Article and photo by Alice Gerard
Dispatch: What motivated you to work in the post office?
Joshua Stewart: Retirement benefits is what drew me to it – the stable job that I could count on for a while, the ability to provide for my family and spend time with them. I was part owner of a gym. I helped open a couple of gyms in the area. We opened Hive Lifespan Center in East Amherst. I ran the training department there. My good friend opened a gym in Buffalo, Quarter Deck Athletics.
Dispatch: When you went to school, it was for…
Joshua Stewart: Exercise science. I graduated from high school in 2002 and college somewhere around ’08.
Dispatch: After that, what caused you to switch, other than retirement benefits? Why the post office?
Joshua Stewart: It was hiring in Tonawanda, where I was living. I thought carrying mail would be cool. It was an active job, so it checked that box with me. I would be doing something where I wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk all day. A big draw for me was that I could still be active, and I could work my way into a full-time career position.
Dispatch: When did you start as a mail carrier?
Joshua Stewart: I believe it was 2012-2013-ish. I carried mail for five years. I loved it, but the hours were not what I was looking for as far as still being able to spend time with my family. I’m married, and I have four daughters. I was missing out on things with the family that I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to get the kids to school. I wanted to eat dinner with the family after school, after games, and things like that. The things that were important to me, I still wanted to take part in. That’s when I pursued the supervision/management aspect of the postal service.
I was given the opportunity in Tonawanda, and I kind of bounced back and forth between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda. I filled in for supervisors who were on vacation or doing other things within the postal service. I got the opportunity to fill in for them. I bounced back and forth between those two offices for a couple of years as I learned the supervisor role.
Dispatch: What has been your favorite thing so far about supervision in the post office?
Joshua Stewart: For me, it’s the employees. There’s a lot of different personalities, there’s a lot of different people, and I always like to get to understand what brings people to work each day. What their drive is, why they’re here. I like to get to know them as a person, understand their family, understand the lives that they have outside of the postal service. I think that the people aspect of it is the most drawing thing for me.
Dispatch: What do you like best about the post office?
Joshua Stewart: I think the diversity is awesome. I have a gentleman in this building who’s been a mail carrier longer than I’ve been alive. The generations that you get to see of people and how the job has changed through the years, and how they adapt to the change. The younger generations coming in and who are now doing the job fresh, who can learn from the older folks that have been here forever, and everything in between. So, I think that the diversity is something that’s really cool about the post office.
Dispatch: What drew you here to Grand Island?
Joshua Stewart: This job is an obvious next step for us, as far as management goes. I like the idea of everyone on the Island kind of knows the Island. They know the people on the Island. I like the sort-of small town feel of it, which I think is pretty great. It’s very close to home for me. There are a lot of draws, as far as the job goes. And it’s growing. I don’t have to go anywhere. This has been a launching point for a lot of people, because it’s right in the middle of the road, as far as level of office goes. That’s why there’s been no set postmaster for quite some time.
Dispatch: How do you feel about being the postmaster? I assume that means that everything here is yours.
Joshua Stewart: Well, yes, everything comes through me in one way or another. But it’s good. It’s a role I embrace, and I try to make everyone who is in the building a part of it. As far as decision making, I don’t make anything decision-wise without consulting the supervisor, who works for me, who is consulting the staff on what their needs are or who are interested in doing it one way or another way. I think that bringing everyone together is a fun part of building this.
Dispatch: It sounds like you’re focused on a collaborative approach.
Joshua Stewart: Yeah. Definitely. Engagement of employees is important, I think. Everyone likes to feel they come to work with a purpose and has a say in what goes on. It’s a very Groundhog Day job. Every day, mail comes into the building, you take mail out of the building, you come back, you go home, you come back, and there’s mail in the building. So, it can be very monotonous. I think allowing everyone to have some input in how to do things when we can do certain things really goes a long way with the people in the building. Getting everyone to feel that they are a part of what we’re doing.
Dispatch: How do you go about making the postal service on Grand Island inviting for customers?
Joshua Stewart: My next order of business is getting myself out to local businesses, giving them an idea of some services we offer that they may not know about. If it’s restaurants having the ability to send out a menu with a coupon, and different things that we can do for them to build their business and to get them involved in what we do. There are folks on the Island who ship out products from their homes, so again, just touching base with them, letting them know that they can schedule package pickups. There is priority mail service and different things at their disposal that they can get involved in and get a little bit of a discount on shipping and grow their businesses, as well.
Dispatch: How can people get in touch with you?
Joshua Stewart: They can call the office phone number: 716-404-6036; or they can email me at [email protected]. I like when people come in and sit down and chitchat. That’s fine by me.