Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
The next time you get direct marketing mail don’t be so quick to throw it out without at least taking a look. Consider that Lee Garvey and the employees at Click2Mail may have been the people working hard to get the materials into your mailbox.
Garvey worked for years at the U.S. Postal Service, starting as a mail carrier in Arlington and moving into other roles, before founding Click2Mail in 2004. His time as a mail carrier exposed him to a lot of local customers who encountered the same problem: They easily could send out a few letters at a time but had difficulty handling large groups of mail.
So Garvey launched a service to make it easier.
“If you’re just mailing five or 10 letters, it’s easy. But when you get into the higher numbers you have to have a system and a postage meter and all that stuff. So I set out to create an online system,” Garvey says. “I’ve experienced the problems we solve for our customers and the way I got started was identifying a problem and finding a way to solve it.”
The small business digitally creates many types of marketing mail, such as when a business sends out hundreds of postcards to advertise a promotion. Click2Mail also can personalize communications so that a car dealer, for example, can send a letter that personally addresses a customer and mentions the type of car the customer recently purchased. Another service is to offer quick turnarounds for “just in time” communications, which tend to be more time sensitive. Garvey says that if a customer submits a digital file by 8 p.m. on a weekday, Click2Mail often can send out personalized notifications as quickly as the next day for a fraction of what such a service used to cost.
“The sender of the postal mail doesn’t have to do anything. They send to us their assets and documents and mailing lists and we take care of the rest,” Garvey says.
Garvey launched Click2Mail while still working at the Postal Service. USPS officially ran it for three years but then decided not to oversee the service anymore. Around that time, Garvey ended up leaving the Postal Service and branched off Click2Mail as a separate entity. The business still partners with USPS, among others, and can be accessed both through its own website and through the Postal Service’s.
Click2Mail has an office in Clarendon and 15 employees who work throughout the United States. Garvey is a huge believer in allowing staff to work remotely at least a couple days a week — even the local employees — and relying on video conferencing for staff collaboration. He says the concept is “one of the benefits of having a largely digital business.”
The Click2Mail team has experienced ups and downs with the fluctuating economy and people’s changing desires to send physical mail, but it currently is in the process of expansion. The business is looking to hire new employees and is revamping its website. Click2Mail has also gained positive exposure thanks recent recognition from Entrepreneur as number 203 on the magazine’s list of the 360 best and most well-rounded small businesses in America.
“We’re very happy with the place where we are and we’re growing,” Garvey says.
Another positive industry trend, Garvey notes, is one that surprises many people: Traditional mail marketing and advertising is back on the rise.
“Businesses that years ago decided that they were going to go all digital and start sending everything by email… they discovered that the level of attention that’s paid to that type of thing is shrinking,” Garvey says. “People are throwing money at the digital world and discovering it’s not as effective as it used to be and the effectiveness of direct mail is increasing.”
Part of that shift may be due to an “everything old is new again” attitude and a “snail mail” revival thanks to millennials. Garvey explains that each year the Postal Service does a household survey and within the last year “they discovered that millennials are very enthusiastic about physical mail.”
But Garvey knows that going about direct mailing completely in an old school fashion isn’t sustainable in the long term. That’s why Click2Mail has continuously updated and modernized its services. It taps into the trend of companies integrating outsourced microservices.
“We have been following closely and adapting our services to that type of model,” Garvey says. “It’s an old thing in a lot of people’s minds, the idea of postal mail. But we’re doing it in a very modern, very technologically savvy way that gives people the opportunity to create mail in a ‘just in time’ fashion that you never could have imagined just a few years ago.”
Via email and social media, residents of both south and north Arlington have told ARLnow.com that mail delivery has been sporadic since the blizzard, with some only having received one or two deliveries in the past 10 days.
From a Barcroft resident, along Columbia Pike:
Lots and lots of neighborhood complaints about no USPS mail or sporadic USPS mail since January 22nd. I am having the same issue. Parcels and letters that should have arrived days or even a week+ ago are nowhere to be found. Tracking shows obscured messages like “receptacle blocked” when there is no issue with our street our mail receptacle. Others report the same.
From another Columbia Pike area resident:
The residents of 22204 haven’t had much, if any, mail delivery since the storm. While I can understand a few days lag, we are now almost 2 weeks out without any mail and there are tax documents out there somewhere.
