Maureen Oudt is in as Johnson City new postmaster. Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press
Maureen Oudt’s promotion to Johnson City postmaster Saturday has placed her in a very familiar environment, as well as her top geographical preference, and that may help explain the constant smile she sported Tuesday while introducing herself in her office at the East Main Street location.
She not only is a new face in the office, she also is the first female postmaster here since 1922 when Lulu Devine held the post.
The former Carroll Reese Station manager took that job Nov. 3. When Keith Poarch left as Johnson City postmaster, she applied for and was picked to fill the spot. She now oversees about 150 employees in surroundings she’s been accustomed to since she began her tenure with the U.S. Postal Service in 1994.
Originally from Upstate New York, Oudt said she and her husband traveled through East Tennessee and they both fell in love with the mountains.
“The scenery is majestic, the people are very friendly and the climate is moderate,” she said. “My husband and I are avid gardeners and we both like to snow ski.”
As postmaster, she basically oversees all operations.
“You try to be the bridge between the community and the office,” she said. “There are a lot of responsibilities. As if you were making widgets in a factory, we’re delivering mail. We always want to be a part of the community and to give back to the community. Being a postmaster is much like being the owner of a business. Sometimes you have to negotiate with union concerns; sometimes you’re the custodian.”
Oudt began her career with the postal service in Albany, N.Y., as a data conversion operator and was also a window teller for years. In 2000, she was transferred to Ormond Beach, Fla., near Jacksonville.
“That mainly was to be closer to my mom and dad, because they were getting older,” she said. “That’s when I began my role as a supervisor. In 2005, I became the supervisor of the Jacksonville plant. From 2005 through 2008, I was the operating unit supervisor.”
In 2008, she went back to customer service. And from 2008-10, she was promoted to various levels of management, including being in charge of all mail carriers. In 2011, she was promoted to customer relations manager in Jacksonville. Soon after, she moved to Tennessee, taking the spot at the Carroll Reese Station.
Though no firm date has been set, some of the mail-handling operations here will be moved to Knoxville. But no Johnson City employees will be permanently laid off because of the move.
“People don’t need to worry, we’ll do our part to make sure people in Johnson City won’t feel any effect at all,” she said. “The USPS is self-sustaining, and we will go forward as self-sustaining. Competition from carriers such as FedEx and UPS breeds excellence. I want to get more involved in the community. And as far as plans for the post office — we don’t intend to go anywhere.”
Oudt said she is personally rewarded when customers develop trust with postal employees. She also said employees are there to solve issues that may pop up and that the customer service side of her task is very important.
“I enjoy working with the post office,” she said. “I come in every day with a smile on my face.”