A Client Case Study
Gecko Head Gear and the German Marine Organisations
In 2014 the official bodies who govern the German marine organisations defied convention by approving Gecko Head Gear to be the default supplier of marine safety equipment for all German marine-based organisations. It is the first time that a decision has been taken at this level to overrule the regulation that these organisations must put their safety equipment requirements out to tender, so why was this decision reached? We spoke to Stephan Moerke, CEO of STM Electronic, to find out.
From the Beginning
Stephan has a long and established career in the marine industry and is a DLRG volunteer, rescue diver and first aider. Before setting up STM Electronic, Stephan worked for the German Maritime Rescue Service which gave him first-hand knowledge of the safety equipment requirements of German marine organisations as well as the legislation that governs them. Over the years these organisations have evolved to introduce smaller and faster watercraft to their fleets and what followed was a need to improve the safety equipment to offer protection from higher speed collisions explains Stephan. However, he struggled to find a local distributor who could provide safety equipment that met the needs of his employer and so, STM Electronic, a German distributor of marine safety equipment, was born.
Gecko Head Gear and STM Electronic
In 2008 Stephan contacted Gecko in search of a marine helmet solution for his clients, sparking the beginning of a nine-year collaboration. Gecko provide a product that is completely unique in the marketplace says Stephan, because Gecko helmets meet a safety standard far superior to any other marine specific helmet on the market; most marine helmets meet a water sports safety standard but Stephan believes that this is not enough to protect the wearer from high-speed impacts or accidents involving a sailboat boom or falling debris. Gecko marine safety helmets meet a new PAS certification, developed by the British Standards Institution specifically to meet the needs of people who use high-speed watercraft or who work in potentially dangerous commercial marine environments. Stephan was not alone in this viewpoint, as in 2010 many of the German Marine Organisations began to withdraw their helmet stock from use since risk assessments had highlighted that they lacked appropriate safety accreditations. This led to a four-year-long testing phase where numerous marine safety helmets were vigorously tested in realistic rescue conditions in a bid to find a replacement that offered an appropriate level of protection, that was comfortable to wear and provided additional thermal protection. In the end, Gecko helmets were the only ones that could meet these requirements and so via Stephan, Gecko won the tender.
Gecko Head Gear has since become the standard issue marine safety helmet for the German Navy, DLRG, Police Forces, Fisheries Protection Authority and the German Waterways Authority and the product feedback has been as positive as the initial results from the testing scenarios. Marine safety helmets should be replaced roughly every fours years and since it took four years arrange the original tender (including product testing), it was decided by German marine organisation governing bodies that the renewal contract should be automatically awarded to Gecko Head Gear on a rolling basis. Gecko Head Gear are extremely proud to be the exclusive provider of marine safety helmets for the German Coastguard and this truly reinforces our belief that inappropriately certified head gear is a false economy.
Gecko helmets are not the cheapest on the market, but according to the German Coastguard and its governing body, they are the best.