By Jim Ryan
1/16/2013 11:50:32 AM
When Liz Buebe goes in for her annual physical, it is a good bet her doctor finds something very unusual in her report: Buebe apparently has the United States Postal Service in her blood.
Liberty Lake's newest postmaster is a third generation postal worker, with both her father and grandfather having had careers with the agency.
Buebe took over her position at the Liberty Lake Post Office last November after 26 years with the USPS in Utah.
Though she now sees herself as a true westerner, she was born and raised in Bangor, Maine. However, in the late 1970s, she was looking for a little adventure in her life so she moved to Utah, where she had family.
She explained that she originally started with the Postal Service in 1979, but after six months took time off to start her family. She went back in 1988 and has been with the agency ever since.
"In Ogden, I started out as a clerk and then became the postmaster's secretary," she said.
From that start, Buebe toured Utah over the next two decades, serving in a number of positions, including as a clerk, postal carrier, injury comp specialist and several assignments as a postmaster.
She explained that a person can't just walk into the position of postmaster; they have to work their way up in the system.
"I started out with training for a supervisor position," she said. "You go through about a 24-month training period before you can receive a position as a supervisor. Then, as a supervisor you get opportunities to substitute for a postmaster in their absence. That way you learn the duties of running a post office. Then, based on that experience and success in that arena, you can add it to your resume and apply for positions as postmaster when they become available."
Including her two assignments in Utah, she has been a postmaster for 15 years.
Before applying for the local position, Buebe had never been to Liberty Lake, but had driven by it several times on the way to visit one of her daughters, whose husband is a graduate of Eastern Washington University. Buebe and her husband, Daniel, have 10 children between them, all of whom are now grown and settled throughout the United States.
"So we both had a reason to come up here to visit, and Daniel and I both liked the area," she said. "My husband is from the east as well, and he likes the trees and the water; it is really beautiful here."
Buebe explained that the position of postmaster entails myriad duties, including supervising her staff, and the security of the building and the mail, but her primary focus is customer service. She said the best part about being a postmaster is her customers.
"I love the public; I love serving the public," she said. "As a third generation employee, I am strongly committed to the Postal Service, and I think I provide a positive experience for our customers because of that commitment. Every day I try to make a difference."
In the 26 years since joining the Postal Service, Buebe has seen a number of changes in the organization but feels it has become a lot more streamlined than it used to be, and there is a lot less management in each office.
"It has gotten a lot leaner," she said. "And there have been a lot of changes because of technology, such as ‘scanning' where people know instantly when a package is available. When I first started, that wasn't even heard of. I think it has been a real bonus to provide that service, especially as more and more people turn to online shopping."
She said because of technology, first-class mail is not increasing in volume as people are utilizing emails and online bill paying, but the Postal Service parcel service is increasing, and that is where it is directing its focus.
Though she has only been on the job for a little over two months, Buebe already sees ways the Liberty Lake Post Office can streamline some of the ways its services can be performed.
"I am an auditor by profession, so I audit circumstances and see where there needs to be improvements," she said. "That's something I enjoy doing. So now that the Christmas season is over, I'll start looking at that."
She also hopes to get out into the community more to meet with businesses to show them the new products the Postal Service has to offer, services she said will enhance their business opportunities and provide them with an easier method to contact their customers.
She said one of the new services it has to offer is called Every Door Direct Mailing. That service allows a business to pick a certain group to send a mailing to by a particular neighborhood, or they can choose half of Liberty Lake one time and the other half the next time.
"They no longer have to provide an address; they no longer have to provide a customer name, and yet they can have an advertisement put in every delivery point on a route," she explained. "We have six routes in Liberty Lake, and a business can choose to do one route each month and rotate it all year long; the customer will receive a flyer or whatever the business chooses for an advertisement. That will make it very affordable for almost any kind of business. I'm excited to get that talked about here in Liberty Lake."
She smiled that one of the challenges of her job is that there aren't enough hours in the day to get as much done as she wants.
"It definitely isn't an eight-hour job," she said. "I work anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a day, but it's because I'm excited about what I do. If something needs to be done, I do it."
She said she has found the people and businesses in Liberty Lake to be extremely friendly.
"I have enjoyed interacting with the customers, and I work the window when I have the chance," she said. "I get to meet the customers. Plus, as I said, it is very beautiful here, and I love driving around Liberty Lake. It's a very secure community, and I've been impressed at how many people are out walking and biking. I think that is pretty cool; I love seeing that, and it says a lot about the community that they are outdoors enjoying it."
She also cannot say enough about the staff she inherited when she came onboard.
"I got extremely lucky," she said. "I have the best crew I have ever worked with - and that's 26 years of working all over. These people are just awesome. They are very dedicated and concerned about doing their jobs; they are great to work with and have a great work ethic."
She concluded that she feels extremely lucky that she ever got to work with the Postal Service.
"It has been a positive influence and has had a positive effect on my life for my whole career, and on my family," she said. "It has just been a great way to go."
Profiles: Liz Bubbe
Walking, cross-stitch and crocheting
Favorite movie of all time
"Somewhere In Time"
Best place to take a vacation
Schoodic Point, Maine