Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

The US Postal Service 5-Year Strategic Plan – Still No Plan

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 20, 2020 3:25:05 PM



Last April, during a House Oversight Committee hearing, Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) took Postmaster General (PMG) Brennan to task for not delivering a 10-year strategic plan to Congress that was promised to be handed over in January. A second delivery date was also missed. The congressman was not happy.

Representative Meadows had worked with his Democrat colleagues to draft bi-partisan postal reform bills. As he said, the PMG’s actions were turning an advocate into an adversary. At the end of the discussion, the Committee Chair, the late Representative Elijah Cummings, directed that the plan be delivered to the committee no later than July.

At that summer’s Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting, PMG Brennan was asked when the strategic plan would be published. The PMG said that the Oversight Committee had the plan, and that it would be released to the industry “in due time”.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postal Reform / Postage Rates / mail / Postal Regulatory Commission

Implementing the US Postal Service 2020 Rate Changes

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 13, 2020 5:00:00 AM

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, the new US Postal Service (USPS) postage rates and rules go into effect, so mailers need to act now to be properly prepared. For most mailers, the first day of mailing under the new rates will be Monday, January 27, 2020.

This rate case was announced on October 9, 2019. Set to go into effect on January 26, 2020, the new rates represent about a 1.9% increase over the current prices for mailing, or “Market Dominant” products and about a 4% increases for shipping, or “competitive” products.

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United States Postal Service / U.S. Postal Service / Postal Reform / Postage Rates / mail / Postal Regulatory Commission

5 Postal and Print Issues for 2020

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 30, 2019 8:53:17 AM


It’s impossible to predict the future, but when there are storm clouds in the sky, you can be pretty sure it’s going to rain. Lightning and downpours can be seen in the distance, inching their way forward. We brace for the worst.

Of course, a good rain helps farmers grow crops. Watersheds and aquifers are refreshed, increasing the supply of clean water for our homes. Grasslands and forests are rejuvenated, staving off brutal fires.

There are clouds in the skies for the print-mail industry.

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Industry Vendors / Strategy / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postage Rates / NPF / mail / Postal Regulatory Commission / print

Huddle Up!

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 2, 2019 6:30:32 AM


Before every play, a football team forms a huddle to call the next plan of action. In the best teams, players give feedback about what they’re seeing on the field, so the quarterback has the best information possible to make the right decision. When they break, everyone knows the objective, and their role in helping achieve that objective.

In businesses, teams should follow a similar pattern. At the start of each day, or shift, everyone on the team should come together for a briefing. We call this “the daily huddle”. It works for all types of organizations, and is especially helpful for print and mail operations.

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Operations Management / Leadership / mail / print

The First Postal Rate Change for 2020

Posted by Mark Fallon on Nov 4, 2019 9:27:47 AM

On October 9, 2019, the United States Postal Service (USPS) filed R2020-1: Notice of Market-Dominant Price Change. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will now review the rates to ensure they’re in compliance with the relevant statutes. The expected implementation of the new rates is on January 26, 2020.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postal Reform / Postage Rates / Leadership / mail / Postal Regulatory Commission

New Leadership for the United States Postal Service

Posted by Mark Fallon on Oct 21, 2019 5:15:00 AM


The United States Postal Service (USPS) needs a new Postmaster General.

After 33 years of service with the USPS, Postmaster General (PMG) Megan Brennan is retiring. The 74th, and first female PMG, Ms. Brennan has led the USPS through a rocky few years. Most notably, she had no Board of Governors for over 18 months.

With her retirement comes an opportunity to bring new leadership to the USPS. That leader has to be willing to lead a government agency with over 600,000 employees, have a firm grasp of logistics, deal with unforeseen challenges and competitors, and react to a consistently changing landscape. Add to that congressional oversight that is often driven by politics instead of sound management, plus an executive branch that wants to privatize the organization.

Where do you find a leader willing to take on these challenges? Where do you find leaders who’ve led institutions of a comparable size? Where would you find someone whose organization has gone through such significant changes during tumultuous times?

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / mail

Workflow Change is Hard and Necessary

Posted by Mark Fallon on Sep 23, 2019 8:54:34 AM



Production inkjet presses. File-managed processing with job and piece level tracking. Seamless acceptance for full-service Intelligent Mail barcode mailings. Artificial intelligence extracting information from inbound paper documents.

Implementing just one of those solutions is a challenge. Taking advantage of the capabilities of those technologies requires transforming digital and production workflows. In most cases, print and mail professionals will need to venture far outside their comfort zones.

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Operations Management / Technology / Strategy / USPS / Digital / U.S. Postal Service / Quality Control / mail

Rethinking Postage Meters

Posted by Mark Fallon on Aug 26, 2019 1:56:36 PM


When I started as a mail clerk in the early 1980s, postage meters were clumsy mechanical devices. We’d use a fan scale to determine postage, and then turn dials by hand to set the amount. For postage refills, I’d pack the meter into a plastic case, and lug it to the post office .With a check in hand, wait in line for a window clerk, who would break the lead inspection seal, reset the meter, attach a new seal, and hand it back.

I was a mail center supervisor when “postage by phone” refills were announced, and scales were integrated with the meters. Several years later, electronic information-based indicia (IBI) meters became mandatory. Meters were then connected to the internet, allowing for remote monitoring and management. Instead of static slugs, users could add digital messages using their meters.

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Mail Security / Technology / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / mail / envelopes