“That’s how Taylor Made Storage became what it is,” Carpenter said. “Rob Taylor’s philosophy was build one, fill it up, get it paid for, and then build another one.” When a building reached 92 percent capacity, Taylor would construct another free-standing structure. Today the complex features 143 units, all with outside access doors.
Adapting to Customer Demand
Through this strategic building process, Taylor learned what would work best at his center, and some of his early presumptions changed. His first building was 100 by 35 feet, divided into eight 10-by-20-foot units, eight 10-by-15-foot units and 14 5-by-10-foot units. He felt this would give him the typical mix of what rents elsewhere in the city. However, the smallest units, which are usually in high demand near the university, didn’t rent quickly. He finally filled them by offering a discount for six-month pre-pays.
Taylor’s second building was the same size, but the unit mix included the larger, deeper units in demand by small businesses, homes in rural towns, and farmsteads that lack basements or other onsite storage space. Two nearby recreational lakes also created demand for larger units used to store boats.
Taylor's most recent project was inspired by Kansas State fans who wanted a secure space to park their RVs rather than drive them back and forth during weekend sporting events. “Some of these high-end RVs can cost from a couple hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars,” he said. “We had some folks calling to inquire about having fully enclosed [units]. In the past, this market historically had only open-sided, canopy-type [units].”
Taylor’s new generation of high-bay buildings are divided into a dozen 12-by-50-foot units with 14-foot-high doors. Customers can subscribe to a 30-amp electrical service for a flat fee to keep their RV batteries charged. By avoiding 50-amp service to the units, Taylor prevents tenants from running their energy-gobbling air-conditioning on facility power.
A Vibrant Industry
While unit size and amenities may dictated by consumer demand in a given area, building quality is always important. Tenants need to know their unit is built to last, so their property is protected from the elements and can be easily accessed. Ironically, that attribute kept the self-storage industry alive and well, even during the most recent economic turndown.
“We noticed that when the economy gets difficult, people want to hang on to their stuff,” Carpenter noted. “They don’t go to their self-storage unit and sell off all of their stuff. They put more stuff in there.”
As the economy continues to rebound, industry leaders predict self-storage, in all forms, will remain a vibrant industry and continue to serve the growing needs of urban and rural consumers.
Kevin Hutchings is the training manager for Kansas City, Mo.-based Butler Manufacturing, which provides a combination of design-build construction solutions and building technology to the non-residential market. In his position for 15 years, Hutchings is responsible for the company's product-builder management and sales training. Butler is a division of BlueScope Buildings North America Inc. For more information, visit www.butlermfg.com .