From Creating to Destroying Documents

Aug 4, 2011

Mike Callihan of Cincinnati-based Document Destruction transitioned from creating custom business forms to shredding them.

It is true of the nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.”—Theodore Roosevelt

Entrepreneur Mike Callihan had a successful business, American Data Products, creating custom business forms, but he saw the writing on the wall. “The form business was dying a slow death with  more and more businesses switching to online forms. I knew I had to find something else,” says the owner and operator of Cincinnati-based Document Destruction

When Congress passed a law in 2003 requiring businesses to destroy sensitive documents containing customer information before discarding them, Callihan’s customers began asking if he could shred the documents.

In the beginning, Callihan was not interested in shredding. With the average integrated shredding truck costing $250,000, there was a high barrier to entry. In addition, Callihan knew nothing about document shredding, and the largest national shredding firm was located in his hometown.

After some more requests, though, Callihan went to a conference held by the National Association for Information Destruction and met with vendors. Once establishing that he had approximately 20 to 25 existing customers, he took money out of his business, American Data Products, Inc., and plunged into the shredding business.

Callihan first bought an old yellow Ryder truck and attached a shredder to it to keep costs low. Within a month, he realized that to get the volume of work needed to make his business profitable, he would have to purchase an integrated industrial shredder, which is able to perform larger jobs much faster.

Another early mistake was buying a $10,000 baler to bundle up the shredded material. “Shredded paper increases in size. We tried to bale it ourselves so that it could be recycled,” Callihan says. “We were out there trying to scoop it with snow shovels. It was dirty and required hundreds of man hours.” Callihan eventually outsourced the work to a recycler.

But Callihan’s biggest aha moment came three years after starting Document Destruction. “When I started, I was using the same model I had used in the other business, which was to have a sales force on site, making calls, going out on appointments, doing presentations, and ‘selling’ to customers,” he says.

Callihan discovered, however, that most of his shredding customers found him via Google searches when they needed a job done. Over time, he eliminated his four-person sales team, which was costing him $15,000 to $20,000 a month, put a few thousand dollars a month into buying Google search ads, and doubled his sales in six to eight months.



Document Destruction now has four trucks, making 40 to 75 stops a day, shredding more than 100 tons of paper per month, all of which gets recycled. About 30% of his business is one-time incident purges, while the rest are scheduled service customers. In addition, Document Destruction does approximately 25 community shreds a year, which are usually paid for by a municipality or bank.

To share your story, email Greg Galdabini at

Member Facts:
Company: Document Destruction LLC
Owner/Operator: Mike Callihan
Email Address:
Address: 4511 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45229
Phone: 513-772-1114
Chamber Member since: 2010
Founded: 2004
Number of Employees: 7

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