David Manufactures People Power to Take Employee Owner of the Year Crown

Classed as the ‘go to’ person both inside Gripple and beyond, David Wroe inspires, supports and empowers his fellow owners at Gripple to drive performance.

And it is this that has seen the UK Employee Ownership Award Judges select David as Employee Owner of the Year 2019.

David joined the Sheffield-based manufacturer Gripple as engineering team leader 19 years ago, and after being one of the first employee representatives from when the business became employee owned four years later, he has taken this knowledge throughout his various roles to where he his now as Riverside site manager.

It is here where he has used the Gripple spirit – it’s values – and Gripple person – a set of behaviours – that drives the essence of the business’ employee ownership to empower his 11 direct reports and the 100 people for whom he is responsible for, who are part of a wider global 740-strong workforce.

From a “low base” David has engaged and empowered a diverse workforce at the Riverside site empowering those on the factory floor with a sense of purpose and a voice. It is now the best performing site manufacturing 50 million Gripples – the wire joining and tensioning devices – a year.

Fair, honest and integrity were some of the key words the judges picked that employees used to describe David. While he is also respected for stepping out of his comfort zone to talk about employee ownership with those outside of Gripple, all the while being authentic and true to the values he supports.

David has created a cross-site best practice group and achieved a reduction in sickness to less than 2% at the Riverside site. In the past two years he has overseen the doubling of the size of the factory and has created a culture that has seen all aspects of performance optimized.

Judges notes: “David is an exemplar and living the key values of Gripple’s employee ownership model. Honesty, integrity, and commitment are words that have been used and he puts everything into giving staff both shop floor and office based a sense of purpose and voice, and importantly they understand how and what they do can affect the bottom line of the business to great effect.”