A Team Effort

Features - Cover Story

Stevens & Stevens Business Records Management has grown by emphasizing teamwork and technology.

November 20, 2012
DeAnne Toto

At a Glance

Owners: President Marshall Stevens (pictured left) and CFO Rhett Stevens (pictured right)

Location: Based in Clearwater, Fla., with a second location in Greenville, S.C.

Number of Employees: 39, most of whom work out of the Clearwater location

Equipment: Records management software from O’Neil, handheld scanners, climate-controlled vehicles equipped with GPS and Babaco locks, racking by REB Storage Systems, a plant-based shredder, a hard drive shredder from Ameri-Shred, a climate-controlled media vault and eight document scanners

Service Area: The state of Florida as well as Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C.

Services Provided: Records management and storage, data protection and storage, imaging solutions and software and secure off-site destruction of hard copy records, magnetic media, microfilm, microfiche, CDs, ZIP drives, hard drives and X-rays

Sometimes, the simplest goals are the most difficult to achieve. For instance, Stevens & Stevens Business Records Management (SSBRM), headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., has a business philosophy that hinges on dedicated employees and hard work. Business owners know how difficult this can be, but brothers Marshall and Rhett Stevens of SSBRM make it look easy.

“When you have a talented team who can work collaboratively and effectively together, you can offer quality services to meet the needs of current and potential clients,” says Rhett, co-founder and CFO of SSBRM.

His older brother Marshall, co-founder and president of the company, adds, “Teamwork is key in moving business objectives forward.”

Founded on Family
Rhett and Marshall founded SSBRM in 1994 with their father, Ralph, who passed away in 2004. Ralph had a diverse background that included stints in stock brokerage and investment banking, real estate and mini-storage, while Marshall had worked as a stock broker. Rhett, a recent college graduate at that time, had been helping Ralph manage some of his assets.

The trio was introduced to the records management industry while attending a business conference. They began investigating the industry by visiting several records centers in neighboring states prior to opening SSBRM in their home state of Florida.

Rhett and Marshall say that together with their father they saw an opportunity to provide a different level of service to clients in Florida’s Tampa Bay area as well as an opportunity to work together as a family to grow a business.

The SSBRM Clearwater facility was specifically built for records storage, the brothers say, and features state-of-the-art construction, security and fire protection. Services include records management and storage, imaging solutions and software, data protection and storage and secure destruction. The brothers say they use industry-leading records and information management systems and barcode systems to track information and to provide timely and accurate data to their clients.

The company’s Greenville, S.C., facility was acquired in 2010 when SSBRM purchased an imaging company with a small records storage business. The Greenville location currently offers records management and storage, imaging solutions and software and secure destruction services. This facility is being expanded to enable the growth of the location’s records management and storage and data protection services, Marshall says.

“We are in the process of adding close to 9,000 square feet in South Carolina,” Rhett says, with the shelving to be installed before the end of November.

SSBRM has approximately 800,000 cubic feet of records in storage in its Clearwater facility, though Rhett says the company will reach the 1 million mark in the next three to four years.

Records management and storage account for 75 to 80 percent of SSBRM’s revenue, Rhett says, with data protection and imaging each contributing 5 percent. Secure destruction services account for 10 percent of the company’s revenue, he adds.

While SSBRM is gaining clients across all of its services in its operating areas, Rhett adds, “Records storage remains the more profitable of the mix.”

Room to Expand
Despite the company’s emphasis on expanding records management and storage and data protection services in the South Carolina market, Marshall says shredding and imaging services probably hold the greatest growth potential overall for SSBRM. The growth in the shredding sector is being driven by ID theft concerns and environmental sustainability efforts that encourage businesses to recycle, Rhett says.

“Hard drive shredding is ridiculously popular,” Marshall says, though he adds that he does not believe the service will contribute substantially to the company’s revenue.

“With the increase in privacy legislation,” Rhett says, “it is necessary that we provide a high level of destruction services for clients. As records reach the end of their life cycles and retention periods are met, files—whether paper files, electronic media, hard drives or any other form of media—need to be properly and safely destroyed and then recycled.”

Marshall says growth in the imaging sector is fueled partially by the transition to electronic medical records in the health-care industry.

Despite this growth in imaging and digital services, neither Rhett nor Marshall say they feel the paperless office will be a near-term reality. While Rhett says the health-care industry is increasingly using electronic medical records, he adds that the industry is still generating large volumes of paper. “I don’t think paper is going to go away in my lifetime.”

Marshall also points out the expense associated with going paperless. “You have to change a lot of different processes to make that work,” he says. “We consult with clients about doing that to a certain point. For instance, a company’s accounts payable office may want to go paperless, but it is more of a workflow issue than to get rid of paper.

“Some clients scan documents and keep the hard copies in storage. Those are my favorite clients,” Marshall adds.

“Hard copy storage is the largest portion of our business,” Rhett says. “The reality is that paper-based information management isn’t going away and paper files can accumulate quickly with the amount of business transactions done daily.”

