I’d heard that Grip parties were fabulous and had often entertained secret hopes to work there someday. Thus when the time came, I jumped at the chance. It was a golden opportunity: a private company, a good promotion and the prospect of working again with three partners whose work and sense of humour I admired. No more Sarbanes-Oxley or non-stop reporting of results and forecasts for forty-nine different divisions.
Not everything was peachy, however. Shortly after arriving, a major piece of business was lost, senior people left, and a sense of torpor set in. When I felt it whittling away at me as well, I knew that something had to be done. We needed to invest in people and management infrastructure. A few key hires and promotions (as well as the addition of fresh young talent) brought a lot of energy and initiatives. Time was invested into non-billable projects that would benefit Grip for years to come: training and mentoring programs, workflow processes, a world-class blog, and a Cannes-awarded new website for Grip. Each of these initiatives helped to motivate staff, and bring attention to the fledgling agency. A few key chess moves resulted in new business, fresh talent, and a more efficient – and fun – agency environment. It felt like the party was on its way.
Then we won the YUM! Foods business, which required us to take on more space. We secured a contiguous floor (the 7th) and built-out a spectacular triple-height atrium which seamlessly united our three floors. To christen the addition, we threw an office warming party which culminated in what has to be my favorite moment at Grip in the past six years: finding myself dancing like a fool on the 5th floor, my groove fueled by an appropriate amount of our Labatt client’s product. It wasn’t just the dancing that made this moment memorable; it was the experience of looking up at the people crowded around the 6th and 7th floor atrium perimeter. I felt…satisfied. I could see how far Grip had come in a few short years; how the hard work of so many people was paying off. It was like a multi-tiered Brazilian nightclub, or as one observer mentioned, “like a raucous Shakespeare play in Elizabethan times.”
Capping it all off was knowing how all this came to fruition. Grip’s own Rich Pryce-Jones designed it, helping to kickstart a talented young contractor’s new business. Even as a first major contracting gig, he managed to complete a project that would normally take 5-6 months in half the time. A project that was lead by in-house creativity, and helped bolster an emerging vendor just felt good. Also, it came in on budget. As the CFO, I felt that fact alone was cause for a great party.
We went on to have our strongest year yet, with a stellar roster of clients. And even with the recent and unfortunate loss of some key Labatt brands, Grip has hit a major milestone in its history. There is much to celebrate and reminisce about with our friends. I am very proud to work with so many talented people here and a great partner group who keep me laughing every day.
Looking forward, both to tonight’s 10th anniversary party and to our future, I can confidently say we’ve fought for our right to party. If you’ve spent anytime working at/for/with Grip you have helped build us as an agency, and have no doubt have received an invitation. Looking forward to seeing you there. Let’s cut a rug.