By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN After a 31-year career with the United States Postal Service, Jack Lynch has decided to hang up his mail bag, retiring July 31.
Lynch has been the postmaster in Howard Lake since 2005, but has also assisted in setting up bulk mail service in St. Michael and Elk River during that time.
“It’s always been fairly rewarding,” Lynch said about his career. “I was able to do a number of jobs in the post office.”
The fact that he was able to move to different jobs in the post office is what probably kept him there so long, Lynch noted.
When his career began in 1981, Lynch was a mail carrier in Hopkins and Eden Prairie for seven years. He then became a bulk mail technician in Maple Plain.
Since that time, Lynch has gained a reputation for his ability to set up efficient bulk mailing sites, setting up several throughout the metro area.
“It’s been a good challenge. Every plant load is different,” Lynch said.
He was the officer-in-charge of sites in Rockford, Long Lake, and Maple Plain for companies such as Gold Bond Stamps, Carlson Marketing, and Gage Letter Shop.
When a post office has a bulk mailing company, such as American Spirit Mailing, it needs technicians who understand and can oversee the process, Lynch said.
In fact, he came to Howard Lake to set up the post office to handle American Spirit’s bulk mail.
The company has been good for people in the area, providing them with jobs, Lynch noted. With about two months left in the USPS fiscal year, the company has already sent 33 million pieces of bulk mail.
“American Spirit, in all my years, is probably the best operating (bulk mail site),” Lynch said.
Lynch doesn’t take full credit, though, adding that he has been very blessed to have such a good crew, with people like Sue Claessen and Mary Jo Painschab.
“What I’m going to really miss around here are the employees,” Lynch said, noting they have good attitudes, and don’t abuse their sick leave. “Their work ethic is the best I’ve seen in all my travels in the post office.”
Lynch is also going to miss the small-town atmosphere that Howard Lake provides, which is fairly unique for bulk mail sites.
“The people are great, I’ve never really felt like an outsider,” Lynch said.
For instance, in a larger town, Lynch would have probably been in trouble for what people here considered a humorous incident.
When he first came to Howard Lake, there was a substitute mail carrier who lived in town, and another mail carrier’s car had broken down.
The substitute was called, and permission was granted to allow the other mail carrier to use her car for the day. Lynch drove the mail carrier to pick up the car.
As the mail carrier was backing the substitute’s car out of the driveway, Dan Kleve came running out of the house, asking what they were doing with his car.
Lynch and the mail carrier had gotten the wrong car, the substitute’s car was a couple of houses over.
Lynch has yet to live the incident down, being reminded every time he talks to his boss, who had a good laugh about it when it happened.
“I think that was the most memorable thing that has happened,” Lynch said. “Thank God Dan laughed about it.”
Lynch noted how the industry is changing, especially with the way people market today. “The post offices you see today, in five years, will not be the same with the changes coming down the pike,” Lynch said.
However, the changes will be good, and people will understand why they were made, Lynch added. “They will make the postal service better,” he said.
Lynch has also seen a lot of changes throughout his postal career. “It amazes me how much things have changed,” he said.
For instance, magazines have shriveled up and died, or at least become much thinner than they once were, Lynch noted.
Seven years ago, Lynch was teaching a class about alternate mailing for postmasters from all over, he said, noting they were already seeing the changes from flat rate mailing.
More and more, the post office will be moving to bulk mailing, Lynch noted.
“We need to understand where our mailers are coming from,” Lynch said. “We can be very frustrating to work with.”
One thing hasn’t changed, though. “It’s amazing how important people feel the mail is, but it’s been such an important part of the US for so long,” Lynch noted.
In his retirement, Lynch really isn’t retiring. He will be helping his son run All Season Sports in Delano, which Lynch started 22 years ago.
He’s looking forward to going to more trade shows for his sporting goods store, he said.
“I really have no regrets at all,” Lynch said about his career. “The people have just been super even if you do try to take someone’s car.”