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Lisa Harris (00:00:02):
Our new acting postmaster, Mr. Eric Gilbert, he has over 25 years of postal career service here with the United States Postal Service. And he is coming to us by way of the great San Diego, California. Mr. Gilbert?
Eric Gilbert (00:00:25):
Good morning, as all can tell about a little bit of sunshine with me. So hopefully everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy it in light of what’s gone on in the country. That being said, thank you Lisa Harris I’m really excited to be part of the group. I do apologize for not having any visuals today. I’m technically challenged, specifically I have no camera. So that being said, I’m excited to hear some of the new information that’s coming out and how the Postal Service can implement and, or be of assistance moving forward. I’m thrilled about what’s going on or what has gone on in the past as far as the PCC events and our customer coordination. So thank you for having me. And I appreciate it. You guys have a good one.
Judith Antisdel (00:01:13):
Thank you, sir. It will be nice to meet you in person.
Eric Gilbert (00:01:17):
Absolutely. Thank you.
Judith Antisdel (00:01:24):
So, since we just started recording in case someone would like to share this or use it later I just wanted to say that, again, what we’re talking about today, and we have here friends with us, there’s a virtual round table getting together and having some chats, asking some questions, working to solve the issues and knowing more about what could be solved that’s in front of us. So we’re going to start a solution to resources for a changing business environment in the wake of COVID-19 right now. Floyd Creecy is an industry influencer. He is presently with High Tech Services, but he is also the project manager of MSMSA. We have Leo Raymond with Mailers Hub. And Leo is a great advocate for all of us, along with the Postal Customer Council. His outreach, his giving is enormous.
Judith Antisdel (00:02:32):
Leo, we thank you for that. You never say no to a PCC in the US whenever we need you. So, thank you. And then we have Jay, who is the President & CEO of PGAMA, or what we call “pajama” here locally. He works with the printers and graphic arts. I am Judith Antisdel with the Greater Baltimore PCC. We are the Postal Council and your industry liaison and teammate of United States Postal Service working together. So what we’re going to do today is please remember you have a chat line as you think of questions, please put them in a chat line. We will get to those. Any that we don’t have an answer to give you today, or we don’t get to, we’ll be followed up with an email along with the information everybody that’s speaking today, so you can reach out to them. Someone just said, will the transcripts for the session be provided? Yes, they will.
Judith Antisdel (00:03:35):
So, let us get started and I am going to hand this over to Mr. Leo Raymond. He will tell you a little bit about the situation, what is going on right now, and then we will lead into the other questions and other subject matter experts that we have on the Zoom today. Mr. Raymond?
Leo Raymond (00:03:52):
I think if you’ve been watching the news I guess you pretty much know what’s going on in headquarters. We have a new Postmaster General selected to be effective in June. And as of yesterday, we’re also going to have a new Deputy PMG. Ron Straumann announced he’s resigning as of the 1st of June. So the way it works is that the Governors of the Postal Service do have the exclusive authority to pick the PMG, which they’ve done. The PMG and the Board. The Governor is externally appointed Governors, then pick the Deputy. And then the PMG, rather, has the authority to select all the subordinate officers of the Postal Service. So there’s about three dozen people here who are going to be potentially up for selection or who have been selected over the next few months. So it’s going to be quite a transition period and all this happening, of course, in the background of what’s going on because of COVID.
Leo Raymond (00:04:56):
The Postal Service continues to struggle financially because of how much business is lost. As people are not mailing, as companies are not mailing, as the advertising budgets are being pulled back because they cannot offer people to buy couches when your store is closed, that kind of thing. They’re having severe economic impact because this volume has been down. Depending on what class you look at anywhere from, well, below 10% for presort first-class to 40% or more for marketing now. On the other side, you’re seeing a significant uptake in package volume. Some weeks, when they talk to us about how much they’re seeing, it’s 40, 50, 60% or more compared to the same period of the previous week … Previous year, rather. Of course, the question becomes how much of this is going to stay because right now everybody is home shopping, buying their dog food, their shirts, what have you online.
Leo Raymond (00:05:55):
But whether or not they’re going still have probably the same habit for buying online in the future, and whether there’s still fulfillment through the Postal Service in the future as an open question. The Postal Service continues to keep people informed about what’s going on facility-wise, processing wise and so forth. Mostly things are normal in the US. There are isolated situations where facilities have problems with staffing because of concerns of the employees because of illness, for whatever reason. There have been isolated situations where the processing delays or delivery delays, but for the most part things continue to run relatively normally. Internationally, if you see the DMM advisories or industry alerts, you know that there’s a lot of disruption in international mail. The Postal Service has been forced to resort to using ships to send mail overseas to Europe, for example, because there’s so little aircraft airline travel these days.
