Just three years ago, nergroup’s Grip ON Tools cooperative took over a company in crisis and now has a staff of 20 people and internationalization as its hallmark: 70% of its business is exported.
Located in Berriz and dedicated to the design, manufacture and marketing of adjustable pliers, it is since 2018 a mixed worker cooperative, coming from a previous family business that went into insolvency proceedings in 2016.
The team of workers bet on the project and formed a cooperative. “We started with 7 people from the previous company, and now there are 20 of us, 8 of them women. Nergroup helped us in this transformation, which has part of the capital, and it was a very strong impulse both in terms of resources and drive and in maintaining the activity and jobs. We kept the commercial name, because it is associated with a quality tool”, explained Pilar Diez -president of the cooperative-, Joseba Zubizarreta (coordinator) and Beñat Unamuno (R&D technician).
Grip ON Tools has its market niche in quality tools for professionals and “now we are also moving to the end user. We export 70% of our turnover.”
It now maintains a work style shared with 20 other organizations within nergroup, “which works in self-managed teams, where transparency and commitment are pillars. There is a balanced salary, results sharing and commitment to society: 5% of results and 2% of working hours are allocated to social work for the community.”
Its customers are the major distributors in the hardware sector and its products are used in welding, metal carpentry, maintenance, do-it-yourself and mechanics. They manufacture adjustable pliers, both universal pliers that can be used for everything and more specific pliers for welding, pipe cutters, metal pipe clamps and powerful pliers for carpentry.”
Annual turnover is around 2.5 million € and 5% is dedicated to R&D.
Manufacturing custom tongs
With financial support from the ‘BDIH Konexio’ program, almost 12,000 euros, it has been possible to combine three products in one; the project is called Multigrip. “Instead of making the pliers three times for three different functions, we manufactured a quick and easy manual detachable one, maintaining the functions that the three tools had.”
The idea is to manufacture custom tongs. “It allows you to produce custom tongs.” Additive manufacturing is used for the design, “which allows you to experiment and a great freedom of geometries and materials.” It also means big savings for the company and consumers.
The ‘Multigrip’ project is in the prototype phase and in the process of improvement and validation. The company’s intention is to present it at the hardware fair to be held next February in the German city of Cologne.
Another innovative project being developed by Grip ON Tools is the design of a riveting machine “that adjusts the rivet point to the right pressure and makes the manufacturing process faster and more cost-effective. It will be much more automatic than it is now.”
The future challenges are to reach markets with more added value, “maintaining the knowledge we have”. They intend to grow in volume, but also in quality. “The idea is to continue growing in exports”. Germany and the USA are now their main markets. The managers emphasize that their manufacturing is practically 100% local. “The only external supplier is the rivets, which are made in Valencia. Everything else is produced in the Basque Country.”