By now, you should be aware of the most recent quandary facing self-storage: the shortage of steel in the United States and the resulting increase in prices. Inside Self- Storage and other industry educators have done their parts to inform developers and operators of how this predicament could affect their businesses and pocketbooks. But newspapers across the country have made the plight notorious. Following is a sample of headlines that have appeared in recent months:
- USA Today, 2.21.04, “Global Steel Shortage Forces 66% Climb in Prices Since June”
- Pittsburgh Business Times, 1.23.04, “Rise in Global Steel Demand May Impact Coke Shortage”
- Baltimore Business Journal, 3.12.04, “Steel Costs Hit Area Builders”
- Puget Sound Business Journal, 3.12.04, “Steel’s Jagged Edge”
- The Business Journal, Serving the Greater Triad Area, 3.4.04, “Rising Steel Prices Plague Triad Firms”
- The Business Review, Serving New York’s Capital Region, 2.27.04, “Steel Prices Soar, Fabricators Mull Pass-Along Increases”
- The Business Journal, Serving Greater Milwaukee, 3.5.04, “Surging Steel Prices Sap Local Economy”
- Dallas Business Journal, 3.12.04, “Steel Shortage Worries Industry Insiders”
- Denver Business Journal, 3.15.04, “Steel Prices Climb 200%”
They don’t paint a very pretty picture, and the last thing professionals in this business need is unnecessary and unwarranted hysteria. To get the straight scoop, ISS spoke with Kelly Ginn and Wayne Dickinson of MBCI about the state of steel and storage (see “Industry Update” in this moth's issue). The outlook may not be as ghastly as it seems.
Throughout the year, I receive an influx of inquiries from readers or industry newcomers who want to know which management-software package and/or equipment I recommend. The answer to this question is simple: I don’t. I like my head where it is, thank you very much.
But as representative for a publication that professes to be the premier source of industry information, it is my duty to provide what guidance I can. While our annual Software & Technology Issue has, in past years, included comparative charts that hold up several competing packages for review, the number of software providers and technology offerings has grown beyond the scope of such a presentation. This issue does, however, include edifying articles from some of the finest vendors in the industry, as well as a series of company profiles that provides a snapshot of popular suppliers.
When you shop for management software, most every vendor out there will tell you it is the “leading” company, that all of its features are “completely automated,” that its programs allow for “total integration.” Most will even tell you they are “web-based.” But what do these things really mean? As one of this month’s authors advises, “Don’t get lost in the lingo.” Conduct careful investigations. Secure demos—and use them. Most of all, do not be afraid to ask questions of company representatives. It is their job to be helpful. It is your job to put them to their paces.
Best of luck,
Teri L. Lanza