Leo Raymond (00:07:01):
Just yesterday, we saw the very first instance where countries are reopening to international mail exchange. So they’re hoping that will continue in the future, but right now you’ve got whatever number of countries in the world. There are, most of them are embargoing international mail because of either concerns over virus spread, or because there simply is no way to get the mail there because the international air travel is so suppressed. So that kind of gives you an idea of where things are right now. Judy, you sent me a question earlier from the registration around enterprise payment. And as far as I know enterprise payment is not effected by what’s going on in headquarters. There are a lot of things that are going forward. The seamless acceptance, a final rule came out this week and last week, whichever, whenever. I think it ended last week. Excuse me.
Leo Raymond (00:07:56):
So, there are so many things going on as normal in the Postal Service to the best of everyone’s ability.
Judith Antisdel (00:08:03):
Thank you for that. I know that we have a lot of clients that mail foreign mail every single day. We have to check if it’s embargoed, where it is, should we mail it? And we’ve actually had these huge bins with pieces of mail that we’re holding until the country opens up for our clients. We pretty much have suggested if it isn’t critical mail, perhaps at this time, they hold that back for the smaller mailers, but they’ve still want to get their message out. So we’re going to send it when it cleans up. Regarding the state of the Post Office I know there’s a lot of chatter out there about our future. What would your comment be on that, sir?
Leo Raymond (00:08:47):
The future, well, I don’t think it’s logical to think the Postal Service is going to just simply collapse. I don’t think anybody in a political sense wants to be responsible for the Postal Service going out of business. So that literal result is not going to happen. I think it’s going to be kept on life support for a long time because of a variety of reasons while doing the right thing just is not going to happen for the foreseeable future. I don’t think anybody needs to be filled in on the politics of what’s going on. There are issues let’s just say in DC politics that are inhibiting an objective review of what the Postal Service needs to have done or needs to do, needs to do for the post … We need to do for the Postal Service, but it’s not going to just simply collapse. It is a government agency. It’s required by the constitution.
Leo Raymond (00:09:48):
It’s a national institution that everyone expects to see running. So even though there may be a lot of gamesmanship going on about the Postal Service, it is not going to simply stop operating. So the financial situation is not going to get any better for a long time.
Judith Antisdel (00:10:07):
Thank you. We just got a question for you, Leo. And the question is, what does life support look like?
Leo Raymond (00:10:15):
Life support means it’s going to have enough help to pay the employees, to pay their bills but they’re not going to get the kind of strategic business change that would be needed to put them on a solid financial and operational footing. The PMG Brennan early in May, or early April asked for a substantial amount of money for the Congress. 89 billion I think was a total when you add up all the different pieces. And I think in some ways that’s more than some in Congress would ever want to give them, because there just isn’t enough political will to do so. You’ll get enough to keep going. They’ll make sure the lights are on, the mail is delivered, that the trucks have gas in them, don’t catch fire too much. But as far as getting 25 billion to help make their financial situation more stable, I don’t think that’s something which politically right now is going to get past all the hurdles that are on the line to make it … to enact, to get into law, let’s say.
Judith Antisdel (00:11:30):
You’re popular. You have another question. Any talks going on about privatizing the Postal Service?
Leo Raymond (00:11:39):
The idea of privatizing the Postal Service simply isn’t logical. And I always joke about here’s the ad in the paper, for sale. Nationwide organization with 31,000 outlets tens of billions of dollars in debt, 600,000 highly unionized employees, three quarters of your outlets don’t make any money. And go on and on and on a list of things about the Postal Service and say, “We can make you a deal on this.” It’s just not going to be sold off in that sense. Whether or not you’re going to see fragmentary situations in the future, that’s another question. If you look at, for example, Royal Mail, that’s got little pieces. The retail operation is one thing. The partial operation is another piece. What you call traditional Postal Service is another, and so forth. What’s going to happen to the Postal Service in this country, I don’t know. But simply outsourcing the whole blessing thing or turn the whole blessed thing over to private enterprise isn’t feasible.
Leo Raymond (00:12:45):
And UPS and FedEx are always set, or it’s the ones who are quoted as being the ones who are going to take over. They’re not interested in having a mounted route running around suburban Maryland, or suburban New Mexico, delivering mail, or a rural carrier through North Dakota. Their thing is not letters and flats. They’re thing is packages. So if you want it to look at the traditional split or the split that was made in 2006, between competitive products packages and market dominant products, let us in flats, you may see something developing along that line. But the traditional mail, “paper mail,” it’s not something that is generally an outsourceable or privatized … I’m making up my own words here… commodity. It’s just not profitable. It’s expensive and it’s expensive to operate. And it is labor intensive and its sprawling – it is all over the country. Nobody is lusting to buy that part of the Postal Service.
Judith Antisdel (00:13:51):
Thanks for sharing that. And I love that you make up your own words. I’m a baseball fan. So for the last two years in football and baseball, I kept hearing this physicality. I haven’t looked it up, but I didn’t really know if that was a word or not.
Leo Raymond (00:14:04):
Well, when it appears in the Oxford English dictionary, you know what made it.
