Tear it up

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm

Many companies are throwing valuable information in the trash. And it’s not just paper. CDs, tapes, floppy discs and even computer hard drives are being tossed away – potentially allowing reams of data to be taken by simply opening the lid of a recycling bin or dumpster.
But Kathy and Mark Harder have a solution.
The couple started their Hartland-based franchise of Proshred Security about 18 months ago, when they were looking for a new business venture. Mark was previously part owner of Milwaukee-based Schroeder Moving Systems, which had been sold.
He said increasing concerns about privacy and identity theft, both by consumers and corporations, have helped drive his business.
"The industry is growing, and it’s needed," Mark said.
Proshred’s shredding operation is different than other professional shredding operations. Instead of having clients bring documents to them, the Harders’ Proshred franchise travels to its customers – bringing a self-contained mobile shredding and storage unit contained in the rear portion of a box truck.
By having their shredder mobile, the Harders say they are able to give their customers a higher level of security, where they never have to break visual contact with the documents while they are shredded.
"They can watch the whole process," Mark said. "Our truck has a closed-circuit monitoring system. The customers can watch the contents come out of the bin – they can watch the whole process."
That process includes seeing the documents placed into locked storage bins, which are loaded into a chain-driven loading system, which automatically dumps its contents into the shredder. Over the video monitoring system, customers can not only watch their items be destroyed, but can also see the shredded documents blown into the truck’s storage area.
Clients are able to purchase several different styles of locked storage bins for their unwanted documents that only they and a Proshred security technician can open. When the security technician arrives on-site, a security guard or company executive can watch the technician place the papers in a secure storage container and load that container onto a lift, which will dump the papers into the shredder.
Customers are given a higher sense of security because Proshred Security is the only ISO 9001-2000 certified on-site document shredding company in North America, Mark said. As an ISO certified business, Proshred is required to maintain quality management techniques, survey customers and use standardized documents for record keeping.
The Harders’ Proshred franchise has been up and running for about 18 months, with clients in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and in between. Aside from Mark and Kathy, who serve as president and vice president, respectively, the firm has one other full-time employee and another part-timer.
The Harders said their business has grown by about 80 accounts in the past year. Large companies that have many documents that must be shredded on a regular basis drive much of their business, but Kathy said they also serve smaller firms as well.
"It takes too long with a small shredder," she said. "We have people that bring in a small bag of paper, and we’ll shred it for them."
Proshred’s largest clients will, at times, have several thousand boxes of paper that need to be shredded, Mark said. The self-contained shredding truck is capable of shredding 100 to 125 boxes of paper per hour, each weighing about 30 pounds.
The rear portion of the truck, which can store 9,000 to 10,000 pounds of shredded paper, tips like a dump truck, and can be emptied in just a few minutes. When the shredder is full of paper, it is taken to a recycling plant, Mark said.
While the bulk of the Harders’ business has been in shredding paper documents, they have also dealt with computer discs, CDs, old reel-to-reel computer tapes, even T-shirts that a client didn’t want to circulate in the general public. Their shredder can even handle computer hard drives, although they haven’t had a request to shred those yet.
The accounting department at Potowatomi Bingo and Casino has been a customer of Proshred since the Harders opened their franchise. Belle Smith, senior accountant, said one of the department’s employees used to handle shredding there, which took about half of that person’s day.
"We were doing our own shredding here," she said. "It took one of our employees about four hours a day … it was getting to be way too much."
Potowatomi’s slot machines use pay tickets for winners instead of coins, which are later redeemed for cash and must be shredded, Smith said. Her department also produces financial statements and reports that need to be shredded for security purposes.
"They relieved a bunch of our employees having to do it, and it’s secure. We know they’re getting shredded," Smith said. "It’s nice to have the load off of us. And if they can meet our needs and the regulations we have to meet, they can meet any company’s needs."
Thomas Schmidt, administrative assistant for AB Credit Union, agreed. Employees there also formerly did the credit union’s shredding, which was difficult because of time constraints.
"It would take weeks just to shred a couple of documents," he said. "The cost that Proshred charges, it pays for itself even on one visit."
Proshred visits Potowatomi about once a week, and AB Credit Union about every three weeks.
Mark said he can see almost limitless growth potential for his franchise in southern Wisconsin, due to the potential for identity or information theft and the prohibitive costs in time and infrastructure if a company shreds its own documents.
"It’s amazing – the companies we run into that don’t shred that just throw it in the garbage," Mark said.
Local franchise: 1190 Richards Road, Hartland
Phone: (262) 369-0944
Number of local employees:
3 full-time, one part-time
Corporate Web site: www.proshred.com
Corporate headquarters: Stittsville, Ontario, Canada
10 steps to avoid identity theft
John P. Gardner Jr., an attorney, co-author of "Living At The Summit" and "Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul" and lecturer who talks about protection from identity theft, suggests 10 steps that businesses and consumers can do to minimize identity and information theft. They are:
¥ Memorize your Social Security number and passwords.
¥ Shred all documents that contain important information that another person could use.
¥ Take any payments being sent out directly to the Post Office.
¥ Password-protect all financial accounts on your computers, and do not use common passwords. Periodically update anti-virus
¥ Never share your debit and/or credit card number with anyone. Cancel any cards you haven’t used for six months.
¥ Pay attention to your billing cycles,
and call if they aren’t arriving on time. Minimize the number of credit cards and identification
you carry.
¥ Do not give out personal information on the telephone, mail or Internet unless you initiated contact or you are sure whom you are speaking with.
¥ Keep personal information in a safe place, such as a locked
filing cabinet.
¥ Verify that employment records are kept in a secure location.
¥ Monitor your credit reports annually and subscribe to an early detection monitoring service.
December 10, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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