Markus: Fantastic. That reminds me of a story you told me about a project you had with The Chicago Tribune where they were moving and had some documents that needed to be destroyed. Tell us about that.
Rich: That was a big project. It was sort of two projects in one. They had all kinds of old files on open shelving which they wanted to get rid of and it was located up in this big area they called “the handball court.” It was up a whole series of stairs and to try and pull it out of there, we had to get pretty creative with how we brought all those old files down because as you can imagine, you’re not going to just grab handfuls of files and bring them down one by one. So we came up with an interesting way to bring them down with our totes and sort of slide them down the stairs. In addition to that, in the lower level basement, they had over 2000 boxes of stuff. Now if you’re familiar with the Tribune building, it’s an old building. And one of the docks, on that particular side of the building, was somewhat of a challenge trying to get skids of boxes out. Not to mention, that building gets extremely busy. And since it’s an older building, the elevators get jammed up with employees, food personnel and all different types of people. So what we ended up doing was go down there at 4:00 in the morning before the mad rush came in with everyone else and we removed those 2000 boxes and just took care of it for them. They loved it because we were able to sort of go out of our comfort zone and handle the project in a way that was efficient both for us as well as the client.
Markus: That’s excellent. And if I remember correctly, you also said that they were actually working with another company and that other company just refused to even go get the stuff and take care of it for The Tribune in the same manner you took care of it, which from the sounds of it, is just the way you do business every day. So is it safe to say, Paper Tiger takes care of it from beginning to end? Not just, “Here we’ll just pick it up on the street corner.” like so many other companies in the document shredding industry conduct business?
Rich: Exactly right. That’s exactly what happened because the other company was just like, “Well, we can do this part but we can’t do that.” And it was going to gum up what the Tribune had in their schedule of events internally which wasn’t going to work for them. So they ended up loving that we were able to handle it quickly and efficiently and obviously went out of our way by going down there in the middle of the night to take care of the project for them.
Markus: Absolutely. And that’s not just for big corporate clients either. You do that for residential clients as well. Your partner John was telling me about a client who was more mature in age and this lady had a bunch of stuff in her attic and another company pulled up and they were like, “Where’s your stuff?” She said up in the attic and they told her to go get it. Whereas you will actually go up into the attic and help them and get the stuff out for them.
Rich: Yeah. We will pretty much go anywhere the client asks us to go. Obviously, there are times we’re going to charge a little bit extra to do some things. Our guys do need to get paid for their time and whatnot. But we’ll do just about anything within reason. For example, we had major flooding going on this past July and we went into people’s basements and found lots of nasty old paper that was wet and starting to get moldy. We just took care of it because a lot of companies wouldn’t do that. Those other companies weren’t into that because, as you can imagine, it does make it more difficult to shred wet paper. You’ve got to pull it apart and make sure it’s pulled apart enough so the machine is going to work. And obviously, you’ve got to have the right equipment and material to handle wet moldy paper. We just take care of it and the customers are happy with it. We feel that it really works for us because then we get good referrals and a good reputation because we’ll handle the project for our customers.
Markus: That’s true excellence and is actually what we need in this day and age. Customer service is so key and so many companies don’t do it. So the truth is you’re revolutionizing the way the paper shredding business is being done which is just fantastic. I love to hear that. So what drives you Rich? What is your passion to get out of bed early in the morning and get out there and help the people you’re helping?
Rich: Well I think it’s a bit cliche but it’s really the satisfaction of a job well done. And when we hear that satisfaction from our customers, that’s really what does it for us. We’ll get customers calling and say, “Oh Pollo is such a great guy.” He’s one of our drivers. Or “Jim was so great. He did this for us. And we just love you guys and we love that your guys handled this for us.” That really makes us feel good. We’re providing a valuable service and our drivers feel good about working here because if they didn’t, they obviously wouldn’t be willing to pull out all the stops to take care of our customers. That’s really what we’re all about. We try to hire the right people and treat them well. And in turn, they treat us and the customers well. It’s a win win win situation – the customers, us and our employees. Everyone’s happy. It’s a fun, energetic environment to work in and it just works for everyone because we’re all doing well, enjoying each other’s company, and the customers are happy. What more could you ask for?