Judith Antisdel (00:14:10):
Thank you. So we’re going to spread a few tips in here between speaking and share some ideas that other people are doing. One thing our company is had the privilege to do is to pack cap and gowns, diplomas and all the tassels, and all the cool stuff to send nursing students and the nurses. Places shared with us and every response they get from somebody so welcoming and so thankful. So that’s really, really great. Other companies are offering people shorter term leases. Some of our people in Baltimore are doing that right now. So, if you have to work virtually you don’t have to have a three-year meter lease if you still have to get your mail out. So those are a few of the things that other people are doing right now that’s going on. And then I’m going to jump over to Floyd for a minute. Floyd, what are some of the innovations and ideas that you’re now working with your company and your organization?
Floyd Creecy (00:15:15):
One of the things that we’re predominantly doing right now is we’ve been doing a lot of changes, because a lot of our work, all of our work is on contracts. So the SLAs that are in place and the KPIs that we normally work with the customer are not sustainable because there’s nobody at the locations. But because we have to continue to provide those services and meet the demand. So we’ve had to change our processes based upon what that department wants. So you may be in a building that has 30 or 45 different departments, and we have to change what we’re doing to fit the need of each individual customer. And one of the things that has helped us to meet those demands is the latter part of 2019. I wanted to increase the efficiencies. So we came up with a plan to increase the efficiencies by doing cross training and doing succession planning.
Floyd Creecy (00:16:36):
Because we did the cross training it has allowed us to be able to meet those demands because of the pandemic epidemic that we’re in now, and this new normal that we see we’re able to adjust because we’ve cross trained all of our personnel on those different positions. And one of the things that we did when the announcement was made for teleworking, we cut the staff down to meet those demands, because we didn’t want to bring everyone there, someone catches the virus and then we have to shut down everyone. So we cut the shifts in half. So we were able to meet that demand for each department by having those people already cross trained and already having succession plans in place. We were able to meet that demand as it came. Fortunately, with that foresight of wanting to increase efficiencies.
Judith Antisdel (00:17:46):
That’s really good. I’m going to take, Floyd, a short pause. If you’re not one of the speakers, would you turn your camera off, please for right now, because I have a couple of visually impaired people on here, and they’re having a hard time focusing and paying attention. So that would really be helpful if that way our pictures will be big enough that we have to look at us that much, but that would really be helpful. Thank you. And so Floyd, the other day we were talking and you had mentioned being prepared without knowing to be prepared.
Floyd Creecy (00:18:25):
Yes. And one of the things that we talked about was not understanding, well, not knowing the future. We can recognize that change is inevitable. Change is constant. It is constantly happening. And one of the things that we found is that … Well, one of the most important things we found is that everyone that we work with at all of our locations, our contingency plans, none of them addressed the pandemic. So because of our ability to recognize the change is inevitable, we should be working on different goals and objectives for the future of what we might do, what we should be doing, how we can do it and implementing those ideas as we go along. And sometimes we don’t recognize at the moment why we’re making a decision to do what we do, but down the road, as things change as the environment change, as conditions change and our environments, as our processes change, as the demands from our customers change, we have to make those adjustments.
Floyd Creecy (00:19:59):
And one of the things that I have been working on or have been working on for a number of years is how to have all the mail in an electronic format for situations like this. And I’ve been working on that for about eight years, but in some locations we work a lot with the government and the requirements for their documents. Sometimes we cannot fulfill that process, but there are other contracts that we have where we are able to stand up and make it electronically available for our customers. Those types of ideas and innovation we should be thinking of, we should be growing. We should be metamorphosis our processes, our procedures, our industry, so that we can meet the demands as they come up later. You’re really not sure what will happen. You cannot predict the future, just like at this point there are a lot of questions about what’s going to happen with the Postal Service.
Floyd Creecy (00:21:15):
We can’t tell, we don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. We know that things are happening. But one of the things that we can say is that out of change, we grow. Out of change we get stronger. Out of change and difficulties we grow and we persevere, and out of that becomes the better process. It comes a better way of doing things. It solidifies relationships, it causes people to grow. And with those changes that we may have to bring that cross training and to bring that innovation that has helped us. It also helped us with morale because our frontline workers, a lot of times are not conscious of the fact that they are frontline workers, because Jay was instrumental in making our print people essential employees in the industry. And a lot of the people didn’t recognize that they were essential employees, but when the coronavirus came they realized, “Oh, I’m essential.”
Floyd Creecy (00:22:22):
So, their mentality was not in the beginning that they wanted to accept that. But because we had taken our personnel through these changes it caused morale to increase because they realized that they could grow. They got additional skills that they could put on their resume for the future. And those types of things caused the morale to increase so that those people wanted to come to work. They wanted to support the bigger picture of what the corporation needs to do.
Judith Antisdel (00:22:56):
Thank you for that. I just got a question. You might have covered this, but someone asked about work-share. What’s the best way to do a work-share in A-B split: two weeks on, two weeks off? Any thoughts on that?
