Reza Tehrani — a veteran of U.S. Postal Service operations in the Roaring Fork Valley — is Aspen’s newest postmaster.
Tehrani, 53, was named acting postmaster for the Aspen and Snowmass Village offices on March 1 following the late-February transfer of Aleicia Dickson to a position in Alabama. He previously headed the Carbondale office for more than three years.
His appointment as Aspen’s postmaster was official on April 25, but the USPS didn’t announce it until Thursday when James Boxrud, strategic communications specialist for the U.S. Postal Service in Colorado, visited with Tehrani as part of his work on an internal publication and invited local media to the Puppy Smith Street facility for afternoon interviews.
In fact, Tehrani started his postal career as a clerk at the Puppy Smith Street post office in 2004, later serving as a USPS supervisor in the upper valley for more than five years. He also has worked as a postal supervisor in Glenwood Springs.
Tehrani knows the community, and the community knows him, Boxrud pointed out. Having made nine new hires at the understaffed office since March — five carriers, three clerks and a custodian — Tehrani has worked to stabilize local operations, he said.
“I like what he’s doing,” Boxrud said. “It’s great to have Aspen better staffed than it has been in the past. After meeting him, I think he’s going to give customers in Aspen great service. He’s been part of the community for many years now, and he understands the needs of the resort town areas.”
Dickson also was working to hire more staff for the beleaguered Aspen office, and some of the recent hires were undergoing the lengthy process of joining the USPS when Tehrani left Carbondale for Aspen. He acknowledged that he also may have benefited from the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and April, when the mail and package volume slowed. That allowed him to concentrate on hiring and resolving internal personnel matters.
“We’re doing a lot better compared to when I got here,” Tehrani said.
It’s no secret that the Aspen post office has been shorthanded for several years. He said one of his first moves was to bring in staff from other facilities on the Western Slope to shorten the work days for local staff. He also hired a new supervisor, Eric Sanchez, a Western Slope native who had been working for the USPS in another state.
“We were able to ease their load. It was little things, tweaks and adjustments. The environment improved. It sounds strange to say, but COVID-19 helped a little bit,” Tehrani said.
Now that the office is better (but not fully) staffed — there are 32 USPS employees in Aspen and Snowmass Village, and Tehrani estimates he needs just a few more carriers and clerks — the mail volume has picked up. On Monday alone, the local office received 5,000 packages for delivery.
The increase, Tehrani and Boxrud said, is due not only to Aspen’s typically busy summer season but the influx of out-of-towners who have been coming for long vacations or to live given the pandemic’s relatively minor effects on the upper valley, in terms of the number of cases and the spread rate.
“Volume is up dramatically,” Tehrani said. “It’s close to the peak months, like December. It’s only going to continue.”
Dickson often was seen out and about town late into the evening, delivering mail and packages. Tehrani suggested that he sees his role as more of a top-down administrator, but he won’t shy away from serving in the field if he has to — especially during the busy December holiday season.
“To me, all bets are off during Christmas time,” he said. “The weather’s different, the people and the volume … everything’s different.”
Asked whether he expects the mail volume to return to normal after the summer, Tehrani shrugged. “I’m not sure what normal is any more,” he said, referencing the pandemic situation.
He said he believes the staff understands their jobs a little better since his arrival in March. The primary goal for the Aspen office, he said, is top-notch service.
“Our employees in Aspen and Snowmass Village understand this is a resort town,” he said. “They know the needs of their customers. We want to make sure we provide the best possible service.
“We will get this office under control, believe it or not,” Tehrani added.