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In The Boardroom With...

John S. Shegerian
Executive Chairman

ERI Thank you for joining us today, John. It’s an honor to speak with a member of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business’ Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) Advisory Board. Please tell us more about your background.

John Shegerian: Thanks so much for having, me! As for my background, I was born and raised in New York and pretty much all my professional life I have worked to be what some people call “a serial social entrepreneur” aimed at solving global problems through game changing innovation to build successful, socially responsible companies.

In 1993, I helped co-found Homeboy Tortillas and Homeboy Industries, which continues to serve as a paradigm for urban renewal in America and was awarded the New York Stock Exchange Building for the Future Award for creating new jobs and opportunities for gang-impacted youth in post-riot Los Angeles.

I then co-founded, filling the financial aid gap for higher education and generating one of the most successful student loan companies in the country.

And the reason we’re talking today is due to my work as Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, the United States’ leading recycler of electronic waste and the world’s largest IT asset disposition (ITAD) and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company. ERI processes more than 275 million pounds of electronic waste annually at eight locations, serving every zip code in the United States, and providing peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses that their personal data is responsibly destroyed. And that’s the key, really – providing individuals and businesses with an environmentally responsible way to get rid of the electronic clutter while simultaneously giving them peace of mind that their data has been destroyed. 

And yes, I’m also very proud of my role as a member of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business’ Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) Advisory Board too!  We understand that you will be speaking at the upcoming Cyber Investing Summit May 15, 2018 in New York City. May we have a preview of the topics you’ll be discussing?

John Shegerian: Certainly. The Cyber Investing Summit is a terrific, cutting edge event and its an honor and privilege to be a returning presenter there. I’m part of a panel on cyber sector partnerships. Among other things, I’ll be talking about the fact that in this age of frequent cybercrime, identity theft and hardware hacking, it’s time for government agencies, businesses and individuals to all make securing digital data a top priority. Many are moving in that direction, but it’s surprising how many have not focused enough on this crucial situation. No matter who you are or how much you spend on cybersecurity services and software, if you don’t responsibly destroy or recycle your hardware and the information it contains, you are leaving the back door wide open to hackers.

Be it a government official’s laptop, a family smartphone or a business tablet, technology today is far too vulnerable to criminal attacks. Our personal privacy, businesses’ proprietary information and even data pertinent to our national security are at stake. The key is for everyone to remember to safely recycle all old and unwanted items at the end of their lifecycles with a trusted recycling company. This final step in the life of an electronic device is now more important than ever. Please give us a brief overview of ERI's solutions to digital security issues.  What is your perspective on the market drivers for ERI services at this time?

John Shegerian: While data is in use, most business entities will have stringent physical and software based tracking and security protocols in place to protect their digital security, whether it be PII, classified information, or simply proprietary or copyrighted data. However, all equipment will eventually reach its end of life. The key to maintaining these security protocols is tracking the data location as well as ensuring the appropriate destruction level based on data sensitivity. ERI allows entities to track their devices through our MyTrackTech system from shipment down to individual part level. We provide various destruction levels at ERI’s own NAID certified facilities or onsite through our mobile shredding trucks.

Our facilities handle the data destruction, the recycling, and any revenue recovery and resale all onsite. This ensures that equipment is not transferred between various organizations, increasing the chance of data loss. When ERI started its company, responsible recycling was the main market driver to our business. However, the core focus has since become:

--Ensuring proper handling and tracking of data

--Reducing costs by utilizing our national footprint and convenient service options.

--ERI’s certifications, including NAID, allow a company to more easily do their due diligence.

--Ensuring high levels of value recovery

--Finally, responsible management of material is still an important factor.  Any “wins”, success stories or testimonials you’d like to share?

John Shegerian: One of ERI’s clients is one of the nation’s largest insurance providers, managing PII that includes financial and health related information. When doing their research on various service providers, their CISO had major concerns with a service provider who would only provide one leg of the service in-house, while using third parties for additional services, such as recycling. The concern was that if there was something missed at the initial level, there was no level of tracking or accounting after that first stop. They found that ERI was the only service provider that did the data destruction, recycling, and revenue recover and resale under the same roof. Identity theft has never been more rampant and we are all familiar with the headlines about Equifax, Uber and Orbitz breaches. What are your thoughts, John, regarding best practices that should be followed when disposing of electronic devices in this environment.

John Shegerian: The key to any security protocol is to minimize risk. Disposal of electronic devices must be part of an entity’s security protocols and planning from the start and not relegated to the IT team, facilities team, or branch locations. If it is not managed with risk in mind, due diligence and data risk are often sacrificed as risk of breach is not understood or is underestimated at those levels.  An entity has to choose its data destruction provider the same way it would choose its network security software providers.  In wrapping here today, what resources are available at regarding these topics? 

John Shegerian: ERI has a video showing some of our destruction process at our facilities here:

In addition, interested parties can better understand our certifications, including NAID at

Outside of our website, users can also look at “Information Disposition” -, which was written by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) CEO Bob Johnson. ERI staff contributed to provide a better understanding of the data destruction procedures for electronic data.