Dragons’ Den GripIT gets MAN backing

Posted on 15 Mar 2016 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Midlands manufacturers, Brandauer and Muller England, are helping one of the most successful investments from Dragons’ Den become a global success story.

Brandauer and Muller England – both members of the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN) – are using their expertise in precision pressings and escomatic parts to produce critical components for DIY innovation, GripIt.

L to R: Rowan Crozier, Brandauer; Mac Bivens, GripIt Fixings; & Paul Bethell, Muller England.
L to R: Rowan Crozier, Brandauer; Mac Bivens, GripIt Fixings; & Paul Bethell, Muller England.

The heavy duty plasterboard fixing utilises a three-way gripping system that includes a universal collar, anti-rotational lugs and unique backing wings to offer a heavy-duty solution to a problem that has plagued builders and home improvement enthusiasts for years.

Demand for the product – designed by young entrepreneur Jordan Daykin and his Grandad, Stan – has been phenomenal, with major UK retailers B&Q, Screwfix and Wickes all stocking it on their shelves and orders coming in from Europe, the US and Australia.

Managing Director of Muller England, Paul Bethell explained: “They were in the market for a manufacturer of grooved pins and our material supplier recommended us

“We have more than 90 years’ experience in this field and were able to understand the design and how this discipline of manufacturing could be used to produce the groove shafts that turn the backing wings.

“The key was to come up with a high volume production process that could deliver repeatable quality and precision, something we have achieved by investing £25,000 into new attachments on to the existing escomatic machines.”

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He continued: “We’ll produce about £250,000 of components this year and – with volumes anticipated to double in 2017 – this project will be responsible for safeguarding and creating more than 10 jobs.”

As part of the Shropshire company’s role in the group, it was able to introduce GripIt to precision pressworker Brandauer to help with the development and supply of clips and wings, critical to the fixing process on the plasterboard.

Rowan Crozier, managing director of the Birmingham-based firm, commented: “This is a fantastic example of how MAN works, and even better when we are helping a UK innovation go global.

“Muller were made aware of an issue in the production process and, understanding our capabilities, knew we could provide a solution and brokered an introduction.”

He continued: “Our sales and technical team moved the project forward and we have been supplying about £20,000 of metal components per month…a figure we expect to double over the next year.

“The contract has also given us the opportunity to challenge Tom Flight (one of our apprentices) to complete a project to design and manufacture a bespoke material waste management control unit for use in the stamping process.”

GripIt’s growth was recently featured on BBC 1’s ‘From Pitches to Riches’ programme, highlighting how the company has grown to £12m and is poised for even further global expansion.

‘Dragon’, Deborah Meaden, who initially invested £80,000 in August 2015, has since provided a further £900,000 to fund growth but keen to get the wider public involved.

The business has recently launched a Crowdcube campaign in order to raise £1.5m to fund its rapid international expansion within the global DIY market.

This will be used to obtain the industrial machinery required to keep up with international demand and, in particular, large orders from the US and Australia.

Jordan Daykin, managing director, concluded: “This is an invention born in Wiltshire and I’m delighted we’ve been able to work with two UK manufacturers to help bring the product to market.

“Volumes are increasing all the time and we’re getting interest in GripIt from all over the globe…the world really is our oyster.”

The Midlands Assembly Network

MAN is made up of Alucast; Barkley Plastics; Brandauer; Grove Design; KimberMills International; Mec Com; Muller Holdings; PP Electrical Systems; SMT Developments, and associate partner, Warwick Manufacturing Group.

The collective – which boasts annual sales of £70m and employs in excess of 750 people – offers access to a full outsourcing solution, from initial design and prototyping to supply chain management and low/medium/high volume production.