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4 Feb

Yes you read that correctly, Alpha-traz.

If you’ve ventured to the bottom of’s FAQs you may have wondered at the question “How can we get Alphatraz to play at our next event?” 

AlphaUSA is lucky enough to have several musically talented employees (yes, engineers can rock out too) and they have formed their very own rock band Alphatraz.  Many Alpha employees have taken part and our own President & CEO, Chuck Dardas,  is often playing bass!

Alphatraz has played events such as Alpha’s “Rock-tober Fest” and loves to host jam sessions with musicians from across the country (and across the border) with recent guests from places like Philadelphia and Toronto.

How’s that for “after 5”?


Chuck Dardas – Bass Guitars & Vocals, Susan Parker Stewart – Vocals, Harmonica, Chuck Shimco – Drums, Vocals, and Robert Stewart – Guitars


Lean Boot Camp Comes to AlphaUSA

21 Jan

AlphaUSA  hosted our annual week-long Kaizen Bootcamp, with enough participants for two separate labs.  Fourteen participants from across the country (some from as far as Oregon and Florida) came out to see “lean” in action.

Boot campers perform a structured “blitz” to drive out waste. Alpha showcased our already tight processes, then the group poured over process details and brainstormed to root out any small bit of waste they could find to make them even leaner.  The groups focused on process flow in the shipping of the tumbling area and on paperwork and gauge flow between QC to the press.

The bootcamp is just another way AlphaUSA is continually working to get closer to our lean goals, it’s exciting to bring in the Lean Learning Camp and participating companies to get outside insight.

Examining processes to go lean!

Alpha’s Going Lean

11 Dec

Lean is all about being organized and more efficient, using less work to maintain or exceed the same quality product.  AlphaUSA is continually transforming our work areas and processes to be lean.

Long time Alpha employee, Mike Hootman, is championing this lean movement. Along side Production Manager Doug Prime, they are continuing to make sure that our facility is becoming  more efficient and safer day-to-day.  Alpha has even brought in a new set of eyes, the Lean Learning Center (LLC), to push us further.  The LLC has been hosting monthly labs for our Alpha employees onsite, enabling us to learn lean right on our own equipment, and in our own offices.

The rules of lean are simple: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

Take some time to use the “5 S’s” in your life, and you’ll see how helpful a little lean can be.

New Symphonic Composition Inspired by SS United States Makes Waves at Abbey Road Studios

7 Sep

AlphaUSA is proud to support the restoration of the historic ocean liner SS United States, and the ship continues to fascinate.

The SS United States broke the speed record for Trans-Atlantic travel on her maiden voyage in 1952, earning the Blue Riband and the respect of the world. Now, composer Kenneth Fuchs debuts his recording “Atlantic Riband” as a tribute to the United States and the revered title she still holds. The piece was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra and earned a 5-star rating from BBC Music Magazine.  The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will perform the piece for the first time tonight at a special concert in Newport News, Virginia, near the shipyard where the SS United States was built.

JoAnn Falletta Conducts the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Atlantic Riband. (Photo: K. Fuchs)

An engineering marvel, the beauty and sheer size of the SS United States is awe-inspiring.  In his youth, composer Kenneth Fuchs would visit the New York Harbor and the “Big U” was among the ocean liners docked there. Inspired by the ship, he recorded “Atlantic Riband” and contacted the SS United States Conservancy.

In UConn Today, Susan Gibbs recalls learning of the musical piece and the SS United States’s ability to inspire: “It was just so fortuitous. It was a perfect example to us of how this ship continues to inspire us – whether in the arts, in design, or as symbolic of postwar American pride, patriotism, and technological innovation. Ken’s piece perfectly captures the S.S. United States’ enduring mystique.”

In another example of the ship’s ability to inspire, last week, Philadelphia’s WGAL News 8  featured a three-part series on the SS Unites States. In part one the ship’s history is explored and Susan L. Gibbs, the SS United States Conservancy’s Executive Director and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs, talks aboard the ship. Part two interviews a passenger of the maiden voyage and in part three three we hear about the big ideas for the future of the ship.

You can see even more ways the superliner has impacted all sorts of lives by looking through the stories contributed at

We’re glad to see that the SS United States has been able to inspire others the way it has inspired AlphaUSA.

Over 300 New Backpacks for Livonia Kids

6 Sep

Years ago, when they were running Wright’s Hardware on 5 mile, Livonia Treasurer Dennis Wright and his wife started a back-to-school initiative to supply needy Livonia children with school supplies. Since then, the program has grown, and the Wrights now partner with Livonia’s Goodfellows and City Hall.  This year, a whopping 320 kids received new backpacks, shoes, and other supplies thanks to donations from many local businesses and organizations including Valassis and The Livonia Youth Commission.

Alpha was excited to take part in a program with so much hometown pride–the donations were raised in Livonia, the supplies were purchased here, and everything is given to kids of our local community. We hope all have a great school year!


17 Aug

At AlphaUSA, we know how important it is for high-schoolers to get engaged in the sciences early and we appreciate how Kettering University looks to share the real world applications of engineering with teen-aged women through it’s LITE program. LITE stands for Lives Improve Through Engineering, and students enrolled in the program learn how engineering really affects our day-to-day lives through practical experiences like designing life-saving car parts to constructing replacement limbs. The ladies even explore the exciting science behind the latest crime solving techniques. The competitive program hosts 36 students from across the country on the campus for a two-week-long learning experience.

Alpha was proud to sponsor three Livonia women who were accepted into the program through the George and Christine Strumbos Scholarship,  Melisa Savich and Erin Brown from Stevenson High School and  Jessica Suer from Franklin High School. The students traveled to the Kettering University Campus in Flint, Michigan where they were introduced to the art of engineering. College faculty taught classes and labs, field trips to see engineering in action, and upper-class-man mentorship gave the ladies a memorable experience that will give them a head start on their future in engineering.

Who knows, maybe some the Alpha scholars will be inspired by the LITE program and become a part of the next wave of great AlphaUSA engineers!

Kids On Campus

15 Aug

The question “what did you do one your summer vacation?” isn’t usually answered with “took a class in High Tech Manufacturing”, especially if you’re talking with a 5th grader. This summer, AlphaUSA sent 12 students in grades 5 through 12 to Schoolcraft College’s Kids on Campus program, their initiative to introduce both middle and high-schoolers to college-level, higher education. The camp offers a wide variety of week-long classes in everything from the arts to traditional academic skills. The Alpha students spent their summer taking classes in structure and  design, robotics, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship.

Each day, Alpha shuttled the kids to Schoolcraft’s campus, where they would then gain exposure to non-traditional subjects in a college setting. The Schoolcraft classes are taught by professionals within their fields and content experts in a dynamic and diverse social environment. The program is built to be fun with hands-on learning in an interactive environment, but it also acts as an introduction to college that will build excitement and encourage motivation.  The students were given both a unique summer adventure (that they can boast about when they return to school in the fall) and a learning experience that will stick with them throughout their education.

Austin Madgwick, Bailey Hootman, Kahil Williams, Kennedy Hootman and
Kharari Williams holding up graduation certificates from the KOC program.

Justin Rupp and Brendan Arquette hold up games they made in their Machine Manufacturing class.

Kids on Campus participant Tyler Spring reviews a project with AlphaUSA President/COO Chuck Dardas.

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