Arizona Daily Sun Staff Reporter
A trio of new businesses, Elevated Shredding, Strides2Thrive and Papercrete Creations, is helping companies comply with government document regulations and people with disabilities find jobs.
The three businesses are the brainchildren of Jen Green and Joe Vance. Green is a former teacher and Vance has worked with and cared for people with disabilities for a number of years.
The two created Strides2Thrive to help residents with disabilities learn important job skills, such as arriving on time, dressing appropriately and how communicate with coworkers and bosses.
The company, which is waiting for its last few government reviews, will provide classes and day care for at least 12 people with disabilities who are looking to enter the workforce.
“Because our classes are so small, we can meet the clients at their need level,” Green said. “Some of them may need help on how to start the job process, some may already have job experience but might need help with communication skills. We can do that.”
Green and Vance hope to open Strides2Thrive by the beginning of the new year.
In order to give those job trainees on-the-job experience, Green and Vance created Elevated Shredding and Papercrete Creations. Elevated Shredding provides local businesses with a local, mobile source for secure document shredding. Papercrete manufactures lightweight planters and gift items out of recycled paper and concrete.
The two companies offer a variety of job opportunities and skill for those with disabilities, Green said. For example, Elevated will need a receptionist, salespeople, record keepers and warehouse workers. Green and Vance went with a shredding company for on-the-job training for their clients because it’s a successful model that’s been used in other areas of the country. They hope to have at least 50 percent of Elevated and Papercrete’s workforce be made up of their Strides2Thrive clients. Every employee will be paid a “real” wage, Green said.
Elevated also provides an essential local service to local businesses, Green said. Most of the document shredding companies that provide services to Flagstaff businesses are from the Phoenix area. These companies pick up the documents from Flagstaff businesses and then transport them back to their warehouses in Phoenix where they’re shredded. This can pose a security risk to local businesses, an accident could scatter documents with sensitive customer information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, health and financial records, all over the highway.
There is also the cost of transportation fees to transport the documents, which can add up quickly. Green pointed out that most companies out of Phoenix charge about 99 cents per pound for shredding services, Elevated charges about 50 cents per pound. Costs vary depending on how many documents need to be picked up and how far the business has to drive. Elevated can also train a company’s employees on regulations regarding the safe and secure destruction of sensitive documents.
Elevated Shredding has a specially designed truck that can shred sensitive documents on-site, Vance said. An Elevated employee simply drives the truck to the customer’s office, a secure bin with the sensitive documents is rolled out to the truck and, with a push of a button, the truck picks up the bin in an enclosed shaft and dumps the documents into an automatic shredder mounted inside the truck. The shredded documents are pushed into a locked cargo hold in the truck by an automatic auger. The truck can hold about 9,000 pounds of shredded paper.
Customers can even watch the documents be shredded in the truck, Vance said. The truck has several cameras that record every part of the destruction of the documents, including the shredder and the auger. A live feed of the shredding can be viewed on a video monitor on the side of the truck. This is helpful for a number of companies that are required by law to watch the destruction of sensitive documents in person, he said. Elevated can also provide a certificate of destruction for a company.
Elevated also offers a pickup service for residential and commercial customers. Customers can rent a secure bin from the company, drop their sensitive documents in the bin and then call Elevated to pick up the bin when it’s full. The bins range in size from about the size of a small wastepaper basket to a curb-side garbage can. Each bin locks to prevent sensitive documents from being removed from the bin. The company also offers several grey and black “console” models that blend in with most office furniture.
For customers who don’t have a lot of sensitive documents or don’t need a monthly shredding service, Elevated offers paper shredding bags. The bags come in two sizes, one that can hold 35 pounds of paper and one that can hold 70 pounds. The customer purchases the bags at Elevated’s office on Huntington Drive, takes them home or to their office, stuffs them full of paper and then returns them to Elevated. The bags are dropped into the truck shredder.
All of the shredded documents are compacted by a machine at Elevate’s headquarters into giant bricks, Vance said. It takes about 5,500 pounds of paper to make one of the giant bricks. The bricks are then sold to companies like SCA Tissue, which recycles them into new paper products.
Some of the shredded paper is saved for Vance and Green’s third business, Papercrete Creations. Papercrete mixes pulped shredded paper with concrete to create lightweight concrete planters, candy dishes, candle and incense holders and other gift items that are sold locally.
Green and Vance also hope to help the community in other ways. Elevated is holding a special charity shred event from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Flagstaff Mall. That day, the company will shred documents for free for each person that brings a new unwrapped toy or offers a donation for the Northern Arizona Law Enforcement annual toy drive.