Ross Crouch has been with Gripsure since day one and has played a key role in developing our product range and production techniques. He talks to us about his career with the company and his interests outside of work.
You launched the business with Mike back in 2004. Can you briefly explain how that came about and how the company has grown since then?
After leaving University I knew I wanted to move back to Cornwall. I already knew Mike through gig rowing and he offered me some part time work in the resin surfacing business he had recently set up, Cornwall Specialist Surfacing (CSS). With Mike’s unwavering drive, determination and leadership, my practical approach to problem solving and an awful lot of hard graft from both of us and others, CSS grew and, out of it, Gripsure was born
Since then, Gripsure has continued to grow and evolve and the same drive, determination and problem solving has seen Gripsure adapt to market trends and overcome many obstacles along the way.
Image source: swansea.ac.uk
What did you do before you launched Gripsure and how has this experience helped you in your role as Production Director?
Before CSS and Gripsure, I studied Sport Science and Swansea University and held a range of jobs including bar manager, gardening and farm labouring. These different experiences helped develop the tools I now use on a day-to-day basis: from dealing with members of the public and customers, to planning and scheduling my workload, and understanding the principles behind health and safety.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being able to see an opportunity to improve a product or a process and having the autonomy to do something about it is definitely high on the list. The thing I would say I enjoy the most though is the interaction with the team. We have a fantastic set of people at Gripsure from all walks of life. They all have stories to tell and it’s remarkable to see what can be achieved when we all pull together.
As Production Director, you play a key role in developing the product range. What innovations are you especially proud of?
We have recently launched two new products: Gripsure Graphics
, which combine safety, practicality, imagination and fun. They allow customers to create unique, bespoke decking and are proving very popular. They were also recently shortlisted for a prestigious national award, the Innovation Award in the WPA (Wood Protection Association) Awards
There are a couple more in the pipeline but they are firmly under my hat!
What new production systems and techniques have you introduced as the company has grown?
In 2012, with the help of a very tenacious knowledgeable from SWMAS, we revolutionised our production techniques and moved from batch production to line production. This allowed us to build the foundations to design and install our bespoke production line in 2018. This has had a huge impact on productivity, quality and - most importantly - the health and safety of our production team.
We are always looking to make improvements to what we do and how we do it. We are working on several improvement projects and have recently implemented some new processes. These include changing the way we deliver resin to our metering pump and increasing the number of aggregate hoppers on our production line.
What is a typical day at work for you?
My day typically starts with some ‘me time’ to reflect on the previous day and look ahead to what I have to do. After that, I am pleased to say that it is very rare for two days to be the same. I am usually working on improvement projects for production, R&D for existing and future products, driving Gripsure’s health and safety culture, promoting mental health and wellbeing initiatives and helping with marketing projects. I try to spend time each day in production to see how things are and if there is anything that can make life easier for the team.
I can often be found down in our workshop building something to test on our production line. These are what I would call my really good days!
What skills, qualities or character traits do you think are most important for you in your role?
Problem solving and a practical understanding of how things work play a massive part in my role. My interest in health, fitness and wellbeing really helps me to understand the principles behind health and safety practices and how these can be implemented in the workplace.
Who or what inspires you in your work and/or personal life?
If I were to single out one person who has inspired me the most it would have to be my Dad. He taught me from a very young age that there is no problem or situation which cannot be sorted with calm thinking and practical problem solving. He is a very kind man who would stop and help anyone who needed it, and he has always been a calm and steady source of wisdom.
What is your biggest achievement (in your career or personal life?
It is easy to single out my biggest achievement in my personal life. There is nothing that I am more proud of than my wife and children. In my career there are two stand out achievements: the design and installation of our new production line and obtaining my NEBOSH
What do you enjoy when you’re not working? Do you have any particular hobbies or interests outside work?
I am a very outdoorsy person so spend any spare time I have cycling, kayaking, fishing, going out on our boat, camping or simply cooking over an open fire on the beach. I enjoy these activities even more when they are spent with family and friends.
What drives you in your role?
Health and safety are a major driver for me. I don’t think anyone should go home from work in a worse condition than when they arrived. This has formed the basis of the health and safety culture at Gripsure. I also don’t like to ‘stand still’. There are always small improvements to be made to products and processes and I really enjoy playing a role in delivering those improvements.