May 25, 2010

USPS realignment means expanded roles for two star players

Postal Service appoints two veterans to key product development, IT roles.

By Mark B. Solomon

A realignment of the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) expedited shipping organization will mean changing and expanded roles for two of the operation's key executives.

Gary Reblin, a 15-year veteran and the architect of the very successful flat-rate box product marketed under USPS's Priority Mail portfolio, has been named to head the newly merged expedited shipping and ground services groups, which will operate as a unified Shipping Services group, USPS said.

In his expanded role, Reblin, who was named vice president of expedited shipping more than two years ago, will oversee all shipping products and services, USPS said. He will also be responsible for all customer service improvement initiatives for USPS's "market dominant"—or monopoly—products as well as its market-competitive products like Express and Priority Mail.

Meanwhile, Jim Cochrane, a 36-year postal veteran who had been the head of ground shipping for the past 20 months, was named vice president, product visibility and operational performance, a newly formed group. USPS said Cochrane will lead the "development of innovations in scanning technologies and tracking systems," and the "implementation of product scanning improvements."

"Gary and Jim have solid track records in building our shipping services business," said Postmaster General John Potter in a statement. "Their proven leadership is critical to continued growth in our shipping business and the implementation of technology-driven solutions that match the needs of a rapidly evolving mailing industry."

Potter said the groups will be staffed by current USPS personnel with no net increase in staff positions.

Jerry Hempstead, who as the top U.S. sales executive with the former Airborne Express and with its successor DHL Express worked closely with USPS for many years developing joint delivery services, said a seasoned operator like Cochrane is what's needed to strengthen what has been a poorly performing IT network for package tracking.

"The number of scanned packages is nowhere near" the number of scans performed by rivals FedEx Corp. and UPS Inc., Hempstead said. USPS is also slow in getting package scan information visible on its website, and doesn't do a good job of developing scan performance reports for its customers, according to Hempstead.

Hempstead said the USPS IT network "melted down" over the peak holiday shipping and mailing season, leading to an outcry from customers already frustrated by the IT shortcomings. Cochrane, who can cut through the excuses because of his experience in field operations, "is the right guy at the right time," Hempstead says.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Executive Editor - News
Mark Solomon joined DC VELOCITY as senior editor in August 2008, and was promoted to his current position on January 1, 2015. He has spent more than 30 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. He graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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