A Casper company has spent more than three decades managing legal and business records across the state.
The owner of Intermountain Record Center, Janie Wait, was named the 2017 Wyoming Small Business Person of the Year for her leadership and creation of an inclusive workplace, according to a news release from the Wyoming Business Council.
She was recognized Monday along with other state winners during a U.S. Small Business Administration conference in Washington, D.C. The event included Vice President Mike Pence and businesswomen Ivanka Trump and Linda McMahon, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Being recognized in her community was an emotional moment, Wait said.
“I really wanted to say thank you to the thousands of people that help you stay and be successful in business,” Wait said. “I just really love business, and I don’t know that I would if it wasn’t for the nature of my clients, my employees, my vendors and really knowing there’s help out there through all of the different government and nonprofit agencies, because I do my hiring through nonprofits as well.”
Growing and adapting
Intermountain Record Center started in 1983 with Wait, her parents and one employee converting paper documents for storage on microfilm, she said. Most of the clients then included small town and county governments, school districts and libraries around the state needing to archive records required by law, she said.
Now she runs the business with 14 employees after the company expanded into shredding, recycling, paper document storage and scanning to digital files for businesses, nonprofits, government bodies and organizations throughout Wyoming.
“I’m particularly proud of being able to grow the business and being able to offer the full spectrum that, in fact, supported my clients,” Wait said.
Some of the most rewarding projects included preserving documents for museums, including Annie Oakley scrapbooks for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, she said.
Historic preservation is her passion, she said. She even ends up preserving historic items that happen to show up while sorting recycling.
They’ve come across old family photographs, treasury bonds, original photos from the Wyoming National Bank building now housing Wells Fargo downtown and even recently an original newspaper reporting President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, she said. She often tracks down family members or sends the items to historical archive centers.
The business is one that weathers booms and busts as companies growing or closing deal with their records, she said.
But the business has weathered its share of tough times and sidestepped pitfalls, according to the Wyoming Business Council release.
For instance, 60 percent of the business’ profits suddenly dried up in 2010 when microfilm business vanished during a time of state budget constraints, she said. The Wyoming Small Business Development Center helped her revamp the business’ website, analyze the market and focus on other services.
The digital production, shredding and record storage sides grew during that time. A year later, the microfilm business returned, and Wait was able to pay off the business. That wouldn’t have happened without the help and advice, she said.
Even booms have brought challenges, like a few years ago, when employees were scarce. That’s when she started working with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services’ vocational rehabilitation division to seek out people with disabilities, at the suggestion of the Wyoming Women’s Business Center. There have been many employees with disabilities over the years, but she hadn’t thought of it as a force to tap before, she said.
Several of the employees she’s hired had been injured on the job and told they’d never work again. But they’ve been among her best workers, she said.
“I think the work and advocacy she does in that community is inspirational,” said U.S. Small Business Administration advisor Cindy Unger, who nominated Wait for the award, according to the release.
Another way Wait has developed her business is finishing her MBA in the 1990s and becoming a certified records manager, which helped with the business and understanding the industry, she said.
The business plan she created in a class to add the scanning, media conversions and a commercial record center services earned an A and guided Intermountain Records’ growth. Three years later, it expanded into the current building near the Casper-Natrona County International Airport with help from the airport board and CAEDA to secure financing, she said.
“Most small businesses don’t have a business plan, and I really encourage that,” Wait said. “You have no idea what a tool that is until you have one under your belt.”
She also encourages businesses to use resources such as the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, the Wyoming Business Council and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
She’s the only one left in her immediate family and in running the business since her parents died. Now she and colleagues, many who’ve worked there more than a decade, share a sense of family, she said.
“One of the foundations in my business is nobody works for me, everybody works with me,” she said. “That’s really important, and my employees find that to be very empowering.”
Besides running Wyoming’s only full-service document management company, Wait does consulting and gives presentations about records management at the international level. She also was part of a state task force on digital information privacy and is on the Wyoming State Historical Records Advisory Board and the Wyoming chapter of ARMA International board.
Her hobbies include reading – “my drug of choice,” she said. She also enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren, genealogy, gardening, golfing, cooking, her two dogs and enjoying the outdoors in the state she loves, she said.
The business has been involved in projects around the region, including microfilming Deadwood, South Dakota, newspapers.
But now Wyoming is Wait’s sole territory.
“I prefer to continue to support those folks that were the core of our growth and success through the years,” she said. “And that’s my fellow Wyoming business people.”