A while back, I wrote an article for RV.net's Blog about mail forwarding for RVers where I mentioned this company called St. Brendan's Isle. We heard of them because our friends, the Gundy's, told us how happy they are with the new mail scanning service they get from St. Brendan's. When we heard the company was located just south of Jacksonville, in Green Cove Springs, we made plans to stop by on our way through. I'm glad we did.
The owner, Doug, gave us a thorough tour, explaining how their computer database and custom software controls every step of the operation. Their computer programmer works with them on a weekly basis to continue to improve the process. I used to do that kind of custom programming and I found myself feeling proud of my past profession and especially impressed with the business owners who make such good use of technology.
I was particularly impressed with their ingenious method of doing the scanning right at the mailboxes themselves. They rigged up special 'mobile workstation' carts complete with touchscreen computer terminals plugged into battery power with inverters. They could scan envelopes and print bar code stickers right at the boxes.
He also introduced us to the staff, one of whom was just packing up a big bundle of mail. She explained how she saves the customer postage costs by using the flat rate boxes. The particular bundle she was handling would have cost about $20 in postage, but she used a flat rate box for under $10.
We don't use a mail-forwarding service yet, because our home park takes care of it for us. But, with this scanning service now, we might consider it. Here's how it works; when your mail comes in to St. Brendan's they scan the envelopes. You log in to their website and see all the envelopes waiting in your box. For each one you can select, Shred, Hold, Send, or Scan. If you choose Scan, they will open the envelope and scan the contents. You will see the scan of the contents when you next visit the secure website. Then you can, once again, choose Shred, Hold, or Forward. You can watch a demo of how this all works on their website.
It was also interesing to hear the history of the company. It started out with one man who had a friend who took off in a sailboat. He agreed to have his friend's mail sent to his house and send it on whenever they gave him and address, or to hold it till they got back.
Just like a lot of RVer friends and family do today.
He did this for one friend, then two, then three etc. One day he woke up and found himself in the mail forwarding business! That was many years ago. He sold the business to the current owners and they expanded into the RVing market -although 'cruisers' are still the majority of their business. That's where the name comes from. St. Brendan is the patron Saint of Navigators and a legendary Irish voyager.
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the facility and ended up chatting a while about possibilities for cross-referrals. After all, their mail-forwarding services and our computer education services both serve the same traveling, computer-using, market. We didn't form any specific plans but agreed to keep our thinking caps on! Meanwhile, if you are interested, you can find their contact information at www.sbimailservice.com and be sure to tell them you heard about them from Geeks on Tour!