By Terry Campbell
When Jim Clayton and his partner, Jim Jones, decided to get into the self-storage business last year, they were faced with an immediate challenge: entering a market with five competitors. But proximity to a U.S. Army post as well as an upscale facility design allowed them to forge ahead.
Though Clayton and Jones had both been in real estate for many years developing residential and commercial properties, and Clayton had built storage facilities for other owners, neither had operated their own storage business. When they saw an opportunity in Prince George, Va., they decided to take the plunge. They purchased their property in January 2010 and opened in May of this year.
Stay Over Storage is adjacent to Fort Lee, a U.S. Army post named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and home of the Combined Arm Support Command. The post is home to approximately 7,000 military and civilian personnel and their families.
“We understood at the outset that a significant portion of our business would come from Fort Lee, so our decision to purchase the property directly across from the base gave us an initial advantage,” Clayton explained. But the partners also realized that their proximity to the base alone would not guarantee success. They decided to invest in a unique, upscale design and amenities to attract tenants.
“Our competitors are all within four miles of the post, but potential customers have to pass our facility first,” Clayton explained. “We realized our mission was to offer the very best facility and services possible, and hopefully, prospects would consider our place initially and decide to look no further.”