ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Almost a year ago, David Wienck had his wallet stolen while on a sales trip to Los Angeles. Quick action limited the financial damage attempted by the identity thief.
Today, the Hillsboro man is operating a company he and a partner created to help area businesses protect their clients and employees from identity thieves who would misuse the financial information of others to line their own pockets.
Absolute Shred of Kansas is a mobile document-destruction service that is helping businesses meet the growing requirement to efficiently and effectively eliminate financial and personal information.
“The primary area where the business is used is anyone who gathers financial information-banks, medical institutions, larger manufacturers,” Wienck said.
“Government regulations cover anyone gathering personal information or financial formation, which basically covers all employers. It’s a very broad brush.”
Wienck said the incident in Los Angeles sensitized him to the issue of identity theft. As he traveled the country as a salesman for Bradbury Co. of Moundridge, Wienck said he began noticing shredding trucks almost every where he went-except in central Kansas.
“That prompted a year of research in the business,” Wienck said. “I saw it as an opportunity, an unfilled need in this area.”
He joined with Doug Loewen to develop the business. The two had previously worked together at Ag Power in Hillsboro. Loewen works full time at Agco Corp. in Hesston as a warranty recovery manager.
“In a lot of ways we complement each other,” Wienck said. “I look after the day-to-day operation, he’s the financial man behind the scenes keeping me in line.”
The result of their research prompted the partners to purchase and equip a state-of-the-art pulverizer truck to serve as their mobile business base.
“This is a security business, and the equipment we’re running is the most secure means, compared to the competition’s equipment,” Wienck said. “There’s some equal equipment out there, but there’s also a lot that’s much less secure.”
Wienck said less secure document-destruction businesses simply shred documents into strips as large as 5/8-inch wide by 5 inches long-which still contain a lot of information.
“I don’t know the specifics, but there are computer programs out there that will allow you to scan shredded material and reassemble it,” Wienck said.
Rather than cutting documents into strips, Absolute Shred pulverizes them.
“Our particle size is random,” Wienck said. “In many cases, the ink is literally beaten from the paper. It knocks it down to a fiber level, as opposed to a strip-cut shredder. With random-sized particles, it adds a whole nother variable to (security).”
The Absolute Shred truck also has a large capacity. It can destroy about 5,000 pounds of documents per hour.
“That’s faster than what we can move material to it,” Wienck said. “Shredding is something business owners do not want to spend time doing. They want it quick and clean. With the capacity of the truck, we’re not waiting at the truck.”
Once pulverized, the decimated documents ultimately are recycled as low-grade paper products. Recycling is mandated by the industry’s self-regulating organization, the National Association for Information Destruction, of which Absolute Shred is a member.
“For a number of people, that is one of their first questions,” Wienck said. “They are concerned as to who you plan to dispose of it.”
Wienck’s research indicated that a mobile business has a security advantage for the customer as opposed to an off-site business.
“We went for mobile service so the chain of custody is very short,” he said. “We are no-touch. Anytime our representatives actually have contact with client information is within the customer’s facilities.
“At that point, the locked container is rolled out to the truck. (Customers are) welcome to watch the process in its entirety, and it’s destroyed on site. No in-tact information is traveling down the road.
“In some cases, companies find it more economical to destroy off site. But from the security standpoint, we did not feel that was the direction to go.”
Wienck is building his customer base the old-fashioned way-making personal visits to potential customers. He sees their primary trade area as being within a 90-mile radius of Hillsboro.
“We’ve been very pleased with the response,” Wienck said. “We’re pretty much on target with our research. Obviously, there’s a lot more work to be done, and there’s a lot of things happening right now.
“It’s very exciting.”
Currently, Wienck is overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day operation, from meeting potential clients to running the pulverizing truck. He believes the one-man show not only is financially expedient right now, but also helpful for the future.
“In terms of growth, I have to be hands-on involved in the entire process,” he said. “From a security standpoint, we have to have control of all the procedures and to establish the procedures.”
That said, he said he expects to hire a driver “within a couple of weeks.”
Across the country, the document-destruction industry is growing by 35 percent per year. Wienck said he expects Absolute Shred to be part of that curve.
“If we follow the trend that everybody in the industry follows, then yes, we’ll be adding trucks,” he said.