A difference in focus: Shred School versus the annual conference

April 24, 2014

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

Over the last few months, several members inquired whether it would be better to attend the annual conference or Shred School. In my experience, for every person that asks there are 10 more with the same question. So, even though the annual conference is now over, I would like to offer my perspective on the difference between the two.

The annual conference is a grand affair on a grand scale, with hundreds of attendees, lots of networking, a massive exhibit hall and a thrilling inspirational keynote speaker. For three days, it becomes the center of the secure destruction industry universe, with the highest concentration of industry knowledge and innovation in one place. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone who leads a secure destruction business justifies missing this event. The annual conference is an international summit meeting for anyone who is or wants to be a leader of their organization’s operations or sales. One idea, one new contact, and/or one new vendor innovation is worth 10 times the cost of attending.

Shred School, on the other hand, is far more intimate and more focused. Instead of 700 people, there are a few dozen. Instead of 70 presenters and panelists, there are four or five experts speaking about topics critical to every employee of a secure destruction operation. Connecting with the sponsors at Shred School is also a much different experience than a trade show. Spending two days with these industry leaders and sponsors in such a direct and intimate way, creates lasting relationships that will pay benefits over the years.

Shred School is democratic. It is a traveling workshop that comes to the member, making it inexpensive and convenient enough to send more employees. There is no such thing as an over-trained employee, and the secure destruction industry suffers more than most in that regard. Not many members send a large number of staff to the annual conference, nor do I think they should. On the other hand, I find it difficult to understand how any service provider could allow a Shred School to pass through their region without sending a large number of their staff members.

Luckily, most members seem to understand this and the annual conference and Shred School are both strong as a result. That’s great news for me since I get to spend time with members at both.