ATASCADERO — Mark Hutchinson Sr. was officially installed as the Postmaster for Atascadero on Aug. 10, covering mail delivery and pick up for 18 routes and the P.O. Box addresses at 9800 El Camino Real.
Or as he explains, “I was inducted as the 11th Postmaster of the Great City of Atascadero. I am excited to serve the community and in doing so I thought I would reach out to the voices of Atascadero.”
A resident of Morro Bay, he’s already been on the Central Coast six years and most of his family here works in Atascadero.
“When you work in another community it’s half of your life, it’s like having two homes,” he said, adding that he felt the Post office had become disconnected from the actual municipalities it serves over the years.
“So the first thing I did was introduce myself at City Hall, go and talk to the people we need to work with,” he said.
First on the list of changes he felt he could implement starting off, sprucing up the aesthetics of the City’s Post Office, primarily “cleaning up” the exterior appearance and looking to drought resistant landscaping.
“When a location doesn’t look appealing on the exterior the public wonder what type of product they’re going to get inside,” he said, noting that while there’s room for customer service improvement always, the actual full range of packaging and shipping is a unique and vital product.
He’s also hoping to help more people use the automated shipping and labeling system in the lobby which is available 24 hours a day.
“I think I’m right in the middle between our older and younger staff, maybe a little more comfortable with technology,” said the 44 year old, who’s already worked in the service for 20 years. “It’s about 50-50, so are our customers with comfort level. It’s all about keeping lines flowing. A lot of people are in line because they aren’t sure how to get what they need another way.”
While lines and work with community groups to improve the appearance of the facility may not sound like fun, Hutchinson assures that the Post Office still has a lot more going on for new recruits and career-minded individuals than meets the eye.
“I started very young and I wasn’t really excited about the idea of being a Postal employee,” he said, noting that it came up as an option because his father-in-law worked for the Office. “I actually really liked being a letter carrier and they eventually approached me to do more. If you show aptitude and ability you’re moved up.”
With the workforce always changing with retirements, job seekers can go online, which is ironically where the Post Office does most of its paperwork these days.
As for Hutchinson, “I’ve got about 12 years left and I don’t plan on going anywhere else. This is a good place to be.”
Some background, the first Postmaster of Atascadero was Guy Southwick, appointed in 1934. He was born in Michigan which is the same state where Hutchinson was born.
There are two former Postmasters still working for the Post Office: Michael Raine who is a contract carrier out of Paso Robles Post Office and Priscilla Jeng who is currently a City Delivery Specialist for HQ Delivery Operations in Washington, DC.
The Post Office moved to its current 22,000 square foot facility on El Camino Real in the 1970s.