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10 Self-Storage Companies to Watch in 2017

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Reprinted with permission from the "SpareFoot Storage Beat.”

As we head into 2017, self-storage operators are looking to make their mark in an increasingly competitive industry. Based on their past performance and future plans, here are 10 companies expected to make headlines this year.

1. Baranof Holdings, Developer, Dallas

2016 accomplishments: Broke ground on nine facilities in four markets: Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Seattle. Facilities will be completed one per month beginning in March and represent 650,000 square feet of rentable storage space.

2017 goals: Six to eight new storage developments in high barrier-to-entry markets.

Greatest strength: “Baranof is well-capitalized, and from the outset of our company, a purposeful internal set of systems and procedures were designed to move quickly throughout the development process, particularly in otherwise difficult to develop markets,” says Andy Hendricks, managing partner.

Biggest challenge 2016: “Increasing competition in the development market has had a major impact on almost every aspect of the process,” Hendricks says. The biggest day-to-day challenges were getting enough time with busy vendors. Forming long-term strategic relationships with vendors has helped strengthen commitments, he adds.

Biggest challenge 2017: Rising construction costs will place higher premiums on site selection, as well as partnering with the right design and build professionals.

2. Brookfield Asset Management/Simply Self Storage, Global Alternative Asset Manager, Toronto; Operator, Orlando, Fla.

2016 accomplishments: Acquisition of Simply Self Storage by Brookfield in March. Under Brookfield, Simply has acquired about $600 million in assets, going from 90 facilities to 175 owned properties by year-end. The company closed on developments and lease-up facilities at a projected cost of $125 million that will expand its footprint in Florida, Metro New York, Southern California and Texas.

“Many of the acquisitions marked Simply’s entrance into new markets, thereby adding sufficient scale for the company to perform competitively in these markets while pursuing smaller deals to fuel future growth,” says Kurt O’Brien, CEO of Simply. Brookfield also obtained $750 million in securitized loans to refinance existing debt, finance new assets and purchase additional facilities.

2017 goals: Continue aggressive growth through acquisition of operating and Certificate-of-Occupancy assets in addition to ground-up development. Invest in revenue management and digital marketing technology to further drive customer demand.

Greatest strength: Brookfield has made a long-term commitment to the sector and provides sellers great comfort in its ability to close quickly with certainty, and enhances Simply’s already strong reputation in the industry among brokers and other industry players.

Biggest challenge 2016: The biggest challenge for Simply in 2016 was implementing Brookfield’s reporting requirements and policies and procedures. Brookfield’s policies and procedures now have Simply operating in the same fashion as a public company.

Biggest challenge 2017: The aggressive growth strategies can stretch its resources. The biggest challenge will be to ensure the company can continue to invest in people and processes to execute the strategy, official say.

3. Closetbox, Valet Self-Storage Provider, Denver

2016 accomplishments: Achieved seven times its growth year-over-year and expanded nationally to reach 70 percent of the U.S. population, with service in 40 of the top 50 metro areas.

2017 goals: Partner with self-storage operators to help them expand service offerings. “Closetbox presents a unique opportunity for the most forward-thinking and innovative self-storage operators to gain a competitive advantage by partnering with us,” said Chris Griego, vice president of partnerships.

Greatest strength: Its devotion to exceptional customer service, proprietary technology and unique ability to help customers anywhere in the United States, officials say.

Biggest challenge 2016: Overcame many challenges by doing hard things well.

Biggest challenge 2017: Finalizing partnerships with select self-storage operators.

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