USPS Marketing Exec Robert Bernstock Resigns

As an innovator of packaging and postal solutions, I have learned all about the strict regulations of the United States Postal Service. As an entrepreneur, I often find these rules, established to prevent vendor favoritism, frustrating, time-consuming, and generally counterproductive to the growth of the mail industry. On the other hand, those strict rules level the playing field, allowing growing companies like mine to compete with industry incumbents.

Robert Bernstock just learned the hard way that the USPS doesn’t tolerate playing by your own rules. Mr. Bernstock recently stepped down from his post as the VP of Mailing and Shipping Services after less than two years on the job. Mr. Bernstock joined the USPS with much fanfare. His private-sector background leading Campbell’s Soup and Scotts Miracle-Gro, among others, promised to re-invigorate slumping mail volumes.

Well, it turns out Mr. Bernstock’s private-sector bad habits got him into some public-sector trouble. Investigations by the Office of Inspector General have uncovered numerous ethics infractions, including granting millions of dollars of no-bid contracts to companies with whom he held board positions, and using USPS computers and staffers to conduct outside business. You can read the details here at The Washington Post, or dig into the full report from the Office of Inspector General.

In the two years under Mr. Bernstock’s watchful eye, mail volumes continued to stagnate and slump. “Summer Sale” promotions he was responsible for largely flopped, and his “If it fits, it ships” promotion of Priority Mail never made much sense to me as it put them in head-to-head competition with FedEx and UPS, a clear bloodbath of price competition.

The USPS needs to sail into the Blue Ocean by focusing on their strengths, creating new opportunities that make the competition irrelevant. The USPS knocks at every household and business in the America six times a week. They need to create additional revenue streams beyond delivering a shrinking stack of mail.

-Bob Makofsky at

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