Davin Wedel

We love him because he's a lifesaver.

From: Inc. Magazine, April 2004 | By: Daniel McGinn



Davin Wedel Global Protection

because he's a lifesaver

Some entrepreneurs build businesses that are wildly profitable. Some create products that astonish. Some treat every single employee like family. But there's another attribute that makes an entrepreneur lovable: a desire to change the world. Companies like Ben & Jerry's and the Body Shop became famous for donating a portion of profits to charity, harming no animals, and treating workers fairly. And their products? One clogs your arteries; the other leaves you smelling fruity. Their success is a reminder that most "socially responsible" companies win plaudits for their methods of doing business, not because their products really make the world a better place.

Which is why we love Davin Wedel of Global Protection. His products--colored condoms, flavored condoms, glow-in-the-dark condoms, lollipop condoms--share a genuinely important goal: to keep people from spreading sexually transmitted diseases. Wedel started the company 17 years ago in his Tufts University dorm room to encourage classmates to practice safe sex. The company's mission remains the same: "To make condoms as socially acceptable as toothpaste and to make safe sex as much an act of second nature as wearing a seat belt."

Today Wedel and his staff of 30 work in an industrial loft within sight of Boston's Logan Airport. In a back room a conveyor belt sends 5,000 Pleasure Plus condoms an hour into wrappers (boxes carry words of praise like "Oodles more sensation" from Cosmo and other magazines). Nearby a female worker tests for leaks by filling condoms with water, knotting the ends, and kneading them like bread dough on a brown paper towel. The adjoining stockroom contains enough latex to sheathe a decade's worth of spring-breakers.

Most of these rubbers will wind up at nonprofit clinics, which accounted for 55% of Global Protection's $3.9 million sales in 2003. It's a low-margin business (the average clinic pays 9.5 cents for condoms that command $1 apiece at retail), but supplying customers like Leola Reis of Planned Parenthood of Georgia remains at the core of Global Protection's strategy. The company wins her business by carrying colorful products (popular with younger people) and female condoms, and by producing helpful outreach material. "They have good, healthy sexuality messages," Reis says.

Wedel and his staff could make more money working, as he says, pointing toward Boston's financial district, "somewhere over there." But Global Protection's work delivers psychic rewards. Says Stephen Mare, vice president of sales: "I really believe these products will make couples use condoms more consistently, which may keep someone from getting sick or maybe even save someone's life." And what did you accomplish at work today?--Daniel McGinn

Daniel McGinn is a national correspondent for Newsweek.


  1. Jeff Bezos,
    because "optimism is essential"
  2. Betsey Johnson, Betsey Johnson
    for her stylish life
  3. Russell Simmons, Rush Communications
    for his powerful example
  4. Scott Cook, Intuit
    because he learns, and teaches
  5. Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Google
    for their integrity. And, well, for Google
  6. David Neeleman, JetBlue
    for creating an airline fit for humans
  7. Tom Stemberg, Staples
    for doing it exactly right
  8. Jack Stack, SRC Holdings
    for going naked
  9. Judy Wicks, White Dog Enterprises
    because she's put in place more progressive business practices per square foot than any other entrepreneur
  10. Davin Wedel, Global Protection
    because he's a lifesaver
  11. Pat McGovern, International Data Group
    for knowing the power of respect
  12. Steve Jobs, Apple Computer, Pixar
    because we like to be seduced
  13. Lance Morgan, Ho-Chunk
    because a man must make his own arrows--Winnebago proverb
  14. James Goodnight, SAS
    for saying no to Wall Street (repeatedly) and yes to the people who really matter
  15. Stella Ogiale, Chesterfield Health Services
    for doing good while doing well
  16. Rhonda Kallman, New Century Brewing
    for seizing opportunity-- again and again
  17. Laima Tazmin, LAVT
    because she's a lot like other kids--and then again...
  18. Laura & Pete Wakeman, Great Harvest Bread
    for living a little --no, a lot
  19. Andra Rush, Rush Trucking
    for rolling up her sleeves
  20. Kathleen Wehner, Cirrus Aviation
    for refusing to quit
  21. Frank Venegas, Ideal Group
    because he parlayed a little bit of luck into a lot of good fortune for others
  22. Dan Wieden, Wieden + Kennedy
    because he's a true independent
  23. John Sperling, Apollo Group
    because he stirs the pot, and apparently always will
  24. John Stollenwerk, Allen-Edmonds
    for his commitment to U.S. workers. We also love the shoes
  25. Mel Zuckerman, Canyon Ranch
    for showing the way

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