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AlphaUSA leads effort to Save The SS United States

3 Jul

Photo courtesy of Nick Landiak and the SS United States Conservancy

60 years ago today, the SS United States, the greatest ocean liner ever built, departed on a record-breaking maiden voyage. A week later she returned home to a hero’s welcome and ticker tape parade. Once air travel became the preferred means of transportation, the SS United States was eventually taken out of service. She has passed from owner to owner and now sits in Philadelphia, slowly deteriorating. Once the pride of a nation, the vessel is close to being lost forever.

In February of last year, the president of Philadelphia-based TurnaSure introduced AlphaUSA’s president, Chuck Dardas, to the SS United States Conservancy‘s  “Save Our Ship” movement to preserve our nation’s flagship.  As a company we were immediately drawn to the superliner and her story.

The famed naval architect William Francis Gibbs designed the superliner. Constructed entirely in the United States she served a dual-purpose.  In peaceful times she would be the world’s finest passenger liner, but if called upon,  she could be converted to a troop carrier in two-days time, transporting 10,000 troops anywhere in the world.  The ship that bears the name of this great land became an inspiration to this veteran-owned company.

The ship was built to be a “super” liner, at the cutting edge of technology — the largest ocean liner constructed almost completely of aluminum and she broke speed records on her maiden voyage. To this day, the SS United States still holds the record for fastest transatlantic passenger travel, and to this day she is a manufacturing and engineering marvel.

Feeling a strong affinity for the industrial-know-how and American Pride that went into creating the SS United States,  AlphaUSA took on the Conservancy’s effort as its own.  Charged by our attendance at TEDx, and moved by local Detroit crowdfunding efforts, we suggested a unique online fundraiser. The Conservancy liked the idea, and looked to AlphaUSA to turn it into a reality.

For over a year now, AlphaUSA has been leading the design and outreach efforts for Save the United States, a national campaign to restore America’s Flagship, a groundbreaking fundraising experience that will teach new generations about the ship and allow supporters to take part in her restoration in a very personal way.  After all the hard work, we can’t believe it will finally launch to the public this month.  AlphaUSA is proud to be a part of this historic effort and looks forward to inviting our local community to get involved in her restoration.

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Alpha: Made in Michigan

18 Apr

At the IDEA: Detroit conference, near the doors, was a table stacked with literature boasting “MAKE it HERE,” filled with reasons for setting up shop in the mitten. They are the same reasons our city can’t stop discussing Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” Commercial. The welcoming address of the conference referenced the commercial, spoken hand-in-hand with the expressions of awe over “inspiring, electrifying, nourishing” ideas from the region.

Dale Dougherty, of Make Magazine fame, noted that he was not a Michigan native, but he chooses to host a Maker Faire here because of the area’s compelling nature, naming Henry Ford the original tinkerer. “You have manufacturing in your blood,” he explained. It was tough to argue with him, especially after an elaborate technological explanation of the 2011 North American Car of the Year, the Chevy Volt. Throughout the different presentations, it was clear southeastern Michigan offers opportunities and a mindset like no place else. Regional residents carry strong local pride, including a couple of innovators featured at the conference. Travis Wright and Philip Lauri are planning a college tour to tell students about the value of this great city, explaining why they should “Do it in Detroit .”

At Alpha, we love hearing echoes of the reasons to be here in Metro Detroit, but we don’t need to be convinced by pamphlets or fancy presentations. These reasons are what have kept Alpha here for over 50 years. Innovations come from Michigan, and we are proud to offer products that do too.

:Detroit Gets the IDEA

13 Apr

Advocates of innovation, Alpha excitedly attended IDEA: Detroit a few weeks ago. The day was a mashing together of striking thinkers and ideas from southeastern Michigan, as well as from around the country.

“Tinkerers” at heart, we were intrigued by the inventions of Dale Dougherty and Make Magazine, and excited that Maker Faire will be coming to our own backyard (The Henry Ford) this summer. Wello grabbed our attention with more than just its name, offering the WaterWheel as an inspiring solution to water transportation challenges throughout the world. Chevrolet wowed us with the inner workings of the new Chevy Volt, while Ford impressed us with its simple yet inspired “ask the audience” customer involvement. IDEA left us with no shortage of inspiration.

Check the links to these ingenious presenters for now, and shortly we’ll let you in on a few of Alpha’s own ideas that arose from the conference.

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.


Inch-vesting

4 Jan

“Investing” brings to mind a large financial commitment in something valuable, bringing in profit over time. However, a more innovative approach could be small.

Mary Lorene Carter and Jerry Paffendorf are the brains behind Loveland and the apparent inventors of micro-investing. Their idea: everyone can help revitalize Detroit by purchasing a single inch of the city, receiving a little deed in the mail. Inches are purchased online, viewable on a virtual map, and directly accessible via a drive to the city. Anyone can have a stake in the city “microhood”.

Loveland teaches a common lesson for any project: the effectiveness of working piece by piece. Last week at the Livonia A.M. Rotary Club meeting, members discussed some seemingly overwhelming social issues. Then Chuck, fellow rotary member & Alpha’s COO, cited the Loveland micro-investing concept, to encourage members to simply “do what you can”, nothing is going to be solved in one swoop.

We can all be challenged to inch-vest in our own communities, not to literally buy a chunk of vacant lot, but to give a piece of free time or make a small donation to a worthy organization.

You can help grow the value of your own community, inch by inch.

screen shot of a "microhood" from the Loveland website.

 

Watch Out For Wet Cement!

20 Oct

A few weeks ago at TEDxDetroit, I noticed an interesting trend that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.

People coming to Detroit. People staying in Michigan.

In Michigan, people often congratulate you when they hear you’re moving to Chicago, New York, Houston, etc. Just a week ago, a friend’s professor advised him: “Don’t stand in wet cement”, if you stay in this city too long, you will be stuck here against your will. At TED, it was refreshing listening to notable people affirm that staying here was okay– in fact, it was a good idea.

Jerry Paffendorf speaking at TEDxDetroit (Photo: B. Slayter)

Jerry Paffendorf, a vibrant 25-year-old creative director, talked of his decision to move here from San Francisco. He saw expansive entrepreneurial opportunities in Detroit and decided to rent a studio in the Russell Industrial Center. Here, he met his business partner Mary Lorene Carter and they started Loveland, an innovative success story. CEO Dan Gilbert shared the experience of relocating Quicken Loans. The new downtown location is energizing Quicken’s employees and affiliated companies are inquiring about how Dan likes his new Detroit office.

I have found myself sticking with Detroit as well. After graduating from college in May, I had thoughts of going to grad school in Washington, D.C. or Chicago. However, through a serendipitous turn of events I ended up working here, at Alpha, minutes from where I grew up. While some may think I’m crazy for staying in Michigan, I love it. I get to do all sorts of cool things, like posting to this blog and sharing the cool things Alpha’s doing. After work, I can even hop downtown to grab dinner and see a concert.

Perhaps it is a little childish, but I’ve always liked to grab a stick and write my name in wet cement.  I think I’ll stick around this great city and see how I can make my mark.

Thanks again to Slayter Creative for the photo!

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!

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