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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!


This is What We Do.

9 Feb

It’s what we are talking about in this town:

Did you see that Chrysler commercial?

The “Imported From Detroit” ad has rallied supporters worldwide around our city, its story, its people.

Reinvention, a living reality Detroit has become famous for,  is a clearly featured theme of the ad and its focus on Detroit as a gritty hardworking city– highlighting our region’s trip to “hell and back.”

The most important and moving aspect of the ad was its focus on Detroit’s talent. It paints a picture of Detroit through its dedicated citizens.  The stalwart Detroiters you see embellishing the cityscape aren’t make believe. They are a real part of our community, our mission.

Chrysler invested in the two minute, longest-ever SuperBowl ad of course with the intention of selling vehicles. What they ended up doing was telling our story of determination to upwards of 100 million people.  And we are proud.

This is the Motor City. This is what we do.

How to Achieve the Lightbulb Effect

17 Dec

A familiar meme is the animated light bulb popping up above a cartoon character’s head at that “aha!” moment. In reality, ideas are not floating apparitions in the form of a Phillips 40W, they are somewhat more elusive.

Here at Alpha, we are innovators and thinkers, putting our own spotlight on idea creation. We have a whole group of “conceptonators”, who are continuously focused on innovating new products. Alpha prides ourselves on inventing and adapting ideas to new situations.

Always on the lookout for other conceptualization efforts, an interesting blog that might help you capture that eureka feeling is Andre Ivanchuck’s, a self proclaimed “Vision-pusher, focused on innovation and creation. Check out Andre’s Idea Management System , to help you identify and strategize your own vision.

When Survival Isn’t Enough

10 Nov

Businesses that successfully weathered the past year’s economic downturn are the survivors that will define the evolution of manufacturing in the coming decade. To keep up and continue moving forward, businesses need to invest in new technologies, but even successful businesses are challenged to establish funding for these projects.

Alpha COO, Chuck Dardas, recently expressed these frustrations to Crain’s Detroit Business, the full article is available here (free registration with Crain’s is required).

TEDxDetroit: Positive Ideas for the World from Detroit.

4 Oct

Last week I had the opportunity with some colleagues to represent Alpha at TEDxDetroit, a local offshoot of the national and established TED organization. TED started as an annual forum for ideas about Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It has now grown to TEDx, taking place all over the world. So,  we headed to the Detroit Institute of Arts to get inspired. We heard talks from entrepreneurs, scientists, professors, artists, designers, CEOs, musicians and all sorts of thinkers. All had one common theme, to spread positive ideas and innovations.  Here’s a teaser pic, but there will be much more to share soon.

TEDxDetroit 2010 attendees form an X in the Diego Rivera Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Photo: Ben Slayter

Thanks to Slayter Creative for the photo!

Times, They Are A-Changin’

29 Jul

Times, they are a-changin’.   

And boy, do they change a whole lot faster than back in 1964, when Bob Dylan first sang those words.  Over the last few years Alpha’s been busy changing, too, both keeping up with the world and anticipating the next step.  We’ve been honing our skills and expanding our industries and capabilities, developing more adaptability and versatility.  In short, we’re the leanest, meanest engineering and manufacturing machine we’ve ever been.   

And as of today, Alpha’s got a brand new face for all of this:   

The home page, with one of several "hero shots"


Yes, that’s the same address as before, but names can be deceiving.  For the last several months, the team at Alpha has been working day and night to get our old site renovated.  In that way, it’s just like the company; we’re still Alpha after all these years, but our substance has changed.  It’s not just about stamping anymore; it’s about diversity and dynamism.  New tooling machines enable Alpha to craft prototypes and small-run orders with a quick turnover rate and to engineer solutions for a broader range of industries than ever before.  Alpha-patented products like the TurnAnut™ are finding applications in everything from major steel structures to military vehicles.  To reflect those changes in Alpha, we needed a digital face to correspond, something curious folk anywhere could see for themselves. is that new face, and it isn’t just pretty (though it is, very).  Keeping with Alpha’s themes of dynamism and versatility, the website incorporates almost fifty pages of brand new material.  On it, you’ll find our “hero shots,” spotlighting Alpha employees—just a few of the proud, dedicated stalwarts that make this company what it is.  You’ll find product info and information about how Alpha serves various industries like the Military and Green Energy.  Looking for a sample of our Load Indicating Fasteners?  Check out the Products pages.  Wondering where Alpha’s been over the years?  Check out the Company History page, in the About Us section.   

And this is just the beginning.  As dynamic as Alpha is, we will keep our site changing on a regular basis, outfitting it with the latest news and information.  There’ll be short term changes as we finalize the finishing touches, and there’ll be longer term changes as things continue to develop within the company and in the world.   

For now, go feast.  And for the adventurous, I dare you to find a mention of Alphatraz.   

Thanks to everybody who helped put together, from our web designer, Peter Schade (of Schade Design) and developer, Pierre Maldonado, to everyone else at Alpha who lent their questions, thoughts, eyes and brains to the project.  Thanks to you, Alpha’s got a brand new face.

The Senator Comes to Town

21 Jun

A view through the press (photo courtesy of Rob Kennedy)


This past Friday, Alpha welcomed Michigan state senator, Glenn Anderson, to its Livonia manufacturing facility.  

Getting ready to hit the campaign trail, the senator called us up Friday afternoon to see if he could swing through the plant and say hello.  Alpha’s own Darwin Kennedy, a die-setter, was kind enough to stay after hours to meet the senator and talk with him and Chuck Dardas out on the floor. 

 Senator Anderson’s photographer snapped official photos while Rob and I caught some on the sidelines (thanks, Rob!). 

Senator Anderson's group and a few of our own


Alpha's Darwin Kennedy in the limelight



Left to right: Senator Anderson, COO Chuck Dardas and Darwin Kennedy talk shop


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