Robert Villa, a 24-year employee of the postal service, has been appointed the new postmaster for the City of Santa Monica.
A postmaster’s responsibilities typically include management of a central mail distribution facility, establishment carrier routes, the supervision of carriers and clerks and the implementation of the organization’s rules and procedures. But according to Villa, 53, the job has changed somewhat in the past few years due to reconciliation and the closing of several post offices.
“We’re becoming a rare breed now,” Villa said. “But basically I’m an installation head. I have managers and supervisors who work under my jurisdiction. And I’m basically ensuring that we’re complying with all the rules and regulations; that we’re servicing the community, ensuring that were complying with our safety policies and procedures as far as our employees are concerned and talking to major businesses and seeing how I can assist them in anyway to push their products out to our clients in a timely manner.
You know, I’m constantly out in the field doing that. Basically I’m an overseer for compliance on all aspects of the business, the customer, the employee and the business itself.”
Villa has been with the postal service for 24 years, 21 of which he has spent in management positions. He started as a supervisor in a mail-processing center in Santa Clarita where he worked for five years. He then moved to into a customer service supervisor positions, working his way up from the Van Nuys district to the Los Angeles district. In 2003 he became acting manager in a hazard station in East LA. He continued to get promoted and worked his way up through the City of Los Angeles in various manager positions. He was acting area manager in the City of Los Angeles when he was appointed as the postmaster for the City of Santa Monica.
Villa was appointed to the position by Los Angeles district manager of the postal service, Ed Ruiz, and believes he was given the position because of his experience, excellent track record, and commitment to the postal service.
“I’m very hardworking, persistent and I believe I have a good rapport with the community. I’ve always felt that my customers were the most important asset that I have and I need to maintain a relationship with them.
And I felt that I have that knack to interact with people of all genders and ages. I just have that knack you know?
I have eight beautiful grand kids so I get a lot of practice. And I think that’s probably one of my strengths, is interacting with the public and just being there at there beck and call when they need us. I’m just trying to lead the team. Point us in the right direction so we’re all going the same way and pulling the rope the same way.”
Born and raised in San Fernando, Villa graduated from San Fernando High School and attended Los Angeles Mission College for three years, but left without finishing his associate degree.
Villa served in the army from 1980 to 1983 and then went to work for the Veteran Affairs Hospital before coming to the postal service. “So I’ve been in service my whole life it seems,” Villa said.
He is currently taking computer courses at night to finish his associate degree in business management. “I’m still linked up at LA Community College, just doing it online now because I’m so busy. I have a lot of responsibilities now.”
Though Villa came to Santa Monica “not knowing what to expect,” he has to say he is enjoying the City.
“Other than the traffic I think it’s a great city. I really do. I love the ambiance. I like it here. I remember coming down here as a kid, so it brings back a lot of fond memories for me.”
Villa is also very honored to be here, as the postmaster position in Santa Monica is a coveted one.
“In the LA district this is probably the most prestigious one; this and Long Beach, because they are so large and because of the communities they serve. Santa Monica is very, very prestigious in this organization ‚Ä¶ To get Santa Monica I got a lot of kudos. A lot of people understand this is not any city.”
Villa feels very humbled to be appointed to a postmaster role in general.
“It was very emotional. Had me thinking back through my whole postal career and how I got here. And my first thought was ‘I wish my wife would have been here to see that.’
“I lost my wife to stomach cancer back in 2008, so I know it would have been a proud moment for her. So, I thought of her. It’s kind of an empty feeling, but then I have a lot of faith. I know that she’s always there with me.”
But in spite of the challenges he knows he will face, he believes himself to be the right person for the job.
“And obviously my boss does, or he wouldn’t have appointed me. I believe I can do this. My team is all on board. Because that is what it is gonna take. No one person can do it. You need a team. And I’ve got a good one.”
As far as what changes Villa plans to make to the postal service here in Santa Monica, he knows he wants customer service to become a top priority.
“I want to provide excellent service to the residents of Santa Monica. They all deserve to have excellent service, that’s my first priority. The second is to ensure that my employees are working safely and interacting with the community in a professional manner. Those are things I want to change.”
Villa believes the perception of the post office to always be negative, but he is trying to change that.
“I’m trying to remove that idea with having our employees being more engaged with the public; including our carriers, including our clerks at the window, my supervisors, my managers and myself included. Just getting more engaged in the community so we can feel the pulse. And we can know what we’re doing good and what we’re not doing good and improving on those things.
That’s basically my goal here, is to provide the best service possible. That’s what I’m set out to do. It’s not a small city, so it’s gonna take some time. I get that. But we’re gonna be persistent till we do the right thing. I’m committed.”
The official ceremony for Villa’s appointment will be held on Sept. 18.