Floyd Creecy (00:23:13):
I did it with a week on week off. That’s how we started. Week on, week off, but we did not have any issues with anyone catching the virus, which was very fortunate. And when we started with the week on week off we started with a calendar. We sent the calendar around and requested that anyone who wanted the time off to give us the schedule that they would prefer. And then we took that information that we got and determined by selection and preferences which would be the best that would support the operation, but at the same time, support the goals and objectives of our personnel.
Judith Antisdel (00:24:09):
Actually Leo when you have time, come back on your speaker and I have another question for you. I think-
Leo Raymond (00:24:16):
Here I am.
Judith Antisdel (00:24:17):
… you’re so handsome. Thank you. I think it’s really important that people find a way to grow and work through this process. As a business owner I know that one thing I was feeling was shame. I was feeling shame that I couldn’t fix it, shame that I couldn’t be the marketing Tsarina and the right person to make people understand that you can’t stop mailing, getting in front of your customer. I was trying to be sensitive with the nature of everything that’s going on. And I’m really, I was like getting depressed because obviously I’ve been doing this a really long time. And, as they say on TV, I know a thing or two. But not about this. You can put anthrax and 9/11 together, and you could put the dotcom in too, and this is a much more difficult business challenge. What I’ve refocused on is saying, “Judy, you can’t fix everything. Sometimes you have to go with the flow instead of …”I can fix anything”. I am going to wrap my head through it.
Judith Antisdel (00:25:22):
Do what you know to do, do webinars, speak with friends, have this virtual seminar today, and learn from everybody else and how they are coping and how they are going forward. And I think that’s really important, because we’ve been so strong for so long and now we’re asking, be stronger for a much longer time. So that’s part of the day is that everybody knows you’re not alone out there, that we all are in this together, and we’re doing everything we can to stop service disruptions to find ways to deal. If there is an employee that’s ill, dealing with employees that don’t want to come back to work, because now they’re making more on unemployment than they did in like four months, they’re going to make more than they did in six months. So, there is a lot that we are all going through and have to understand things changed.
Judith Antisdel (00:26:18):
And I’m hoping some people will go ahead and put some more questions and about, what can you do? What are you seeing what’s happening in your company? One answer I just recently saw was that they’re doing hourly splits. So to keep the amount of people down within your company and for safety measures they’re having people come in and say from like seven to 12, and then another group comes in from 12 to four. And another group comes in from four to eight. So that allows for proper social distancing, a cleaning between everything allows everybody to share the work like a shared workload, still have part of it and still keep the business running. And that is just absolutely an excellent idea. You were speaking to about Jay a moment ago and Leo, I’ll get back to you with this question. It’s from a good friend of all of ours.
Judith Antisdel (00:27:11):
Jay, I know with PGAMA you all were great advocates and worked really hard to make sure that printers were essential, unless it is essential for the needs of working in travel. Before the wording didn’t really include printers, even though many of us are mailers of printer, printers that mail, or whatever you want to call ourselves. And so why don’t you speak a little bit about what you have going on with PGAMA, what you’re seeing with the print industry, even though it’s probably print and mail for many of us and give us an update, sir.
Well, first I’d like to comment on something that was just brought up. I would be the first to agree that nobody could have anticipated a pandemic in 2020 that would literally wipe out the world’s ability to produce anything. However, disaster preparedness should be something that should be in every company’s thinking. And there are a lot of things in what we’re facing right now that if you think about it, things like you can’t operate normally, your work staff is unable to come to the building. Those kinds of characteristics could be in play if there was a flood, in your plant if there was a fire, if you lost a huge account that made up 60, 70% of your business. All the things that we’re doing now because of the pandemic, many of them, not all of them, but many of them would have to be done for disaster preparedness.
And there are there, matter of fact, we at PGAMA put on or attempted to put on a workshop on disaster preparedness right before all this happened. And so, what I would take away from it is every company should have a plan, a plan for disaster. What if a disaster comes upon us? Nobody would have ever thought of pandemic. There are a lot of things, less onerous than a pandemic that can put you out of business. And a lot of those things can be covered, can be prevented. The disaster part can be prevented by some good pre-planning. So that would be my one recommendation. As far as the industry is concerned, we represent a very diverse industry from data driven companies that do nothing but data mining, to mailers and direct mailers and printers, the designers, to packagers, to companies that are so diversified, that when you walk in today, you don’t even know they’re in the printing business until you get way into their plant.
So, the answer to your question is a complicated one, because there are some folks, especially those who were able to pivot. And that’s another thing everybody should be able to looking at is, if I can’t do my main product or service, what in my building am I able to do? What could I pivot to? That’s going to be a very popular word after we’re finished with the pandemic because we have case studies right now within our own membership where people literally are now making PPP items that didn’t even know how to spell that six months ago. And they’re doing it, and they’re making money at it, and they’re also getting a lot of great publicity for it and they’re getting great accolades from the community. So, it’s on a lot of bases on a lot of different levels it’s serving the industry and the nation very, very well.
