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