Delivering the mail involves open communication and a lot of moving parts.
That’s par for the course at the Spruce Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) in Denver. From staff cars to tractor trailers, the facility oversees the repairs and maintenance of more than 2,000 postal vehicles.
For VMF Manager Mike Valdez, the mechanics are the backbone of the department.
“They are the true heroes,” he said. “They are the ones keeping this fleet going.”
Valdez began his postal career in 2006 as a mechanic and has managed the Spruce VMF since February, leading a team of 33 employees and overseeing the vehicle maintenance operation.
According to Valdez, the most important thing he can do as a manager is to listen and keep his employees informed.
“The more they know, the better they can perform,” he said. “And the more I listen, the better manager I become.”
Valdez doesn’t just go through the motions. He engages his employees by listening and taking their comments into consideration. Valdez also ensures he has time to speak to workers on all shifts: morning, afternoon and night.
“I come in early in the morning to listen to tour 1 and I stay late to make time for tour 3,” he said.
Lead Automotive Technician Rob Salazar appreciates Valdez’s management style. Salazar has been on the job for more than 20 years and said he understands how important communication and teamwork are to keeping such a large fleet of vehicles in shape.
“For letter carriers, this is their office on wheels,” he said. “We encourage each other and work hard to keep the vehicles running.”
At the Spruce VMF, that attitude is possible only through trust.
“Trust, integrity and sincerity are so important,” Valdez said. “Once you lose those things, it’s a tough battle.”
According to Valdez, the best way to facilitate that level of confidence is showing appreciation for employees: “A simple ‘thank you’ is so important to the guys here.”