So, pivoting is very important and it goes back to Frank Romano who was one of the gurus, I presume a number of folks on this call know Frank. And about a year and a half ago we brought him to town to talk about the new print industry. And this is what he was talking about. Little did we know that a year and a half later we were going to be facing these things like that. Don’t think that your company, whether you’re a mailer, whether you’re a printer, whether you’re a data company, whatever it is, that that’s the only thing you can do with the talent and the resources and the equipment that you have on hand. And to create, I think, out of this, Judy, will be the fact that when the shock is all gone a lot of us are going to pat ourselves on the back and say, “You know what, we were very creative through this time. We really went beyond what we thought we were capable of doing as people, as thinkers, as well as our companies.”
Let’s now talk about the question you asked me. The recovery frankly hasn’t started. Most printing companies continue to decline in terms of their percentage of business to capacity. And the PPP money, this is something we talked about the other day, the PPP money, thank God, it has helped a lot of companies survive, but it’s also delayed the pain in many respects. And it’s delayed our ability on an association level to really monitor and analyze where our companies are. Because even though companies may be operating a 30 or 40 or 50% of capacity right now, their cashflow is okay and their ability to continue on for a couple of months is okay. And I hope that they’re using that time to think about July and August and September. My fear is that many of them will say, “Well, the government has to come through with another bailout plan,” and other this and other or that.
And if they do, great, but if they don’t, they’re going to be a lot of companies feeling a lot of pain come late summer. So I think that’s where we are. Now, having said that, because we’re so diverse there are companies that are doing well, and if you’re in the right space you’re doing okay. If your healthcare, if you’re certain government programs, political, this year being a political year. Not the year everybody anticipated politically, but certainly if you’re a company that derives a lot of your revenue in a political year from politics, from political campaigns, you’re doing better. But those of us who are general commercial printers are hurting. Because if you look at … I went back and looked at our awards banquets. And when I see how much stuff, Judy, comes from institutions like schools, like hospitals, like corporations and you know that those folks aren’t doing stuff right now.
A lot of them canceled their conferences, canceled their graduations, then in the Washington area and the Baltimore area as well a lot of trade associations, which are a lot of meetings, a lot of conferences, they’re not happening. So that’s where the pain is really being felt and that is not going to come back. I heard from some of my members, well there’s a pent-up demand. Most of them lost their backlog overnight, but they also say, but I have pent-up demand and if you have B2C and B2B customers that pent-up demand is there. But if your customers are the institutions that we just talked about, that won’t be coming back until next year this time.
Judith Antisdel (00:35:34):
Good information to know. I forgot to set up a polling feature, but we have a question. So if everybody knows how to get to the chat line, I’m going to ask a question and I’m going to go ahead and count it up and let everybody know the answer to this. How many companies, and you can be Postal or private. It’s just an answer. How many companies have found that they are able to do a lot with the reduced workforce? I.e., where it used to take two people to put flats through to inkjet and bag now I’m finding that one person out of the two can actually do the same job. I’d like to hear from all of you. If you could just go to the chat line and say, yep or no opinion, doesn’t matter. But if you’re seeing the same thing that less people can do the job now I’d really like to know because everybody is asking me that same question.
Judith Antisdel (00:36:35):
I can answer it for you since I’m not a printer anymore. I was having a conversation with a printer last night and he told me that they lost money in April, but their sales were identical to what they were in a month last year. And their loss was one third of what it was last year because now they can’t throw people at problems, they have t0 find processes and solutions. And I thought that was very telling as to I think a year ago, two years ago, maybe we were sloppy. We just threw more people at something because things were relatively good. So I hope that answers your question.
Judith Antisdel (00:37:29):
No, it does. And I’m starting to get people coming in our pretend chat poll line and I’ll report that back in a few minutes. But one thing that talking with industry members and we’re checking in all the time with everybody. And one thing that some of the PCCs have asked me is, “Gosh, I’m heartbroken. One of our board members has been laid off. What do we do to get the business back?” And I can’t answer. What do you need to personally do to get it back except try to be innovative and look at what you can do that’s outside of your normal envelope, so to speak? But one thing you can do is let them know you care. Stay in touch with them, send them a goodie bag. There’s lots of cool things on Amazon. Some of the things that we’re doing and sharing with is we’ll go on and somebody is at home with their kids and they’re laid off and we know that they’ve been laid off from their job.
Judith Antisdel (00:38:28):
We’re sending juice boxes and some stuff for the adults too just to let them know that you’re out there and you care and keep in touch. Relationships are everything in this business. And that’s why the four of us today are on this call, obviously, because we’ve built important relationships over the year. And I think that’s also important. How do you retain or maintain a relationship with a client and employee? It’s the same as with your friends. Let them know you’re there let them know you care. As a sales person if you ask twice and they don’t answer once, leave them alone. They’re not ready. But why don’t you get out of pen and paper and a little card and send them a handwritten note: thinking about you if there’s anything you need let us know. Love, Leo. Use the mail, be brilliant. Think about things you can do. Because part of what we’re all doing right now is we’re not only holding on, we’re not only maintaining, we’re building our futures.
