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The store has been re-laid out.

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Brent Kyzer-McHenry

 

When one longtime Verona resident went to ship a package earlier this year, he didn’t anticipate he'd go on to own the business a few months later.

Brent Kyzer-McHenry took over ownership and management of Postal Connections on June 1, from Dan and Laura Brennan, who opened the business just shy of 15 years ago.

The 200 E. Verona Ave. business is a local franchise of a national chain of service centers for mail packaging, shipping, and receiving.

In addition to offering mail services with all leading carriers, accepting package drop-offs and pick-ups, Postal Connections also offers other services including printing, copying, laminating, mounting, shredding, faxing, passport photos, notary, and digital fingerprinting. They also offer 70 locked mailboxes.

No services were taken away with the new ownership, Kyzer-McHenry said, while he’s added graphic design and layout services. He’s also completely re-laid out and repainted the store and is excited to offer a new line of greeting cards.

Kyzer-McHenry said it’s “kind of a cornerstone” of Verona. The business offers services with all major couriers including UPS, FedEx, DHL, Amazon, and the United States Postal Service.

“We are very lucky to have a good set of drivers, a good relationship with shippers, the Brennans did a great job with that,” Kyzer-McHenry said.

After he purchased the location from the previous owners three months ago, he hit the ground running, and became a top-performing location nationally. He was honored at the 20th annual Postal Connections franchisee convention with the prestigious Top Sales Award in Dallas, Texas last month.

“A lot of the national award should be credited to Dan and Laura, they built the business, I just carried it a few more feet over the finish line,” he said.

He also credits the many shipping partners and his customers for helping him learn the new business.

“Everyone has been supportive from the Chamber of Commerce to business owners, some people share tips about things I haven’t done before,” Kyzer-McHenry said.

Prior to taking over Postal Connections, he worked for Dane County for 17 years, most recently as the director of the Alliant Energy Center. He has also worked as a director of marketing and communications at both the Dane County Regional Airport, and the Dane County Humane Society.

“This just came up as an opportunity,” he said. “I’ve owned businesses on the side, but never one full-time where I quit my day job for it. I came in to ship something and the owner mentioned he was looking to get out and retire.”

As Kyzer-McHenry only lives two blocks away, he impulsively decided to take the leap.

“It couldn’t have been a better fit for me career-wise and lifestyle-wise,” he said. “I am excited about it. The business has grown already. Not sure if it is the change in ownership or just us getting further out of COVID-19, I think there's a lot of factors. Shipping has gone up exponentially. Especially since COVID-19, people are shipping more than they ever have.”

There are over 40 Postal Connections franchise stores across 21 states, but the Verona location is the only one operating in Wisconsin at this time. A location in Oregon that had been owned by the Brennans was closed a few years ago.

Still, Kyzer-McHenry said the Verona location plays an important role for small businesses and local entrepreneurs.

He serves a lot of customers with online businesses, and eBay sellers, who ship items such as collectible baseball cards or classic car parts.

“Private individuals who are sellers or resellers is a big part of what we do,” he said.

And he said he’s able to ship larger, and oddly-shaped packages, that the United States Postal Service will not. A customer can drop off an unboxed vacuum cleaner, bowling ball, or coffee table, for instance, and Postal Connections will figure out how to ship it.

“How do you ship an antique window?” Kyzer-McHenry said. “Figuring that out is a fun aspect of this, but also a challenging aspect. People bring in weird stuff. Not weird as in off-the-wall, just a weird size, weight, shape. From hockey sticks to horse saddles.”

More than just supporting online auction sellers, various small businesses ship through the business including two local chocolatiers, and a beekeeper who ships their honey.

“Verona has a very unique small business group,” Kyzer-McHenry said. “A company in town that fabricates specific plastic parts for machinery ships from here, a husband and wife who make wrought iron artwork ship from here – it is fun to support those small businesses and give them a fair, competitive price and the ease and convenience of just dropping off. The post office is wonderful and they do a great job, but it’s a niche job. They do not take anything super heavy or super big.”

He estimates he serves the shipping needs of 20 businesses weekly or daily, and around 40 businesses in total with the less-frequent shippers. He also said around 10 different construction and excavation companies use Postal Connections companies as their exclusive blueprints printer.

During his first three months, one of the more challenging aspects of learning the new business has just been learning the types of services people need and expect, he said.

“The previous owners knew everyone’s names, what they needed, and where they ship to – Mary likes it this way, Dave likes it that way – so just getting to know that customer base, there's been a lot of trial and error in that,” Kyzer-McHenry said. “But customers are so patient and so kind, just saying that they are happy we are still here and still open. There's only so much you can learn in a classroom, you just really have to do it. Because we have such a repetitive and consistent customer base, I already know a lot of them by name and by face.”

Postal Connections is a hub of shipping activity for more than just Verona, he said, routinely also serving customers from Belleville, Fitchburg, Mount Horeb, Mount Vernon, and Oregon.

“We get business from people who don’t want to drive to Madison,” Kyzer-McHenry said. “There’s a lot that goes on here beyond the package drop-off that you can’t find without driving into Madison. I think without us, there would be a huge hole in the surrounding communities, which are a desolate area for these kinds of services.”

Apart from Kyzer-McHenry who works there full-time, there are two part-time employees at the business.

The secret to the success of the business has been its shipping volume, which helps it save on costs, which are passed onto its customers, he said.

“We are working hard to make sure we are being affordable, not trying to make millions,” Kyzer-McHenry said. “We are a business built around the needs of the community. Buying Postal Connections is the best decision I have ever made. The community is amazing, the businesses I serve are amazing. I have the energy, enthusiasm and desire to be embedded in the community. That’s what Dan and Laura did and what I plan on continuing doing. I love it.”

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Reporter Neal Patten can be reached at npatten@wisconsinmediagroup.com

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