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The New Team Alex Restoration: Triathlon, Fun and Business

by Cheenee Pontejos

This is what happens when a bunch of fitness enthusiasts, car aficionados, and dedicated mountain bikers come together to form a triathlon team. A force to reckon with in the bike leg, as some would say, the all-new Team Alex gears up for fitness while enjoying their time with the group they call family.

Currently composed of 26 active members, Team Alex is by far the largest tri team we’ve ever featured on RaceDay. But despite the relatively huge number, good rapport among the members was very apparent as they filled the studio with jests and laughter all throughout the shoot. In fact, when deciding which photo to publish, Alex Isip—team captain and owner requested, “Parang gusto ko ‘yung naka-smile kasi hindi naman kami ‘yung competitive na gusto namin matakot kayo. Hindi eh, ginagawa lang namin talaga ito for fitness and family. ‘Yung magandang finish, bonus na lang.”

Why Team Alex?
In the car restoration industry, the name Team Alex Restoration has always been a reputable one. Not only because of the jaw-dropping classic cars they revive but also because of the unparalleled passion and attention to details this team have constantly offered. So when this name started to enter the triathlon scene, many were puzzled.

“Ang motivation ng shop ko is ‘yung team ko rin, parang sa triathlon. Kasi yung ginagawa namin sa tri team, ‘yung teamwork and discipline, na-a-apply ko rin sa workers ko eh. And nag-start din ‘yung Team Alex (tri team) na idea ko na teamwork connected doon sa shop.

Meanwhile, Richard Santiago, one of the pioneers of the team also added, “Actually ‘yung mga members naman kasi namin, car enthusiasts din. And even sa bikes, pare-pareho kami like before Ceepo, ngayon BMC kami. Majority talaga follow doon sa gusto ng team. May ilan-ilan lang na ayaw magpalit kasi nasanay na but majority, the brand that we use, iisa rin.”

Aside from their sleek tri suit and uniform bikes, Team Alex is also very easy to identify among others as they are dominantly composed of male age-groupers. Most of the members have already known each other from their previous triathlon teams way back in 2010. In fact, before they became Team Alex, 12 of them, all mountain bikers at heart, were formerly called T12 Camelbak Tri Team—12 athletes formed in 2012 hence the name T12.

But since Alex has also started sponsoring minor races in the past, he eventually transitioned to sponsoring a whole team.

“For the love lang talaga kasi and ‘yung passion ko rin naman (sa sport) is andoon pa rin. And ‘yung mga future plan to support the team, kasi diba I am in the car industry, I had an idea to affiliate my partners in car restoration like Motul, Cromax, and isang major car brand. ‘Yun ang target namin next year,” Alex furthered.

“Actually even his car restoration team, gusto niya fit din. They have training and they do running,” Richard added.

From a dozen members, they slowly doubled with referrals from friends and family. But to maintain the solidarity and harmony of the team, as much as they encourage everyone to be fit, choosing who to accept meant thorough assessment.

“Meron kaming mga officers who decide. Kunwari may papasok, kapag nag-agree na kaming mga officers, we advise and persuade the team na isali na ‘yung triathlete,” explained Richard Santiago, one of the pioneers of Team Alex.

Aside from Alex and Richard, the current roster includes restaurateur Michelle Santiago, Finn and Grace Chua, businessmen Jiffy Chua, Jayvee Cabochon, Dan Co, Felix Marinas, Eric Taca, William Lu and Joseph Pedrosa, as well as doctors Raul Castillo, Mico Torres, Dr. Marc Castro, Candice and Gon Belza. Professional swim coach Sherwin dela Paz, architect Steven Sy, pharmaceutical distributors David Bucad and Philip Bucad, jeweler Bojie Lazaro, financial advisor Angel Ancheta, and entrepreneurs Nory Hizon, Gian Sibayan and lawyer Cho Vergarda complete the team’s active members. complete the team’s active members.

