'Undercover Boss': Steve Greenbaum, PostNet CEO, Discovers His Corporate Family

'Undercover Boss': PostNet CEO gave Shannon money to educate her son with Asperger's.


Many bosses talk about the "team" working as a family. But how many executives really follow through on the rhetoric? For Steve Greenbaum, CEO of PostNet, the importance of family gained particular resonance as he appeared on the CBS series, "Undercover Boss," this past Friday.

Greenbaum claims to run the fastest-growing business and copying services company in the world, but this "Undercover Boss" got where he is at PostNet truly without any familial support. His father abandoned him when Greenbaum was in high school, taking his other three sons to Las Vegas with him. Greenbaum dropped out of high school and left his hometown to build a company that now has $200 million in annual revenues.

"The kid from Chicago has come a long way," the PostNet CEO beamed in introducing himself on "Undercover Boss" as the leader of a franchisor with some 800 locations in 39 state and nine countries. But in this episode he would discover that familial bonds can bring a deeper sense of satisfaction and success.

More: 'Undercover Boss': 5 Most Gripping Moments From Season 3

Greenbaum was disappointed when he visited a PostNet franchise in Las Vegas and discovered that the store had failed to update to a newer company design, as per a corporate mandate. Posing as "Brad Kelly," a failed motorcycle-shop owner appearing on a "second chances" reality show, Greenbaum found a franchise that was also still providing services like key duplication -- even though Greenbaum had decided to ditch the service as not very profitable.

Why were Jim and Tina, the husband and wife running the franchise, still living in a bygone PostNet era? They simply couldn't afford the upgrade, they told "Brad." The recession hit them hard, and they'd even asked their sons to help at the store.

Family-helping-family was a theme seen throughout this "Undercover Boss" episode. On a visit to a franchise in Alpharetta, Ga., Greenbaum worked with Shannon, a graphic artist on staff who helps customers design business products, such as posters.

After sitting down with Shannon at the graphics computer, Greenbaum was introduced to Shannon's son, Tyler, who has Asperger's syndrome. Greenbaum fumbled the poster construction -- from its on-the-screen design to placing the poster on the table once it was printed out. Tyler, however, bested him at that task, putting together the poster before he could.

Workers on the autism spectrum
often outperform their peers on technical jobs. In the video shown above, Shannon reacted to being told what she'd receive from Greenbaum in the show's reveal. "Tyler is going to get the nurturing he needs," she said, after finding out that Greenbaum would give her $10,000 to purchase a house, $20,000 for her son's education and another $10,000 for a donation to an Asperger's foundation of her choice.

Greenbaum said that he wanted to make sure this worker didn't have to choose between her house and her son's education.

More: Workers With Asperger's Syndrome Enter Economy With Challenges, Unique Gifts

Positive appearance and attitude was on full display during Greenbaum's visit to a franchise in the Bronx section of New York City. Belton, a worker in shipping and packaging division, had infectious energy, ending sentences with a chuckle, and showing off a playful side. He said off camera, "I wouldn't rock that style," after seeing Greenbaum wearing a red PostNet polo shirt on what he thought was his first day as a trainee.

He also showed a nimbleness and ease with on-the-street sales pitches that eluded Greenbaum. While handing out business flyers, he pulled off lines like, "How you doing, sweetheart?" that might have gotten another man a slap in the face. Instead, his potential customers gave him a giggle. They also walked away with a flyer in the hand. Greenbaum, for his part, struggled. He only had one line ("Can I give you information on PostNet") and he delivered it with corporate stiffness -- approaching people on the street as if they were potential investors in a board meeting.

Belton's energy was all the more impressive when it was revealed that he is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Having served eight years with the United States Marine Corps, Belton saw action in some of the worst of the war's hot zones, including Fallujah. "I've seen it all," he said, including the loss of some of his brothers-in-arms. Since returning to civilian life, he said, he'd been unable to shake the fear that people around him were always about to reach for a gun.

Obviously moved, Greenbaum decided to visit the gravesite of his own brother, who -- after becoming an alcoholic -- died in 1995.

In the show's reveal, Greenbaum told Jim and Tina, the Vegas franchise owners still using the outdated PostNet design, that he would give them an all-expenses-paid weeklong vacation to the company's Colorado headquarters -- so that they could come and meet with his team on how to advance their franchise. Half the week would be allotted for vacation time with their boys, for which Greenbaum gave them $5,000 spending money. On top of that, Greenbaum also gave them $40,000 for the franchise upgrade.
As with Tyler and his mom, Shannon, Greenbaum told Belton that he wanted to make a donation in his honor. So he told Belton that he would give the Wounded Warriors Project $10,000 in his name. On top of that, he gave Belton $20,000 for treatment of his PTSD, in addition to another $20,000 so that he can attend school to pursue his passion of cooking, and perfect his lasagne. "I could hug you," Belton responded.


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kwikrdrvr

This show, like the other "reality" shows, is a joke. Granted some of the gifts handed out are nice gestures, but what does that do for the workforce as a whole? What it does show is how out of touch with their businesses these CEOs are. They really need to get out of their offices and get out in the field more.

December 11 2012 at 12:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sharon

This CEO is to be commended for giving his employee a hand up and not just a hand out-she and her son will forever be more grateful than you can possibly know. I am willing to bet that they will honor his generosity by payng it forward whenever they have a opportunity to do so.

December 11 2012 at 9:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alvonpa

What about the thousands of other hard working employees who work for this and other companies this show covers? What do they get as a reward? Absolutely nothing. While this show covers how a CEO tries to improve his/her company it totally neglects and is unfair to a vast majority of its employees. Great publicity for the company - total disregard of the lives and feelings of the rest of their workers. I strongly dislike and do not watch this show for that very same reason.

December 10 2012 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alvonpa's comment
Sharon

They get to keep their jobs which should be considered a reward these days. If you think for one minute that being a special needs' parent is not emotionally and financially overwhelming, try doing it for a month or a year. I thnk it is a sad commentary on your life that you cannot rejoice in someone else's good fortune without thinking what your or others did not get. How unhappy you will make yourself and those around you if you don't rethink that philosophy!

December 11 2012 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jtlia

This is Tina, from the Las Vegas PostNet store that was featured on Undercover Boss. In addition to the gifts we received that were revealed in the episode, we also received $10,000 to donate to a local homeless charity of our choice. We chose Project 150, which is a charity that benefits homeless high school students here in Clark County. Steve's generosity will definitely help our business, but it will also help many kids in need here in our own community.

December 10 2012 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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