Businesses that grew by 250% during the recession are few and far between. One of those dramatic success stories is ShredBank – a Belfast-based mobile confidential shredding service that operates across Northern Ireland.
“There is a growing demand from the market for a highly professional and secure shredding company,” says Philip Bain, who started the company two years ago with co-owner James Carson.
Until ShredBank was established, the document shredding business locally had been dominated by businesses that collected paper waste and shredded it off-site. But, ShredBank realised, this could leave clients anxious about whether confidential information might be dumped.
Some heavily publicised breaches of security relating to confidential information assisted with the growth of ShredBank. “ID fraud is now the largest crime in the UK and it is a legal requirement of the Data Protection Act to properly handle sensitive information,” says Bain.
Philip adds that his firm contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office to confirm their belief that a company does not discharge its duty under the Data Protection Act by handing over confidential waste to a contractor to dispose of. The company needs to directly oversee its destruction: which it does when Shred Bank disposes of documents on a client’s own premises.
“Your information is your responsibility and you cannot pass that over to someone else and ask them to take responsibility for this,” explains Bain. “We identified a clear gap in the market for a security service that would securely destroy confidential information. There is no risk of it being lost in transit. And we have drivers who are security cleared from the Northern Ireland Office.”
Another selling point of ShredBank is that “everything” is recycled. Shredded paper is low grade waste, so it goes into tissue – toilet paper, as well as tissues – rather than higher quality paper products. Clients are given regular statements indicating the volume of waste that has gone into the manufacture of new products and how many trees this has saved.
Ultimately, argues Philip, it is the servicing of clients that is the basis of its success. “We are incredibly pro-active,” he says, with a strong commitment to turning sales leads into satisfied customers.
That determination has yielded success that can be measured in several ways. ShredBank treats its own financial figures as securely as it does its clients’ information, but it does disclose that it employs 10 people and expects to grow further. It has also won a highly desired accolade – the award for the most promising new small business in the annual Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce competition.
Despite its fast pace of growth, Philip and colleague James are keen to expand in a managed and sustainable way. While he does not rule out expanding into other regions, Philip believes it was focusing on Northern Ireland that allowed the company to grow during the recession. “We believe that we are the leading [on-site shredding] company in Northern Ireland and we want to keep it that way,” he says.