The residents have heard various things, like Merriefield has been backed up and the carriers can’t stay out any later than 3-3:30, but that does nothing to resolve the issue.
We have suffered with poor service from the S. Glebe post office for years and now we apparently can’t get any service.
A U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman apologized for the ongoing issues, but suggested, contrary to residents reports, that “normal operations” had resumed. Said USPS D.C. area spokeswoman Theresa Doherty:
We apologize for the inconvenience customers are experiencing. The Postal Service is working around the clock to make up for the delays caused by the storm. We ask that customers please contact their local Post Office for service updates. The Postmaster will be able to provide customers with information specific to your address location.
Delays were caused by the Postal Service needing to shut down last Saturday due to unsafe conditions, then followed by inaccessible roads and employees’ inability to report to work due metro and road closures. Since then, we have restored normal operations and are delivering throughout the D.C. metro area.
Reports of Arlington mail delivery problems from social media, after the jump.
Those are just some of the issues with mail delivery and the post office in Douglas Park, residents say.
The neighborhood email listserv has been abuzz for months with reports of postal problems, and it’s not the first time the south Arlington community has experienced such issues.
Last year WJLA reported on mysterious mail problems in Douglas Park, including cases of mail that was inexplicably delivered several months too late, without so much as an explanation or apology.
On Wednesday night, four U.S. Postal Service officials addressed a meeting of the Douglas Park Civic Association to hear residents’ concerns. After some two years of off-and-on postal problems and two previous meetings with USPS officials, residents are frustrated to the point where they’re no longer reporting issues through official channels — only griping on the listserv.
“We’re just trying to desperately understand what we can do to get reliable mail service in this neighborhood,” said civic association president Adam Henderson. “The chatter I see on the listserv, quite honestly, a lot of people are so frustrated with the situation that they don’t want to call because they don’t think anything is going to be done.”
Postal officials apologized for the problems and promised action. They said the matter had made its way all the way to the top — to the U.S. Postmaster General.
“Douglas Park is definitely on the radar screen,” said Sharon Owens, Postal Service District Manager for Northern Virginia and the D.C. area. “Please let your community know that we are committed to improving it.”
A number of factors could be contributing to the erosion of mail reliability in the neighborhood.
Officials said the Postal Service is being hit by a wave of retirements — often leaving less experienced mail carriers who are still getting up to speed on their routes. Owens said USPS is trying out a pilot program to better train new mail carriers.
Another, more localized factor, has to do with topography. Douglas Park is hilly, with few businesses or large apartment buildings. That means that a mail carrier needs to walk for much of their route, which can be exhausting and makes the route less desirable. Because mail carriers with seniority are allowed to pick their routes, that has left a succession of less experienced mail carriers in Douglas Park, residents were told.
Walter Daniels, the local Postmaster, said he was surprised to hear of the problems, since the Postal Service had not been getting complaints about mail delivery in Douglas Park and thus assumed that the previous issues had been resolved.
“We’re in the business of customer service. I really am shocked,” he said. “It sounds like we’re having some mis-deliveries again. We will have to got back to the drawing board” in terms of employee training and “will start monitoring things more closely again.”
The officials also promised to improve customer service at the Arlington South post office, at 1210 S. Glebe Road, which has been the subject of a constant barrage of listserv and online complaints.
APS Mulls Contract for School at TJ — The Arlington School Board tonight will consider a $4.7 million contract for architectural and engineering work on a proposed elementary school on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson Middle School. That’s despite well-organized neighborhood opposition to the school encroaching on Thomas Jefferson Park. [InsideNova]
Unreliable Mail Delivery in Douglas Park — Residents of Arlington’s Douglas Park neighborhood say their mail delivery has become considerably less reliable in the past year. Talk of missing mail, misdirected mail and delayed mail has reached a crescendo. The Postal Service says it’s investigating. [WJLA]
HOT Lanes Lawsuit Had ‘Unintended Consequences’ — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze acknowledged at Tuesday’s debate that Arlington County might have erred in pursuing an aggressive lawsuit against proposed High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395. Howze said the suit “had unintended consequences with our relations with Richmond.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
A U.S. Postal Service mail delivery truck flipped on its side in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store this afternoon.
