2006 Mail Magazine Article - Doing More With Less at The New York Mercantile Exchange
Jim Mullan & Staff Take Care of Business at The New York Mercantile Exchange
NEW YORK, NY – “We are a ‘Yes’ operation. If someone has a request for service, we
bring it into our mail center and find a way to get it done. If we can’t do it, then we look
outside and find a company that can help us get it done,” said Jim Mullan, office services
manager at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Instilling this “yes we can” attitude was a key first step in Mr. Mullan’s efforts to turn
around a department that suffered from a lack of respect because they didn’t market their
service or their accomplishments. “I learned rather quickly that there was no real trust in
our department, and in fact other departments didn’t even want to give us their mail pieces
and packages,” said Mullan, a Cushman & Wakefield manager who came to the
Exchange in 1999 as part of an outsourcing effort.
Mr. Mullan used a three-prong attack of listening to his staff, marketing his department’s
services, and recognizing accomplishments to build up the mail services department and
turn it into a value partner for the Exchange.
Listening to Staff
“You are your staff,” said Mr. Mullan. “I don’t care how good you are as a manager; if
your staff stinks you stink. When I came here all I heard about were the negative
perceptions of print, copy and mail services. However, as time went on I got to know our
staff I found out they were solid, they just wanted to be heard, recognized, and they wanted
He gave them a sounding board, listened to their ideas, watched them work and gave them
a mission statement they all believe in.
“One big point I tried to get through to my staff early on was perception, the perception of
our customers. A mail center employee may have just finished sorting packages for two
hours and then he sits down to glance at the newspaper and a customer walks in, well that
customer's perception is that the mail center staff doesn’t do any work. It is not reality; it is
perception, so to stop this I don’t allow breaks in the mail center. If they want to take a
break they need to leave the room,” he explained.
This type of management support and direction was also evident when it came to
equipment, more specifically the lack of use of a folder-inserter.
“We were paying for an old triple-folder inserter that was not being fully utilized. During
my first month here I noticed nobody ever used it. I watched as they would fold items by
hand and when I asked why they said the machine didn’t work,” he said. “So we decided to
replace it with a much smaller desktop folder/inserter. It is being utilized to the fullest so
much so that we are now looking to upgrade to a larger model,” Mr. Mullan explained.
“Your main resource is your people. If you manage your staff correctly, and get them to
believe in you, everything else will fall into place,” said Mr. Mullan.
Marketing Support Services
When Mr. Mullan arrived there was no marketing of mail services to the internal
customers, so he personally introduced the office services department and its services to the
heavy mailers – marketing, communications, and the membership department.
To that end Mr. Mullan’s team put together an office services guide that includes an
organizational chart with a photo of each person. “We want people to know who they are
dealing with and put a face with the name,” he said.
“We want to do everything, and we go out and seek it,” said Mr. Mullan, who cited the
example of shipping artwork. “We found a carrier, we found special boxes for the
artwork, and now we handle the work.
“Our entire staff has made a concerted effort to make sure our customers understand that
we are necessary,” said Mr. Mullan.” We are more than mail. We are a print shop, a copy
center, a mail services provider. We have a lot to offer and we have been marketing
ourselves for the last three years by posting signs, developing an office services guide and
publicizing our accomplishments.”
Mr. Mullan understands that in the world of back office support, if you don’t toot your own
horn, senior management will not know about your accomplishments. Mr. Mullan’s team
produces a year-end report and shows all the work they performed and displays a cost
breakdown that illustrates what the Exchange would have paid as compared to what they
did pay because of the discounts secured by mail services. “We want senior management
to know what we are spending and what we are saving,” he said.
“When I got here customers would come down to us with a piece of freight and just say,
‘get it there, I don’t care how much it costs.’ Well, that is not how I run my business. We
find the best way to get that item delivered and when we save them money we let them
This recognition includes mail services staff. Mr. Mullan has three employees who have
not used a sick day in three years he as been with the Exchange. He felt that sort of
dedication deserved some sort of recognition so he worked with the Exchange and
Cushman Wakefield management to set up a program whereby they reward staff members
financially who attain perfect attendance quarterly and/or annually.
“I brag about my staff all the time. I am only as good as they are. If they like coming to
work and they believe in you, they will go above and beyond,” he said. “We also hold an
annual “Staff Recognition” lunch where the staff is recognized and thanked for a job well
done.” During this luncheon staff members who attain perfect attendance annually are
presented with a gift certificate as well as a “Certificate of Appreciation”.
Going above and beyond is all in days work at the Exchange according to Mr. Mullan.
“The New York Mercantile Exchange is not like any normal company. Our members are
demanding because money is time. They are concerned with money, so it is our goal to
take all the other stuff off of their mind.”
