Bev Anderson was working in Ames, Iowa when she heard about the industry of document shredding. She and her husband, Terri Richter, had been trying to come up with an idea for a small business and thought document shredding just may be the perfect niche for them.
After two years of thoroughly researching the idea, they decided to take the plunge in their western Iowa town, an area lacking major shredding companies. Carroll, Iowa became the home base for their successful document destruction business called Secure Shred Solutions in July of 2005.
“Our biggest obstacle was educating the public that this is something they need to do,” Bev says. “People in western Iowa weren’t really aware of the legal laws of customer information.”
Today, shredding services are available on-site in the business’s own facility or through drop-off services. Shredding documents is a legal procedure and is done with complimentary locked containers when using Secure Shred Solutions. There is no contract requirement for using shredding services, which is a perk for businesses looking for one-time document destruction.
“We just hired another person, so now we have two drivers, Bev, and myself in the office,” says Terri. “We went from having no customers to having over 600 customers.”
When the couple was looking for equipment financing in 2010, their local Chamber of Commerce and Council of Governments suggested enlisting the help of the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Lisa Shimkat, former director of the North Central Iowa SBDC, assisted the couple to secure the financing they needed to purchase two pieces of equipment for on-site shredding. In about three months, all equipment funding was obtained.
“She helped us articulate the information we needed to pull for her,” Bev says. “Sometimes we just couldn’t get the wording quite right and Lisa was very helpful.”
The SBDC was able to put together a proposal for the purchase of the Secure Shred Solutions equipment. Lisa did some financial projections and helped Bev and Terri to determine what revolving loan funds and other partners could help with funding. Later, the company was planning an expansion and had some projections and a cash flow analysis made up.
“Lisa was very helpful and went out of her way to help us out on other things,” Terri says. “She did an excellent job working with us.”
Secure Shred Solutions has seen an increase in sales every year it has been in business, Bev says. For years, sales were increasing 20 to 25 percent a year. Today sales are a bit more stable and increase 15 to 20 percent each year.
The couple understands the role of their business in the community, too. Secure Shred Solutions does an annual community shredding event right after income tax season – free of charge. People who bring documents to shred are asked to bring food items for the local food pantries.
“We donate to one of the two food pantries in Carroll each year,” Bev says. “People are very generous in helping others.”
With nearly nine years of business under their belts, the couple is looking to the future. Terri and Bev have looked into entering the world of document storage. With their current business, diversifying into document storage and potentially document scanning would fit perfectly in their repertoire.
“’Bev and Terri did a great job managing their business, controlling their growth, and positioning themselves for the future,” Lisa says. “They were very responsive and had a lot of great business ideas.”
Their most recent investment, a large building that houses the main office and shop area, sits on a piece of land that has the potential to accommodate an addition or another building. An expansion would mean significant funding, though, so that idea will have to wait a while as the business is still stabilizing after the past year’s expansion expenses.
When assistance is needed to adjust the company’s business plan or financial resources are needed to secure financing for another expansion, the couple will happily take advantage of the SBDC services again.