Ready for business

Small businesses of all kinds are finding USPS Connect Local is the right fit for their customers.

The pilot program provides businesses and nonprofits with local-to-local same-day and next-day package delivery at affordable rates.

In July, the Postal Service launched the pilot in Texas at seven postal facilities in Houston and Dallas. The program will be available in 862 locations across the Lone Star State by Oct. 1.

“The delivery time is quite fast. It allows me to deliver my packages to my customer within a day or two. I’m very satisfied,” said Marquita Darthard, chief operating officer for Bowed Out, a Dallas-area hair accessories startup and one of the first business in the nation to use USPS Connect Local.

The program — a major component of the Postal Service’s 10-year Delivering for America plan — is “very beneficial to businesses that need to be competitive in the market. It’s been really good for e-commerce customers or startups,” said Kasey Ellis, a USPS senior field sales representative in Plano, TX.

“These are business customers who don’t have access to same-day, next-day shipping or a transportation fleet. For the most part, these businesses are newer to shipping, but not always,” she said.

Yuong Lam, chief operations officer for CBD Farmhouse, a Dallas-based business that sells natural and organic cannabidiol products nationwide, said her company signed up for USPS Connect Local to tap into the fast-growing Texas market.

One major advantage of the program: It allow participants to bring their prepaid labeled packages directly to the back dock of the postal facility nearest to their package destinations.

“Being super competitive in rates and delivery promise times, we will definitely reroute all of our Texas shipping efforts to USPS if this were to work out for us,” Lam said.

Bowed Out and CBD Farmhouse are part of a fast-growing, largely untapped group of small companies — projected to generate $24 billion in net revenue for USPS — that have potential to grow.

As they do, the Postal Service intends to support them every step of the way, Ellis said.

“I’ve seen businesses that started in garages or basements. Then the next thing you know, they are inviting me to the ribbon cutting of their 10,000-square-foot building,” she said.

Eco-honors

In a year filled with pandemic-related challenges, some individuals, teams and facilities were able to find new ways to reduce the Postal Service’s environmental impact and often its operating costs, as well. The USPS Sustainability Excellence Awards recognize these efforts.

This year, the awards — announced Sept. 27 during a virtual ceremony — took a slightly different tack by having members of the executive leadership team choose the honorees. After their selections, one honoree was chosen for the top prize, the Postmaster General Sustainability Excellence Award.

Here are this year’s four Sustainability Excellence Award winners, a brief description of their projects, and the executive leadership team member who selected them:

Chief retail and delivery officer award: The Spokane, WA, Vehicle Maintenance Facility replaced the metal halide lighting fixtures and fluorescent tube lights that were original to the 2004 building with high-efficiency LED bulbs and fixtures — with the project’s cost completely covered by rebates from the local power company. The facility saved on its electricity bill, as well.

Chief logistics and processing operations officer award: The Oklahoma City Processing and Distribution Center was recognized for its outstanding recycling program, part of its philosophy of continuous improvement and a Lean Six Sigma approach (sorting, setting in order, shining, standardizing, sustaining and ensuring safety). In addition to the usual recyclables, the center recycles batteries, fluorescent lights and electronic components, and serves as a recycling hub for offices throughout the state.

Chief technology officer award: The Address Technology Group in the Chief Technology Office was recognized for automating certain change-of-address forms. Workers can now use their mobile or in-office devices to submit the appropriate forms. This streamlined process reduces costs and the Postal Service’s carbon footprint, with expected savings of $4.4 million annually.

Chief financial officer’s award: The Asset Management Group’s Investment Recovery Team ingeniously solved the problem of what to do with plastic mail processing trays that have outlived their usefulness. When the recycler for the trays could no longer find a cost-effective way to keep them out of landfills, the team approached the original manufacturer, who now takes them back and picks up the cost for shipping them to their local recycler. In six months, the team kept more than 46,000 trays out of the landfill and generated $9,000 in revenue. This project was also honored with the postmaster general’s award.

The Sustainability Blue page has more information, including a list of honorees from previous years.

Breast cancer awareness

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to learn more about the disease and efforts to cure it.

Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer for American women.

Although it is rare, men can get breast cancer, too. Approximately 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States occurs in men.

Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years or older.

Other risk factors include genetic mutations, having dense breasts, family history of breast cancer and prior personal history of breast cancer.

Staying healthy throughout your life helps reduce cancer risk and improves your chances of survival if it occurs.

Some people have no symptoms of breast cancer, while others may experience the following signs:

• Any change in the size or shape of the breast;

• Pain in any area of the breast;

• Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood; and

• A new lump in the breast or underarm.

If you have any symptoms that concern you, consult your health care provider right away.

Mammograms remain the best way to detect breast cancer early. Although screening doesn’t prevent breast cancer, it helps identify cancer in earlier stages and ideally lead to better health outcomes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website offers comprehensive breast cancer screening guidelines that compare recommendations from leading health organizations.

Your health care provider will help you understand the guidelines, as well as benefits and risks of breast cancer screening, so you can make personalized and informed decisions. Talk to your doctor about when and how often you should be screened, and which tests are right for you.

The CDC website and the online USPS October Wellness Toolkit have additional information.