to talk about condoms.

A lot of times we would innovate and create new things just so that there would be another reason to have a conversation about condoms in the national discourse. Because every time that happened, it normalized, it took another step towards normalizing condoms. So that’s kind of the background. And then more recently we had invented the pleasure plus the 1st condom that had an aspect on it that moved.

There was an extra baggy pouch. So that really moves back and forth and simulate sex without a condom. That was a very big innovation. We invented the thinner condom technology that you see very, very popular throughout the country and different brands. I think one of our biggest innovations and most successful launches has been our, my one custom fit condoms.

These are condoms with 10 lengths, nine widths. So, there’s 52 sizes. So, people can measure themselves and get the right fit. The number 1 complaint by condom users is that condoms are either too tight or they’re too large and they slip off. In other words, they just don’t fit. And so, they’re uncomfortable and they interrupt and make sex uncomfortable or, or they are insecure.

Or it interrupts the mood. So, when it kind of fits perfectly it really is a game changer. So that’s been an incredibly popular line especially for those who are not just sized as the standard economist sized. Condoms, the standard condom is too long for 91 percent of people, and it’s too tight for 70 percent of people.

The standard condom has to be made that way to meet standard FDA and international rules about what kind of length and width should be. So actually, inventing my one and getting those, getting that system for the personalization of a condom. Getting that getting that pass through regulatory bodies was very, very difficult and a big, big deal for us.

And our most recent innovation is flex condoms. Those are the world’s 1st graphing condoms. True graphing condoms where the graphing molecule is actually bonded with latex fills in the gaps. Between the latex and it makes it stronger and it makes it possible for the kind of to stretch more.

And therefore, we can make it larger and thinner. It’s the thinnest it’s matched to the thinnest kind of in the U. S. But it actually gets to be wider and a little bit more comfortable. It also increases body heat transfer because graphene. Is a carbon-based molecule latex as an insulator. And graphene actually increases the heat, the body heat transfer of condoms by 85%.

So, it’s it makes condoms. More comfortable, more natural and those are those, that product has just been launched in this last year and it’s, it’s very, very successful and consumers love it.

Brian Thomas: Appreciate that. Dave. And you’ve talked about how you’ve innovated, but innovated over the last gosh, 30 plus years on this.

And sometimes it’s just kind of a, like you said, throw it up with a, with a candy or, or something so we can get it out on the front counter. And now you’ve kind of. Transitioned through time and really use some innovative technologies to bring out a better product. So, I appreciate the share on that really do.

And David, you’ve incorporated emerging technology in the manufacturing process at Global Protection Corp. How has this technological integration transformed the quality and variety of the products you offer?

Davin Wedel: I would say that the, the number one Advantage that we have as a manufacturer is that we manufacture our own equipment.

So, most companies are getting their kind of manufacturing and testing equipment. From the manufacturers of equipment that supply those products. Or those, those manufacturing solutions, we make our own equipment. We have our own engineering, which means that we’re able to innovate.

And when we are running up against some kind of a challenge with the dipping or testing of product, or if we’re trying to make an interesting product, that’s nonstandard. We are able to adapt the equipment test, make something new if it doesn’t work, we, we tinker more and we change the equipment and we continue to adapt.

So. That ability to understand how the product is manufactured from the equipment side really allows us to make more varied products than, than most kind of manufacturers. So that then also leads to the automation side as you, as, you know, everybody is kind of trying to move.

Towards automation. And we’ve had a lot of innovation as it relates to that. I don’t know if you’ve heard the phrase, you know, every condom is individually, electronic test, electronically tested. But it is true every single condom is tested from top to bottom for pinholes in the past that was done.

By a person who’s pulling the condom over a metal mandrel, every single one has to be pulled over a metal mandrel. Then the metal mandrel is either dipped in water that has an electrical charge. And then if there is a actual charge that gets through the latex to the metal, then that kind of rejected, or there are other brushes that are carrying an electronic charge and through those brushes again, if the electrical charge goes through the latex.

