Inside Self-Storage recently spoke with Kiwi II Construction President Peter Brady about the evolving self-storage industry and the company's future.
1. Tell us about Kiwi II Construction.
Kiwi II was founded in 1982 by me, vice president Robert Walker, and principals Wayne Woolsey and Brian Foley. We started out as an installation company for a variety of steel buildings, from small garages to aircraft hangers and warehouses.
We became involved in the storage industry early on, installing standing-seam metal-roof products over wood framing, but it soon became apparent there was a better, more efficient way to frame these structures.
We were instrumental in some designs that have become the industry standards, such as the post and purlin 5-by-10 grid and shear wall. Most buildings have become far more involved in design and construction as architects and owners push to get approval from municipalities while retaining as much net storage area as possible.
This is where our expertise and experience come into play. We have our own in-house engineer and drafting departments that allow us to control the designs and schedules of our projects. This ensures that our clients receive the most cost-effective and efficient designs applicable to each individual storage facility—from height restrictions to odd-shaped lots.
We also remain in control through in-house installation crews that are held to high standards of installation safety and schedules. We manage the manufacturing of many of the products we use, and have the ability to maintain steel pricing and adjust delivery schedules to suit field conditions and requirements.
2. What spurred the opening of the new office on the East Coast?
We’ve built on the East Coast for the past 10 years, but controlled operation from our California office. We recently opened an office in Orlando, Fla., to better serve our East Coast clients. The success of this operation was largely due to the many late-night flights and effort from Wayne and also project manager Ralston Toughey.
About six months ago, Ralston and his wife decided to move back to her home state of Florida, so we jumped at the opportunity to have him involved in the east. Ralston brings many years of construction experience and is a great complement to the Kiwi II team.
3. What else is new with Kiwi II?
Storage has its own set of requirements for shear and load values, so rather than apply single-product values, we’ve designed our own full assembles and tested them to get maximum shear and load values in as-built conditions This allows our engineer to maximize the designs for our clients.
Another new avenue for Kiwi II is solar systems integrated on our RV canopies and storage buildings. We’ve been involved in these systems in more states and found the trick is to make sure you do your homework on local codes and financial incentives from state and federal tax credits.
4. Tell us about your RV- and condo-flex business.
These have become popular product lines and are finding their own niche in the storage industry. We’ve seen the early ones we built 10 years ago evolve from basic, oversize storage units to units with bathrooms, mezzanine floors, climate control and electric roll-up doors.
One of the drawbacks with RV-storage buildings from an owner’s standpoint is the amount of real estate you need to accommodate drive aisles, as some coaches are up to 44 feet long. We just completed a facility where we built the units on an angle to the driveway. It worked out great for the coaches to get in and out, and saved a good chunk of real estate.
The flex business has been a good complement to the RV condos. The units used for running a small business can offer more visibility from the street, or customers can take advantage of the wide drive aisles, as this makes loading and unloading delivery trucks much more feasible. They can also make use of the onsite manager and security as part of their daily operation. We just completed a project with business-flex units where the owner built a common room that includes a conference space and coffee bar.
5. Kiwi II has many installation crews and manufacturing facilities throughout the country. What can you tell us about them?
Kiwi II has a long history in the installation arena as that is how we started—installing others’ designs and products. We still have a core of original installers who are now managing training, overseeing or running many of our crews. This has been essential in maintaining our reputation on quality and schedule. We realized early on that the end product and the manor in which we conducted business in the field would be a key factor in our success. Our goal is also to generate repeat clients.
Outside sales are handled by Eric Henderson, based in Phoenix, and Terry Conners in Denver. They both bring many years of experience and know that whether it’s a sketch on a napkin or making commitments to owners and developers, we are behind them 100 percent. We can and will get it done. In this economy, it’s even more important to know who you’re in business with. We consider our clients our partners.