The accident happened just after 1:00 p.m. outside the 7-Eleven at the corner of Old Dominion Drive and N. Vernon Street, across from the Lee Heights Shops. The mail carrier who was driving the truck told police he was trying to park when his foot somehow became stuck against the accelerator, causing the truck to hop the curb and do a 360 degree turn across the southbound lanes of Old Dominion Drive, before finally striking a parked sedan and flipping on its side.
The driver’s leg was pinned between the vehicle and the pavement, but a group of witnesses managed to lift the truck just enough to free him, according to police. He was then able to climb out of the truck on his own power.
The driver suffered lacerations to his leg and arm, but did not require transport to the hospital. In fact, he remained on scene to help workers transfer mail from the truck to other postal vehicles.
The postal carrier was given a citation by police for failure to maintain his vehicle.
A U.S. Postal Service van collided with a car at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and N. Glebe Road in Ballston just before 9:30 this morning.
Initial reports suggested the accident might have been a hit-and-run, with the postal vehicle fleeing the scene. In actuality, the accident apparently disabled the brakes on the minivan and it ended up rolling down a small hill before coming to rest on Washington Boulevard between Glebe Road and N. Buchanan Street, about 1 or 2 blocks away, according to scanner traffic.
The driver of the car was evaluated by paramedics for minor injuries. The postal employee was not reported to be injured.
Guilty Plea in Arlington Child Prostitution Case — A former Westfield Wheaton mall security guard has pleaded guilty to enlisting a 16-year-old Arlington girl in his prostitution service. The 31-year-old Silver Spring man was accused of having sex with the girl, taking explicit photos of her and ordering her to have sex with eight men in Virginia and Maryland. [Gazette.Net]
Former O’Connell Teacher’s Car Found — The car of a former Bishop O’Connell High School teacher, missing since mid-June, has been found in a Rosslyn parking garage. The family of Tom Duesterhaus, who was last seen in Virginia Beach a day after the car was parked in the garage, says the discovery will likely not help with the search. [Patch]
Arlington Man’s Stamp Issued — Bill Bond, an Arlington resident and World War II veteran, designed “Owney the Postal Dog,” a new “Forever” stamp put into circulation by the United States Postal Service last week. [Beyond the Perf]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) The Post Office at S. Eads Street and 18th Street in Aurora Highlands will soon be moving to a new location.
The office will be moving into the ground floor of the Millennium at Metropolitan Park apartment building (above), across from the Costco on S. Fern Street in Pentagon City. The move was originally scheduled for late April, but we’re now told it will likely take place in May.
The Post Office will fill retail space that has been vacant for about a year, since the building was built. At last check, a space designated for a restaurant in the next-door Metropolitan at Pentagon City complex has still not been leased.
According to the 2050 Crystal City Sector Plan, the Eads Street Post Office site is slated for possible residential redevelopment.
Heat It Up — Mother nature will attempt another run at triple digit temperatures today. The predicted high is 98 degrees. A Code Orange air quality alert has been issued for the region.
Mail Carrier Charged With Stealing Mail — An U.S. Postal Service employee at the Arlington Main Post Office has been charged with stealing mail. Alva Jackson is accused of swiping envelopes she thought might contain gift cards. Jackson, who worked as an Arlington mail carrier, was caught with 134 stolen pieces of mail in her house, according to charging documents. More from the Washington Examiner.
Cherrydale Condo Complex Back on Track — Construction of the Bromptons at Cherrydale condos (3800 Lee Highway) is expected to be completed by January 2011, a relief for neighbors who from 2006 to 2009 had to stare at the building’s half-finished facade. Construction stalled in 2006 when Arlington County determined the construction was of such poor quality that it temporarily shut down the project. More from TBD.
New Office Building Coming to Virginia Square — After seven years of development limbo, it appears that the Arlington Funeral Home in Virginia Square will finally be redeveloped. Plans to turn the site into a luxury condo building fell through in 2008 when the company that owned it at the time filed for bankruptcy. Now, the property has been sold to a local firm that plans to turn it into an office building. The company plans to include ground-floor retail, a public park and a public theater in the development, which will make it eligible for bonus density from the county. More from the Washington Business Journal.