Security Shredding and Storage - a shredding industry publication

Export Regulations Mobile Shredders Offered Certification by MSA


By Todd Williams

When a large truck pulls up to a company office and its driver begins to empty plastic bins filled with sensitive documents into the large hopper where shredder blades grind up the paper, Trace Hartridge wants to assure the customer the procedure is safe and secure.



Hartridge, the president of the fledgling Mobile Shredding Association (MSA) and the owner of a mobile shredding company, says his goal is to bring a level of professionalism to an industry whose soaring growth rate demands self-regulation.

Formed early this year, the MSA is rapidly expanding and now has a membership about 100 people in 20 companies, says Hartridge.

The Brunswick, Georgia-based trade association is doubling its membership every month because it offers a method of certifying mobile shredding employees as true professionals, according to the MSA president.

“MSA certification will ensure customers that the shredding employee arriving in the truck meets certain standards that safeguard the document shredding process. We only certify onsite shredding professionals who shred documents in real time at a customer’s location thereby closing the loop on the chain of custody,” Hartridge explains.

He emphasizes that the mobile shredding industry is the most secure way of disposing of sensitive documents because they are destroyed at the customer’s location while the customer is watching. Ensuring the employees are certified adds another level of customer confidence in the shredding procedure.

Certification through the MSA, explains Hartridge, states an employee has passed an extensive criminal background check, has been drug tested and that his equipment has passed industry-established criteria.

After MSA certification, the shredding company employee is issued a badge printed with the MSA logo, his employer’s logo and a bar code which can be scanned by the customer to verify its legitimacy.

“The customer wants to make sure the person shredding important documents is not a felon and that he is who he says he is,” says Hartridge.

Ian Taylor, a member of the MSA board of advisors and owner of Eagle Shredding, a mobile shredder based in Atlanta, Georgia, says as the cost of mobile shredding drops due to its increasing popularity, the demand for certified employees will surge.

“Mobile shredding shortens the chain of custody to the point where it’s almost eliminated. The customer can see his documents being shredded real time in his parking lot,” Taylor says.

He adds that most shredding trucks have onboard video cameras enabling the customer to actually view the documents entering the shredder. And with the work being done with a high tech truck operated by a certified employee, total security of the documents is guaranteed.

Taylor recalls the days before mobile shredding when all trucks picked up documents and took them to plant- based shredders.

“If there was an accident, there was a real possibility of your documents scattered all over the highway. Mobile shredding has eliminated this issue,” he notes.

Also, the use of trucks that automatically empty document bins into a hopper has ended the practice of hand feeding documents into the shredder.

“We want to eliminate the need for anybody handling the documents. It’s become even more important for the mobile shredding industry’s employees to be certified. It’s all part of professionalism, Taylor adds.

In addition to the certification that an employee has had a background check and has passed a drug screening, Hartridge says the MSA is in the process of developing a knowledge-based test. This test will cover three major areas - the security process of document shredding, an overview of government and legal regulations affecting the shredding industry, and a complete understanding of the MSA organization and the certification process.

He notes that by Jan.1, 2014, this testing procedure will be implemented and that all employees including full, part-time and temporary will have to pass it to be issued MSA identification badges.

According to Hartridge, when a mobile shredding company has sent in all paperwork for an employee including results of testing and an application, it takes about 10 days for the MSA to audit the information and issue an identification badge. Cost for the entire procedure is relatively inexpensive – about $50 for each shredding professional with quantity discounts available.

All badges are good for one year only. Employees must reapply each year, he adds.

Any shredding company that offers mobile shredding, he adds, can also join the organization for $100 per year to take advantage of MSA benefits including an MSA Discount Club, a map locator service on the MSA website allowing potential customers to locate employing MSA certified employees, and eventually a shred truck rental service.

Hartridge sees the employee certification process as another step in the rapidly expanding business of mobile shredding – and an important one at that.

“I’ve been in the document destruction industry for over 15 years now, starting when documents were incinerated. When I began a mobile shredding company and saw there was no means of ensuring professionals were destroying documents and there was no trade association for mobile shredders, I founded MSA. There was a real need for this in our industry,” he adds.

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