Judith Antisdel (00:39:29):
We are finding new ways to be more efficient. Like Floyd said, with different teaching environments cross training perhaps you have, like we do a small digital press. Well, now is a good time to have somebody else, especially if you have a PPP loan, is to have somebody else to cross train on that. And that’s part of what we’re doing is because we’re sort of rebuilding our workforce. We had to let a lot of people go right away, and we just got our PPP loan. But what we did was we asked the people that wanted to come back to come back, and those that won’t. But those that did, and we’ve gotten a little busier, they’re learning. They’re going to have full time jobs, and they’re willing to work at a little less than unemployment we get to give them. So I think it’s also an opportunity to look at your own structure, your own business.
Judith Antisdel (00:40:28):
Perhaps there was somebody who thought you couldn’t live without and they weren’t the easiest person to deal with and you laid them off and you found out, “Oh my gosh, everybody in here is so much happier.” Not that that’s the way we should do it. But we’re finding out all these different things that we didn’t know we’d find out. And all of these things are going to be part of what we go forward and do in the future. Who would we hire, who we train, who’s interested in the infrastructure of your business, not just the paycheck. And I think there’s a lot we’re learning about that now too. And I’m going to just take a second to report on here.
Judy, before you go-
Judith Antisdel (00:41:06):
Can I make a statement.
Judith Antisdel (00:41:08):
One of the things also that I have found that we are having to do is spend more time on a daily basis on morale, on positive interaction with our employees. We’re having to do morning talks where we provide motivation, nothing about their job specifically. It’s just mental health being positive, having those conversation with the employees when we realized that they’re not themselves that day or they seem to be down a little. We’re also having to increase the frequency of team building exercises. Because there are a limited number of employees we can do that with that group on this particular day. And then we’ll do it with another group on another day, but we’re having to do them regularly, at least two to three times a month. To keep morale up and to also have a positive work environment, because with the strain of what goes on in the economy and what they see when they go home and be attacked.
Family members as well as friends or relatives that are thinking about this in the daily news when they go home, when they’re in the car on the radio. So there’s so much of it that’s bad, bad, bad. We have to send a message that there is also some good. And I liked that idea that you stated about grabbing a pen and a pencil, writing a note to someone. That’s another way how we can support the Postal Service at the same time. Send a note. Also with our customers, I’m finding that if I don’t make the initiative to contact them, they will not contact me. So I schedule that I contact them via Zoom, I set up a Zoom meeting so we can talk face to face with every customer on a regular basis, whether there’s a problem, an issue or not we’re talking. And because I want to know how are you doing? I’m not concerned about business. I want to know first, how are you doing?
If you have an issue we can talk about it. But generally on some of those calls, there is no issue. There is no problem. We’re just talking.
Judith Antisdel (00:43:59):
I think that’s wonderful information to share. I’ve always been the person that wears my heart on my sleeve. And that actually empowers me. I stay in touch, we all talk all the time here. “What’s the PPP loan? Did you get it?” Now I’m scared to death that I did until they figure that all out. But we talk. We have an open conversation. It’s not always easy. It’s not always pleasant. But I do believe if we stay in touch with our employees as I referred to as my team, that I think it’s a more fair basis to know what’s coming. And the only thing we talk about in here is the only thing we have is a fear of the unknown. So, you can’t fix the unknown, but you can prepare as best you can for the unknown. And that’s part of what we’re here today is to help each other know what’s going on, different things that have happened and trying to prepare for that because it’s going to be a wave. We don’t know.
Judith Antisdel (00:45:05):
I have heard great things. Some of my favorite large printers in the area, some of their larger clients are coming back and mailing. They’re almost back to full staff. I think it’s wonderful. And I think we’re going to see more of that and really see different types of business. And because we’re all on the phone today and we are going to send their information to all of you reach out in Baltimore. We’re not afraid to be members of more than one organization or share information. That’s what makes us strong. Now I have the poll. Thank you, Paul Foster. I have the poll and that is a good bit of the people have cut their staff in half. And that information is also information I see that’s reported by other survey collecting companies. We are about half-staff. Not like the flag, but half as many people. But it will come back. It will come back. Encouragement and sharing.
Judith Antisdel (00:46:09):
And if you have employees out there for whatever reason, if they’re good employees they may be scared too. They may figure they have to take care of their families. They don’t want to come in two days and off two days. I appreciate that. It doesn’t make it easier on me, but we have to appreciate that everybody’s doing the best they can. We’re all in a survival mode. And so, I think staying in touch with them too and letting them know you still care is a good thing. Now one person just emailed and said they’re finding it, some of their operations can be reduced with less people, but not all. And so that would make perfect sense too. I think the point would be that going forward we may find out is this is we creep back up with work maybe not everybody has a place to come back. And maybe it’s time to look at all the good and bad parts of your employees and where they do well and they don’t.
