By Sophia Bennett
Every company faces hardships, especially during its startup phase. Nine-year-old Alpha Tubular Motors is no exception. Founder David Fezer started working on the idea during the Great Recession, which was not an easy time to start a business. When the Australian firm was ready to take its products to the U.S. many years later, it struggled to gain a toehold in the crowded market. Fezer nearly died in an accident four years ago, which sapped his energy and made him reflect on he and his company’s place in the world.
From all of this, Alpha has emerged more determined to have a positive impact on the world. In addition to being passionate about delivering the best products possible, the company is heavily involved in charitable giving, helping others who need assistance finding shelter and have a better shot at succeeding in life.
Fezer is a serial entrepreneur who founded several window treatment manufacturing, distribution and retail companies in Australia. By 2008, he was keenly aware of the need for a competitively priced, high-quality tubular motor for interior and exterior roller blinds, shutters, awnings, and similar products. It took a few years of searching, but he found a partner that could make the product he had in mind. He launched Alpha in 2011.
The Alpha motor was a big hit in Australia. “We strive to stay on the cutting edge of technology in the tubular motor market,” says Joseph Astran, North America managing director. “We match that with exceptional services and support for our partners and end users.” But it faced real setbacks when it tried to enter the American market in 2018. Most providers already had preferred vendors. They were accustomed to working with European firms and were skeptical about this new entry from down under.
Astran describes the year as a boot camp for his team, one that gave them sleepless nights and left them scarred and hungry for success. And, slowly, it did begin to arrive. The quality and affordability offered by Alpha made motorized window treatments available to many customers who wouldn’t have considered more expensive options. Once companies tried the products and saw how well they worked, they were eager to add them to the product mix. Alpha was well on its way to gaining a firm footing on American soil.
The company hasn’t been alone in facing hardships. Fezer was unintentionally poisoned in 2016. He came jarringly close to dying. “When he made it through, he felt convinced he had to do more for the world,” says Astran. “He always reminds his team that time is valuable and we can’t take anything with us when our time is done.”
Alpha began a robust charitable giving program in 2018. It provided support to the Kirsten Jade Rescue Centre orphanage in Thailand when it was on the brink of financial collapse. It also supports Fusion Ministries in San Bernardino, CA, which helps people experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. “We are always on the lookout for those doing amazing work to care for the world,” says Astran. “Our goal is to be a company with a soul.”
2020 was a hard year for everyone, but Astran has found plenty to be optimistic about. People continue to provide rave reviews of the company’s products and services. “Our motor competes at every level,” he says. “We have a mix of interior or exterior product. You can have peace and quiet inside and have amazing strength outside for any project. Our smart-home automation continues to grow in offerings. We now have the ability to work with Alexa, Google, Siri, Control4 and Savant.”
Alpha recently added a new obstacle detection motor and manual override electronic limit motor to its offerings. Astran also shares that “We are also bringing an Australian favorite, our drapery motor, to the U.S. in 2021!”
He definitely sees home automation—not just motorizing treatments, but integrating them into a larger smart-home system—as the wave of the future.
Everyone wants to do one action and have all the blinds close, the lights turn to a preferred setting, the TV turn on and the doors lock. We are at that point as a market. It is vital to show that window furnishings are not a distant cousin, but an immediate family member who can optimize HVAC, security, aesthetics and so on. Alpha is excited for what is next and we intend to be a part of it.