Team Alex plans to continue beefing up its line-up, adding accomplished triathletes and podium finishers to its roster. Recent addition is Alex’s long-time friend (and the first Alex Restoration client) and 3-term San Juan councilor Keith Peralta. Keith has been racing triathlons since 2011. A high school golf and soccer varsity player for La Salle Greenhills, Keith has won 40 triathlon awards and podium finishes, a back-to-back Ironman AWA Gold status holder and was the fastest Filipino finisher at the 2016 Ironman Barcelona.

Forged Friendships
Although it was only this year that the group officially became Team Alex, the members are already seasoned in multisport. Some of them, like Alex, Mico, and the Santiago couple—Richard and Michelle, have been in triathlon for the past seven years while the rest ranges from one to five years active. And aside from their love for cars and mountain biking, there were a lot of commonalities that bind this team even more. Their professions also allow them to train together everyday, which also greatly contributes to their camaraderie.

“Pare-pareho kasi kaming lahat, even habits. Right now ang base namin is Celebrity Sports Club. Training muna in the morning then after, most of us work na. Pero ‘yung iba if may time pa sa afternoon, may extra training pa sila. Actually, even on Saturdays and Sundays, we train kasi kaya rin naman namin binuo ‘yung team is to maintain our fitness,” shared Alex.

At the same time, Richard also emphasized that they continuously target a race so the members will have further motivation to train.

“For us kasi kailangan may race lagi para makapag-train nang maayos. Kumbaga looking forward ka. May mga busy days lang pero lahat talaga, nagbibigay ng oras sa training,” added Richard.

This is also one of the reasons why the core of the team encourages all members to join at least three major races each year, not necessarily Ironman brand. However, most of them prefer to race at least one international IM annually. It was only this year that they raced IM locally since it was the inaugural Century Tuna Ironman Subic Bay last June, the first full-distance Ironman in the Philippines. The Ironman 70.3 Cebu last August and Regent Aguila 5150 in November will complete the team’s race calendar for 2018. But next year, they plan to race Ironman New Zealand in March. Too immersed in triathlon, you say? Unlike other relatives of triathletes, each member’s family actually doesn’t complain with the busy schedule since they are mostly immersed as well.

“Sa amin kasi family na talaga kami and hindi lang ’yung buong team ’yung nagbo-bond. Even the wives and kids, kasama lahat,” said Alex.

Michelle also seconded, “Actually, may group pa nga kami na happy wives so talagang hindi naman magulo. And dahil nga professionals din ’yung mga asawa, busy din sila so talagang ang bonding namin is kapag nagkakasama kami, even sa race, lahat excited. And in triathlon diba may instance na hindi makapag-tri ’yung husband kasi ayaw ng wife? Kapag nakikita nila ’yung crowd and the team, medyo na-e-enlighten na okay naman pala and nagiging supportive sa mga asawa nila.”

“Kasi before iba-iba ’yung personality, iba-iba rin ’yung background. Ito kasing Team Alex parang through the years, nasala na so nakikita talaga namin na nagji-jive lahat. Kaya wala ring nag-aaway sa amin,” shared Richard.

What’s Next for Team Alex?
As the group grew closer over the years, Alex and Richard admitted there’s no secret among the members. Even their training plans and techniques to recover, they share with
each other.

“Sa amin kasi nagkaka-injury kapag pare-pareho ng training plan kasi hinahabol ‘yung mabibilis e,” Richard joked. Alex also added, “Saka nag-e-age na so may wear and tear na rin talaga, sunud-sunod ang injury like sina Eric and Doc Rico.” Even Richard wasn’t spared as he recently had a knee injury, forcing him to beg off from IM Subic. But even if they only continue doing triathlon to maintain their fitness and to have a healthy lifestyle, within the group, they still eye for decent performances.

“Syempre kapag may members ka na nagpo-podium, nadadala and na-i-inspire rin ‘yung team. But we’re not like other competitive teams who have high performance athletes and ang target talaga is maka-podium,” Richard explained. But most of the members like Gian who’s being fully sponsored by the team, and age groupers like Philip, Richard, and Alex still manage to make it in the upper bracket of their age group.

“Kami diba we used to race Xterra World, usually podium finish ako doon pero ngayon sama-sama na kami,” Richard admitted.

