Isabel Coleman may be only 11 years old, but she’s pure inspiration ... and the muse of her father, Peter Coleman, creator of the Coleman SideSlider, a self-storage door he expects will revolutionize the self-storage industry.
The Dawning of a New Door
Coleman actually entered the business of self-storage long before Isabel, the youngest of five daughters, was even born. As the founder of Dependable Storage Services, he has been designing, building and operating facilities along the Gulf Coast, just outside of New Orleans, for more than a decade. Over the years, he has purchased thousands of roll-up doors from manufacturers, but grew increasingly more frustrated with their design.
From experience, Coleman knew the springs, which require regular maintenance to operate smoothly, were the weak link in the roll-up door design, so he urged manufacturers to engineer them differently—without springs.
“But every year, the newly introduced, ‘next generation’ of door looked the same, worked the same and had the same problems as the previous ones,” Coleman explains. “After a while, I gave up asking manufacturers and decided they were going to make me invent something.”
The biggest challenge was to eliminate springs in the roll-up design, Coleman thought, but it wasn’t an easy challenge. That’s when his daughter becomes central to the story. It was Isabel’s love of horses that drew her, and her father, to spend so much time in her barn. And it was here that Coleman had an epiphany.
“We were visiting Isabel’s ponies and I was sliding the old barn doors, just like always when it dawned on me: It didn’t need to be a roll-up door. It didn’t need to wind-up at all,” he says. “I could design a sliding door. I could get rid of the springs forever and for good.”
Coleman sat down with pen and paper and began drawing the sliding door. He gave his sketches to his loyal Dependable Storage Services crew, who built a prototype. “They built it, we tweaked it, made it simpler and lighter,” he says.
The next step was to install some of the newly created ColemanSideSliders into his own facility, with a working model on display in the front office for customers to preview. The doors are attractive to self-storage renters for a number of reasons, he explains. First, they are smaller than roll-ups, leaving more room in the unit for storing goods. Second, they open with just a poke of a finger. No bending and stretching to crank open a wind-up door, he says.
“From a customer point of view, these doors are preferable because they’re so easy to open,” he says. “People want to rent these units right away. I can’t build the doors fast enough.”
The ColemanSideSlider can be inexpensively retrofitted into existing buildings and are compliant with ADA requirements. “From a maintenance point of view, there are no coil springs and no need for regular adjustments. Typical roll-up doors have springs that deteriorate after five years. But this is a quiet, sliding door with only two moving parts that never wear out,” Coleman says.
“The business of self-storage is highly competitive,” he adds. “If someone builds a facility right next door that’s better than mine, I could be out of business in six months. These new doors allow facilities to remain competitive and on the cutting edge.”
The ColemanSideSlider has garnered plenty of interest from self-storage developers and operators attending national conventions, where Coleman displayed a working model of the door. He’s convinced his product is destined for success, something he humbly owes to members of his staff, who are also co-owners of the company’s new division: David Bauman, operations and construction management, Patrick Mackenroth, design and engineering, Douglas Durand, finance, and Robin Riley, architectural.
Of course, he’s also indebted to his inspiration, Isabel ... which is why anyone shopping for this innovative sliding door gets to see the pint-sized pony-lover open and close a ColemanSideSlider all by herself, just by logging onto the company website at www.colemansideslider.com.