When he was captain of the Northeastern University men’s hockey team, Glen “Gava” Giovanucci was asked to motivate his teammates, lead by example, and rise to the occasion when the game was on the line.
Four decades after playing his last hockey game for the Huskies and graduating from Northeastern with a degree in business, Giovannuci is again leading his team in the clutch—this time in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
As chief executive officer of G-Form, a Rhode Island-based wholesale distributor of personal protective gear for team sports athletes, outdoor enthusiasts and military/tactical personnel, Giovanucci has put primary business interests aside to make protective face shields for the healthcare workers who are trying to save lives.
G-Form’s decision to retrofit its business model during a national health crisis is providing much-needed protection for the doctors, nurses, and first responders, including paramedics and firefighters, who are risking their own safety to care for those infected by the fast-spreading and potentially deadly coronavirus.
Giovannuci’s additional and highly personal goal is to keep G-Form’s 40 workers employed at the company’s headquarters in Providence and its nearby factory in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, at a time when many other companies are laying off workers.
“We were facing some very difficult decisions about closing our operations in March,” says Giovannuci, who graduated in 1983. “Our leadership team came up with this idea of how we can help those that are sacrificing everything in this fight.”
Giovanucci, whose global company specializes in designing and manufacturing proprietary SmartFlex protective padding for a variety of distributors and retailers, says that G-Form has been making about 10,000 medically approved face shields a day for federal agencies and medical distributors.
The face shields, which are made of anti-fog, splash-proof polycarbonate plastic and foam cushions with elastic bands, are also being distributed directly to hospitals in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.
Giovanucci’s aim is to produce 200,000 face shields per week.
“The requests are crazy and we’re doing everything we can to keep up with the demand,” says Giovanucci, whose company is hiring temporary workers to augment its full staff. “The challenge for us is learning how can we produce them faster and better. Everyday we’re getting a little better at it.”
Jim Madigan, the men’s hockey coach at Northeastern, says he wasn’t surprised that Giovanucci had taken on the task to repurpose his factory to make protective equipment.
“Glen has always been able to assess difficult situations and come up with a great plan,” says Madigan, who played with Giovanucci in the 1980s. “I’ve known Glen since my freshman year at Northeastern. He was a vocal leader, and he showed that he genuinely cared for his teammates.”
After transferring from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Giovanucci generated 30 goals and 53 assists in three seasons with the Huskies. As a junior, he helped lead Northeastern to the NCAA Tournament Frozen Four.
Giovanucci served as a college coach, an NHL scout, and a player agent before entering the corporate world.
“All the success I’ve had in my professional life, I can trace back to what I learned while in hockey,” says Giovanucci. “It’s all competition, and it takes teamwork to be successful.”