By Sue Moore
The U.S. Post Office does a great job but gets beat up all the time–often unfairly–according to three people who have just moved their business to Vicksburg. They should know: Art, Esther and Steve Wurfel specialize in mailing solutions for large and small businesses, enabling them to get information and product to a destination the quickest and cheapest way possible.
The family members have found some love in their recent move to offices in Vicksburg. Their business, American Mailing Equipment, has been in the Kalamazoo area since 1982, providing mailing and shipping solutions for large and small companies locally and across America. “Vicksburg is a great place. We like the friendliness and small town atmosphere,” Art explained.
The company doesn’t need much visibility for their operation and could have located almost anywhere. Its most recent address was on Sprinkle road near the airport. When Ozland Enterprises purchased and remodeled a former Dodge dealership at 603 W. Prairie Street in Vicksburg, it had space to rent or build out for a tenant. The space fit American Mailing Equipment (AME) perfectly. With four employees, the office was spacious enough and the building’s owner, Mike Oswalt, made the company an offer it couldn’t refuse.
This is a family owned business for Art Wurfel, one which he began over 30 years ago. His wife, Esther, owned a modeling agency in Kalamazoo at that time, having been a former Miss Michigan from Portage. She joined Art’s business in 1986 because, as he said, “she was really good with the numbers.” Their son Steve joined them in 1990 and the company was off to the races. Brenda Werner is their administrative assistant and like a daughter to Esther. The Wurfels have two other sons: Brad is a public relations specialist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Jason also lives in Vicksburg and is Midwest sales manager for PC Postage software developer Endicia, which AME also represents.
Art is a WMU graduate who stayed in the Kalamazoo area for its “quality of life”. Before founding AME he was area sales representative and sales manager for Pitney Bowes, the company which pioneered postage metering early in the 20th century. He now represents its products as one of the first authorized dealerships in the nation. “In technology businesses change is the one constant. As segments of the industry have matured, companies like ours have to find new areas to grow. We were pioneers in shipping automation software and that is one area where we have consistently offered best-in-class solutions for our customers who need to ship through FedEx, UPS, USPS and trucking companies.”
Mailing still has its complications and automation requirements, but the decline in first class volume will continue to bring changes in the way solutions are presented to mailers. “The equipment is being simplified and commoditized and we are adjusting to those realities with Pitney Bowes. For the USPS, parcels are now ‘king’. They hit every address in the nation every day, and do so more efficiently than anyone. That ‘last mile’ gives them great leverage for their products as well as their shared services with UPS and Federal Express.”
One of American Mailing Equipment’s high-profile local accounts is Mophie, founded in Paw Paw, which ships cell phone and iPad battery life extenders and other products all over the world. Steve Wurfel is the technical specialist at AME, building and supporting solutions for customers such as Mophie. “We were one of the first, and now oldest, independent dealerships in the business, and we’ve survived this long by making sure we deliver efficient, effective, and economical solutions to our customers,” Art Wurfel explained. “Doing that from Vicksburg will work out just fine.”