Gripple began life as an ingenious solution to tying and knotting fencing wires. The firm’s patented technology ‘grips and pulls’ wire to simplify the process of joining and tensioning fencing wires as well as speed up installation times. Now operating in construction, seismic bracing and civil engineering markets, Gripple products are used to secure, brace and anchor a wide range of services. Manufacturing in Sheffield and with sites in Strasbourg, Chicago and New Delhi, the products deliver time-saving simplicity and problem-solving innovation to 85 markets around the world.

The business culture and “Gripple Spirit” is integral to the continued growth of the organisation and investing in people who share the values of the business is a prerequisite. Uniquely, the company is 100% employee-owned with its people are encouraged to play an active part in the development of the business, driving continuous improvement, challenging convention and infusing fun into their work.

Working directly with Meadowhead School

Gripple has been an active supporter of Meadowhead School in Sheffield for more than five 5 years. The school is an academy trust, meaning it’s responsible for its own funding and has a board of partners. Partners include representatives from areas such as accountancy, publishing and retail, as well as a representative from Gripple.

Working directly with Meadowhead School

Gripple provides support in a number of ways, most notably through real life experience projects, which include work placements, mock interview sessions and mentoring.

Meadowhead School puts a lot of emphasis on the benefits of an additional language and Gripple supports this by running mock interview sessions in the pupil’s target language. As an exporter to over 85 countries, with four sites across the globe, Gripple employs a substantial number of people with multiple language capabilities and highlights this as a valuable differentiator during the recruitment of new people to the business.

Alongside foreign language mock interview initiatives, Gripple regularly supports Meadowhead by mentoring sixth form students, offering work placement opportunities to year nine pupils and organising tours of the Gripple sites in Sheffield.

The mock interviews are well received, offering pupils real life insight into questions they’re likely to be asked during an interview, and experience presenting themselves in a professional and compelling way to prospective employers.

Alongside Gripple’s on-going support of Meadowhead, the business also works closely with Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam and regularly hosts innovation workshops for students at the two institutions. These events offer valuable insights into the importance of new idea generation and a culture which encourages continuous improvement at all levels.

Jake Cawthorne talks about his work-based apprenticeship

Jake Cawthorne began life at Gripple with an engineering work experience placement from Birley Community College in 2014. Such was his enthusiasm for the work, he asked if he could come back to Gripple once the placement had finished, during his holidays, to gain more experience.

When Jake finished school, he applied for one of two apprentice engineering positions advertised at Gripple and was successful in securing the role. This position involved his attendance on a course at AMRC for an initial six months, before moving to one day a week and spending the rest of his time at Gripple.

Jake Cawthorne talks about his work-based apprenticeship

In order to give Jake exposure to the whole UK business and help him identify his strengths and interests, he spent three months at each of Gripple’s three Sheffield sites, before being based permanently at the company’s Hawke Street site.

Gripple is committed to developing people who possess values befitting the ethos and spirit of the company – this is the most important factor for the business during the recruitment process. Once those people are in place, emphasis is on developing skills and investing in training to ensure professional development paths are created to progress their careers with the company.

Today, Jake is working towards his NVQ Level 3 in Electrical Maintenance Engineering, which he is scheduled to complete in 2017.

Speaking about his experiences so far, Jake commented: “I’ve never liked being in a classroom so the apprenticeship opportunity with Gripple really suited me. I’m really enjoying learning on the job and it’s essentially an extension of my hobbies in the sense that I’m working on machines and making things every day.”

Pleasingly, his hard work was recently recognised as he was named the AMRC’s Maintenance Pathway Apprentice of the Year for 2016.

Creating jobs – Jerome Whyte

The trust invited Jerome to an engineering introduction session, where local businesses were delivering speeches and insight into careers in engineering and manufacturing.

Jerome Whyte

Gripple’s chairman and founder, Hugh Facey was one of the local business leaders invited by the Prince’s Trust to speak to attendees. Through an introduction with Mr Facey, Jerome was invited to interview for a three-month placement with Gripple.

Gripple’s recruitment policy is driven by a desire to employ people with the right values not just the right skills. These values and behaviours are what helps the business grow consistently year-on-year, demonstrate an enduring commitment to continuous improvement, and drive new product development.

Jerome displayed the characteristics to contribute to this culture and secured a role operating wire machinery at the company’s Hawke Street site following his work experience.

Gripple’s unique culture is characterised by the business’s wish to avoid management charts and job descriptions – all employees are encouraged to take an active part in developing every area of the business. The Hawke Street production team which Jerome is part of is still in its infancy but the number of continuous improvement initiatives the team has actioned since its introduction is testament to the empowered ownership Gripple encourages.

Since undertaking his role operating wire machinery, Jerome has since earnt the opportunity to learn about CNC machine operation and is now 18 months into a three-year apprenticeship in mechanical machinery with AMRC.