NNA postal guru, Heath, begins career phase out

Dec 10, 2013

The National Newspaper Association this month announced an expanded “Postal Protection Team” to serve the community newspaper industry and broaden services for its members.

The team will consist of longtime NNA Postal Chair Max Heath, the nation’s foremost expert on Periodicals mailing issues, NNA Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel Tonda Rush, NNA representative on the Postal Service’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, Brad Hill, and a second NNA representative on the U.S. Postal Service MTAC yet to be named.

The expanded team dealing with postal issues is formed in answer to a request by Heath to continue the postal work but eliminate the need for him to travel the country. Heath, who has led the community newspaper industry’s solutions-oriented approach to postal matters for nearly 30 years, announced this month that, in part to some health issues, he has decided to slow down on travel. Heath’s plans call for him to phase out his postal affairs work during coming years while others increase their involvement.

NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr. said NNA’s board of directors received Heath’s announcement with profound gratitude for his many years of service already given as well as his willingness to work toward a seamless transition for the future.

“This tower of expertise has given generously to our industry for many years. We rely on him to patch our postal tires and to help us guide the vehicle at the same time,” Williams said. “Many are the newspapers that would not have the readers they have today but for Max’s help in getting the product delivered. NNA is forever indebted to him.”

Williams said NNA had begun in August to plan for succession.

Heath said he is starting his cutback by ending state and regional postal seminars this year after 25 years of doing them. He expressed his willingness to continue with webinars and conference calls for NNA if requested.

“My body no longer likes the stress of travel. I have enjoyed the opportunity to provide NNA outreach, which also informs me of problems around the country. I thank my many friends across America and hope they understand my decision.”

Heath agreed to serve through 2014 on the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, which meets quarterly at USPS headquarters. That will mark another 25 years of service and allow him to help transition with a replacement. He may continue on the Periodicals Advisory Group at USPS, which deals with rules changes. He was one of the original invited members of PAG when it began in the mid-1990s.

“Should other special needs arise, I’ll try to help NNA as requested,” Heath said. “I will still be available for phone and e-mail help for NNA members and to assist Landmark Community Newspapers LLC, my former employer.”

“No one will ever do postal work the way Max has,” Williams acknowledged. “Max has forgotten more than most of us will ever know. And he has done this work without salary or even much expense compensation for all these years. We know it’s going to be tough to replace him, and no one ever will, really. We always say to ourselves no one is irreplaceable. But Max is.

“However, postal affairs are going to be as critical to newspapers as ever. NNA will not let the work rest. We will maintain our vigorous presence at the Postal Service and with all the postal policymakers. We have already begun by beefing up our representation at MTAC, which has provided Max’s primary platform for working within USPS for solutions. Last year we added Bradley Hill, president of Interlink Inc., to our team. We expect to add a second strong individual before the end of the year. As 2014 moves on, we’ll have more announcements about NNA’s plan to work with Max’s schedule. Meanwhile, we are grateful Max intends to continue to be available to NNA members for the coming year.”

Heath and Williams said NNA had already begun to make clear in the industry that help to non-members would not be part of the succession plan. They said they regard both the policymaking and casework as essential benefits of NNA membership.