Secrets to better shredders
Got any secrets?
Your business plan? Last quarter's profits? Your
next bold initiative?
Whatever it is, odds are you have written it down
somewhere. And when you go to clean out that file folder, you should
consider shredding the contents.
"Anything you wouldn't feel comfortable having someone
pick up and read, that's what you should shred," says Jerry Haas,
vice president of sales and marketing for American
Document Destruction Corp. in Tampa, Fla.
It's quite a list
It's not just financial documents that should be destroyed rather
than tossed out with the trash. Mobile
Document Shredding in Lewisville, Texas, provides a list that
- Acquisition strategies
- Bidding strategies
- Building and computer access codes
- Company expansion or reduction plans
- Credit card information
- Customer lists
- Employment applications
- Inventory lists
- Market studies
- Personnel files that may include evaluations and
Social Security numbers
- Pricing strategies
- Research and development reports
Once you've decided to shred documents, you will need
to decide whether to buy a shredder or hire a shredding service.
The wonderful world of shredders
Shredders come in many shapes and sizes and sell at a variety of
prices. A quick survey of the Web sites of three office supply stores
and a California company that sells shredders and provides shredding
services shows that prices range from $15 to $6,500.
Response Systems of Berkeley, Calif., describes on its Web site
the three most common shredders:
- Strip cut: The most
basic shredder, it strips paper into shreds. It is the easiest
shredder to maintain.
- Cross cut: The cross-cut
shredder dices paper by cutting it in two directions and provides
better security, the company says., but it requires more maintenance
and handles fewer sheets of paper at a time than a strip-cut machine.
- The disintegrator:
Also called a granulator, its rotating knives cut paper, Mag tapes
and CD-ROMs until they are small enough to fall through a filtering
screen at the bottom of a chamber, which is emptied by a vacuum
When selecting a shredder, consider:
- the speed at which it operates;
- the security level provided by the size of the
- whether the size of the opening will accommodate
the paper you have; and
- how many sheets of paper it will handle in
You also need to consider the condition of the documents
you need to destroy. The finer the cut, the fussier the machine,
according to Automatic Response. Machines that make fine shreds
dislike a diet of staples and paper clips.
What about hiring a shredding service?
If doing shredding in house would strain your already
overworked staff, it might be time to consider hiring a shredding
"Even 15 minutes a day adds up," says Matt Meredith,
operations manager for Docu-Shred in Tualatin, Ore.
If you have a lot of shredding, it might be cheaper
to hire a shredding service than have your staff do it, once you
factor in supplies, maintenance and labor expenses, Meredith says.
You also might consider hiring if the only person
available to do the shredding is someone who should not see the
materials being shredded. If the paperwork in your office frankly
discusses personnel, clients and business moves, "Do you want to
give that to a junior level person?" Haas asks. "He's going to read
So what do you get?
Shredding services will either do the work in their truck on your
property or remove your papers to a shredding facility. People in
the business say it is more secure to have them shredded on your
property because it assures they are illegible when they are transported.
You can place your business on a regular schedule
with a shredding service, or bring one in when you clean out a back
room of old records. Most companies will provide waste paper storage
bins for their regular clients. Prices increase with the size of
the job: Some companies charge by the pound, some by the volume.
American Document Destruction Corp. in Florida bills
by the pound -- about 16 cents per pound, Haas says. But the price
per pound varies depending on quantity (the more shredding, the
lower the per-pound price) and accessibility (the harder it is to
get to, the higher the price).
"If you're only going to have 10 or 15 pounds in a
month, if you're going to have half a box of paper," Haas says,
"it's just not worth having a shredding service."
Jan Lindsey is a freelance
writer based in Florida.
-- Updated: Sept. 25, 2005