When Louis DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General by the United States Postal Service’s Board of Governors in May 2020, he faced a monumental task.
The U.S. Postal Service faced record financial losses, service delays and significant staffing shortages due to COVID-19, amid a highly polarized environment in the U.S. Early in DeJoy’s tenure, the Postal Service itself became the center of protests that led to congressional committee investigations.
Speaking recently with Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding as part of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business’ Distinguished Speakers Series, DeJoy told the audience that what surprised him most when he became postmaster general was not the criticism, but the lack of understanding or concern at how dire the situation was at the Postal Service. “The fact of the matter is if we didn’t move quickly, we would be running out of cash in the next 90 days,” said DeJoy, noting “anything in public services comes with controversy today and you have to work through it.”
DeJoy, the founder and CEO of the successful logistics and freight company New Breed Logistics before his appointment, said he basically had two choices to prop up the financially struggling Postal Service when he came onboard — “beg Congress for $70 billion to keep us going for a couple of years or come up with something, and I said, ‘Let’s come up with something.’”