By David Blum
It was my honor to speak during the 2015 Inside Self-Storage World Expo, April 6-9 in Las Vegas. As a veteran of many annual tradeshows and co-producer of the Brazilian Self-Storage Show the past two years in São Paulo, I was extremely impressed and gratified to witness the worldwide representation at this year’s event.
I was not only amazed that attendees from 23 different countries participated, but also that operators from all corners of the world traveled to the show. With the exception of Africa (represented at past shows), I met with people from Australia, Czech Republic, England, Hong Kong, the Middle East, New Zealand, Poland and Singapore. And that was in addition to several attendees from Latin America including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Panama.
I have spent the last 11 years visiting and working with entrepreneurs, investors and developers who have watched how our industry has grown in the United States and implemented their vision to introduce the self-storage concept in their local markets. What works here, of course, doesn’t guarantee success elsewhere. Starbucks failed in Australia and Israel, as did Best Buy in Europe and Taco Bell in China, just to name a few. Yet, I’m not aware of a single, well-built, strategically located, and professionally managed storage facility in any foreign country that has failed after launch.
In the Middle East, there are 30 facilities from one operator alone—The Box. In the Far East, most operators have multiple locations, with representatives from Extra Space Self Storage of Asia, StorHub and others. GuardeAqui in Brazil now has 11 locations with plans to grow at a pace of six per year. Aki KB Minibodegas in Chile has eight facilities and growing, and Almacenajes in Panama has nine.
If you consider all of the development activity in emerging markets, it was really no surprise that the 2015 ISS Expo, possibly the largest and best venue for international self-storage operators, attracted such a large and diverse group of existing operators and interested foreign attendees. The international attendance figures have grown steadily over the past several years and, I expect, will continue to increase. No other tradeshow truly offers so much for so many. The expo even included an afternoon set of sessions in Spanish. The panel session that was held as part of the International track had representatives from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Latin America, Poland and United Arab Emirates discussing topics ranging from development to operation.
As self-storage is introduced into more and more countries around the world, the thirst for good information will also increase. Some of the more-established markets have already seen an increase in local events. Shows in Asia, Brazil and Europe now offer local venues to meet the growing demand for information. ISS, however, continues to be the venue to bring the world of self-storage together. The future is very exciting.
David Blum worked as a district manager for Storage USA and as vice president of operation for Budget Mini-Storage in South Florida before launching his own consulting firm in 2003. As president of Better Management Systems LLC, he assists self-storage clients in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the United States on feasibility, development and management. David also co-founded the Florida Self Storage Association, serving as president in 2004 and 2011. For more information, call 800.796.8171; visit www.bmsgrp.com