New Sandston plant manager responds to NBC12 investigation

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - NBC12 has uncovered major problems with mail delivery in Central Virginia. We broke the news and showed you pictures of mail stacked in corners undelivered. A postal worker even came forward with inside information. Every piece of mail in our area goes through the Sandston distribution plant. Now, hear from the man in charge.

This summer a scathing audit named the Sandston distribution center one of the worst in the country for delaying your mail. Isaac Cronkhite was brought in three months ago as the plant manager to turn it around.

Mail piled high, Shrink wrapped, unsorted, untouched...hitting your mailbox weeks late. It's been an issue ever since the Sandston plant opened its doors two years ago.

"We are making improvements every single day. the mail is extremely important to us, to myself, to the organization and we're going to get it turned around," said Cronkhite.

Cronkhite arrived after an audit named the Sandston plant one of the worst at delaying mail. In 2010 alone- 156 million pieces took too long to hit your mail boxes. Cronkhite points out most of that mail was not priority or first class, but he admits- there are major problems at the plant.
"There was a lot of issues bringing all of the other mail processing from downtown into this building when we first opened," he said.

It opened- closing Richmond's Brook Road processing facility- in 2009. 8 months later- Charlottesville's Processing Plant was closed and also moved to Sandston.

"The consolidation should have brought more people in from Charlottesville but a lot of people chose to retire," said Cronkhite.

The audit blames all the delays on- understaffing- poor supervision, mistakes in color coding your mail and too much wasted time running the machinery.

"We have since increased the number of people, brought on some temporary employees so I am confident that we have enough employees in the plant to process the mail effectively," Cronkhite said. 

Cronkhite says he's hired about 50 people- and he says fewer mail carriers are having to deliver after dark-late into the night.

"Now consistently they get off the street by 6pm and we're pushing toward 5pm. Which means customers get their mail on time," he said.

But with the US Postal Service now facing a 9 billion dollar deficit, the agency is considering another consolidation into the Sandston Plant. This time closing the Norfolk distribution sites. Sandston is the size of nearly 13 football fields. Our cameras have never been allowed inside to film operations. Cronkhite says he will work to prevent future problems if more work is added to Sandston.

"The most important thing I want Central Virginia to know is we're on the job. We care and we're going to get it fixed. We've made progress and we'll continue to work towards that. We are making improvements every single day. The mail is extremely important to us to myself, to the organization and we're going to get it turned around." Cronkhite added.

According to your phone calls, emails and face book messages there's still a lot more work to be done.

"I said hmm... that's a kind of coincidental that we were having a problem with the mail at the same time. So, that's why I sent you an email," said John Cullinane.

John Cullinane is with the Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department in Caroline County. The group mailed out its annual flyer October 19th for an event 10 days later. Last Saturday was their fall festival- a Brunswick stew fundraiser. They're also soliciting for donations in the letter. They mailed nearly 5,000 letters- even paid for it.

"We paid a little over $700 for the mailing plus $1,909 for the permit to have bulk mail," he said.

Again, the event was last Saturday...the letters STILL have not arrived. More than 14 days later.

"I just keep looking every night for the mailers and again last night there was no mailers," John said.

He tracked the mail to the Sandston plant. The letters went in and never came out.

John has a message for Sandston, "Deliver our mail please!"

If you have a specific complaint or issue you would like addressed, you can call 1-800-ASK-USPS

You'll get a case number and your request must be answered in 48 hours. The line is staffed- Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. There are also hours on Saturday.

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