Not unlike many other Irish businesses, Graepels went through some very tough times when the Irish recession hit manufacturing hard across the country. To save the business, some tough decisions had to be made, including cutting headcount.  But it wasn’t out of the woods yet – to turn the business around the leadership needed specialist support.  They recognised that the business operations and processes needed to be leaner and more efficient. They called this out as needing to create a culture of continuous improvement – and they needed their people on board to achieve this. 

3SIXTY, experts in people, process and growth, was brought in as a team of experienced practitioners who had ‘been there, done that’ and could deliver what was needed to set the business up for future success. The first step was to conduct the 3SIXTY Pulse exercise. This involves speaking with a number of employees from across the workforce to uncover the ‘real truth’ of the impact of the cuts that had been so necessary for the business to survive.  

Having carried out this Pulse exercise 3SIXTY identified that the biggest challenge was a lack of trust amongst employees. And this was holding the business back from making essential operational improvements – because of that lack of trust the workforce was resisting the essential changes needed. 

The Pulse exercise also focused on getting to grips with some of the challenges as well as generating ideas which were then fleshed out into tangible actions and relayed back to management. Low trust and a failure to understand how ‘we are going to get out of this mess’ were the leading issues. There was a sense that people were operating in the dark and had no insight into the measures the business needed to take. There was a clear lack of open and two-way communication. 

3SIXTY implemented regular meetings across all levels throughout the business to improve communication and demonstrate that the management had ‘nothing to hide’. Leadership needed to be open and honest about the reasons behind the difficult decisions that had been taken. 

Having begun to rebuild trust and mindful more needed to be done on this, 3SIXTY reviewed the business structure and suggested a management team restructure. A key element in this was the creation of the new role of General Manager (GM).  The creation of this new role enabled Fred Graepel, the CEO, to remain focused on the big strategic steps and innovation needed to create success, whilst the new GM, which 3SIXTY helped to identify and recruit, could concentrate on the day-to-day running of the business. 

The next focus was to improve reporting throughout the business, to give visibility of which processes could be delivered better and to help inform the newly-emerging culture of continuous improvement. With daily and weekly team meetings supported by weekly Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboards shared across the business, all employees were now able to understand the operational improvements required to turn the business around and, in turn, they were encouraged to become active participants in the new culture. By giving visibility around the value and margin of orders, employees could clearly see how their individual roles impacted on the overall financial performance of the company. This also resulted in significant improvements in terms of buy-in and ownership because all employees now felt more connected to the success of the business, as well as being more likely to ‘live’ the culture of continuous improvement.  

Over time, 3SIXTY’s involvement with the business moved from hands-on operational delivery to a more strategic guiding role.  Tony O’Connor, Graepels’ General Manager, said ‘Graepels has experienced some tough times over the past 12 years, as have many Irish businesses.  But with 3SIXTY’s support, we’ve been able to rebuild the business into an Irish success story.  Our people are key to that success, and we’ve now got an organisation that is focused on the right things, that is set up to manage the pressure, and pre-empt any bottlenecks that might occur.  We’ve just celebrated our best year ever, and that’s all down to the support from 3SIXTY’ 

To find out more about how 3SIXTY could help turn your business around email us at or fill in our contact form here