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British manufacturing company which boasts 100% retention rate for its apprentices

A Perry runs apprenticeship schemes in line with the Government’s plan to create three million apprenticeships by 2020

With the National Apprenticeship Week imminent (5-9 March), we wanted to put forward the case study of a company which boasts a 100% retention rate for its apprentices.

A Perry & Co (Hinges) Ltd is a leading independent, family-owned, British manufacturer and supplier of hinges, hardware, ironmongery, chain and threaded bar, which has been established in Cradley Heath, West Midlands for the past 92 years.

The company was set up in 1925 by Arthur Perry, grandfather and great-grandfather to the current third and fourth-generation family members who own and run the business according to the Black Country’s traditions and values.

It is working with prestigious customers including Buckingham Palace, Wembley Stadium, HS2, Aardman Animations, and supplying the studios that created Star Wars, Harry Potter and Doctor Who. A Perry recently launched a new range of sophisticated door furniture called Horizon, which comes with an unprecedented 25-years guarantee.

A Perry runs apprenticeship schemes in line with the Government’s plan to create three million apprenticeships by 2020. Every apprentice who joined so far has stayed with the company as the programme offered is very hands-on and allows them to progress at the same rate within the company. Their role has to be meaningful, not menial, as the company puts it.

Thanks to this approach, Barry, the company’s oldest-serving employee, has been with the team for just under 60 years.
People’s views are valued, and their personal and professional development is progressed at every level.

This is achieved through:

  • A family environment

A Perry is a family business where everyone trusts each other and knows their strengths and weaknesses. The organisation is dominated by the same family atmosphere so people don’t just work together in harmony, knowing that their input is valued, but they spend time outside work together as well (going out, playing football in regional league sponsored by A Perry etc.).

One of the biggest turning points for the company was the recent change in the senior management style, which Guy Perry, the managing director, now leads. This is far more inclusive and vibrant, with humour attached to it.

There’s currently a young management team throughout all departments; warehouse, operations, sales & marketing, admin etc. Guy has introduced his two sons as well to the business. Chris (27 years old) is working alongside him to support the operations side of the company, while Steven (early 20s) focuses on the Primus range (garden furniture).

  • Awarding excellence

The company also set in place in 2014 an ‘Employee of the Year’ scheme, allowing each employee to vote for a person who made the most contribution towards the company.

They can nominate colleagues from the following departments: warehouse and distribution; manufacturing; sales and marketing; administration and an overall winner is chosen as well. The prizes consist of gift vouchers and larger travel packages, depending on the results. This is also run internally on a monthly basis within the warehouse and factory to choose an employee of the month.

  • An open door policy

A Perry encourages an open-door policy, as people can approach anyone from the company, including the board members. For example, Callum Davies, the digital marketing specialist, joined the company six months ago and has been in touch with Guy the M.D. every day since his induction.

  • Being together for the greater good

The teams also get involved in charity events every year to donate to Birmingham’s Children Hospital and deliver back-to-back presentations to every employee to enrol them. Some of the staff members have volunteered to enter a payroll giving scheme as well.

They also join marathon races and have set up a local Snowdonia walk to raise funds. There’s also an internal challenge called ‘Perry’s biggest loser’ to lose weight and donate the equivalent weight loss i.e. pound (lbs) for pound (£). To date, they’ve gathered about £100 and they’re aiming to reach £250 by April.

  • Frequent meetings

The directors have weekly meetings with the senior management personnel, who then disseminate the information to the rest of the teams.

The marketing department has daily catch-ups with the sales and operation teams, but these don’t exclude the one-on-one briefings as well when required. Other regular meetings are set in place to discuss the upcoming challenges and the KPIs.

In addition, all team members liaise informally through a group email system which facilitates sharing information and discussions online.

Due to this inclusive approach, the company has consistently achieved record months since last year, hitting the million pound mark over the last 12 months and a record January sales figure. Serving over 2,500 trade customers, it has a current turnover in excess of £12 million.

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