Hugh Facey, chairman of Gripple, which manufactures wire joiners and tensioners for the agriculture and viticulture markets, has no doubt that employee ownership has had a positive impact on his organisation’s productivity.
He says: “A sense of pride exists among all our staff and has allowed employees to take control of the destiny of the [organisation], thereby creating a culture of working together for the benefit of each other.”
Measures of success include attendance levels that are significantly better than the industry average and a culture of innovation. “It is the policy of the [organisation] that 25% of sales should come from new products less than four years old,” explains Facey. “Innovation is therefore key to the [organisation’s] growth and plays an important part in driving the business forward and keeping ahead of the market.”
Gripple, which features in the Employee Ownership Association’s top 50 employee-owned organisations, like its sister company Loadhog, is now 100% employee owned. Employees are asked to purchase at least £1,000 worth of shares after their first year of service, with the employer providing a loan to help staff who need financial support to do so.
Employee ownership is not optional for the 441 Gripple staff or the 50-strong workforce at Loadhog: it is central to the ethos and structure of the two employers.
Indeed, Gripple has taken the employee ownership model a step further by establishing a private employee-owned company called GLIDE (Growth Led Innovation Driven Employee), which receives gifted shares from the chairman and vice chairman over a 10-year period with the aim of ensuring that Gripple’s culture and founding principles are maintained by future generations of employees.