Each issue we chat to a different business figure about their job and what their typical day involves – My Working Day.
This time around we speak to Graeme Carter from Shred Direct, the data destruction and shredding company which was launched in 2013 by the former professional footballer.
What’s a typical day for you?
Every morning, at 8am, I have a meeting with my drivers and we go through their upcoming data destruction collections for the day. I then head off to the office in Peterlee where I spend the rest of the morning dealing with incoming enquires and preparing the paperwork side of our business. After that it is usually out of the office and visiting our customers.
Running your own business can mean long hours. Is that something you experience regularly?
Initially when I started the business in 2013 the days could be extremely long especially when I also have an office at home that I can work from. However, we now have four full time members of staff and two part-time and this has helped me to have a much better work-life balance. I make time to spend with my family and I still enjoy playing football and coaching each weekend.
Your clients are across the North East. Does that mean you spend a lot of time on the roads?
Our customers include Newcastle Building Society and Hays Travel and they both have a lot of branches throughout the North East. We schedule our collections so that we are in various parts of the North East on certain days of the week. This helps us to keep our mileage and transport costs down to a minimum.
You’ve got an office and staff now. Is that more or less stressful than being a sole trader?
It’s far more enjoyable having an office and staff working for me because it is beneficial for the business but it also allows me to work on the business and not just in the business. It also gives me the chance to bounce ideas off other members of staff and it has helped us to build a very efficient team. I am enjoying watching our company grow and both keeping our existing clients happy and bringing new customers on-board.
You recently exhibited at EMCON. How was that for you?
It was really good. A few years ago, I took part in the Incubator Zone programme which was fantastic exposure for me. It was the first time I had done something like that and got so much work from it – in fact until as recently as this year I was still securing contracts from connections made then.
For that reason, I decided to exhibit as a fully-fledged exhibitor this year, with the assistance of my daughter Eleanor. We both had a really good day, making connections with potential customers which I will be following up on over the next few weeks.
What’s the plans for the future?
I am keen to expand my portfolio of clients within East Durham and the wider county area, which was one of the reasons for exhibiting at EMCON. I really want to raise my profile as there are so many potential clients on my doorstep, many of whom don’t realise what we do and how we could be helping them.
How has GDPR affected your business?
It’s been a good thing for us. Because people are so much more aware of how the data they have in storage and how confidential documents are destroyed in line with GDPR guidelines, they have been coming to us to make sure they’re compliant.
Last year you switched to paper only bags didn’t you. What was the reasoning behind that?
I am committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible and by switching to paper, it means those collection bags can also be shredded and taken to a paper mill and recycled, usually into tissue paper.
Athough this is the costlier option, it is something I’m prepared to do as it makes our process of collecting waste so much greener.
We all have a responsibility to do more to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill and this is my way of doing my bit.
Before you launched Shred Direct, you were a professional footballer weren’t you. That’s a bit different to what you do now isn’t it.
It is. I was on the books at Newcastle United in the 1990s but an injury put an end to my chances of making it. I loved football but I knew I had to look at an alternative career and ended up in the shredding industry.