Judith Antisdel (00:47:02):
And it’s a good time, I think too, you could send a survey and ask about your company and your leadership too. So there are different things you can do while this is going on. And let’s see. We had Allen … I’m sorry, Leo. I’m going to bring this up for you, sir. Anybody is welcome to get on the Jeopardy board and answer it. With all the general elections, there are some states or areas that have voting by mail and some that don’t want anything to do with it. So the question would be, are we encouraging the mail vote?
Leo Raymond (00:47:45):
Well, the Postal Service of course has been very active over a few election cycles now in advancing the idea or the process of Vote by Mail. And it has a lot of benefits for the jurisdictions involved as well as for the voters, setting aside all the political arguments about Vote by Mail, it’s a practical idea which enables greater participation with a lot less effort on the part of the person who wants to cast his or her ballot. As I said, the poster is very active right now in trying to develop and foster this interest. We had a webinar earlier this week with some folks talking about Vote by Mail and one of the speakers was from an institution whose purpose is to support local jurisdictions in learning what to do. But really there are two sides to this political mail, the bull premiere kind of thing. And then there’s election mail, which is what’s produced by the jurisdictions, which is one of course we’re talking about. It’s the Vote by Mail.
Leo Raymond (00:48:54):
Mailing service providers, print providers like the business that they get from politicians providing they get paid during election cycle. But for the most part, there’s a certain level of anxiety about what to do with the election mail because there is no consistency from jurisdiction to jurisdiction about how we do it here. What we do here in Podunk is different than what they do in West Podunk when in fact the Postal Service has pretty much national requirements for how election mail has to be prepared for how mail is supposed to move in general, which they often don’t know about. So it’s a different challenge for anybody in the commercial mail production side who wants to deal with an election agency, election Bureau, the local registrar, voters, whatever you call yourself. This, the current circumstances, the health circumstances I think will generate a lot of interest in Vote by Mail.
Leo Raymond (00:49:55):
And that’s been pretty much the universal conclusion by a lot of folks in the business, in the Postal Service, in the election arena. So it’s at the same time the business opportunity for many folks who print or mail or do both. It’s also a challenge to make sure it’s done right. And it’s challenged the Postal Service because this is their chance to make sure that staff at the ground level can accurately communicate the requirements and the recommendations for properly preparing election mail so that if there is a Vote by Mail, it’ll push as we expect there to be. It was going to come off successfully, and there won’t be the usual horror stories of how some little town in the middle of Nebraska had all their elections materials eaten by the dog or something. Just have some disaster go on and it gets spread all over the country.
Judith Antisdel (00:50:47):
Thank you for that information. Leo and I share some calls that we’re on together and he always has great answers and great questions. I appreciate that. So because this is a unified group of people, although we’re only looking at four of us right now, someone started their own poll in a chat line and that is basically … Which is great, but that is basically what’s a very short exercise like a team building exercise, you can easily do and it only takes a few minutes. And some of the responses are Monday coffee day from especially local company. Tea versus coffee facilitators, tea taste and experience, exotic coffee tasting. Just different things like that. And this goes back to relationships again and Floyd, everything you’ve talked about too. So I’m going to throw this out real quick now. We don’t want to take your whole day up, so we’re going to end shortly. So please put your questions into the chat box if you have them.
Judith Antisdel (00:51:57):
If you think of them later, email Lisa. It’s up on our website and we’ll get answers to you. But I’m going to let all three of you think about this for a minute. All right. But think about a short team building exercise you can share. And I want to share something that I’m no banker but on the PPP loans and it’s only a word of caution. As they’re going through the loans and many of us have them please read what information you get back from your bank when you get the loan. They’re not all the same. For instance, one that we discovered online was minutes for the company. It didn’t say how long. In the state of Maryland is different than other states. Everybody has how long your organization should have minutes. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t have any for 10 years for a small company.
Judith Antisdel (00:52:56):
So I went in and topics of importance that we did discuss on yearly basis is by looking at my records and who was in the meeting. So I was able to get back to preparing that. So your bank or financial institution may have specific requests on loan forgiveness. So don’t just take the money and run. Read it, learn about it, do the best she can because it’s going to be very, very important on how it sends up for us in the end. We don’t want to be left with owing money in a year or two. We want to be left with money left over to help our business grow. So, anybody in the panel think of a cool, really short event to just get people gathered and together?
Eric Gilbert (00:53:45):
Tropical bingo, one of the games that one of my supervisors made up where they put different islands on a bingo chart. She didn’t do it as though it was the traditional bingo. She made it a little larger with more answers and responses and the winner gets a gift certificate, their choice: Target, a coffee shop, or something like that. And one of the other ones that they do quite frequently is lunch for the team. It’s a real easy one there.
