I moved in with my nan and grandad when I was 13. They had a small bungalow which was perfect for them, but possibly a bit tight when it came to the addition of their teenage grandson! So grandad converted the garage into a room for me. We were down to the finishing touches and all that remained was to put up the blind and the curtains – yes, I was a fussy teenager and wanted both.
Grandad was 73 at the time and not so keen on climbing a ladder, so he sent me up them instead – closely supervised of course! It’s fair to say there were a number of drill bits and fixings that got broke in the process, and after a time Grandad took over, questioning my superior DIY skills. He didn’t have any luck either, but being an engineer by trade he knew the problem was there was nothing holding the fixing behind the gap in the plasterboard.
We went out to his shed in the garden and tinkered about with a number of ideas.
The first working prototype of the GripIt was made of a toilet roll tube and was held together with drawing pins – but the concept was there! Next, we sourced some plastic tubing and metal washers to make an actual fixing – it worked! And so, the GripIt was born!!!
It was a few days later, when I was sitting on a swing in the back garden with grandad, that I suggested it would be cool to get this made and sold in shops. He agreed, but said he was too old to go through all that malarkey, and suggested I ran with it. Grandad wisely suggested that we get it patented before I took it out to the market.
I spent most of the following couple of years testing the product while I was waiting for the patent to come through. Testing was very scientific! It involved me putting a shelf on a plasterboard wall and putting bricks on it until they all fell off! In fairness, I am sure that’s probably not far off how the big guys do it?!
During this time, I was also working with a moulding company to build the plastic part of the GripIt, while the metal part was coming from another company that provided pressed steel. This is still the same steel used on the GripIts today! I would then assemble them at home.
2012 was a big year for me, we were building all the sample bags of the GripIts, one of each colour with a leaflet, packaging and a letter all drafted for when the patent would come through. The patent was granted in November 2012 and the next day I posted out my 400 sample bags. The rest is as they say ……. Is available in my book coming out soon!
The company is more than a business to me, it has real sentimental value, and when I look back and think of the hours Grandad and I spent together working on something we didn’t really think anything of, it will always remind me of the time we spent together and how much closer grandad and I have become as a result of this.