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Data Destruction

Have confidential, highly-sensitive data you need to destroy? Look no further than Black Hills Works.


EchoWorks, one of the organization’s latest social enterprise efforts, offers technology recycling and data destruction services to businesses and individuals in the region. The enterprise recently, and successfully, completed a rigorous process to become one of only two efforts in the state of South Dakota to be certified to confidentially destroy data. “It is a really hard process to go through,” said EchoWorks Director Randy Sheppard. “We’re really proud to have earned this recognition.”

The certification is through Recycling Industry Operating Standards, or RIOS. It means EchoWorks strictly follows all local, state, and federal standards from RIOS and completes an external audit each year. It’s just one way, Sheppard said, that Black Hills Works is on the cutting-edge of employment and enterprise, offering new, creative work opportunities for people with disabilities in the community.

“We want to be able to hire people with disabilities and to educate the public on e-recycling, and its positive impact on the environment.”

Three people who are supported by Black Hills Works are employed at EchoWorks, and all of them have been trained on how to correctly secure data and dismantle appropriate pieces of electronic equipment. One of the most important steps in the process is ensuring privacy and keeping an accurate timeline of the whereabouts of each piece of equipment that comes through the door. “We keep records of the entire process,” Sheppard noted, including logging when equipment comes in and the exact date it is destroyed. The customer can be provided with a certification of destruction.”

EchoWorks accepts televisions, cell phones, desktop and laptop computers, and many other items.

Much of the logistics of the RIOS certification were Sheppard’s responsibility, but every employee shares in the success of the certification. Each employee has to be able to walk through the auditing process each year and must follow all the RIOS standards each day. “If an auditor comes in, they have things they have to know how to do and to be able to show it,” he said.

In the year ahead, Sheppard hopes to employ five people with disabilities and to become a mainstay in Rapid City as the leading e-recycling enterprise, primarily for businesses, but also individuals. “We want to get out more—to do more collection,” he said. “And we want to educate the public on what we do and why we do it. Every day I talk to someone who is just learning about it, so we’re getting there.”

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