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EVP, Marketing at Specialty Print Communications

Against the Grain

By Dustin LeFebvre

About Dustin

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC


USPS Leaves Print Up the River

I began the Weekend MBA program at the University of Chicago this fall, and to say that much of my routine has changed would be a massive understatement. I’ve kept my head down to focus on work, school, this blog and whatever else comes my way.

But I had a bit of a wake-up call this past weekend, which featured the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament, St. Patrick’s Day and grad-school finals. I normally would take the overlap in stride, but this year didn’t play fair. St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is usually wet, cold and windy. In short, it’s bone-chilling.

This year was different.

The temperature—81°F—was the highest it’s been since Bessie the cow knocked over a lantern and started the great fire of 1871! Consider this view from our study rooms…everyone with their brown paper bags (bottle wrappers) and clover-leaf tattoos, enjoying the parade and the sunshine glistening off the iconic green river.

Yep, if you’re not familiar with the tradition, we take our St. Paddy’s day seriously here in the Windy City and dyeing the Chicago River emerald green is part of the celebration.

Which got me thinking about traditions.

With finals over and studying set aside, if only for a few days, I have had the opportunity to slip back into my traditional routine. So I sank into my couch Sunday morning to watch Manchester United throttle the Wolves five to nil at Molineux.

The 70-year-old Sir Alex Ferguson has guided United for 25 years, and retains the hunger and determination to win that leaves men half his age standing in puddles. With Ferguson in charge, United players have an inner steel about them, and find ways to claw out injury-time winners in matches that should have been put to rest long ago in the other direction.

You can’t buy that with oil money.

Normally, if United isn’t showcased or if the match isn’t too engaging, I’ll take the opportunity to catch up on news by reading The Week with the match on in the background. It’s a great publication that aggregates all sides of a story.

A recent edition came with a letter from the editor inserted concerning mail delivery. Like me, a lot of readers value their traditions and were upset that they would no longer be able to count on receiving their copies by Friday. The letter explained that The Week is printed on Wednesdays and utilizes advanced postal logistics, but that the USPS is changing its delivery standards and will no longer guarantee weekend delivery. If you want to receive your copy of The Week on Fridays going forward, you’ll need to rely on the digital edition via an iPad.

I was taken aback by the letter, but I had been focused on other things. Now, with a weekend off, I’m ready to sink back into my traditions. For me, that means reading The Week on Saturday, and to do that I’m going to have to read it on my iPad. Yep, there’s an app for that.

The reality here is that substitutes exist and life moves on. If the USPS doesn’t take care of its customers, other distribution means exist—and in this case, the alternative is less expensive. The USPS needs its own Sir Alex, with his shackles removed. In soccer, when a team is down, sometimes the players need someone to pick them up by the scruff of the neck.

If it doesn’t happen, this time next year you’ll find me down by the green river reading The Week on my iPad—not in print. Let’s hope that’s not necessary.

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