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Updated: February 24, 2020 EXECUTIVE PROFILE

Lombardo makes a living destroying company secrets and data

HBJ Photo | Sean Teehan Infoshred President and Founder Stacey Lombardo started her company with two people and a single industrial shredder. Now she employs 46 people and is considering the impact of a digital future on her business.
Executive Profile bio: Stacey Lombardo 
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When Stacey Lombardo got into the document-destruction business, most of the companies she cold-called didn’t employ anyone tasked with handling storage and shredding of private materials.

“At that time, which was back in [the early 1990s] people were like, ‘Well, we don’t really have anybody in charge of it,’ because it was so new,” Lombardo said.

Lombardo’s paper-shredding operation was then just a unit of her father, Sam Lombardo’s waste-management business. But when her father sold off the business in 1997, Lombardo bought the document-destruction unit, and spun it off into a free-standing company called Infoshred LLC.

In the three decades since Lombardo made those initial cold-calls, some of those companies moved from tossing documents in dumpsters to hiring chief privacy officers largely focused on how sensitive information is stored and destroyed. Over that same timeframe, Infoshred has grown from a two-person operation to a 46-employee company with more than 3,000 customers.

Even though businesses and individuals are moving away from paper and toward digital records, their attention to information hygiene is only growing, Lombardo said, and Infoshred is adding services like storage and computer destruction as quickly as customers seek them.

“We have shredded evidence for the FBI, we do law firms where they’ve done a deposition,” Lombardo said. “We have a big toy manufacturer that we’re destroying some of their toys, we’ve done clothing, we’ve done kevlar vests, police uniforms; so it’s not just restricted to paper.”

Before she started East Windsor-based Infoshred, Lombardo didn’t see document destruction as a likely career path. She graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. The daughter of a family business owner, nobody — including Lombardo — was surprised when she took a job at Reliable Refuse, her father’s company. But after one customer asked if the company could shred documents, Lombardo’s father bought a commercial shredder, and tasked her with growing and handling that end of the business.

By 1997, Lombardo’s father decided to sell the company, and Lombardo spun off her operation into Infoshred, a small, independent company that was solely focused on document destruction.

“It was me, one shredder operator, and a truck and driver,” Lombardo said.

That small workforce grew over the years, Lombardo said, as an increasing number of customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island sought out Infoshred for their shredding services.

Over time, and as the perils of identity theft and stolen trade secrets became more apparent to the public, Lombardo has found companies evolved from document shredding as an afterthought to shredding everything by default.

“It’s just very commonplace now,” Lombardo said. “Any business that starts up is not going to throw documents out into the back trash bin.”

But like her father before her, Lombardo remained open to expanding the services offered based on customer input.

Infoshred started offering document-storage services in 2003, and within the past five years or so has been moving into storing and destroying computer components that store data like hard drives.

Lombardo also became interested in the standards and practices within the document-destruction industry. She was an early member of the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID), now an international organization that certifies more than 2,000 destruction locations.

Those industry-developed standards are apparent at Infoshred’s headquarters, where visitors must sign in with photo ID, cameras survey every area where documents or other materials are destroyed and trucks hauling soon-to-be-destroyed material are monitored by GPS.

NAID’s certification standards also dictate how different materials are destroyed, said Mike LeClair, Infoshred’s director of operations.

“What’s in the bin will really determine how we are destroying it,” LeClair said.

Infoshred sends destroyed material off to be recycled for different purposes. Much of the shredded paper, for example, is converted into pulp, which a company in Massachusetts converts into dental bibs.

Lombardo is keeping her focus on becoming a one-stop shop for information storage and destruction, she said. In recent years, Infoshred has also dipped its toes into data entry, Lombardo said. Some of their storage customers ask them to back up the paper copies by scanning them into computers, and storing them electronically, she said.

Paper still remains the largest part of Infoshred’s business, Lombardo said. People have warned her since she started Infoshred that the future would be paper-free, but Infoshred destroys about 7,500 tons of it each year.

“Although more people have gone to electronic, they’re still printing things out,” Lombardo said.

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February 27, 2020

Infoshred is a great example of how to transform a family business into a specialized area for our times — protecting customers information from all kinds unforeseen threats.

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