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Modbee.com | Local
Escalon's new postmaster, Ken Crandal, is following in the footsteps of his father, Frank, who also has held the position. 'The people in line are my friends,' Ken says. Escalon's new postmaster, Ken Crandal, is following in the footsteps of his father, Frank, who also has held the position. 'The people in line are my friends,' Ken says. Crandal, 48, is the new postmaster for Escalon, following in the footsteps of his father, Frank, who held the position in the 1970s and '80s. Customers freely knock on Crandal's office door if they have problems or questions regarding mail delivery.It's a practice he encourages. "The people that stand in line are my friends and neighbors," Crandal said."I have a responsibility to them." Crandal doesn't bark orders from his corner office at his 20 employees -- he empties blue boxes, decorates the waiting room, waters the lawn, stacks the stamps and takes on other duties to make sure 37,000 pieces of mail a day are delivered. "I've never been bored here," he said. Crandal learned postal work on his own, but said his father instilled in him a sense of mission, pride in the job and the importance of customer service. "I know he loved the Postal Service.He was extremely proud of it," Crandal said. The elder Crandal recalled that he didn't give much advice to his son, except to go the extra mile for customers and stay positive. Ken Crandal, on the other hand, ended up in the post office almost by accident.After finishing college at California State University, Stanislaus, he became a real estate agent.A miserable one, Crandal admitted.He started to get worried about his pocketbook when he married Hanneke and fathered Nikki, now 18, and Matt, 15. Like father, like son His father suggested he take the test to work for the post office.Out of desperation, Crandal did.He landed a job as a carrier in Stockton in 1985. It was stable, secure, familiar. Less than two years later, he became a roving supervisor, filling in around Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, in cities including Manteca, Patterson, Newman, Sonora and Tracy.Finally, he settled into a managerial position in Oakdale for a few years, then transferred to Riverbank.Crandal came to Escalon as a supervisor about a year and a half ago. "When I first got there, I set the goal of being postmaster for Escalon," he said. Crandal admitted he had a more cavalier attitude toward customer service before working in Escalon.He was more focused on administrative duties and tightening the budget. "There was something about working in my father's office," he said."I had a purpose." In the past few weeks, Crandal has created a new policy to send a letter of apology when there's a delivery mistake, then follow up with a letter, phone call or visit. There are five retired postmasters from Escalon, Empire and Copperopolis who live in town.Four of them reside within a couple blocks of Crandal's house. "We can't get away with much," Crandal chuckled. Besides new customer service efforts, Crandal has another big project -- to decorate the post office in an Old West theme. He already has installed old saloon doors behind the front counter and an antique fan in the lobby.He plans to restore the old wood furniture in the back and add a Western facade to the front porch. Crandal especially wants to maintain the old post office boxes, made of brown metal with an eagle insignia and dial lock. "For the first time, I have a feeling of fulfillment that I didn't have before," Crandal said."The difference is I can't blame anybody else for mistakes." His father is thrilled, albeit surprised, that Crandal has become a second-generation Escalon postmaster. "I'm very proud of him," the elder Crandal said."I know he'll do well."