Leo Raymond (00:54:32):
Judy, I think that because many of the people in our business are small companies and as you mentioned before, you know your employees, there’s a personal component to it. This isn’t like mega printers incorporate or mega mailers that we have 500 people and you don’t even know that except by numbers that what family does is as flawed as just saying you break bread together. So, when you sit around and at a lunch situation or a coffee break or whatever and you and you just sit there and you share a meal, share your snacks, share your conversational over your food, it’s a chance to reinforce the personal component of the business, and show that the participants in the business are all in the boat together, and it reinforces that sense of camaraderie, if you will, or personal allegiance that makes things work and survive in tough times.
Judith Antisdel (00:55:33):
Great. Thank you.
Judy, I have one. It actually wasn’t a team building. It was April fool’s joke that was put on me, but it would have been a great team building. I went home one night, I came back to my office the next morning and they had turned my office into a Starbucks. They had given every employee, they called them Jay-bucks, but they had the coffee, they had the muffins, everything set up and people were coming in and buying coffee with these Jay-bucks all morning. So it was a real team building effort for exercise for the folks that were involved. And it even got to, when I went out to my car at lunchtime, they had put a sign … I forgot what they called it, but the sign as if it was a Starbucks. And it lasted that morning and for months everybody talked about it.
Judith Antisdel (00:56:32):
That is amazing.
But people don’t pay, but it was great.
Judith Antisdel (00:56:35):
I don’t know about you, but everybody here prefers money and lots of it, but we don’t get cards.
They like coffee.
Judith Antisdel (00:56:43):
We do gift cards and things like that too. We haven’t done in a while, but I think we’re going to start dress up day and stuff like that, because we don’t have like football Friday and all that kind of stuff right now. And we have another comment from one of the attendees. And she says, I agree with the personal component and break bread. Yep. Break bread. I use family table talk place mats for family at home and work facilities sharing stories is valuable. And sharing stories is very valuable and that’s what we’re talking about today, and really would like to do is in a couple months come back in and wait and see what we’ve learned from this talk, what we can share. Hopefully I have more questions and comments. I think that right now something really important to think about is what else can you do? And I don’t mean way out of your line, but some digital presses and have the component to do decals to make tee shirts.
Judith Antisdel (00:57:44):
Perhaps you aren’t thinking about printing your own postcards in house, but you find a cutter in the back that just needs to be sharpened. There’s a lot of different things. We’ve been able to reach out to some of the businesses that as a virtual assistant and basically they drop off their stuff, we print it out or print it up, virtually address it, mail it for them. We found that isn’t really making much money for us right now because they don’t tell us the truth, but we’re getting better at that. There’s all kinds of ideas. And I just want to share a few, because I want you to go away – maybe you don’t use these ideas – but maybe you look within and say, “Wait, we can do things we’re not doing right now.” And there are … We talked about short term leases, talking to your vendors. I’ve talked to mine and said, “Hey, want to go month to month?” I don’t know where I’ll be in three to six. And when she rather could be paid monthly.
Judith Antisdel (00:58:45):
And they’re like, “Oh, absolutely Judy. Cool, thanks.” That’s a great idea to do. Partnership and work shares with other companies will do that. Something may be let’s say too heavy, too large or whatever right now with who I have, but it’s another company can take it and yet there are things that they don’t want to handle because they’re smaller and we’re built for those 500 personalized letter and envelope match to go out in six hours. So, call and ask other people, check in with your friends, your vendors, your business friends and see if you can’t do some work share. Should you decide your business’s too big for you and maybe you move in with a friend. There’s a lot of large companies in buildings that could probably use a small print shop or better mailing equipment or other people in there to share it, because we’re all in this and we’re sharing together.
Judith Antisdel (00:59:36):
There’s no way we’re going to do it alone. So we might as well embrace what we do have. I want to give a special thank you. One more comment. My friend Kathy, my dear friend Kathy, they have the boss-does-your-job day. So you have to do a team member’s job for a day and they get a day off. And I think that’s fantastic. I learned my industry from the ground up. I did it. So when someone comes up to me and says, “This isn’t working,” or whatever, I understand what they’re saying. So some need to do that and take that time out. We also have Janet Warner is launching postcards from home digitally and through the mail. They’ve already bought about 500 postcard stamps and her information in the chat line. So you see people are becoming innovative and thinking of other things to do. And if you just have a little too much time on your hands, check with your local nursing home, a pal center or whatever.
Judith Antisdel (01:00:36):
Maybe you can become pen pals, your organization. Maybe there’s something the seniors are not getting a lot of interaction. They’re locked in. So check I do with some friends and send out some pen pals stuff or just a daily quote or anything. Be useful. The more useful we are, the better off we’ll all be. And I don’t see any more questions. I want to thank Floyd again and Jay and Leo and Allen Hepner for all the information, the chat line. Jen, Lisa, the Postmaster, and Craig who’s been handling this today. I welcome you. I thank you. May God bless you. Stay safe, stay smart, and we’ll see you next time. God bless you.
Thank you, Judy.
Judith Antisdel (01:01:21):
Floyd Creecy (01:01:21):
Thank you, bye.
Eric Gilbert (01:01:26):