To the metal that condom is rejected. So, imagine the labor for every single condom to be pulled over a metal mandrel and then have that testing done. So, we’ve got an automated machine now that can test standard shaped condoms. Where it’s all automated, it’s all dumped in and pulls them down over the metal mandrels.

It’s spinning and flying. It’s 1 of those Willie Wonka, Dr. Seuss machines that you just look at, and it’s flying so fast. You can’t even believe what you’re seeing. So, these kinds of innovations not only allow us. On the manufacturing side to make different kinds of products and other companies, but it also allows us to continue to innovate to make them for less money.

So, we can continue to provide interesting products to consumers. Still at a, at a, at a very, very good price.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. I appreciate again, sharing some of the innovation, the technology that you’re employing in your manufacturing process. So, David, last question, if you could briefly share what advice you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in the health and wellness sector or in technology.

Davin Wedel: I’d say number one, for me, I built my company by filling in the gaps where the larger established companies weren’t willing to play. You’re always going to find it easy to say no to customers really easy to if it’s something that is difficult to do, or it’s something that you don’t provide currently to say no, especially if you’re a large company.

And you have established systems established ways of doing things. And I’ve, I, I created my company by filling in those gaps. I provided services and products. The customers were asking for that that others were saying no to. So, the number 1 piece of advice is. Listen to your customers really avoid as much as you can.

Saying no and don’t automate your systems to the point where you’re, you’re not talking to your customers or you’re not talking to humans. We still answer our phones. At our company and we make sure that people are always able to talk to somebody very, very quickly. And I think that’s very important.

I also, I think, you know, trying to focus on solving problems. I also built my business simply focusing on the problem of AIDS and people not being willing to use condoms. And I approached it simply in that way. I love solving problems. And as long as I’m continuing to solve problems for people, the business followed.

I didn’t have to have some grand plan where I couldn’t be flexible. I just continued to follow the problems, solve them, and then the customers were there. So, again, that was that was a focus for me. I also, no matter how long we’ve been in business and no, you know, no matter how much we’ve grown, I continue to focus on feeling like and keeping the mentality of a startup.

of a very entrepreneurial company. I’m trying to be nimble, so, you know, on the one hand, you have to start to build systems and processes so that you can scale. And things don’t continue. I can grow and I can continue to focus on growing the business. And there are, there are systems so that the business continues to operate.

I don’t have to be involved in anything in everything. Sorry. But I still I still instill within people in the company that their voices are important. I want to hear from them. They are their own business managers and whatever area they’re working in. And I want them to think entrepreneurial, so it’s, it’s very.

Important not to lose track of that. Also keeping it simple. I think it’s really important to try and keep things as focused and simple and clean as possible. When you’re trying to create solutions, it’s very, very tempting to overcomplicate things. And it can be fun, right? To think about a really complex way to solve a problem, but I, I always remind people to try and keep it.

Simple. And I think lastly, I believe business is a win game. Some people approach it as you know, you have to win. Somebody else has to lose. And I always look at business always as a win-win. So, my customers, of course, have to win, right? They have to have better products. At a better price, but it’s also true of our vendors, our vendor partners.

I always approach new deals or things like that. Not about not, not, not like, how am I going to get the most? How am I going to squeeze the last penny out of this vendor? I need to try and establish long term relationships where our vendors. Our partners, and the only way that’s going to happen is if they’re making money and we’re making money.

So, I approach business very much in that way and always remind people within the company to think like that as well.

Brian Thomas: Okay. Thank you, Dave. And I appreciate breaking down some of those tidbits. I call them gems here on the podcast or people that either want to be an entrepreneur or want to just be their best leader in whatever role they’re serving in a company.

And I do appreciate that. And David, it was such a pleasure having you on today and I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Davin Wedel: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.

Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Davin Wedel Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.

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