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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!

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 savetheunitedstates.org

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!

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.

Alpha’s Got a Greener Point of View

22 Apr

Turn off the lights when you’re not in a room. Take a quick shower, not a bath. Recycle your junk mail. We all know we can make a difference and save resources by making little changes day to day.

There aren’t really quick tips to running 125,000 sq. feet of facilities greener. But, Alpha is not about quick fixes, we have a serious commitment to our environment and planet.

One thing we’ve done is change the lighting systems in our manufacturing facility, switching from 400W High-Intensity Discharge bulbs to T5 High-Output bulbs. If you’re wondering what that means, it translates into an energy savings of 50% while giving off twice the light. But that’s just the beginning of our story.

That’s why we’ve rolled out our new environmental page, so you can learn about how we innovate and update our business to do our part in saving the planet. From recycling materials to changing our processes and work habits, Alpha has been working hard for the little blue ball in our solar system we call home.

Happy Earth Day.

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.

Return to Service

14 Mar

In December, you read about Jack Barghusen, the injured Marine from Wisconsin.

On January 7th, Jack received the Heart of the Hero Award at his home. The package included three pages full of signatures, included were those of Rotarians, Alpha employees and other Livonia residents all signing to show their appreciation.

Other efforts were made to show appreciation for Jack and our troops. Friends and family put together the “We Got Your Back Jack” Fundraiser to raise money to help with his recovery and rehabilitation.

Jack has since returned to his unit for limited service.

 

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