When he made the decision in 1988 to convert a mill building in downtown Manchester, N.H., into one of the state's first heated self-storage facilities, Bennett Chandler was surprised to find no one in the Northeast who could do the job. Chandler, then the developer of RatPack Self Storage, had been in the real-estate development and construction industry for 10 years. Undaunted, he decided to take on the task himself. He assembled his own crew to build the facility and called his new construction company Storage Inc. Being that interior conversions were new to the New England market, the facility drew the attention of other owners and developers, who wanted to know how it was done.
Over the next couple of years, Storage Inc. was mobilized to build several facilities in New England and New York markets, ultimately building for such venerable operators as Public Storage and Manhattan Mini-Storage. While the real-estate market was crashing and burning in the early '90s, Storage Inc. found there was a niche of property owners who had empty buildings and cash, looking for unique ways to make their underutilized properties profitable. Conversion to self-storage was a viable answer.
Today, Storage Inc. employs 25 people including project managers, field supervisors and in-house engineering and design professionals. Having developed a full line of high-quality, pre-engineered products for the self-storage industry, the company supplies and installs single- and multistory buildings, modular buildings, deck systems and conversions.
"When we looked at the competition, we found many suppliers could provide products--I call them mail-order buildings. Though their products are generally good, delivering the building is the easy part. The hardest part of constructing a great facility is designing it and erecting it correctly," says Chandler. "Quality products backed by excellent in-field service is what we have strived to provide. There are few things more disappointing than buying a quality building, deck or conversion system, only to have it devalued by sloppy or poorly supervised installation." By controlling this critical part of the process, Storage Inc. believes it provides higher-quality finished products than most.
Storage Inc. strives for expediency, unlike much of its competition, which can take a surprisingly long time to deliver Chandler says. "We're talking major portions of a year here--eight, 10, even 12 weeks for some companies. As we put together our supply chain, we've insisted on manufacturers who could deliver finished product in three to four weeks."
Storage Inc. has its own in-house crews, as well as a select group of subcontractors who have been performing their work for years. All projects are visited on a weekly basis by the company's field-supervision personnel to ensure schedules are met and the quality of workmanship is up to snuff.
Important, too, is a company's ability to provide quick and accurate design and engineering services to backup the sales and project management departments. "We've found that when a customer calls, he wants to see something quickly," says Chandler. "Oftentimes, we'll even go into the field and measure the customer's premises. Typically, we can generate very complete professional CAD drawings and unit mixes within a week of the first contact."
Lightweight structural deck systems have been a particularly popular product for Storage Inc. As real-estate in Northeastern suburban and urban markets has become scarce and expensive, many developers have been looking for ways to maximize the potential of existing commercial and industrial properties. Storage Inc.'s deck system has proven to be a very cost-effective way of achieving this.
For example, an existing high-bay building (15 feet or greater) with a footprint of 35,000 square feet can be converted into a completed facility with 55,000 square feet of rentable space. There are many benefits to building this way, such as significantly lower per-square-foot construction costs and abbreviated permitting times. "We have gone from the customer's closing to grand opening in as little as three months," claims Chandler. "The savvy developer understands and appreciates this ability to get into a market and open quickly. One can swiftly grab market share, while discouraging competition."
Unlike the point-load mezzanine systems out there, Storage Inc.'s design spreads much of the structural load across large portions of the floor, thereby eliminating the need to modify the existing structure in most cases. At the same time, a comparison will show the company's typical deck system will cost several dollars less per square foot, and will go in faster than other types of decks.
Keep IT Original
Unique projects are another trademark of Storage Inc's work. "From the construction of high-end art storage or the conversion of parking garages and bomb factories--we've seen it all. Our latest unique project is purportedly the largest wine-storage facility in New England," Chandler says. The company's flexibility, coupled with its tight control over installation services, allows it to take on unusual projects. "Most suppliers just want to sell you vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. We can do that and do it well, but where we shine is taking the odd property and turning it into a well-designed, well-utilized facility with the least amount of hassle."
For more information, call 800.445.8775; visit www.storageinc.com.