Monday, May 21, 2012
Condom makes Sanjay’s stick better..
Condoms scale down production, but that is when it comes to humans. A Jalandhar-based manufacturer is now the largest producer of hockey sticks in the country — courtesy condoms.
Sanjay Kohli, managing director of R K Sports, hit upon this idea a few years ago. The reason was his growing frustration with the hook of the stick, which strikes the ball. The slender, curvaceous hook is actually seven pieces of mulberry wood bound and glued through a tedious process before you get the perfect curve. For the manufacturers of hockey sticks, keeping the hook together is the biggest challenge.
The problem started first at the factory end. The conventional way was to stick a plastic net on the hook to keep it together. On many sticks, the net would not dry properly or grip the hook, making the precious mulberry wood go to waste. “A good percentage of sticks got damaged this way and had to be shoved into the furnace. The next challenge was the playfield, where the hook split after a few hard strokes,” said Kohli.
Thinking what will hold the hook together and also grip it right, Kohli hit upon a gem of an idea. Now, during the manufacturing process, condoms are smoothened over the stick. After the sticking net has moulded itself perfectly on the hook, it is time to slide the condom off. The result, after some smoothing and polishing, is a shiny, glossy hook to which the handle is attached. And what you have is a perfect hockey stick, ready to strike ball.
Today, his employees might well say “What an idea Sirji”, because condoms have helped Kohli increase his production — and his annual turnover — four-fold.
All this didn’t come without hiccups. Kohli started buying loads of condoms from the neighbourhood store. It went well for a few days, till the shopkeeper smelt a rat and asked Kohli’s worker what was going on — had a brothel opened in the area? Kohli invited the shopkeeper over to the factory and explained what was being done with the condoms. It all ended in cheer and laughter and it is Kohli who is now laughing all the way to the bank.
When Kohli stated using condoms on hockey stick hooks a few years ago, he made 45 to 75 sticks a day, depending on the success of holding the hook together. Production is now up to about 225 sticks a day. “The condoms have improved the quality of our sticks and hence, the rising demand,” Kohli said. The annual turnover is now up to an impressive Rs 5.25 crore — from the 70-75 lakh a year he made earlier.
Punjab is the largest producer of hockey sticks and Kohli has a clear edge over his competitors with his new technique. The condoms have helped him save significantly on mulberry wood, which is in scarce supply in the country.