Born in New York City and raised in Miami and Coral Gables, Chuck and Sharon Green, Owners of Address N’ Mail, a provider of professional mass mailing services, first met in high school before going their separate ways for college. After graduating from The University of Miami, Sharon moved to Atlanta, GA, where she taught for a year while Chuck finished his Electrical Engineering degree at Georgia Tech. In 1969, Chuck accepted a position with Radiation Inc., a company that eventually merged with Harris Corporation, and he and Sharon relocated to Melbourne. As Chuck and Sharon shared, this was a pivotal year in more ways than one.
“In 1969, well before IBM’s first personal computer, I built my own,” Chuck said. “At the time, it was really expensive. When new hardware became available, I had to come up with a way to justify spending that kind of money for my computer. I started by maintaining mailing lists for people. Within a couple years, however, people were starting to maintain their own lists. That’s when I realized, the value wasn’t just the mailing lists – it was the physical act of printing, folding, inserting and addressing envelopes that most people didn’t want to deal with. That’s when I knew it was something we could grow and turn into an actual business.”
Chuck and Sharon bought an inserter – a machine that puts up to six pieces of paper into an envelope and seals it – followed by a label affixing machine. This facilitated the production of high-volume bulk mailings of newsletters, employee notices, and advertisements to a large audience. That year, their new side business brought in nearly $30,000 in revenue. The demand was there, and the growth was a sign that they needed to find a space besides their kitchen and dining room table.
“We first rented a 1,000 square foot space in downtown Melbourne,” Sharon said. “We thought we’d slowly grow into that space but, because the business grew so fast, we never had a chance to even get organized in that location. Within a few months, we expanded to a 2,000 square foot space, followed a year later by a much bigger space on Vernon Place.”
Chuck added, “When we moved into that space at Vernon Place, we woke up early on a Sunday morning and wheeled our equipment right down the middle of New Haven Avenue. It was quite the sight.”
Sharon continued, “We set up shop there for several years and, after a fire in an adjoining business left a smoky smell throughout the complex, we left for an even bigger space on Elizabeth Street. We were there for 10 years before the roof started leaking from all the hurricanes. At one point, we had tents inside the building to protect the equipment and to stay in operation. We moved one more time before refurbishing our own 10,000 square foot space in 2007. We eventually sold the building in 2018. Today, we operate out of a 7,000 square foot space in the Sarno Business Plaza.”
As Chuck shared, somewhere in the early 1990s, Address N’ Mail became much more than just a side business. With exponential growth and a growing dissatisfaction with his day job, Chuck made the decision to focus exclusively on his business. Sharon followed suit about 14 years ago, when she retired after 28 years of teaching.
“We had plenty of challenges in the beginning, including expensive machinery and banks not wanting to loan us money, but we got through it,” Chuck said. “Over time, we added special mail processing machines, valued at $15,000 each. We also acquired a new automatic processing machine valued at $175,000.”
Sharon added, “We knew the business was growing every time we needed a new filing cabinet. It took a lot of hours and hard work in the beginning, but things materialized pretty quickly.”
As Chuck explained, Address N’ Mail does it all from maintaining & procuring mailing lists, bulk mail preparation, printing color or black & white, complex merge letters, invoices, negotiable checks, and order fulfillment. Their customer base includes municipalities, county government, religious organizations, medical facilities (patient letters & billing), non-profit organizations, and any retail business or organization that needs to get their message out to a custom list, an entire zip code, or an entire county. Their mail processing facility can process from 200 pieces to 250,000 pieces or more. In most cases, it is cheaper to use their services and it saves business owners and political campaigns time that is best spent in their area of expertise.
“We have customers from all over the country that take advantage of our invoice services,” Chuck said. “They upload their invoices, we print them, insert them into envelopes, add a reply envelope and get them in the mail same day. That part of the business is called Bill My Way – it’s the software and procurement part of our system. Last year, we also started producing negotiable checks for customers. If there is a class action settlement case and 10,000 negotiable checks need to be printed and mailed out, we can do that.”
When asked what they enjoy most about owning and running their own business, Chuck and Sharon’s responses were in-line with most entrepreneurs, but they also highlighted the importance they put on trust, reputation and customer satisfaction.
“When working for Harris, the people above me made decisions that caused me challenges that were unfair,” Chuck said. “I don’t have that problem now. I understand where my next dollar is coming from. I enjoy that I’m my own boss and that I can go in the direction I want. I also enjoy getting up and going into work every single day. That’s certainly something I wasn’t able to say before.”
Sharon added, “I always enjoy working with candidates on their mailing needs for their campaigns. These folks, and all of our customers, put their trust in us because they turn over their entire customer base to us. It’s important to reassure them that we won’t share their mailing lists with anyone else. I love the trust and reputation we’ve developed over the years. That, along with meeting new people and educating them on how we can help their business, is very rewarding.”
Looking ahead, Chuck and Sharon are focused on coming out of the COVID-19 quarantine and reassuring their customers that they’re still around and have been operating through the whole pandemic. Their long-term goal is to expand more into check writing and mailing. Many companies outsource this work and Address N’ Mail is fully equipped to handle more.
What advice do Chuck and Sharon have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “When someone wants to start a project, I first talk about marketing,” Chuck said. “You can have the best mouse trap in the world, but with no plan to market it, it’s not going to work. Focus on marketing your service or product.”
Sharon added, “We’ve seen that so many times. People open a restaurant or a business and leave no money for advertising. Prospective customers don’t even know they’re in business. It’s also important to understand that there’s a three year window with new business ownership. The first year you’re putting everything you can into the business. The second year, you might break even. By year three, you might be in a position to take money out. Most businesses will not support you right away. That’s important to know.”