Marshall adds, “Whether the business is in the banking and financial, legal, health-care, engineering, insurance, communication, education, real estate, retail, manufacturing or government sector, its main focus is certainly not document management but having organized and accurate business records to make key business decisions. Our records storage and management services allow businesses to focus on those day-to-day operations that generate revenue and profit.”

Rhett and Marshall are hands-on business owners but they also understand they cannot lose their focus on the bigger picture by getting bogged down in the day-to-day operations. That is where their dedicated team of employees comes in, the brothers say.

Integral to Success

“We have to be tuned in to everything but can’t do everything,” Marshall says of his and Rhett’s role as owners. “We have to look at the bigger picture. We have to trust people and give things up. We have to have the right processes and procedures in place.”

Trust is extended more easily by ensuring SSBRM brings on the right people in the first place and equips them with tools to perform their jobs efficiently.

Making Good Marks in Privacy

Stevens & Stevens Business Records Management (SSBRM), headquartered in Clearwater,Fla., is among the 50 or so companies to receive Privacy+ certification under PRISM International, the Chicago-based trade association representing commercial information management outsourcing providers.

Privacy+ currently is a self-certification program that PRISM International intends to move to a third-party audited program in the near future.

“The Privacy+ standards are to be met in connection with the safeguarding of client information contained in paper and electronic records,“ according to the PRISM International website, www.prismintl.org. “The objectives are to ensure the privacy of information in a manner consistent with industry standards as well as protect against unauthorized access or use that may result in harm to any consumer.”

Marshall Stevens, co-founder and president of SSBRM says there is a degree of overlap with the standard established by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), the international trade organization representing secure destruction professionals.

NAID’s certification program was established to audit companies that provide information destruction services, whether mobile or plant-based, as well as hard drive destruction and sanitization.

PRISM International plans to require a third-party audit for companies seeking or renewing Privacy+ certification in the coming year.

According to PRISM International, the goal of Privacy+ is to “provide PRISM members a simple means to stay updated and in compliance with evolving laws and regulations that may impact them.”

More information on Privacy+ is available at http:// prismintl.org/about-the-privacy-plus-program.

Rhett says fostering a team environment at SSBRM begins with the hiring process, which can take months and includes extensive background, driving record and credit checks and drug testing.

“Security is very important to us,” Marshall says. “Our hiring process takes that into account.”

Marshall adds that it’s important to ensure employees get along with one another, so when new hires are brought on, he and Rhett check in with the staff to see if this is the case.

Rhett says he and Marshall also are open to suggestions from employees about process improvements. “We don’t have all of the answers,” he says. “The people on the front line may see something we don’t.”

SSBRM hosts a number of events throughout the year inside and outside of the office designed to create a fun working environment and to build camaraderie among the staff, Marshall says. “We try to make it fun so people want to be here.”

“We hire only the best people, operate out of state-of-the-art facilities and only use cutting-edge technologies,” Rhett adds. “We embrace technology and have invested in systems that provide clients with ease of use for all of their records management needs.”

Because technology is an integral part of records center management, SSBRM has a team dedicated to researching technology solutions for the business. Team members attend industry events as well as conferences and trade shows in the technology sector, such as the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, in an effort to stay ahead of technological changes that can affect the industry, Marshall says.

“Good technology can save you a lot of money and hassle,” he adds. “Bad technology can cost you money and add to your hassles.”

Marshall says SSBRM’s successful integration of imaging and records storage using available technology has increased its footprint and has attracted new clients.

Personnel and technology are as critical to SSBRM’s business as are the regulatory requirements governing information protection, Rhett adds.

“Two key issues come to mind that all businesses should stay on top of,” he says. “First are the changing regulatory requirements that must be met to maintain compliance with state and federal privacy laws. Second is being able to adapt to changing technologies and to use that technology to its fullest potential to aid business goals.”

Rhett continues, “The business that we had in 1994 will not be the business we have in 2024—it is evolving, and the successful records management companies will meet these needs.”

Growth under Control
Managing growth is traditionally a challenge for many entrepreneurs, and that also has been Rhett and Marshall’s experience with SSBRM.

“Managing growth has been the No. 1 challenge,” Marshall says, “from the addition and expansion of facilities to the number of employees needed to manage a business our size.”

This issue has been complicated by the acquisition of area competitors, Rhett says. “Over the years we have purchased four smaller records centers. It has always been a challenge to integrate different business processes, procedures and people into one [operation]. Of course, the merging of the business accounting and accounts has always been a challenge also.”

The successful integration of these firms and the overall growth of SSBRM is a source of pride for Marshall and Rhett.

“Building a business from the ground up is no simple task,” Marshall says. “But in the past 18-plus years, we’ve successfully built a business from zero clients to more than 1,200 clients and acquired four businesses along the way.”

Rhett adds, “At SSBRM we are always looking for new strategic opportunities, either through organic growth or other company acquisitions.”


The author is editor of Storage & Destruction Business and can be contacted at dtoto@gie.net.


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