How we make investment decisions as an EO company
In this latest blog to celebrate EO Day which is taking place on Friday, we talk to Kevin St Clair, UK Managing Director of Gripple, to find out how Gripple, as an employee-owned company, invests in its business and in local charities.
How does Gripple decide what financial investments it will make?
"As part of our strategic planning, investment requirements are identified to support the business growth, development of new products and expansion of our sites. But as an employee-owned business, it’s built into our culture that our team are encouraged to come forward with ideas of where we can improve. Often that includes ideas for investment in capital equipment or in our premises. Each team meets at least once a fortnight and any ideas they have can be shared at these meetings and managers can bring them to the Board’s attention. Alternatively, employees can pass ideas directly onto their GLIDE (our employee ownership model) board representative. Having the GLIDE board means the business is kept accountable for whatever investments it makes and we’re challenged over any budget we wish to invest. It’s worth remembering that our success is due to people actively engaging in coming up with ideas and innovations and investments that are right for our business."
What major investments are you planning at the moment?
"Due to our significant growth, there is a need for ongoing investment and every year, we invest in on average eight pieces of equipment. Usually at least four of these are capital equipment for manufacturing, which are produced in-house by our Automation team. Employees are involved at every stage of the process, from specification of the equipment, to design, production and then training of individuals.
We recently made a major investment of £8m in land at our Don Road site in Sheffield, which has the potential for more manufacturing space than our current six UK locations combined. Currently on this site, we have warehousing facilities of around 7,500 sq ft plus office space, where our innovation and marketing teams are based, but there is huge scope for expansion.
As many of our production sites in Sheffield are nearing capacity, we are planning to extend this with a 40,000 sq ft factory space at Don Road. This is where all our components for our tensioner and fastening products could be manufactured, under one roof, helping to streamline the process.
This is an exciting opportunity for us to design a purpose-built factory with aggressive sustainability targets supporting our net zero strategy. Again, employees are involved at every stage of the design process and we hope to have this built by 2025. Our plans are that the site will develop significantly over the next 5-10 years with additional factory and warehousing space."
Gripple also invests in charities and community projects, how do you decide on which projects to support?
"Our guiding principles for employee ownership is that one per cent of pre-tax profit goes to charity. This means that a minimum of £100,000 will be donated to charity this year by the business. This charity budget is managed by the Gripple Foundation, made up of a team of 10 employees.
Each year, we decide upon a nominated charity, from a shortlist of three drawn up by the Foundation team. All employees get the chance to vote for their favourite charity. Create a Dream Foundation, a registered charity in Sheffield, which helps seriously ill children and young people in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, was chosen by our employees this year. The charity helps to make young people’s dreams come true by funding gifts and experiences for them and their families.
Not only do we donate to this charity and others, but we also encourage our employees to take on challenges and fundraise themselves for charity. This has recently involved staff holding a Cake Sale and fundraising for a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Each team within the business decides on what form their fundraising will take, or whether they want to volunteer in their own community, then the company gives them the time to be able to do that.
We’re really proud of how much we give to charity and give back to our local community and not only is this great for local causes, it also further boosts morale and motivation amongst our workforce."
For more information about Employee Ownership visit https://employeeownership.co.uk/ or to find out more about the Ownership Hub in South Yorkshire visit www.scrgrowthhub.co.uk/services/ownership-hub.
Why use Gripple?
- Innovative, patented solutions designed by an in-house team of engineers
- Considerable reductions in packaging, vehicle movements & embodied CO2
- A range of support services at every stage of your project, provided by our technical team
- Complete, off-site solutions which minimise health and safety concerns
- Significant time and cost savings on your project