(Photo above: Sue and Pete Pierce have made their store in East Bend a top-selling Postal Connections franchise | Photos by Steve Kadel)
A former Portland couple who moved to Bend several years ago for a better lifestyle have built a successful business with year-after-year growth in sales.
Postal Connections 101, owned by Sue and Pete Pierce, increased sales revenue in 2016 by ten percent over the previous year. The firm at 2660 NE Highway 20 in East Bend has garnered Postal Connections of America’s top sales award each year since 2002 — except during Bend’s economic downturn in 2010.
“We’re fortunate to have wonderful employees,” Sue said, “and we’re a very growth-minded company.”
Fred Morache, managing director for Postal Connections of America, said franchises such as the one owned by the Pierces are successful in part because of their community involvement and a sense of togetherness with other franchise owners.
“Our franchise network is a strong group of collegial business owners who work together, and with us, to overcome challenges and develop sales opportunities,” he wrote on the company website.
Success didn’t come overnight. When the Pierces purchased the franchise and opened in 1998, they worked the brutal hours common to entrepreneurs just getting started. They didn’t take a vacation for three years.
“We worked six days a week,” Sue recalled of the time when they employed just one part-timer. “We did everything. But we were excited. We had a dream.”
She even took a part-time job delivering newspapers at night to make ends meet. The dedication paid off and, after a few years, the owners began expanding their staff and could spend more time with their three young sons, all of whom have worked at the store at one time or another.
Both Pierces had experience working at large companies in Portland before coming to Bend. Pete’s background includes a management role for Kinkos Printing Services for several years.
Pete said they weathered the Recession with continued support from long-time customers.
“We’re a relationship business,” he said. “All of our customers know us. Even in the downturn they stay with you.”
Speaking of relationships, the Pierces say they’ve always had a harmonious work life in addition to being married.
“It’s teamwork,” Pete said, adding they have different skills that complement one another.
He is the CEO while Sue said she does more behind-the-scenes tasks. Their client base these days includes an even mix of small businesses and retail customers sending packages to friends or relatives.
Although packing and shipping is a big part of the company’s revenue, Pete emphasized they do much more than that. For example, when business slumped for most Central Oregon businesses in 2010, the Pierces embraced new products such as selling instant refills of inkjet cartridges and offering Media Trader — a vehicle to ship CDs, DVDs, video games and textbooks to people who purchased those items through Amazon.
“We were an Amazon re-seller,” Pete said.
Today, they’re staying ahead of the competition with such services as Fieldprint, which fingerprints customers who need that for employment background checks. It’s the only such equipment in Bend, and from 20 to 25 people utilize it each day, the couple said.
The list of products and services is long. Mailbox rental is available, and provides a street address for businesses or simply for private users. Mail from the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and other couriers is available. The Pierces also forward mail to clients who live outside of Oregon during the winter.
The store offers black-and-white and color copying/printing as well as producing business cards, letterhead, envelopes, labels, menus, flyers and invitations, among other business basics.
Overnight shipping is available, too, through a variety of carriers. Postal Connections specializes in carefully wrapped packages using the highest quality materials. Clients don’t have to worry that electronic equipment or other fragile items will be damaged.
The shop also sells ink cartridges, markers, folders, paper clips, staples, greeting cards and much more — with a healthy supply of Oregon State Beaver and Oregon Ducks drinking glasses and other memorabilia.
Those who need computer access and internet service will find that at Postal Connections as well. Passport photos are available, and each staff member — three full-time employees and two part-timers — have notary public status.
The company website includes special bargains for customers, such as a coupon for reduced price for next day air service by FedEx or UPS. Other values include introductory discounts on mailbox rentals for new customers.
The Pierces and their staff have only recently breathed a sigh of relief as the hectic Christmas season ended. Everyone was too busy to hold a Christmas party until early February.
“Christmas is crazy,” Sue said, adding they squeeze two months of sales into two weeks.
All in all, she and Pete have found the lifestyle they wanted in Central Oregon. Son Nick is a junior at Oregon State, son Max will graduate from Mountain View High School this year and son Sam is a Mountain View junior.
“It’s been a great place to raise kids,” Pete said.
Postal Connections 101
2660 NE Hwy. 20, Ste. 610, Bend, OR 97701.
CEO: Pete Pierce
Number of employees: 3 full-time, 2 part-time.
Product/Service: Packaging and shipping, copying, printing, mailbox rental and more.
Hot News: Fileprint Station, which fingerprints customers for employment background checks.
Outlook for Growth: Good, with exponential growth annually during the past ten years.