Jack Ellis, Post Haste Mailing

It's simply a matter of common sense. Why would seven highly-paid executives roll up their sleeves and spend an entire day stuffing envelopes when one man with the right equipment can knock out the job in half an hour? That's precisely the logic that has enabled Jack Ellis to build Post Haste Mailing into a prosperous business.

Ellis moved with his family from Long Island, N.Y., at the age of 5 and grew up in downtown Annapolis. While in college, he worked at several of the local restaurants and the Department of Natural Resources. He earned his associate's degree from the Florida Institute of Technology and his bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering from the University of Maryland. After graduating in 1980, Ellis realized that the job market was less than hot. "It was the depression of '80," he recalls. "Nobody was hiring. Gold was $900. People were buying homes at 21 percent. I stayed in the restaurant business for a period of time." Ellis was offered a job at Disney World in the water treatment plant but turned it down. "Nah," he said. "Working in a sewage treatment plant isn't a very sexy career. When you're 18, you want to stop pollution. Then you realize it isn't too cool."

In 1983, Ellis opened Annapolis Post Box, a bulk mailing business on Church Circle, and Post Haste, which shipped packages from the Annapolis Mall. In 1986, Ellis was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Annapolis Chamber of Commerce. Growing pains required a relocation to Hudson Street where Post Haste remained for 13 years before moving to its current location on Russell Street 41/2 years ago.

Post Haste now employs 11 to 17 full- and part-time employees with others on call to work from home when special jobs require folding or stuffing by hand. For standard jobs, the various machines in the shop will fold a letter, insert it into an envelope, address the envelope, put on the postage and sort the batch by zip code. Ellis invented a way of putting two machines together so that these processes can be streamlined into one operation. One person can run a batch of 15,000 letters through the system in 41/2 hours. Manually, the same job would take about 62 man-hours to complete.

The shop's capability is illustrated by the mailing of financial aid books for the Maryland Higher Education Commission to all high school juniors and seniors in the state. After boxing, labeling and posting, the entire mailing weighs 84,000 pounds and fills two tractor trailers. Post Haste gets it done in less than a week.

Many of Post Haste's regular jobs are anti-inflationary. Associations that depend on donations must mail their fund-raising materials, especially when membership is down; businesses must mail their invoices. "If they want to remain in business, they have to mail," he says.

Raymond Crosby, president of Crosby Marketing Communications, has been working with Ellis for more than a decade. "Jack and his staff are extremely knowledgeable about postal regulations, direct mail, package specifications and other nuances about mail that can save our clients significant amounts of time and money," he says. "I think Jack gives you big city capabilities with kind of the local, personalized attention that Crosby Marketing would prefer to deal with."

Ellis recognizes the benefit of working in the city where he grew up. "People give me feedback, so I know what works," he says. "I live here and grew up here---that's my value. I know 'who' and 'what' here. If a new business coming to town wants to mail to a certain area, I understand what's going on and give them an answer."

Customers are encouraged to come in and see how things work at Post Haste. Ellis is happy to educate them about the process and the natural elements that can sometimes hinder that process: gravity, friction, static electricity and humidity. Ellis will also go into companies and teach their employees how to sell with direct mail. "I will educate the staff of printing companies; I'll teach classes on mail, basic requirements and postal procedures," he says. "Then, when they go into a sales situation, they know." Ellis reminds them that 75 percent of everything printed gets mailed and adds, "If you sold them the printing and you're not mailing it, who is?"

Jim Barthold of Annapolis Boat Shows has been using Ellis' mailing services "...forever. You stick with people who have done a good job for you, people who have earned it by being responsive to your needs," says Barthold. "Jack started out fairly small. He has quite a good operation now, and he owes it all to working hard and giving good service."

When Ellis isn't working, he spends much of his time with his four children who range in age from 5 to 14, and he coaches youth lacrosse, soccer and baseball. The family also enjoys chartering a boat and getting away for a long weekend now and then.

One Sunday several years ago, when Ellis was away, Harrison Ford came into the shop and wanted to mail the art work he had bought from the Dawson Gallery. Ellis says, "The older lady who was working that day didn't know who he was, and she told him we couldn't accept his check. Harrison Ford said to her, 'I'm the guy who is blocking the streets and filming this movie!'" Ellis smiles and adds, "I had his home phone number."

Martie Callaghan is a freelance writer and native Marylander who enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren.


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