Inside: Grip Limited

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Having just celebrated 10 years of operations, Grip Limited has produced some great work, and have picked up several awards over the course of the past decade. You’ve probably read their blog, Big Orange Slide at least once and have almost definitely seen the creative they have produced for their clients.

We met with Associate Partner, Patrick Robinson and Director of Production, Interactive, Kathy Herrera for a few drinks to chat about being one of the few independently owned big agencies in Canada, their approach to managing talent, and of course; their office space.

Being independently owned (there are 11 partners) makes business and creative decisions easy (in theory.) This seems to working out nicely for the guys and girls at Grip, as the agency has grown into a creative force in Toronto; producing consistently solid work.

Their offices are housed in what used to be a factory and then a gallery. Most of the buildings original features have been maintained, though they have obviously made some alterations such as a sound editing studio and a big, orange slide that connects the ground floor with the lower levels.

On the bottom floor, there are sliding televisions and stadium seating to accommodate their lunch n’ learns as well as various industry events and educational events that are free for design students.

Grip prides itself on their freeflowing structure. Employees are encouraged to work outside of their titles and change roles within the company’s ecosystem — Account Managers become Copywriters, Copywriters become Programmers, Programmers… You get the idea. They also have Creatives present on all three floors working alongside Account Managers. And, everyone wears nametags to maintain some sense of community among their 100+ staff whose extra-curricular projects such as the Tour De Grip biking team are supported by the company. Not bad.

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I've worked in this office and looks can be deceiving. I would warn anyone against interning with Patrick Robinson. He's known for taking advantage of interns. He'll entice naive young designers with the promise of gaining valuable work experience. However, instead of having you work on actual clients, he'll have you working on his own personal "projects". He basically uses these sham internships as a way to trick you into working for free as his personal assistant for a few months. He's also known to make unwanted sexual advances toward female juniors. Ask around. In an industry noted for being filled with scumbags, he's a noted scumbag. But hey, it's all worth it because the office has a f-ing slide.

@Once bitten, you sound like one of the many naive, entitled types that I see floating through the ad industry. Eat sour grapes much? I work at Grip and have to laugh that you've chosen Patrick, of all people, to slag here. There's no need for me to call out Patrick's reputation as a mentor and a leader, that's well enough known. Ask around.

He definitely doesn't suffer fools, no, and it's pretty foolish of you to think that an intern would be on client work until they've proven themselves. Grip's not a playground. Patrick mentors a lot of people (not just interns) but only the hard-working, deserving ones make it.

If you would like to know more about me or about opportunities at Grip, you're invited to join the 100+ students I have lead through the agency this year and the dozens whom have come back for an informational interview. Informational interviews and tours are scheduled most Thursdays between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

I encourage anybody considering an internship – wherever they are considering it – to do their research and set clear and realistic goals. As for any other character references, please do ask around. Here's my LinkedIn profile:

My goal for internships is that they be worthwhile and learning-focused. Ideally, they lead to employment, either with me, or through my network. Expectations can and should be high, and I stand behind my positive track record. The majority of internships throughout my career have lead to employment. More importantly, I hope they have also been a catalyst to proactive career planning.

Patrick Robinson
Patrickrobinson [at] griplimited [dot] com

Speaking of being "entitled", I just checked Mr. Robinson's linkedin page and it looks like he has a "self directed" MBA. That's interesting. I never realized that you could just give yourself a masters degree. It's almost like he ENTITLED it to himself. It's bad enough that everyone is claiming to be a social media expert these days but to declare yourself an MBA without actually going through an accredited MBA program is pretty shady business.

"Once Bitten" definitely sounds like a whiney teenager and this Patrick character definitely seems like a sketchy individual as well.

"Gripper" you had a nice rant going there until you declared that "Grip is not a playground." Dude, there is a SLIDE clearly visible in the pictures above. I understand that you were being metaphorical but you probably should have thought of something other than a playground. Maybe daycare or frat house?

Anyway, sounds like there is some fishy business at this office.

Damn, looks like Grip is losing clients and losing the flame war. Bahahaha!!!

But Patrick, truly, you are mediocre at your job and I can make that judgement because I worked alongside you, for three days last year. You asked me to put together that employee handbook for Grip Limited. You had no idea what you wanted.

I am not intern. I am a veteran in this industry. I have been in this business for 25 years. I have a degree in Graphic Design and a portfolio of corporate clients to back it up (which is more than I can say for you. From what I gather, you have no formal education in design and print and no design portfolio to back up your claims of experience and mentoring. Who did you mentor? You neighbours poodle?).

I provided exactly what you briefed me on and you were unhappy with the end product. You know, the old saying, Shiz in shiz out! Your lack of communication and direction was pathetic. Your timelines and critical paths were unrealistic. To top it off, it took Grip Limited more that 2 months to pay my bill. There is no excuse for not paying your suppliers on time!!!!!!!!! I pay my suppliers on time. So should Grip Limited.

You are somebody who suffers from a Napolean Complex (you know, little man, small feet…lol). You know you are not very talented and lack the necessary education to be in the position you are in, so you desperately try to compensate by an ove-inflated and padded Linked-in profile which only highlights your inadequacy. You are a truly, arrogant, narcissistic, windbag. For whatever reason, you can thank your lucky stars, that the other partners at Grip Limited have not caught on to your lack of talent.

I had the displeasure of working with Patrick at John St. and I agree wholeheartedly with the bad reviews. I've never before encountered someone who brought so little to the table and yet thought so highly of themselves. Thank god I didn't have to work for him; I only had to work with him.

He is a true manipulator. He brown-noses his superiors and bullies his underlings. And yes he will make creepy unwanted advance to just about every female in the office. I especially feel bad for the interns that he brought in to work on his "special" projects. He would have them do all of the work on his projects and then take all of the credit.

He's one of the worst human beings I've ever encountered.

I had the distinct displeasure of watching Mr. Robinson discourage innovation that the developers did on their own time to change a very tedious email process. He actually said that that sort of innovation prevented making money. Basically saying we shouldn't be faster at our work but actually slower and less efficient. Who does that? Who actively wants to make work slower?

It was so short sighted and extremely disappointing to watch as the hard work and initiative of individuals was so badly discouraged. It's that sort of management short sightedness that ultimately puts companies and yes agencies too, out of business in the long run.

If you have your finger on the pulse of digital than you're not only open to innovations but actively encouraging the teams to explore new territory to create both value for the client but also a potential new service offering for the agency.

It was by far the worse display of management from a partner that I've ever seen in my 12yr career in digital media.

They finally fired the asshole! There is a God.

Grip Limited is one of the famous company known to us. Ten years ago, this company was not so popular but now we can see reaching it to the sky. This all happens due to proper marketing strategy and implementation of better ideas. This company must have done proper bookkeeping in order to take best decisions in investing money. We must learn from this and surely we will achieve high goals. They have set an example of a good marketing management and new entrepreneurs might learn a lot of things from them.

Grip Limited have been an example for the new setup business owners. They can get inspired by them. The way they have managed to grow from a very small business to the one of the best is incredible. the run is still on.

I will appreciate the achievement by Grip limited. Really they are doing wonderful work. They are really master in several things like TV, digital, radio, branding , strategies, design and many more. Their marketing strategies are so good that every business men should follow them. I always get inspired by this and try to adopt it in my business.

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