Gripple – Our EO Story
Gripple is globally recognised as the innovative manufacturer of wire joining solutions for agriculture and suspension systems for building services. Since initial beginnings in 1989, we now have over 800 people across 15 global locations. 100% employee owned with a direct ownership model, the growth and success of our business is characterised by entrepreneurial spirit, a culture of challenge and continuous improvement, and a steadfast commitment to its people and the communities it serves.
2020 presented unprecedented challenges but Gripple has always been a business which shapes its own future, driven by the initiative and ingenuity of its people. The global COVID pandemic presented a raft of challenges for us all, but the response of our people was testament to a culture of problem solving innovation.
Support for the Nightingale Hospitals project
As a UK based manufacturer supplying solutions to more than 80 different countries across the world, including emergency hospital projects in the UK and USA, our business was listed as essential and has remained operational throughout the pandemic. We were delighted to provide emergency support to contractors working to convert Glasgow’s SEC Centre into the temporary NHS Louisa Jordan hospital.
In partnership with FES Group and Mechanical & Electrical Fixings Ltd, emergency materials for the suspension of electrical containment were delivered in 24 hours from orders being placed. Our Area Sales Manager for Scotland even collected the goods from Sheffield and delivered them to site by (sterilised!) hand, so that these critical works could continue at a rapid pace.
Social distancing t-shirts with a Yorkshire twist – in aid of the NHS charities
To ensure we were able to keep our people safe at work during the lockdown, we put a number of social distancing and hygiene protocols in place. We like to ensure our character and personality shines through in everything we do, and in this instance, we decided to
produce social distancing t-shirts, with a Yorkshire twist – to be worn by our people on site.
Designed by our marketing team, our intention was to remind our people of important safety and hygiene considerations, and to smile!
The t-shirts were a big hit and we subsequently shared them on our social media channels. Over 20,000 people interacted with the post. Consequently, we offered the t-shirts for sale, with all proceeds going to the NHS charities.
We were delighted to sell over 300 t-shirts and donate nearly £2,000 to the NHS charities.
Original Linkedin post shared, displaying the t-shirts – June 2020
Pictures shared by members of the public; headlines from local and business media – July 2020
Innovation to support the fight against COVID-19
Gripple’s resilience as a business is driven by its people. The business is 100% employee owned; our people buy shares as a prerequisite and as such, take direct responsibility for challenging convention, driving improvements and being creative during challenging times. Innovation is the lifeblood of the business; we target 25% of our annual turnover to come from products less than five years old. Our growth and success is founded on this principle. Usually, our product innovation is focussed within our core market sectors but the challenges of social distancing and preventing the spread of the virus made us think differently.
Lightweight protective face shields
As lockdown was announced, our in-house product designers explored ways to produce protective face shields – a solution for people potentially working in close proximity on our production floor, and a FOC offering for key workers.
The team delivered an accredited category III PPE flat pack solution, with an injection moulded head band, meaning the face shield was lightweight and comfortable, and disassembly allowed for cleaning and re-use. Utilising support from our sister businesses, it was a full collaborative, internal effort which demonstrated the speed and agility in which the business could deliver viable solutions.
Images illustrating the face shield design – June 2020
Free to key workers, we’ve given away nearly 1,000 visors to-date, with excellent feedback on the face shields’ design and comfort
Feedback posted on our social channels on the face shields from recipients
Another innovation born out of a need for better on-site hygiene; a solution developed to prevent needing to touch handles and prevent the transmission of the virus. The door openers were manufactured in-house by repurposing a metal processing machine used to product our ‘Fast Trak’ product – a pre-fabricated trapeze bracket solution. More than 800 door openers have been donated to local NHS hospitals and also sold to some of our suppliers, with all proceeds going to our charity of the year, Weston Park Cancer Care.
Prototype door opener (left) and final production state door opener (right)
Protective screen solutions
As retailers sought to provide safety and protection for customers in store, we saw the introduction of Perspex screens as a solution for preventing transmission of the virus between till operators and customers. Our core business is the manufacture of wire rope suspension solutions for hanging a range of services, and we recognised an opportunity to supply the screens with accompanying Gripple hanger kits, and allow retailers, as well as hospitality and manufacturing businesses to quickly install the solutions themselves. The ease of install and adjustment would also allow end users to make their own adjustment to the position of screens while also being able to quickly disinfect.
Flyers used to advertise the protection screen/Gripple hanger kit solution
Protective screens/Gripple hanger solutions installed on a retail unit, in the Netherlands.
‘Get Back on Track’ Campaign
We commit to donating 1% of pre-tax budgeted profit to charitable organisations every year. In light of the current situation, we chose this year to donate £10,000 to health care charities in our core regions, split between the NHS charities in the UK, Meals on Wheels in USA, and Conquer Covid-19 in Canada.
These projects are testament to the ‘Gripple spirit’ – a set of values which define who we are as a business. Comical t-shirt designs are an example of our character and sense of humour, rooted in our home city of Sheffield; protective screen solutions demonstrate our entrepreneurial spirit and the production of face shields and door openers are testament to our innovation and commitment to supporting our communities. Collaboration is at the heart of all we do; we deliver benefit by working with our customers to design the best possible solution.
The challenges of 2020 have allowed us to continue in that spirit of collaboration and community.
It’s important to note also, that all these projects and initiatives have been delivered by global teams, at times working remotely, and in some instances, with members of their team in vulnerable categories and shielding. In the circumstances, the achievements of the last 15 months have been remarkable.
As for this year, as we approach the end of the first half of 2021, the business performance has been quite frankly outstanding, with our global sales teams breaking our period sales record not once but twice, all while negotiating the challenges of various lockdowns across 85 regions in which we operate.