Alex Munroe, CEO and Founder.
AlertTile supplies major municipalities and transportation departments in every state of the US.
Alex Munroe, CEO and founder, lends a helping hand at a surf camp for blind children
The familiar bumpy panels you see at crosswalks, wheelchair ramps and transit platforms are known as detectable warning systems. Introduced in 1990 after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are “tactile” cues that alert blind and visually impaired pedestrians to dangerous situations such as moving vehicles. For Alex Munroe, CEO and founder of AlertTile®, they are a personal and professional passion.
Alex went to work as a salesman for these new products right out of college. In 1992, as the new market was ramping up, safety concerns prompted the government to shutdown new installations. This forced many suppliers out of business — including his employer.
When the suspension was finally lifted in 2001, he approached the investors of his previous company about restarting the enterprise. They declined — so he started a company himself.
The first product they brought to market was made of 100% recycled tires. Popular with many customers, the fact that it could only be produced in black was limiting.
For their second product line, they chose FRP. The detailed domes and textures are a natural for compression molding, the durable material stands up in tough outdoor environments, and the panels could be produced in vibrant, long-lasting colors.
Connecting with the right molding partner was the hard part. As Alex tells it, “The world of composites was completely new to us, and issues with our supplier had things at a standstill. I had mortgaged my home to purchase the tooling — and didn’t know what to do next. A friend recommended that we contact MFG because they were the best in the industry. A week after our first conversation, our tooling had been moved to MFG and we were in business.”
“Besides efficiently on-boarding our project, MFG helped us make the product better. For example, our flexural integrity and UV-stability are the best in industry.”
Today, AlertTile is an approved product for major cities and transportation departments in every state of the US. International sales have taken off as well — in a single week last month products shipped to Guam, Panama and Israel. Indicators predict continued market growth as communities accommodate increasingly active aging populations.
Beyond the satisfaction of growing an enterprise, the contribution the products make in the world has personal meaning to Alex. “I know how difficult it is for the handicapped to lead active lives. My mother was blind for the last ten years of her life. So from the early days we have donated a portion of all proceeds to the Helen Keller Foundation.”