New Palo Alto postmaster to be sworn in Friday
Son of former postmaster to carry on family tradition
On Friday afternoon, when Dean Maeda is sworn in as Palo Alto's new postmaster at the main branch on East Bayshore Road, the veteran mail carrier and manager will be following in his 80-year-old father's footsteps.
"It's sort of neat. I didn't think I would get here," Maeda, 47, said in an interview earlier this week. "If it was not for my father I would never have chosen a career with the Postal Service."
A father of three, Maeda will take over management of Palo Alto's five post offices and its 228 employees from retired Postmaster John Kelly, who ran the stations for nine years.
The new job will offer challenges in a stalled economy and as the Internet continues to erode traditional modes of communication, such as sending letters.
But Maeda has plenty of experience, starting on the ground floor as a letter carrier in 1982 and working his way up through the ranks. He began at the Sunnyvale post office and studied business at De Anza College.
When Maeda raises his hand to take the oath, his father, Johnny Maeda, who was postmaster at the same branch, will be there, he said.
Maeda's connection to the U.S. Postal Service is extensive. He is married to a letter carrier who works out of Sunnyvale, and some of her seven sisters are also letter carriers in San Jose. His father-in-law is also a San Jose postal supervisor, he said.
The Palo Alto postal workers are "like my second family," Maeda said.
In his new role, Maeda said he will make subtle changes in the floor plan and how managers supervise workers. He will try to monitor delivery and complaints. A primary goal is to improve service and eliminate lines as quickly as possible, he said.
"I know people don't like to stand in lines — I've been in them myself," he said.
"Taking the postmaster oath of office is not just symbolic gesture but a sign of my commitment and dedication to serving the citizens of Palo Alto," he said.
But reaching his goals will be challenging, as he tries to improve services with reduced staffing and fewer supervisors, he said.
"These days, we're trying to maintain the revenue and balance costs at the same time. The way things have been going with the Internet, the mail volume is reduced," he said.
Palo Alto's post offices were impacted by the downturn as companies reduced the volume of product they shipped, he said.
But overall, parcel volume is increasing over letters, he said.
Maeda was the main station's manager for about five years.
A good manager is "someone who thinks things out and makes the right decision," he said. That includes listening to and appreciating his employees.
"The employees are the ones doing the majority of the work," he said.
The public is invited to Maeda's swearing-in ceremony, which takes place at 12:30 p.m. at 2085 E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto.
Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.