Wow. Mailing Systems Technology is turning 25. Twenty-five years doesn't seem like a real long time (even less when I think of my age). However, when I think of the last twenty-five years in terms of the mailing industry, and our society in general, it seems like an eternity.

I was here for the origination of this great industry publication and have been an observer and participant in its growth and development. I can still vividly remember when Ron Brent, the founder and, for many years, publisher of MST, would visit my office at the UW. (Ron was a representative of a major mailing industry equipment vendor at the time.) During one of our many visits, Ron asked, "What does this industry need?" My response was "information" and he said that was what he was hearing from many of the folks he dealt with. A few weeks later he stopped by to let me know he was starting a mailing industry publication. My first thought was, "Are you out of your mind?", but despite my doubts I gave him as much encouragement as I could muster.

Ahead he went and the success Mailing Systems Technology and PARCEL (the sister parcel shipping publication) is proof of the wisdom of his vision. What's changed in the last twenty-five years? Everything! Communications (our industry) most of all. Twenty-five years ago there were very few avenues of exchanging mailing industry methods and issues between fellow mailers. You might get to a NPF or Regional Postal Forum once in a while and hope to gather a few tidbits on how the various function of mail centers were performed by your peers or pick up the latest rumors of what the USPS had planned (always a scary thought - some things haven't changed), but for the most part it was trial and error in the management of the mail center. Not a very good method of operation.

Then, with the introduction of Mailing and Shipping Technology (the original name) and a few like-minded publications, things started to change. These publications allowed for an open exchange on dealing with personnel issues operational ideas, providing alerts and guidance of USPS rules and regs, and the many other issues mail center managers dealt with constantly. These publications "opened" our industry and allowed us managers to see what others were doing and to participate like never before in our own industry - no longer was the mailing industry just for a few of the mega-mailers, it was for all mailing operations. We all had that critical information needed to succeed. Our industry, and many of those in it, benefited greatly.

We went through the whole automation gambit - a major improvement in the preparation and processing of mail - both from a mail center processing and USPS delivery prospective. Automation modernized our industry. And somewhere during this process came the maturation of the Internet. Twenty-five years ago the Internet did not exist as a major business or communication tool. The Internet has changed all facets of our working (and private) lives as nothing before. The changes are mind-boggling. No industry has been more affected than ours. The Internet has changed and endangered our industry. We have gone from being the "go-to" guy on one-to-one communications to a sort of hunting around for "just where do we belong?" status. These are challenging times in our industry. Times that call for thinking outside the box and adapting to the realities we face. Paper-based communication certainly is not dead, but the ways it is presented have changed dramatically and we must adapt - as we are - by bundling the message we are charged with delivering, via many different avenues. Mail still has a place in our business world, a very critical place, but it is evolving and the successful communications delivery has and will evolve with it - just as Mailing Systems Technology has. Happy 25th Mailing Systems Technology!