When Trachte Building Systems entered the self-storage industry in 1974, it was backed by 75 years of expertise in manufacturing metal products. Today, the Sun Prairie, Wis.-based company manufactures a full-line of self-storage buildings, partition/corridor systems and roll-up doors.
Founded in 1901 by George and Arthur Trachte, who named the business Trachte Brothers Co., the company evolved from a manufacturer of livestock water tanks, steel garages and cotton gins to a builder of fastfood restaurants and self-storage facilities. Its attention was brought to the storage industry when a prospective customer asked if it could build a mini-warehouse. “We said, ‘Sure! By the way, what is a mini-warehouse building?’” jokes Jamie Lindau, Trachte’s sales manager.
“We are a complete manufacturer of building products, which is rare in this industry,” Lindau says. “Because we have complete control of the products we provide, we are able to design high-quality building parts that are specific to a customer’s needs.”
Trachte keeps its customers in mind by providing an easy-to-install, attractive and durable system. Buildings are bolted together for easy installation, and are sturdy and eyecatching due to their 18-gauge, prefinished, flush door jambs. Trachte was the first company to use these jambs, which give buildings a unique look. “Many competitors now copy our designs, which I view as a compliment,” Lindau says.
Since many communities are developing strict regulations requiring excellent curb appeal, more than 30 percent of Trachte’s buildings are designed with a roof pitch larger than the industry standard. The company’s inhouse engineering department devises all its pitch designs, and a new canopy design will be offered to the market later this year. The roof system is also engineered to minimize or eliminate the number of roof penetrations.
Throughout its history, Trachte has reinvented itself and its product lines to accommodate an evolving, demanding industry. The company continues to advance its products and manufacturing process to improve efficiency. Every year, it purchases new equipment to increase the capacity of its plant, shorten delivery times and lower costs. These efficiencies are passed on to customers in the form of cost savings. “If we want to keep growing, we will have to invest in our people and plant so we can help our customers in the ever-changing selfstorage market,” says Lindau.
Branding Through Education
A company does not become a strong presence in a market without creating brand awareness. As part of its ongoing marketing program, Trachte offers a free, one-day seminar to educate owners as well as newcomers considering the self-storage business. The seminar, titled “The Building Blocks of Self- Storage Development,” is held year-round throughout the United States and Canada. Its focus is on practical self-storage business applications and overcoming the hurdles that may impede development.
“Our seminar can help prospective owners avoid wasting time and money,” says Lindau. “We also help customers determine if a site is financially feasible.” Trachte’s philosophy is based on building strong relationships and loyalty by helping customers successfully meet their occupancy goals and, consequently, develop more facilities. “A large percentage of our business is repeat customers, so we understand that if a customer is successful, we will be successful.”
Trachte’s regional managers travel throughout the United States and Canada meeting existing and prospective storage owners. They work with each client, formulating a plan to determine which product will work best in his market. “We supply the building plans they need to obtain necessary permits, and then schedule a ship date for the building,” Lindau says. “Once the building is delivered, we make sure the project is completed and the customer is ready to rent.” Clients range from do-ityourself, small operators who build their own sites to large investors who want their projects built on time.
Lindau sees two challenges facing the storage industry. One is increasing regulations imposed by city authorities. It is harder than ever to get facilities built because many communities are opposed to increased self-storage development. In addition, markets that are easy to get into may become saturated. If the barriers to entry are too easy, overbuilding is inevitable. The problem is finding a good site that will rent in the present and sustain profitably in the future. “This is our customers’ biggest battle,” Lindau says.
As part of Trachte’s goal to continue its growth, the company has targeted Canada as a market and now has facilities in almost all provinces. “We want to continue to grow in the self-storage market by offering the best product at the best price with the best service,” Lindau concludes. For more information, visit www.trachte.com.