Talking Tongues

In the October issue, I shared in my letter about my experience living abroad in Siena, Italy during college. Although I won't say I was perfectly fluent in the language upon returning to the States, I did acquire a reasonable working knowledge of the native tongue. I wondered whether I'd ever again have opportunity to use it. Then, while attending the annual conference of the Self Storage Association of the United Kingdom and Europe back in March, I met an Italian gentleman whose company built the country's first self-storage and now operates facilities in Varese, Milan, Rome and Lugano.

I'm embarrassed to say, my Italian was extremely rusty and just about worthless to me. But his English was just fine, and he was generous enough to contribute an insightful article overviewing self-storage development in Europe. You'll read it on page 32.

Also in this issue, you'll read about the conquests and challenges met by Devon Self Storage in its experience developing and operating in France, Germany and The Netherlands. Though the company's leaders were skeptical when an Amsterdam site was proposed for its first overseas venture, doubts soon gave way to determination. Read the story on page 27. On page 34, one Australian entrepreneur shares insight on the pitfalls of European development and, on page 36, read advice on promoting self-storage to a public largely uneducated about the service.

With American developers such as Devon and Shurgard concentrating their efforts overseas, and European companies such as Access, Big Yellow, Safestor, Mentmore Abbey, etc., stepping up to the plate, we're seeing facilities sprout up rapidly throughout the United Kingdom and continental Europe. In response, industry suppliers are seizing the opportunity to distribute product throughout these unpermeated areas. Marketing efforts are set in motion to educate the European public and create product awareness. All told, shifting our focus toward European expansion seems to be the next natural phase in self-storage evolution.

To that end, our tradeshow division is hot on the heels of a premier overseas location at which to host a tradeshow and conference in the fall of 2002. Keep watch in the magazine and on our website for more details of this endeavour. And dust off those language dictionaries from college-courses past--you never know when they might be useful.

Happy holidays,

Teri L. Lanza
[email protected]

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