It started with Glen Ferguson, who was a rural route mail carrier in the 1940s. Then his son, Gene Ferguson, took over the business, becoming a post office contractor, a job he held in the Sedalia area for 63 years. Now it’s Marty Ferguson’s turn.
“Three generations of post office workers, I guess it’s a little unusual. But I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Marty said with a laugh.
The Fergusons are not mailmen in the typical sense — they don’t deliver mail door to door — instead, as contract carriers, they truck it to and from Kansas City or Columbia then distribute it to post offices in Sedalia and 18 surrounding towns in about a 100-mile radius.
“They work behind the scenes,” said Sedalia Postmaster Robert Ferguson Jr., no relation to the Fergusons. “They sincerely care about the mail and getting it delivered.”
For more than 60 years, Gene worked to get thousands of pounds of mail to where it needed to be and as soon as Marty could walk, he was helping.
“I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in my dad’s truck or working with mail,” Marty said. “It was just the family business, that’s what we did.”
Gene started as a contractor with the U.S. Postal Service after his own father died when he was 21.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” Gene said. “Haul mail and drive trucks. I stuck with it because I liked providing a good service for people, and the post office has been good to us too.”
Over the years the Fergusons have seen many changes to the post office system. Volume is down compared to a few decades ago, likely due to the advent of email, and new technology in how mail is tracked and delivered is always being updated. But the basics are still the same, Gene said.
“We still have to get to the city to bring it here, and bring our mail back to the city hubs,” he said. “That hasn’t changed any.”
Though he handed his contract over to Marty, Gene still works three or four mornings a week, arriving at the post office at 4 a.m. to help get things ready.
“I don’t need to retire, I want to keep working as long as I can,” Gene said. “If I quit I’ll just fold up, so I work for Marty now.”
“It sounds a little silly but Gene and Marty, they have a genuine passion for what they do,” Robert Ferguson said. “And they’re always lending a hand when needed, helping out with things that they don’t have to do.”
Marty said he plans to stick with his father’s contract, and maybe one day his daughter will take over and become a fourth generation postal contractor.
“As long as mail needs to get from the bigger hubs to here, we’ll keep trucking it,” Marty said.