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Connect: Safety’s at the heart of his work

When someone says records storage and data management, boxes of paper don’t often come to mind. So it’s surprising to find the warehouses at DeVries Business Services stuffed to the ceiling with cardboard boxes full of, well, paper files.

“There’s a lot of this going on today,” says Patrick DeVries, owner and president, holding up a standard yellow file folder with a couple of pages in it. His warehouse holds medical records, dental molds, court records, backup computer tapes, business records, tax records – all the countless paper trails modern lives full of credit cards and mortgages and car loan applications leave behind, stored in approximately 500,000 boxes.

“Medical offices, for instance, will purge their records every so often and take you out of the active file system, if they haven’t seen you for a while,” DeVries explains. “They keep it in basements or other storage – then move it here.”

A barcode system makes it easy for a client to ask for a file later on, but there’s no going through stuff on your own. The documents in storage are way too sensitive for that.

“Everyone here goes through a careful background check,” says DeVries. “And I sometimes come across as the big jerk because I’m telling people to lock the doors. It’s so easy to become complacent.”

And that he’s surely not.

DeVries has been involved in Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest and Partners in Crime Prevention for years.

One of the many crime prevention programs created by these groups is “Keep Guns Outta School,” which DeVries helped launch in 2002.

“It is a rewards-for-tips program,” DeVries explains. A student who tells school staff about a gun, a knife, another weapon or any other illegal activity on school grounds might be rewarded with $75.

A recent incident at Lewis and Clark High School when a student brought a loaded handgun to school is one case in which a student received a reward.

“This is not an aggressive program. We don’t want students to start snooping around in other students’ stuff,” DeVries explains. “With or without the thank-you money, we want them to do the right thing. And the right thing is to say something if you see a gun at your school.”

As something new, Crime Stoppers is marketing the program to other school districts.

“We are trying to do this as a ‘program in a box,’ ” says DeVries. “We have already exported one to Yakima and we are talking to some people in New Jersey.”

He estimates the program has removed 30 weapons from Spokane County schools.

“Things have just changed so much. It used to be that someone would say, ‘I’m gonna beat you up after school’ and then you’d go shaking all day, but the worst that could happen was that you’d slug each other. Not so anymore.”

DeVries’ family came to Spokane, as he puts it, “right after electricity.”

“My dad’s dad was in the livery business, and then he started selling cars. He’s well-known as the first auto mechanic.” William DeVries ran a garage downtown on Riverside Avenue.

DeVries grew up around 19th Avenue and Rockwood Boulevard.

“I was a paperboy for many years, and back then you really didn’t make lot of money, so my mom managed mine,” DeVries says, smiling. “You had to pay for the papers, and then go collect money on Saturdays from those on your route. And you’d be standing there and they were having a bridge tournament or something.”

His parents still live in his childhood home, but he “married a Valley girl, and now we live in the Valley,” where “the neighbors are a little at a distance.” DeVries and his wife, Susie, have three children, Josh, Alex and Melanie.

DeVries’ business began as a moving and storage company in 1981. In 1995, DeVries started the business service division.

The company still does commercial moving and mobile onsite shredding.

“Privacy laws today are such that companies must destroy confidential files before they throw them away,” DeVries explains. “Car loan applications, human resource files, everything with personal information on it has to be destroyed.”

DeVries is a hands-on business owner whose desire to keep his clients’ information safe spills over to his volunteer work.

“I’m passionate about law enforcement and crime prevention,” says DeVries.

“I like having a safe community around me – that’s what motivates me.”


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