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Memphis Paper Exchange: Born out of destruction

Through life and professional experiences, Darrell Harden Sr. found the perfect niche, Memphis Paper Exchange (MPE), scanning documents for preservation and digital filing.
 Carlee McCullough

While parts of Memphis are experiencing the devastating effects of the flood, there is one man that knows that feeling all too well.  After suffering tremendous losses as a Hurricane Katrina survivor, Darrell Harden Sr. relocated his family to Memphis in 2005. Having proudly served in the United States Navy during the first Gulf War, excuses and handouts have never been acceptable to him.  Through life and professional experiences, Harden found the perfect niche, Memphis Paper Exchange (MPE), scanning documents for preservation and digital filing.

Carlee McCullough: How did you make the transition from corporate America to entrepreneur?

Darrell Harden Sr.: I made the transition by using the very principles and strategies I learned while working in corporate such as: strategic planning, marketing strategies, research, market analysis, understanding my working capital requirements, legal structuring, etc. I put together a sound business plan, discussed my plans with my wife and family, spent some deep reflection time weighing the pros & cons of running my own business, kissed my steady paycheck goodbye, and made the decision to begin working for myself.

CM:  What was your decision making process?

 Darrel Harden Sr.

I considered where I would like to be “financially” in 10 years. What could I do that would give me control over my schedule from a work/life balance perspective? Finally, will working in corporate give me the sense of accomplishment/fulfillment I am looking for? In short, hardcore honesty is what helped me make my decisions. One of the most difficult parts of the decision making process I had to overcome was deciding not to settle for an OK existence, or a solid paycheck versus happiness, pride and the feeling of accomplishment entrepreneurship has given me!

CM: Why should businesses consider going digital? And what are the benefits?

DHS: Once a business goes digital, it will have “ALL” of its information available at its finger tips and it is protected in cases of catastrophes.

CM: What are the security benefits to going digital?

DHS: Going digital allows you to keep information in fireproof safes, virtualizes it by storing it on the Internet or in your password protected personal computer etc. Important paper files are usually locked away. However, people come and go. Keys get lost or passed on. However, digital data stays with the person who secures it until they decide to give or share access.

CM: What qualifications should a business consider when selecting a digital company?

DHS: Business should make sure the digital company is insured, licensed & CDIA certified (Certified Document Imaging Architect) with verifiable references.

CM: Should businesses outsource this process and is it expensive for a business?

DHS: Yes, if large volumes of documents are in need of digitization. This process starts at about $1,000 depending on the volume of documents.

CM: What are some challenges facing the e-paper industry?

DHS: At the moment the challenge is to get people and organizations to move completely into a paperless environment. For the most part, people are using my service primarily as a disaster preparedness method, archiving documents in the event something happens to their documents and need a backup versus fully embracing a paperless existence that’s easier on our planets.

Another challenge I have run into is “confidentiality” fears. Some potential clients in the legal and financial industry are concerned someone is going to read the contents of the documents we are scanning for them. So, to alleviate those concerns I sign confidentiality agreements that legally bind me or anyone from my organization from discussing information contained within the files we scan for our clients. My employees’ backgrounds are checked and they sign confidentiality agreements before becoming employees of MPE LLC.

Additionally, we are usually so consumed with the workload, there is little to no time available to read or closely look over documents. We create a file name or number, scan the documents to that file as quickly as possible and move on to the next batch.

CM: Any closing words?

DHS: Memphis Paper Exchange was born out of the horrific destruction left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Our motivation for starting this company was to give people the opportunity to electronically store their precious memories and important documents in the event disaster strikes. Not being prepared can cause unrecoverable loss and misfortune. On behalf of my staff, family and friends, thank you for your time and consideration while reading this article.

(For more information, visit www.memphispaperexchange.com.)

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., Contract Compliance Officer, City of Memphis-Office of Contract Compliance, 125 N. Main St., Suite 546, Memphis, TN 38103 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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