Later on, Team Alex plans to recruit high performance athletes but the current direction of the team is towards finding major sponsors to support the group with the help of course of Alex Restoration. They may have different hobbies and sports in the past but with commonalities, they were successfully brought together as a team who all work together to make the dream work.

Alex Restoration
Multiple “Best of Show” awards, several “Best of Class” wins, and undoubtedly a reputable name in the car restoration industry—this is Alex Restoration.

Probably a household name to most if not all car enthusiasts in the country, this top notch automotive restoration brand has been providing unparalleled services since it started in 1992. But behind every recognition and showstopper cars they present, is a great team of committed technicians and supervisors who all work in unison.

“Actually, ngayon talaga our focus is on the team. Dati kasi ’yung mga gawa namin, ’yung mga kotse, ’yun ang laging nakikita. Pero ngayon we’re really focusing on the team,” admitted Alex Isip, self-confessed car geek and founder of Alex Restoration.

The Onset
Alex developed his passion for automobiles at an early age, cleaning cars in their 5-car family garage. But it was put into practice when his dad gave him a 1978 Porsche 924, where he completed his very first frame off restoration. Alex personally dismantled it with assistance from their former helper Robert Mercado, who is now a service manager in Alex Restoration. He also sought expertise for the mechanicals and electricals and got a skilled painter to help him with the project.

He then decided to enter it in a car show—the 1st Trans Sport Show in the country held at EDSA Shangri-La back in 1992 and won first place in the 2-door European Sports Car Category despite competing with more seasoned and fully equipped shops. It was the “beginning of an era”.

“After the show, my friend (Keith Peralta) asked me to help him with a 1967 VW (Volkswagen) project so I helped him, then another friend and another one. So my garage transformed into a car shop and decided to make it a business.”

Two of the rarest cars Alex Restoration successfully restored were a 1956 Benz Gullwing and 1963 Lamborghini Miura while his most memorable one was the 1913 Morgan he and his team worked on for 13 days. It was a full frame off restoration, which later on won all major awards in Manila Motor Show.

Alex also won the most coveted “Best of Show” award in the 2010 MIAS Custom Classic Car Competition with his 1967 Mustang Fastback entry, owned by director Edgar Mortiz. He also won the Concours De Elegance “Best of Show” in 2011 with his 1971 Pantera Detomaso entry.

These tenfold of recognitions are very apparent in their shop in Quezon City where you will be welcomed by hundreds of trophies and awards of excellence in this field. Not to mention the numerous jaw-dropping cars parked, either waiting to be restored or released. Also, this team’s attention to the smallest of things was very evident in their spanking clean and organized workshop despite the nature of their job.

But for Alex, the true gems of this place are the dedicated and meticulous technicians, supervisors, and staffs who not only work with utmost precision but also with passion. Some of them, like Robert, has been with Alex Restoration for almost 26 years now while some are new recruits whose love and keenness for this field equals the team’s.

“Currently, hiring pa rin kami kasi nagdo-double kami ng tao for expansion kaya continuous s’ya,” Alex explained.

The Team
There is no stopping the Alex Restoration team in providing calibre automotive restoration services available. Anchored in these three pillars—technical expertise, professionalism, and commitment to quality, the team continues to be proficient with the latest methods in automotive restoration. Aside from the regular training whenever they have new materials, each member also undergoes an all year round mentoring. No one works alone in their shop, as Alex mentioned. They practice the buddy system, there are coaches and students just like in triathlon. And everyone strives hard with one goal in mind—to execute a flawless job fuelled by teamwork.

With their thorough craftsmanship and desire to maintain valued cars in mint condition, Alex Restoration also expanded to Car Storage—an indoor automobile storage facility. This 1,000 square-meter area also in Quezon City has the capacity of 40 vehicles, all maintained by the restoration team.

But aside from their attention to detail especially with their paint preparation, what makes Alex Restoration’s team different from other shops is their equal commitment to fitness. As an active triathlete, Alex ensures fitness isn’t only observed in his triathlon team (Team Alex) but also with his business team.

He encourages them to be fit and actually participates in a couple of fun runs and adventures. For them, it’s not the typical employer-employee kind of relationship but really more like a family—and a growing one for that matter.

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