At the time of this writing, I have just returned from the Inside Self-Storage annual expo in Las Vegas. Many consider this event to be the leading tradeshow of the industry, not only because of the number of participants, which continues to grow substantially, but also its superlative educational and networking opportunities. This year, the quantity of attendees topped 4,000, which does not even include the staffs of more than 200 vendor exhibits.
Attending the Vegas show is always a bit like going to the grocery store—you have no idea of the innovative and sometimes crazy products on the market until you go browsing down the aisles. I always relish the occasion to speak with new merchants, inspect groundbreaking technologies and catch up with old favorites. But perhaps the most interesting discoveries of all occur when I stand in the magazine’s own booth and let attendees come to me.
In the past week, I have had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne Repol, director of operations for StorageMaxx Canada Inc.; Claas Nieraad of City-Lager, which is presently building self-storage facilities in Germany; and a gentleman who owns and operates two facilities in Mexico City and is looking to build more. Domestic conferences and expos continue to be meeting grounds for developers from many nations, who come to learn from the American experience, meet potential investors and shop for cutting-edge products. Las Vegas has always been a diverse playing field (in more ways than one); but for self-storage, this was never truer than in recent years.
This issue is largely dedicated to the basics of international business. For those interested in expanding their portfolios or assuming intercontinental roles in their companies, advice from U.S. experts can help pave the way for a more rewarding global experience. Though the process of constructing and marketing self-storage overseas can be dramatically different, similarities on the operational side create a cohesive industry community. Anne Ballard, founder and president of Universal Management Co., who recently spent a week consulting with a facility in Ireland, sums up the scenario nicely:
Although each market, country and culture has its own idiosyncrasies, some things are constant in the self-storage industry worldwide. Customers everywhere want clean, dry, well-lit spaces with professional managers who provide world-class customer service and great storage products. Storage owners and developers want stores that lease up as soon as possible and the lowest cost per lease. Getting these two sides of the equation together is the art of self-storage management.
Inside Self-Storagewould like to extend its gratitude to the vendors and attendees who helped make the Las Vegas show an unprecedented success. A special thanks goes to those who traveled from abroad. Diversity in the marketplace bolsters the strength of this industry, here in the States and across the world.
Teri L. Lanza