Case Study: A Client's Journey From Flood Disaster to Document Security
Fri, Jun 12, 2015
By: Jim Beran
For many businesses, a damaging flood seems unimaginable. While business owners might logically accept the potential for a natural disaster, it doesn’t make the reality of a harmful weather event any easier to bear. That’s why a business’s best defense against Mother Nature is preparation.
A solid disaster recovery plan can help businesses persevere during some of the most helpless times. But what happens if you aren’t prepared? What if you don’t live in an area prone to flooding or hurricanes or tornadoes? As we learn over and over again, weather can never truly be predicated or avoided, making every business vulnerable to nature.
From flooding disaster to document security
This notion rings true for many businesses in the Pensacola, Florida area who felt the effects of flooding last year. On April 30, 2014, Pensacola experienced a historic weather event that caused extreme and unusual flooding in the Northwest Florida area. With over 20 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, the flooding destroyed cars, infrastructures and information, and impacted many businesses and homeowners long after the storm passed.
One victim of the flooding was TestAmerica, a large nationwide firm and leading analytical laboratory for environmental testing services in 80 locations across the United States.
Office Manager at TestAmerica’s Pensacola, Florida location, Kathy Avery, is in charge of the management of office records. Most of the paperwork Kathy inventories and archives are documents regarding water and soil testing.
These documents are important and often necessary for permits and contractors during new construction projects. In addition to their use in permits, these critical documents are often required by the state to maintain precise retention schedules in the event of a future lawsuit or other legal situation. After a record has reached the end of it’s retention deadline, Kathy coordinates the proper destruction of these documents.
As all records managers know, businesses acquire a substantial amount of files over time, varying from applications, invoices, billing, financial documents and more. To mange this information for archiving and then eventual destruction, Kathy originally worked with two companies to accomplish the tasks.
For over 10 years, TestAmerica used a mini self-storage company for storing information and a separate shredding company for document destruction when retention schedules reached their destruction date.
On April 30, 2014, Pensacola experienced a historic weather event that caused extreme and unusual flooding in the Northwest Florida area. With over 20 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, the flooding destroyed cars, infrastructures and information, and impacted many businesses and homeowners long after the storm passed.
Two weeks after the flood, TestAmerica received a call from their self-storage company notifying them that their unit had flooding damage.
When Kathy went to inspect the damage, she learned that between 200 and 300 boxes of valuable information was dripping wet with water.
TestAmerica’s current shredding partner did not offer destruction of wet documents, and there was no plan in place for how to properly destroy wet information.
Knowing that these wet documents still required appropriate destruction by law, Kathy was overwhelmed with what action to take next.
While surveying the damage at the mini-storage unit, Kathy had a chance meeting with Jacob Gilmore, Vice President of Gilmore Services, where they discussed TestAmerica’s current document status.
Kathy learned that at Gilmore Services, the commercial shredding equipment is designed to destroy wet documents. From there, Kathy worked with Gilmore Services to come up with a strategy for handling TestAmerica’s damaged documents.
Following the flood, Kathy decided to begin outsourcing not only document destruction services, but also document storage and retention management for TestAmerica’s Pensacola branch to Gilmore Services.
Since switching to Gilmore Services for records management services, TestAmerica in Pensacola has consolidated document storage and document shredding from two companies into one. The company has also seen a significant time and cost savings, and has improved its compliance - all in under a year.
Time savings: Previously, Kathy would have to go into the mini-storage unit each year and pull documents that were ready for destruction, and then prepare those files for their shredding company. Now, both document storage and shredding is taken care of seamlessly at one facility on an automatic schedule, eliminating the time and effort it takes to select documents for destruction.
Cost savings: TestAmerica was spending about $1,200 a month on rental mini storage. Now, the company spends about half that rate on document storage with Gilmore Services.
Improved compliance: With document storage at a mini-storage unit, documents are only as protected as the rental facility. Although some facilities offer security with gate coded access and security cameras, information is still subject to other environmental factors like mold and bugs. With professional document storage at Gilmore Services, information is stored at a secure facility, with video monitoring, an organized indexing system and environmental controls in place.
On top of these results, TestAmerica employed Gilmore Services to catalog and manage records for an additional location in Mobile, Alabama. Records for this branch are now also stored and destroyed professionally on a retention schedule.
To learn how Gilmore Services can protect your business despite severe weather, contact us today.