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Taking a Cue From the Past to Build the Future of Self-Storage

L. Bruce McCardle Comments
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Plan, build and complete the office and retail area first. Consider permitting the office building separately. This will allow you to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy on the office while the storage buildings are completed. The security company will need an area ready for equipment installation. You should have computers and gate operators installed, tested and ready to go. Many projects have been delayed while waiting for the office to be finished.

Put your money where the rent is. The introduction of new products, ideas and “better mousetraps” seems to have become an everyday occurrence in our industry. When any business venture begins to attract the money self-storage has in recent years, it generates a lot of attention, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Before you spend money on the “new and improved,” or the next “must have” bell or whistle, ask yourself: “Will a customer pay more rent for my unit than at my competitor’s because I added XYZ?”

A New Direction

Another pearl from Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Sometimes we tend to forget just how young the storage business really is. We’ve hit our first big speed bump, and some are acting like this was all just a “trend,” and now it’s over, time to run on to the next thing. Self-storage has become a part of our landscape, routine to more than a few and a necessity to many.

Until some brilliant new building design or material is developed, the next generation of “robo-storage” is created, or a better big box in your driveway comes along, maybe we should go back to what made this industry successful in the first place—building a quality self-storage facility within a budget that will, at some point, pay for itself and begin cash flow. It doesn’t get much more fundamental than that. How we got from there to where we are at today is hard to say. Maybe it’s simply time to go back to basics—making sense and making money.

L. Bruce McCardle is the vice president of eastern division operations for Mako Steel Inc., a self-storage manufacturer and supplier based in Carlsbad, Calif. He has worked in architectural design, development, construction and the metal-building manufacturing business since 1977, and specifically in the self-storage industry for 11 years. For more information, call 800.383.4932; visit

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