The Measure of Solid Mail Services – Normalcy
The New York Mercantile Exchange sits less than 400 yards away from the footprint of
what was the World Trade Center, and the impact of 9-11 and the days that followed are
still fresh in the memories of those who work in mail operations. On Tuesday, the 11th,
employees watched as the second airplane slammed into the World Trade Center and on
the following Monday they joined with others in the financial community in getting back to
“I remember riding the ferry over from New Jersey on that Monday morning and it was a
scene from Apocalypse Now, with the red burning skies and an eerie silence over
We were all still in somewhat of shock, when only a few minutes after nine an Exchange
member came into mail services and asked, “Are we still getting our overnight packages?”
The answer was “yes,” because Mr. Mullan had already contacted all the carriers and set up
a system to collect the packages at a location in midtown Manhattan because the Exchange
area was sealed off by barbwire for security reasons.
“When that member left our mail center I realized that no matter what happens, people still
want normalcy. They still want services. They wanted it to be normal so we provide
New York Mercantile Exchanges Mail Services – Six Ways to save Money
1. Review All Incoming Bills – “I review each bill from our vendors the same way I
review my bills and statements at home,” said Mr. Mullan, who used the example of an
$8,000 bill from their copier vendor for click charges. “I police our invoices to make sure
what we pay for is what we owe, and that is especially true for click charges and color
charges. We read our copy/printer meters daily and review the monthly report to make
sure it matches up with the bill, and most of the time it does not match.
2. Review Outside Ancillary Work – In charting work that was going to outside
vendors, Mr. Mullan noticed that the Exchange was now requesting a larger volume
of signage/posters and it would both beneficial and cost effective to purchase it’s
own poster printer. The Exchange now owns and operates an Epson Stylus 7600
poster printer, which not only cut costs but also improved turnaround time.
3. Re-examine Printing Equipment – As printing volume went down Cushman could no
longer justify the cost of the current printing system, therefore, it’s downgraded from a
single DocuTech 135 and Xerox 5690 and brought in two DocuTech 6100’s. “We cut our
monthly lease charges almost in half. What we did was trade in speed for redundancy,
networking, and lower cost,” he said.
4. Target Distribution Vendors For Every Product – Rather than use a single
vendor (SmartMail, UPS Mail Innovations, Dropship Express, etc.) for all flat mail
distribution, Mr. Mullan uses a matrix that matches the flat mail weight with the
lowest-priced shipper. “We use all the carriers, we go by the weight of the item and
the carrier that gives us the best price for that weight. We rate shop all the time for
everything we do. We use a number of vendors and we let them know what we use
them for. We do a lot of flat mail, so we can save up to a $1 per piece.
5. Match Service to Needs -- When Mr. Mullan joined the Exchange the organization
contracted with a private courier to transport mail between the Exchange and the
USPS While that set up works for many organizations, in studying the Exchange
and the USPS, Mr. Mullan learned they could get by with two runs per day, one in
the morning and one in the evening. “We didn’t need that type of previous setup,
and after doing a site tour at our local post office I found out that most of our mail
was ready at 5:30 am, and that they didn’t start processing the rest of the mail until
5:30 pm. As such, we didn’t need mail runs throughout the day,” Mr. Mullan said.
6. Cut Overtime – When Mr. Mullan came to the Exchange he was charged with
cutting overtime. This can create a real management headache. On one hand you
are trying to build employee trust and, on the other hand, you are taking money out
of their pocket by reducing overtime. Mr. Mullan overcame this challenge by
streamlining staff responsibilities and rewarding those who took on extra work.
When someone left through attrition, he would give those responsibilities to other
employees and bump up their salaries. “I try to create opportunities for them to get
more money,” said Mr. Mullan.
“If you work in the mail communications industry you need to be involved and to attend
professional meetings like MAILCOM. Because you will find out more about what you
need to do by meeting with colleagues and vendors than sitting in your office,” Jim Mullan,
mail service manager, New York Mercantile Exchange.
The value of touring the MAILCOM Exhibit Hall
The New York Mercantile Exchange understands the value of money. The employees
working there also understand the value of money, Take for example, Jim Mullan, mail
services manager for the New York Mercantile Exchange. While touring the exhibiting
hall at MAILCOM, he secured a variety of equipment that saved money and improves
efficiency. One such system is the Bryce 30K Printer.
“We just upgraded to the Bryce 30K from the Bryce 25K. This thing is a charm; we use the
Bryce 30K like a print shop system. We not only print addresses, we also print the indicia,
the ancillary endorsements, the barcode, logos. We have all those capabilities and it is very