Grip-Tite® Manufacturing Co., L.L.C. of Winterset, Iowa has been manufacturing earth anchoring products for over 100 years! Our history is long and varied. We’re very proud of where we started and how far we’ve come to provide you with the best foundation repair products on the market.
Wei-Lock Manufacturing was founded in Winterset Iowa in 1921, manufacturing earth anchoring products used for guying oil well derricks, oil pipelines, and highway guard rail cables. The company grew as mass production of the automobile increased demand for oil and infrastructure. During the depression, Wei-Lock began manufacturing a variety of custom steel products including Bridge Clips, Bull Dog Floor Clips, Farm Anchors, Screw Anchors, and the Daisy Wheel Cultivator Shield. In 1937, Wei-Lock became Grip-Tite Manufacturing Company and Will Johnson purchased the majority of Grip-Tite in 1939. Will’s sons, Dwight and Clarence, began working for Grip-Tite a few years later.
Following WWII, Grip-Tite developed earth anchors to secure power systems as the U.S. electric system evolved from small local grids into a highly interconnected interstate utility system. Grip-Tite also supplied anchors to telephone utilities that grew from 30,000,000 phones in 1948 to 100,000,000 just 25 years later. By the early 50’s, Grip-Tite established itself as a leader in the earth anchor industry and was owned entirely by the Johnson family by 1953. Today, Grip-Tite remains one of the leading earth anchor manufacturers for the electric and telephone industries.
Mike Johnson, Dwight’s son, started pushing a broom at Grip-Tite in 1960 and continued working part-time in the family business for the next 13 years. In 1968 Grip-Tite developed a new cross-plate anchor for guying electric lines for the Island of Madagascar. Over 53,000 anchors were manufactured and shipped via 15 rail cars in February of 1969. Mike earned his Engineering degree in 1973 and began working full-time at Grip-Tite. He purchased 50% of the company in 1975.
In 1978, a local resident asked Mike if he had anything to repair his cracked and bowing basement wall. Mike and Larry Utsler, the owner of a local construction company and founder of Anchored Walls, installed a modified version of the anchor used in Madagascar and repaired the wall. The Grip-Tite Wall Anchor System was awarded U.S. patent number 4,189,891 on February 26th 1980. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of Grip-Tite Wall Anchor Systems have been installed across North America.
Mike purchased the remainder of the company in 1998 and designed a full line of foundation stabilization piering products for residential and commercial use. With its patented technology and growing demand for product, Grip-Tite established a network of certified dealers and began growing at an astonishing rate.
Mike Johnson sold 51% of Grip-Tite in 2005, but the company began incurring substantial losses just three years later Mike purchased back the shares in June of 2017 and the company immediately returned to profitability.
Mike Johnson currently owns 100% of Grip-Tite Manufacturing Co. LLC, a growing company with a very bright future manufacturing a high-quality line of utility anchors and foundation repair products sold throughout the United States and Canada.
When you think about businesses that have been around for over one hundred years, you may think about big box retailers, food manufactures, or the brands you see in your kitchen or as you drive down the highway – Target, Kraft Foods, Harley Davidson, and UPS to name a few.
When considering the average life cycle of a business has shrunk to approximately 12-15 years, and only approximately 1,000 US companies have survived more than 100 years
(less than a one half of 1% of all US business), it is an amazing feat to have been in business for this and have the 102nd year in business be the best year ever! This is exactly what Grip-Tite Manufacturing Co. in Madison County Iowa is on track to accomplish.
Throughout Grip-Tite’s history, there have been successes, as well as trials and tribulations that other companies face – and others challenges unique to Grip-Tite given the company’s longevity. Grip-Tite, formerly Wei-Lock Manufacturing, founded in 1921, changed their product scope during the depression and throughout the years has continued to enhance and add other steel manufactured products to meet customers’ business needs in the foundation repair and the growing utility market.
The resiliency and ability to adapt to the change has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Mike Johnson, third generation owner of Grip-Tite manufacturing, appointed Steve Lage to President in 2017 to turn the company around. In the eight years prior to that time, the company had incurred substantial losses and required Mike’s support to keep the company in business. Since this time, Steve has led the charge to gain back lost business relationships, grow new business, expand the Grip-Tite product line, and create operational efficiencies throughout the company. Over the past 5 years, Grip-Tite has achieved financial stability and grown over 400% with continued plans for substantial expansion.
Grip-Tite currently employs approximately fifty team members and plans to add an additional 20-30 positions in the next 6-12 months. While keeping the focus on operational excellence, they will also be driving new product development to meet customers’ needs. Grip-Tite will accomplish this by continuing to strengthen the company culture and focus on its employees, core values, learning, and operational excellence. In addition, Grip-Tite has added staff to aid in building strong customer relations, developing new business, as well as continuing to invest in its employees through cross training, performance-based compensation, and a comprehensive benefits program. Grip-Tite’s plans for growth include more active participation in the community through partnering with the schools, local businesses, and other charitable organizations in and around Winterset. Long-Term, Grip-Tite expects to employ more than 200 people in Winterset by becoming the best place to work in Madison County.
As we’ve grown in the foundation repair industry, we’ve developed a full line of great products to repair any foundation problem. The Grip-Tite® Foundation Push Pier and the Grip-Tite® Helical Pier systems have helped thousands of homeowners and businesses get their property back to normal. If you want to become part of our certified installer network or are interested in buying our products, give us a call today!