Furey sworn in as Baltimore postmaster He rose through ranks from letter carrier

September 17, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

A mail carrier who rose through the ranks became Baltimore's 35th postmaster during an induction ceremony yesterday at the U.S. District Court building.

With his hand on a Bible, Michael S. Furey, 42, was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin, officially taking the seat HTC he had been warming since he took the job of acting postmaster last September.

The scene -- akin to a wedding, with a judge and a priest present, as well as a color guard of Vietnam War veterans -- was in marked contrast to Furey's days as a mail carrier in Northern Virginia in the late 1970s and early 1980s when, he said, "I was chased by dogs, but they never caught me."

Furey moved swiftly, too, through the U.S. Postal Service hierarchy from his beginnings as a distribution clerk in Fairfax, Va., in 1978. From there, he went on to become a mail carrier, a supervisor of mail carriers and a manager of customer services before being named postmaster of Fredericksburg, Va., in 1988.

According to his superiors in the Postal Service, he has risen quickly because of his understanding of how to satisfy customers and operate more efficiently.

"I'm most impressed by his knowledge of delivery operations and his ability to communicate with others," said John Potter, head of Postal Service operations in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. "I consider him to be a bright light in this area."

Furey's use of a postal technology known as delivery point sequencing impressed Potter most. In this system, mail carriers automatically get the mail in the exact order in which they walk their routes. Potter said that Furey's use of the program saves each mail carrier one hour of office time daily, and has become a model for post offices nationally.

"He's been nationally recognized for his work on delivery point sequencing," Potter said. "He was one of the people to perfect the technique of using it in operation."

Furey succeeds Joseph M. Lennon, who left in August 1996 to take a position with the Metro Area Operations office of the Postal Service.

Anthony Vegliante, Baltimore's district manager, credited Furey with improving the service of post offices in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. In particular, he said 94 percent of area customers surveyed within the past month reported satisfaction with their service, a 10-percentage point increase from three years ago, when Baltimore's mail delivery was rated one of the worst in the United States.

Vegliante also noted the improvement in overnight and priority mail service, vital during the United Parcel Service strike last month. Postal Service figures showed Baltimore post offices experienced an 11 percent increase in priority mail customers during the strike and retained most of that increase after the strike. Also, post office revenues in the Baltimore area went from $331 million in fiscal 1997 to projected $345 million for fiscal 1998.

"He's improved performance significantly," Vegliante said. "He's worked very hard and done a lot of things to make those things happen."

Pub Date: 9/17/97

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