Beyond recognition

Many business owners and executives delegate the responsibility of shredding documents to an office staffer, perhaps a secretary or an administrative assistant.

But would they be better off hiring someone else to do the dirty work?

Al Piteo, owner of Kent Office Supply in Kent, is so sure of it that in January, he began operations as a franchisee of Shred-it, a decade-old Toronto-based concern that boasts 60 franchises and 25 company-owned branch offices around the world, as well as clients such as Microsoft, Aetna, Prudential, General Motors, General Electric and Parker Hannifin. While the idea of a shredding service may sound superfluous to some, Piteo says it offers a number of benefits, not the least of which is eliminating a menial task that keeps employees from more pressing duties.

“In any company, the greatest asset is people,” he says. “Trying to make sure that those people are doing tasks that are the most beneficial to the company is what an owner or a manager is supposed to do.”

Piteo’s franchise provides a licensed, bonded, security-trained representative who will go to a business location and destroy confidential materials, either on a schedule or on an as-needed basis. His truck contains a shredder driven by a 200-horsepower engine that Piteo says operates 50 times faster than a typical trash-can counterpart.

“If you have an employee who spends an hour shredding, we can do that in five minutes,” he says.

The truck’s shredder destroys more than just paper. Piteo says it will “eat” videotapes, compact discs, even circuit boards and prototypes for new golf balls produced by a golf equipment manufacturer. All shredded materials are taken to a recycling center, where paper is baled and sold to a mill that puts it back on the market in the form of low-grade paper.

The service, according to Piteo, offers advantages besides saving manpower hours. He says the fine-furniture-quality console Shred-it provides to regular customers may be more secure than what they’ve been using to store to-be-destroyed documents. A flanged slot prevents documents from being removed after they’ve been deposited in the console, which is secured by a deadbolt lock; only the Shred-it representative and the business owner or a designate have a key.

Because the shredding is done on site, there’s no chance of confidential materials falling into the wrong hands while they’re being transported. (Piteo says one client used to pay a company to pick up classified records and haul them to its recycling center — until a truck was involved in an accident and scattered those documents all over the highway.)

And since shredded documents are immediately removed from the premises, there’s less chance of their being recovered from trash cans and Dumpsters. Piteo points out that computer software can reassemble documents left in long strips by a typical wastebasket shredder.

“The stuff we shred comes out in gum-sized pieces,” he says. “There is no software to reassemble that.”

Piteo adds that Shred-it’s processes are earth-friendly. The representative separates documents from vinyl ring binders, plastic dividers, film, etc., and takes them to a facility that recycles them. Separating paper from contaminates in turn results in a better grade of recycled paper, one free of the black dots caused by bits of plastic and vinyl.

He’s also observed that his own employees are more conscious of the console than they are of plastic and cardboard recycling bins. Even papers that don’t need to be shredded end up in the console and enter the recycling circle. How to reach: Shred-It, (330) 673-6115

Lynne Thompson is a free-lance writer for SBN Magazine.