Finding a Niche in the Heartland: Taylor Made Storage Finds Development Opportunity in Rural America

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By Kevin Hutchings

Self-storage facilities became part of the landscape 30 years ago and have evolved to meet the demands of consumers and their varying needs. In recent years, industry trends have included climate-controlled units, condo-type storage that’s sold rather than rented, construction of larger units for boats and RVs, and the slow, steady expansion of self-storage to rural areas.

The last of these trends proved to be a successful business opportunity for Rob Taylor of Taylor Made Storage, a seven-building self-storage center near the Kansas State University campus on the outskirts of Manhattan, Kan. Self-storage operators achieve success by developing facilities with the right location and unit mix, and finding an untapped niche in their market. Taylor honored these principles when developing his project.

Self-storage was a new venture for Taylor, who owns an adjacent trapshooting park and other businesses. Only 10 acres of the 15-acre park are devoted to the trapshooting range, leaving 5 acres on which self-storage seemed like a good investment, Taylor said.

The Contractor and Building Specs

Taylor chose DJ Carpenter Building Systems, a Butler Builder based in Manhattan, Kan., to help him make his dream a reality. Company owner Dave Carpenter noted  the growth of self-storage in rural areas. “We’ve noticed a pattern that many of the smaller towns around Manhattan—towns the size of 2,000 or 2,500 [people]—have self-storage as well,” he said. “Each town will typically have one building with maybe 25 units to serve the needs of their community.”

Rob Taylor (left), owner of Taylor Made Storage, and Dave Carpenter, owner of DJ Carpenter Building Systems, chat near one of the property’s RV-storage units.

As consumer preferences for self-storage evolve, so must building specifications. For example, many metal-building manufacturers offer  a wide range of options including climate control, multi-story buildings, wind-rated doors, and extensive exterior finishes including metal, concrete block, tilt-up or brick to create an attractive appearance and meet local building and energy codes.

Taylor and Carpenter ultimately built seven buildings using the Butler Manufacturing Self-Storage System, an integrated package that includes the MR-24 Roof System, Butlerib II Wall System, wind-rated doors and interior subsystems. Though self-storage lenders normally prefer the better return on investment from larger, multi-building projects, Taylor opted to develop his center in conservative, building-by-building phases.

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