by Stephen Garner

The toll on businesses from the economic shutdown due to Coronavirus is immeasurable at this point. But, some savvy business leaders have managed to re-focus their efforts in new ways that both keeps money coming in (and retaining jobs) while also giving back to worthy causes along the way.

Alpha Industries CEO Mike Cirker has done just that. He has moved his focus, for now, on Alpha’s e-commerce business and has teamed up with Project C.U.R.E., and organization that provides medical workers and first responders with equipment needed to fight this global pandemic, over the next few months.

Here, we catch up with Cirker to learn more about how this shutdown has affected his business, some of the challenges the company has faced since COVID-19 started, and more on his partnership with Project C.U.R.E.

Q: How has the economic shutdown affected your business?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global business for Alpha Industries in so many different ways beginning with delays in overseas production, to price spikes in freight logistics, jittery retail customers, all the way to cash-conscious consumers.  We have been forced to put into action multiple new tactics to mitigate the various issues including inventory reductions, extended terms to wholesale customers, and new communication strategies on social media.  And that was all just external shifts.  Inside the company, we jumped into action with full utilization of remote-working tools like Zoom and Slack.  Over-communication is our “MO” right now and we have introduced new recurring meetings as well as increased frequencies of existing meetings.  I personally have been giving biweekly all-hands zoom talks to keep everyone feeling informed and engaged.  The novel coronavirus has taken a toll on companies and workers alike.  To our benefit, Alpha has a wonderful culture of caring and supportive folks that has made this transition much more tolerable than otherwise.  I feel very lucky to be a part of this squad during tough times like these.

Q: Are you solely focused on online marketing now?

A: Sure, most of our attention has been put toward digital for the moment.  Offline marketing is risky.  For example, we developed great plans for physical retail and brand events later this year and now they are all in a holding pattern.  Additionally, Alpha is exploring new collaborative partnerships with other amazing brands to produce special content and limited-edition products, all of which require a digital marketing focus.  But thanks to a newly adopted diversification strategy, we began focusing distribution into smaller boutique accounts and forming co-dependent partnerships based on trust and support.  If small business is where we want to position, now is when we have the opportunity to prove our value and loyalty to these companies.  I feel good about what Alpha has to offer to small retailers and the promises we are making.

Q: What have been some of the challenges the company has faced since COVID-19 started to affect retail?

A: Alpha is well-diversified with global markets and thus we are relatively stable compared to most competitors out there.  Up and down the retail supply chain there is a ton of pressure right now.  Factories are in the production of goods, brands have inventory commitments, and retailers are burning cash to keep the lights on.  Everyone is trying to get through to Fall, and to the hopeful end of the retail apocalypse.  Cancellations are coming in weekly, unfortunately, yet Alpha is taking a bullish approach to the reopening of the economy by keeping inventory commitments and stocking up for fall/winter ’20.  We are betting retail will bounce back, and there will be demand for jackets and sportswear come the cold season.

Q: What percentage of sales will you be donating to Project C.U.R.E.?

A: We will be donating net proceeds from this initiative generated in the month of April to Project C.U.R.E.

Q: Why did you choose this organization to work with?

A: Project C.U.R.E. is currently focusing many of its efforts on getting PPE gear to first responders and others on the front lines of the COVID-19 epidemic in major U.S. cities. The roots of our brand began in outfitting and protecting heroes from our days as a military contractor. Today, that same mission and purpose have evolved into supporting and recognizing the Everyday Heroes in our community and culture.  All those on the front lines of this pandemic are truly everyday heroes, and we are proud to support an organization that is making sure they are receiving the protective gear they need.