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Mail is fake but the deal is real

August 15, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

The mail is fake, filled with various combinations of shredded books, bricks, newspaper and plastic bubble wrap and labeled with phony addresses.

But it's going to serve a very real purpose in proving Emery Worldwide Airlines can meet the provisions of its $1.7 billion contract with the U.S. Postal Service, said Hagerstown businessman J. Michael Nye.

Nye, president of Marketing Consultants International (MCI) Inc., said his company was contracted by Emery to provide the simulated Priority Mail packages it needs to show postal inspectors it can handle the daunting job.

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The post office's 58-month contract with Emery calls for the company to create and operate a network of 10 Priority Mail processing plants in major metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard, according to a U.S. Postal Service press release.

The measure is aimed mainly at improving Priority Mail service but also "provides some cost advantages through fixed costs per piece that decrease as volume increases," according to the release.

Priority mail packages will still be accepted and delivered by the post office, the release said.

The first order of 55,000 packages must arrive at Emery's new Priority Mail processing center in Miami this weekend, Nye said.

Postal inspectors will start testing the center's ability to correctly process the hodgepodge of fake mail on Monday, he said.

Hagerstown Goodwill Industries' warehouse at the corner of Church and Prospect streets has been in a frenzy since Aug. 4, when Goodwill workers and local high school and college students started rushing to meet the deadline, he said.

Nye said the UPS strike stretched an already tight deadline by forcing his company to scramble for alternate sources of materials needed for the job.

The mock mail load has to include a specified mix of package sizes, shapes, weights and special handling requirements - from small, square boxes of negligible weight to larger packages weighing up to 70 pounds to boxes marked "live animal" or "radioactive," he said.

"We're trying to simulate all the possible things that would go on in a mail distribution center," Nye said.

He said he knew from past experience that he could count on Goodwill workers to do a good job with the smaller, more repetitive jobs.

But other workers were needed to handle the bigger, heavier work, Nye said.

MCI has given Goodwill smaller-scale packaging jobs in the past, said Fred Nugent, Hagerstown Goodwill Industries' director of communications and development.

Emery's contract with MCI has provided work for more than 40 Goodwill clients so far and promises to be an ongoing source of regular, appropriate work experience, he said.

Goodwill worker Teri Hunt said she has enjoyed the job, especially since she got to switch off between constructing boxes and labeling them.

Hunt, 37, of Hagerstown, said she doesn't think about where the packages are going but rather focuses on working as fast as she can and doing a good job.

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