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Development Case Study: QuikStor Self Storage in Van Nuys, CA

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By Melanie Dow

QuikStor Security & Software has served the self-storage industry since 1987, providing management software and security products and, more recently, online marketing services. Our management team has also built, owned, operated and partnered on several dozen California self-storage facilities. As such, owning and managing a self-storage operation from our headquarters has always been a company goal.

In 2004, we purchased and relocated our offices to a 20,000-square-foot building in Van Nuys, Calif., that included 9,000 square feet of warehouse space. Last year, we proceeded to convert the warehouse into 121 interior storage units that would be managed by our own staff.

Opened in July 2016, QuikStor Self Storage not only provides traditional storage services, it showcases our products and serves as an employee training ground. Here’s an overview of our development and construction process, through to opening day, as well as some insight and advice for new builders.

The Development Team

One of our first tasks was to assemble the development team that would make it all possible. We brought on James Goodman of James Goodman Architecture, and an engineering team to create the building plans and design the unit mix. We’d worked with Goodman on previous projects, including dozens of sites for Public Storage Inc.

Our executives decided early on we would act as our own general contractor and hire the demo crew, electricians, flooring specialists and plumbers. We would also design, supply and install all the security. Many of our chosen contractors were ones we’d worked with before. Our vice president, Tony Gardner, oversaw the hiring of the team and the construction process.

Construction

Before the buildout.Construction began in April 2016. Coordinating all the trades was critical to the project’s success. Moving everyone along and getting things done in a proper order helped dramatically reduce the development timeframe. We created a successful construction environment via constant phone, text and e-mail communication, which ensured efficient coordination of the project as it progressed.

Our primary agenda—to construct the facility as quickly and efficiently as possible—was shared by everyone involved. The key was identifying potential bottlenecks and taking steps to avoid them. Expert guidance also allowed the process to go as smoothly as possible.

Day five of the buildoutUnit Mix

One of the first hurdles in the development process was to determine the ideal unit mix, which is a balance of art and science. Though every storage owner would love to create the perfect “banker’s mix,” with nothing but smaller units that yield the highest per-square-foot rent, it isn’t realistic. Diversity is key to being successful and reaching full occupancy.

It was in our best interest to examine the demographics around Van Nuys and Northern Los Angeles. Our staff performed research at local storage facilities to see which unit sizes were the most popular. With three community colleges and six universities nearby, catering to students seemed essential. Our research also revealed it would be wise to accommodate commercial businesses. Companies in our area often need to store large equipment.

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