Paul Carlin, a strong leader and independent thinker who showed courage as Postmaster General, died April 25, 2018. He was 86 years old.
Carlin’s industry career began outside the Post Office as a lobbyist, helping to shape the Postal Reorganization Act that transformed the Post Office into the U.S. Postal Service. He worked as an executive in the USPS for 17 years, culminating in being named the 66th Postmaster General in 1985 after PMG Bolger retired.
But his reign as PMG would last only a year, as he fought with certain members of the Board of Governors when it came time to award an equipment contract — most notably USPS Board Governor Peter Voss. Voss would later plead guilty to accepting illegal payments from a lobbyist retained by REI, maker of optical scanners.
Writing on his year as PMG, MAIL Magazine reported: “His term was too short to have any lasting impact, but he showed real guts in not bending to the political whims of the Board of Governors.”
Carlin was highly regarded throughout Washington, DC and was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award for his leadership in helping craft the Postal Reorganization Act.
After leaving the USPS, he embarked on several commercial ventures based on the “distribute-then-print” mail revolution. His company MAIL2000 was sold to UPS early in the new century.
Speaking at MAILCOM ’99, Carlin saw the growing trend of Ecommerce and its threat to letter mail, but he dispelled the theory that the internet would turn the mailbox into a historical display at the Smithsonian.
Carlin predicted that success in the electronic age formed by the melding of paper and electronics would require dramatic change.
“If your business is going to survive, let alone thrive, in our brave new technology world — you must be willing to take risks. You must be willing to embrace new technologies and venture into the unknown — and perhaps the unthinkable,” he said at MAILCOM ’99.
“You must be willing to enable technology to cannibalize your business, so that you can renew it, recreate it, and grow it,” he said. “Because if you don’t, your competitors — or a competitor not even on your current radar screen — will eat you alive.”
Former Postmaster General William Henderson, commenting on the legacy guestbook, writes: “I worked for Paul in the USPS and we continued that friendship into private life. He was an exceptional man of many interests and my deepest condolences to his family.”