"Forma products brings in safety with comfort and style”: Amit Desai
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With a strategy revolving around “safety with comfort and style”, Protech Sports and Safety Products develop cricket batting helmets, wicket keeping helmets, thigh guards, neck guards, chest guards and arm pads as per the global safety standards. Currently, the likes of Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Washington Sundar, Rassie van der Dussen (South Africa), Marco Jansen (South Africa) and Kieron Pollard (West Indies) use their products along with a number of cricketers from yesteryear.
In this exclusive interview, Amit Desai, Founder and Director at Forma speaks about his vision and objectives for the company, innovation and technology in the development of the products, cricketers who use Forma products, overcoming challenges, adhering to safety standards and his future goals.
Q 1) As founder and director of Forma, what motivated you to create this company and what is your vision and objectives that you would like to achieve?
Having played competitive cricket, I had a minor injury while fielding in short leg position. This prompted me to think of making something in head safety. There was only one Australian company making cricket helmets in the early 80’s, it was from Fibreglass (FG). My father had a factory manufacturing electronic equipment and he had an engineer who had told me that he used to make toys from FG. I enquired if he could teach me to make cricket helmets from FG and hence, he helped me in making a simple mould (with my pocket money) and I invested in making a few helmets in FG from this mould. There was only one famous brand in India at that time, “Sunny” owned by the legendary Sunil Gavaskar. I asked him if I could use his brand for my helmets and he was kind enough to agree. This is how I began my business, “Protech Sports and Safety Products” with its brand Forma in manufacturing cricket helmets. He also asked me to make a skull cap (Mr. Gavaskar never used a regular cricket helmet) and I happily obliged. He used this skull cap for the remainder of his batting career. This was the beginning of my business of cricket helmet manufacturing. Our vision and objective is to develop or adopt head safety equipments that would reduce injury and concussions. This can also be adopted for various other products other than just cricket helmets.
Q 2) What separates Forma from other manufacturers? What sort of innovation and technology goes into the development of the products?
Forma was the first to develop a cricket helmet from an Engineering Polymer outer shell and a high density inner liner of Expandable Polystyrene. Both these together can help withstand high levels of impact coupled with good levels of concussion reduction for modern cricketers. This process is now adopted by all other major cricket helmet brands. Our Forma helmets still can be differentiated from other brands in safety and comfort as it has the right combination of shell thickness in its outer shell and the optimum thickness and density of its inner EPS liner. Even though this does make Forma helmets a bit heavy (by approx. 40-60 gms) from its competitors, our intent of maintaining a high level of safety for our users is more important than to just aim for our helmets to be lightweight. Forma helmet has a unique comfort lining all across the inside of the helmet. This enables higher area for sweat absorption inside the helmet.
Q 3) Who are some of the cricketers that use Forma products? Which countries are Forma products being exported to?
Forma is exported to all cricket playing countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc.
Some of the key ex and current players are:
Ex Players: Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Virendar Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir
Current Players: Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Washington Sundar, Rassie van der Dussen (South Africa), Marco Jansen (South Africa), Kieron Pollard (West Indies)
Forma has also launched Rishabh Pant’s RP 17 signature collection. Our company is also OEM exclusive producer for the biggest cricketing brands in the word i.e. Gray Nicolls and Kookaburra.
Q 4) What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced, not just in the development but also in the promotion of your products? How did you overcome them?
The challenges in development are the cost of tooling and the British Standards compliance costs. The cricket helmet market, though expanding world-wide, still is no match to some of the other safety helmets like the motorcycle helmets and bicycle helmets. The promotion of the products is also through players using it, which again does not come cheap. We now also use other modern promotion techniques such as social media to promote our brand Forma.
Q 5) What are the safety standards Forma adheres to as equipment such as helmets are primarily for the safety of batters and wicket keepers.
There is one universal safety standard which is adopted by the ICC and other cricketing boards, the British Standard. It is mandatory to comply with this standard for all major tournaments today for International cricketers. Forma is an ISO 9001:2015 quality certified company. It has the widest British Standard 7928: 2013 approved cricket helmets and is also the first company to get a British Standard certification for the neck guards on cricket helmets.
Q 6) What are your future goals for Forma? How do you plan to accomplish them?
We are investing into adaptation of new technologies available in head safety around the world, which will help us develop helmets which provide a higher level of head safety compared to the current helmets which are available across the world. We have already signed an agreement with a US based company for this, and in early 2023 we will have cricket helmets using this technology. Our tagline is “Safety with comfort and style” which is something that we truly believe in.