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Life after a buyout

Not a job was lost in this deal

Technology hasn’t hurt the delivery business

When Desmond Mail Delivery Service was bought out by the larger Anaheim-based Norco Companies in 1992, Desmond’s 73 employees were naturally worried about their fate.

Had they known Norco owner John Hoskins better, they wouldn’t have worried. In an about-face from the typical buyout scenario, not one job was lost, the Desmond name was retained, and the mission established by founder Matt Desmond and his family continues under Hoskins family ownership.

Desmond celebrates 60 years in business and five years as a Norco division this year. When Matt Desmond founded his company in 1937, he was a post office employee who saw business’s need for a complement to postal service.

“Our mission then and now is to provide fast, reliable mail delivery and pick-up service to businesses at a time they prefer,” says Desmond vice president/general manager David Rich, who has been with Norco since 1983.

Rich explained that most companies use Desmond to get their daily mail early rather than waiting for regular postal delivery and to get invoices out at the close of each business day, without losing staff time or incurring liability with twice-daily employee runs to the post office.

Desmond’s 500-plus clients range from one-person shops to large companies like Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Vons Companies in El Monte, Certified Grocers in the City of Commerce, and Lockheed-Martin in Los Angeles.

Desmond also offers overnight courier service, specialized or on-call delivery, presorting for faster delivery by the U.S. Postal Service and messenger delivery, but its bread-and-butter business is the daily mail pick-up/delivery service.

Rather than downsizing his new acquisition, Hoskins has been improving the Desmond physical plant and has promoted from within to add to the company’s sales force.

Desmond computers are being upgraded for the second time in five years and the maintenance garage will soon be remodeled, as a final phase in a rehab program that has included the offices and the mail/courier/dispatch areas.

“John Hoskins really cares about his employees and he puts money into the company,” says account executive Damon Williams, who was promoted from driver soon after the buyout.

When asked about the impact of the fax machine and the Internet on the mail delivery/courier business, Williams could think of only three companies in the last three years that have discontinued Desmond’s service owing to electronic fulfillment of their business needs. “People still want that hard copy.”

What’s next in the Desmond future? Norco wants to maintain the Desmond identity because of brand recognition in the L.A. Basin, but Hoskins also wants the employees in each of his divisions (which also include Costa Mesa-based Western States Courier acquired in 1995 and Norco Delivery Service, Inc.) to start thinking of themselves as part of the Norco family. The company logo now shows Desmond and its sister divisions prominently listed beneath the parent Norco insignia.

Norco, with 344 employees in its three divisions and $10 million in annual business, is the largest mail courier company in Southern California and has been in business since 1957.

The many long-time employees at Desmond, including operations manager Rey Mesa Jr. (26 years with the company), administration manager Frances Orozco (32 years), and driver Fred Zemones (30 years) join Williams and other employees in lauding the family-to-family change that occurred at Desmond.

“This was not the typical takeover that may make corporate sense but hurts individuals,” says Williams. “The change from the Desmond family to the Hoskins-Norco family has been good for our employees as well as for business.”

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