Mailing Systems Technology magazine recently ran a contest on our Web page, asking managers to submit the most troubling operational problem they have faced and their solution.  The prize was a Basic Management Training Seminar session donated by Pitney Bowes at its Management Training Center in Peachtree City, Georgia.


We received many excellent submissions and selected one sent by Jim Forsberg, mail center manager at Andersen Windows, Inc. in Bayport, Minnesota as the winner.  Andersen Corporation is involved in manufacturing wood windows and patio doors and is recognized internationally for its innovative products.  Jim has worked for Andersen for 25 years and as mail manager of Mail Services for 2 1/2 years. He is working toward his CSMDM certification, is a Certified Packaging Professional (CPP), an active member of Minnesota Mailers Association (MMA) and the Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA) Minnesota Chapter. Congratulations, Jim!


The Winning Article

Managers face many challenges everyday. Most important is keeping up with change. Through acquisition, our company recently added a large number of personnel and off-site locations. Mail was moving through the system using old methods that were no longer efficient by today's standards. It was necessary to find cost-effective solutions for handling the daily volume of mail. Additional space was not available on-site and additional personnel were not in the budget for the year.


Networking with others to gather information was an important advantage. We arranged tours to see other companies mail operations and benchmarking studies showed possible solutions. Each company used different methods depending on their individual needs. With the correct combination of equipment, methods and training we could solve problems. We worked closely with internal engineering people, the U.S. Postal Service and equipment manufacturers to develop a reorganization plan to fit our needs.


It was determined the mail delivery system could be streamlined by reducing the number of stops on internal mail routes. We created mail drop stations instead of delivering to individual desks. The drop station format led to a second change, sorting mail into totes rather than mail slots. This reduced handling and allowed us to make better use of existing space. Fewer mail slots and vertically stacked totes made the difference and saved time. The third element in our solution was implementing a mail addressing system to speed the sorting process. Throughout the project, mail center employees were encouraged to be involved. They were included in tours and discussions and helped plan the new space. Reorganization costs were kept to a minimum by using as much of the existing furniture as possible and adding specific pieces only where needed. Cost justifications for the changes were based on improved service and avoiding the need for additional space or personnel.


The important part of managing any operation is to understand the value of being active in the industry outside of your company. Join a professional association to meet others in your line of work network. Remember to attend meetings and trade shows, and always continue learning by attending seminars.