Fort Knox Mailbox...
as solid as name...
following is an article written by Jim Hill of the Oregonian newspaper.
Mail theft is increasing in Oregon
and the West, and so are sales of the
all-steel mailboxes manufactured in Southern Oregon
Schroeder, whose small company makes heavy-duty security mailboxes,
got started almost by accident after combating mail-theft and
vandalism problems of his own. While living in rural Hugo
north of Grants Pass, he had grown weary of having his mail swiped
and sometimes tossed into a creek. Then, Schroeder said, the perpetrators
pushed him too far: "They finally took my $5 mailbox."
built his first mailbox in 1994. It was basically an all-steel
box with a weatherproof slot and had a door he could unlock to
retrieve his mail. At a friend's urging, Schroeder advertised
his box in the local paper and soon was busy building mailboxes.
As he became more involved with his mailboxes, he stopped building
utility trailers, a business the former Navy Seal had developed
to supplement his disability retirement pension. For his new business,
Schroeder chose a name as solid as the product: Fort Knox Mailbox.
Sales of the hefty, safe-like boxes are climbing along with
what the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says is a rise in mail
theft in Oregon and throughout the West. "Last year, more
than 30 people were arrested for mail theft in Oregon," said
Inspector Robert McDonnell, public information officer in Portland.
"We expect that figure to double this year."
who now lives in Rogue River, and Mike Crisp, an Eagle Point friend
who joined him in 1997, each produce mailboxes at their own shops.
Together, they have turned out more than 1,000. "With
nearly every one, there's a horror story," Schroeder said.
"I made one for a guy who had $26,000 withdrawn from his
bank account based on information taken from his stolen mail."
Roadside bashings Judy and Dan France of Ridgefield, Wash., who
bought a Fort Knox mailbox about a year ago, were tired of the
bashing their roadside mailbox had been taking. "We
had trouble with kids beating up the mailbox with bats and running
over it with cars," Judy France said. She and her husband
saw the Fort Knox models at the Portland Home and Garden Show
a year ago and liked their design, ease of access and solidity.
"There have been no problems," she said. "We
love it. The first day the carrier delivered mail to the new box,
she left a note with a happy face that said, 'Nice box.' It was
well worth the investment for the peace of mind."
and Schroeder started marketing the mailboxes widely after Crisp
rented a booth at the Portland home show in February 1998. The
result was a spurt of about 100 orders. Last week, Fort
Knox was back for this year's show. This week, the company
is at a home show in the Kingdome, hoping to win customers in
the sprawling Seattle metro area. The plan, said Schroeder
and Crisp, is to boost production from 25 boxes a month to at
least 100. So far, most of Fort Knox's sales have been in
the Grants Pass area. The company even lists a few postmasters
and carriers among its customers.
Knox mailboxes, in two sizes, range in price from $249 to $339,
depending on whether the buyer wants a steel post and on the type
of finish applied. The basic 10-inch box weighs 97 pounds.
The 12-inch model, developed by Crisp, tips the scales at 140
pounds. Both models are 22 inches deep and fabricated from
quarter-inch steel. "We have installed mailboxes from
British Columbia to Sacramento," Schroeder said, "and
have shipped them as far as Pennsylvania. "As the business
has grown, it has turned into a two-family operation. Crisp's
wife, Janet, helps out nearly full time, and his son, Michael
Jr., 22, has helped refine mailbox design elements and is designing
the company's Web site. Schroeder's daughter, Stacey, 18,
appeared in a company television spot, and he said his son, Jeff,
16, probably will work with the company this summer.
Schroeder said of his mailboxes:
"We encourage people to try to lift them. It's
reassuring to the customer and intimidating to the vandal."
Photo by Bob Pennell
steel mailboxes are virtually vandal-proof.
By PAUL MACOMBER
of the Medford Mail Tribune: July, 1998
Frank Schroeder was having
problems with his mail back when he lived in Hugo.
If it wasn't stolen, it was
dumped into Bummer Creek with handfuls of his neighbors' pilfered
mail, he said, adding, "The last straw was when they took
my $5 mailbox."
Schroeder, who was making
utility trailers, decided there would be a market for a vandal-
and thief-proof mailbox. His solution has turned into Fort Knox
He started crafting the boxes
from quarter-inch steel in 1994 and sold about a hundred in the
first year, mostly in the Grants Pass area. An article in the
Grants Pass Daily Courier brought him another hundred orders.
About 700 have been sold and he's planning an ad in Sunset magazine
that's expected to bring in enough orders to move the business
from home shops in Rogue River and Shady Cove to an assembly line
in Eagle Point or White City. They're still scouting for a location.
Then Schroeder encountered
Mike Crisp, with whom he shared a bond as former U.S. Navy Seals.
Crisp served earlier, including three tours in Vietnam; as part
of the Apollo 15 recovery team, Schroeder rode the space capsule
back to the ship. They are also both members of the Church of
Christ; Crisp is a preacher in the denomination.
"We came together about
a year ago," Crispus said. "I told Frank he was sitting
on a million bucks; but he likes fishing more than making money."
Crisp started making the mailboxes
and selling them in the Portland area. His son, Michael Jr., 21,
added some design elements that have been incorporated into the
"We've all searched the
Internet and we can't find a product anywhere out there like this,"
Crisp said. "It's vandal-proof, safe and beautiful."
The steel boxes have a slot
under a weatherproof flange and a key lock. They're mounted on
posts crafted from the same kind of durable steel.
The basic, 10-inch box weighs
97 pounds, and it's a far cry from a 97-pound weakling. It sells
for $189, including installation. The larger, 12-inch model sells
"We have nearly $100
in materials in these," Crisp says. "They're all hand-built
and we build them for quality."
Schroeder says it takes about
3 hours to build a box. That includes a trip to Northwest Industrial
Coatings for powder coating and installation.
They've sold the mailboxes
to postmasters and mail carriers _ a fair number of sales start
with referrals from the post office, they say. The first installation
in a neighborhood is likely to bring more, they say.
"We have installed mailboxes
in front of average houses and $3 million houses," says Mike
Crisp Jr. They've installed mailboxes from British Columbia to
Chown Hardware in Portland
replaced its line of durable mailboxes with the Fort Knox Mailbox,
they say, but they're really aiming for direct sales.
They've also developed cash
drop-boxes that can be bolted down in stores to handle large bills
or key drop boxes for car dealers. Unlike home safes, the Fort
Knox boxes are weather-proof.
And they've developed pistol
safes, durable lamp posts and even heavy-duty newspaper tubes.
They say they've heard no
reports of mail stolen from their products.
"If it's happened, nobody
told us," Schroeder said. They do have a letter from a satisfied
customer in Carmichael, Calif., that begins: "I love my mailbox..."
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