Inside look at Sandston mail facility ahead of holiday rush

Posted: Updated:
SANDSTON, VA (WWBT) -

The holiday rush is underway and workers at Richmond's mail processing center in Sandston say they had their busiest night yet Monday.

The plant has been criticized in years past as the worst in the country for delayed mail. Every bit of your mail goes through massive machines at the Sandston plant.

"But around the country they are known as Barney," said senior plant manager Isaac Cronkhite. "Because they are a purple monster."

Around 95 percent of your letters and Christmas cards are processed automatically.

"We have computers that will take an image of the mail piece and within nine milliseconds finalize the address to the house level," said Cronkhite. "And put a unique bar code for that house."

Cronkhite says the facility processed 2.8 million pieces of mail on Monday night.

"It's our time to shine," said district manager Jeffrey Brecker. "It's our time to get those cards and packages delivered on time."

This is the same facility that a 2011 postal audit called the worst in the country for delaying your mail after a Charlottesville consolidation due to understaffing and poor supervision.

"We're glad to say all those negative reports are a thing of the past," said Brecker. "We are top five in the nation in overall first class service."

The plant is now in the middle of a Norfolk consolidation that drove thousands of letters to the Sandston facility Monday night. Cronkhite insists this consolidation will be different.

"The Charlottesville consolidation was too much all at once without the proper levels of planning ahead of time," said Cronkhite.

He's now trying to make sure back to back late deliveries remain a thing of the past.

"It does get dark at five so we are going to deliver after dark," said Cronkhite. "But it's important to make sure we are not delivering too late into the night."

Postal officials also encourage you to avoid red envelopes this holiday season. They say the machines have a difficult time reading the address.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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