Yet again the judges of the UK’s only awards scheme dedicated to celebrating excellence in employee-ownership looked on favourably to the Sheffield-based Gripple family, with a Gripple employee lifting one of its coveted awards.
The winners of the 2014 Baxendale Awards were announced at the annual conference of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) when Mark Steeple, of Gripple Automation, was presented with the Innovation Award.
Gripple Ltd, the global manufacturer of the iconic fastener, was highly commended in the Employee Owned Business of the Year Award; as were Loadhog Ltd, transit packaging innovator, in the Employee Engagement category and Loadhog’s operations manager, Matthew Godhard in the Employee Ownership Champion Award.
Mark Steeple, who has been at Gripple for 11 years and started as an apprentice trained engineer, had asked the question: “Why don’t we make our own machines?” As a hallmark of employee-ownership, Gripple invited Mark to submit a paper to the Board, the idea was signed off and a new business was born.
The judges said of Mark: “Through challenging the status quo and leading the creation of Gripple Automation, Mark Steeple has had a huge impact on Gripple's bottom line and internal capability. Overall, we were impressed with the culture of innovation which exists in spades at Gripple, where employees are encouraged to voice ideas and innovations and get a fair hearing in return, without fear of rejection from senior leaders.”
Mark set up, and now works with, a highly specialised team of engineers to design and build bespoke machines in-house for Gripple, thereby generating substantial savings. The aim is to build a bigger team to supply machinery and services, not only to Gripple but also to external customers which will produce consulting revenue.
The judges added: “Each Baxendale Award winner delivered exceptional performance in the last year driven by the over-and-above commitment to their co- employee owners. The tremendous momentum behind mutualism in the UK made this year’s Baxendale Awards one of the most competitive and the employee-ownership sector should be especially proud of its growing achievements.”