Editors note: This is the second in a series of stories about businesses to be inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame Oct. 15 at the Blair County Convention Center.
The name may keep changing, but the company still keeps churning out high-quality products.
Alpha Altoona is a world leader in the development, manufacture and sales of innovative materials used in the electronic assembly markets, said Dan Weaver, director of manufacturing and support.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Bob Shaner of Altoona creates 5-pound spools of solder at Alpha Altoona, 4100 Sixth Ave. Alpha is one of five businesses that will be inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame on Oct. 15 at the Blair County Convention Center.
Alpha is one of five businesses that will be inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame Oct. 15 at the Blair County Convention Center.
"I think it is a great honor," Weaver said. "It is an honor because it honors the individuals who work here that make up the company.
"It is about the employees - without the employees you don't have a company."
Alpha is part of the Performance Materials Division of Cookson Group plc, a 300-year-old company headquartered in England.
Undergoing several name changes and often referred to as Fry Metals and Cookson Electronics, the Alpha Altoona facility became part of the Cookson Group in October 1979, when Cookson purchased the site from National Lead Industries.
"We produce solder products for use in a wide variety of markets in the world," Weaver said.
Products range from printed circuit board fabrication for the electronics industry, solar cells for the photovoltaic industry, radiators for the heat exchange industry, lighting, bearings, fuses and plumbing and heating products.
The more than 200,000-square-foot facility at 4100 Sixth Ave. is more than 100 years old and was once home to the South Altoona Foundry for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Today, the facility is home to about 130 employees who produce and deliver solder products to all 50 states, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and several overseas locations.
More than 380 different finished products are produced at the plant, and 6 million to 7 million pounds of products are shipped per year.
"Our products can be found in a wide array of places in your car and in your home," Weaver said. "You will find us in your home in your television, computer, cellphone and appliances. Our products are found in the automotive industry in starters, batteries, radiators [and] gas tanks."
Alpha Altoona is also home to a reclamation facility, where scrap metal and oxides are recycled into reusable products.
"It is like a cradle-to-grave process," said spokeswoman Kris Young. "We take products from our customers and recycle them into new products."
Alpha Altoona is also home to new PV ribbon equipment - a $1.5 million investment -which was installed early this year to provide PV ribbon to the photovoltaic industry in the manufacture of solar panels, Weaver said.
A chemical blending and packaging operation was installed for its Fernox product line, which provides water treatment solutions to improve the efficiency of heating units and boilers, Weaver said.
"The reclamation facility was a major expansion," Weaver said. "We continue to look for innovations. We look at diversification and new market areas."
He said the employees are the key to the company's success.
"If I didn't have the people and support, we would not be successful. It takes people to make things happen. And we have the people; we have a lot of good people here," Weaver said. "We have great support from our management. They give us the freedom to explore opportunities. I couldn't ask for anything more. If we see the need, they come through for us."
Hall of Fame Committee Chairwoman Lisa Michelone of Reliance Bank agrees that Alpha has a good group of employees.
"They are so dedicated, loyal and proud of their organization. From the time you enter their facility and are greeted, through the entire facility, the employees show off their pride and enthusiasm for working at such a great company," Michelone said.
Alpha continuously provides its employees - the average tenure is 22 years - with training.
Weaver said the top focus is safety, so a lot of training programs deal with that.
When not working, Alpha employees pay back to the community through community service. Weaver said the company has participated in Relay For Life for eight years.
"We won the Team Spirit Award the last two years, and this year raised $11,000 for Relay For Life," he said.
Looking to the future, Weaver said he sees good things on the horizon.
"We have a company willing to invest in this site and expand it. There will be some better things coming in the future to expand it further. Great things will continue to happen at the Altoona site," Weaver said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.