Facility Spotlight: Constables on Patrol

Security today is a sophisticated technology designed to make the self-storage customer feel his goods are safe. Ronald Rhodes, owner of Brown Road Self Storage and Moving Supplies in Hephzibah, Ga., went one step furtherby building a police substation into his site.

Ronald Rodes ran his fathers flea-market business for 18 years and realized many of the regular vendors at the market obtained some of their merchandise from self-storage auctions. I became really familiar with the storage business, he says. In 2003, he bought property on Brown Roadwhere he grew upand Highway 25 to build his own 382-unit facility. Now hes got permission to add 78 more spaces. And as it is for any storage operator, security is one of his primary concerns.

His unusual approach to the challenge took foresight and planning. Every county in the Augusta, Ga., region is subdivided into police beats. There may be two to three patrol cars per beat. Businesses are allowed to install substations to help reduce travel time to the central station. These spots provide a place for officers to fill out paperwork or take a break, Rhodes says.

Brown Road Self Storage is at the juncture of three beats, making it an ideal substation locale. Rhodes approached the Hephzibah Police Department with his idea before beginning the design of his facility. The station, visible from the main access gate, is next to the management office.

The police have full access, 24/7, to the whole facility, Rhodes says. Up to 25 officers use the station during a 24-hour period. At any time, police can patrol the storage facility, or bring in the dogs to check for drugs. Most of the sites customers are local residents and know about the feature.

Beyond Law Enforcement

Although the substation is a major deterrent to crime at Rhodes facility, its only part of his overall security plan. Access is controlled by a gate-keypad system. Customers must use a code to enter and exit the property, and Rhodes knows how long theyre on site. He monitors the facility through a CCTV system with several cameras installed around the property. Extensive exterior lighting also is part of site security.

The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays, but customers can access their units around the clock. Rhodes runs the facility with the help of an onsite manager. He also shares part of the facilitys 600-square-foot office with his accountant who assists during office hours in exchange for rent. We all help each other out, he says.

Although hes new to self-storage, Rhodes says hes enjoying his venture and sees the industry as profitable and thriving. Competition is definitely increasing around Augusta. There are four or five new facilities in various stages of construction within 20 miles of his site. Offering space for use by patrolling police officers not only gives him an edge, it provides additional security for tenants and the local community. 

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