Gripnail Marks 50 Year Anniversary in Rhode Island
Gripnail Corporation, a manufacturer of fasteners and equipment used in ductwork and machinery, is celebrating 50 years of continuous operation in Rhode Island. The company was founded in 1965 in Providence by Peter and Peggy Hallock and is presently headquartered in East Providence.
Gripnail has operated at three different Rhode Island locations through the years, beginning in the late 1960s on Dunellen Road in East Providence, then moving to Franklin Street in Bristol in 1978, before returning to East Providence at its present day facility on Dexter Road.
The product from which the company takes its name is a small mechanical fastener whose point grips into thin sheet metal without puncturing. This allows manufacturers of large commercial ventilation systems to attach duct liner (fiberglass insulation) to the inside of metal ductwork without creating holes which would result in air leaks.
The Gripnail was invented by Robert Hallock, Peter Hallock’s father. Robert Hallock, a graduate of MIT, held over 30 patents for inventions, including the disposable vacuum cleaner bag and the lever-handled ice cube tray. Peter Hallock also holds several patents for fasteners and fastener application equipment.
The original Gripnail was applied using an ordinary hammer. It caught on in the industry because it was quicker and easier than welding studs and applying clips. By 1970, Gripnail engineers developed the first automatic system for feeding insulation fasteners. And in 1980, Gripnail introduced patented machinery that could apply up to 300 Gripnails per minute in ductwork assembly lines. In 1999 Gripnail engineers combined their knowledge of fastener application processes with resistance welding technology and the company became one of only two manufactures in the world to produce automatic machinery for welding fasteners to sheet metal ductwork.
Gripnail continued to develop innovative products for fastening things like name plates and wiring harnesses to the steel casings of pump valves and other machinery. This application not only saved the time of drilling, but avoided creating metal filings that could get into the pumps. So in 1978 Gripnail introduced and patented MetalTack™ for name plates and wiring clips, and in 2010 introduced the TackMount™, for holding wiring in place on machinery.
This steady stream of product innovations continues to serve Gripnail well, with the most recent patented product, SnapStick™ insulation hangers, coming just last year. Gripnail President, David Ashton, stated, “The company has continued to develop and manufacture innovative fastening systems, and through our international distribution network, Gripnail products can be purchased on six continents. They’ve even been installed in air ducts in Antarctica.”
Employee Owned Company Secures Local Jobs
As Peter Hallock’s retirement approached, he wanted to find a way for the company to continue. He chose a benefit plan called ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) which allowed employees to share in ownership and ensured that Gripnail would remain in Rhode Island.
In 2000, Hallock sold 30% of Gripnail stock to its employees, making everyone working there a partial owner. In 2004, the Gripnail ESOP purchased the remaining shares, and Gripnail became 100% employee owned. Peter Hallock still serves on the Gripnail board of directors.
According to Gripnail CEO, Chris Ryding, “ESOP owned companies help to keep them independently owned and running in their present location, which keeps jobs local.”
Ryding stated, “Peter’s goal of having the ESOP established and becoming entirely employee-owned was achieved as the debt was paid off in 2012. We’re grateful for his generosity and remain committed to his vision.”
As Hallock wrote in a statement to his employees, “Many of you have been with Gripnail for a long time and helped the company grow and prosper. I feel confident the ownership of the company will be in good hand—yours.”
Contact: David Ashton
97 Dexter Road
East Providence, Rhode Island 02914