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Grandson of Retail Tycoon Aims to Build Self-Storage Empire in the Philippines


Howard Sy, the grandson of a retail tycoon, has eschewed the family business in the Philippines to build his own self-storage empire. The 28-year-old entrepreneur opened his first StorageMart self-storage facility in Makati last year and already has plans to develop a second location in Bonifacio Global City, a financial district in the Manila metro area, according to the source.

Sy’s grandfather is Henry Sy Sr., director of SM Prime Holdings Inc., a prominent real estate developer in Southeast Asia. Rather than join the family business, Howard Sy worked as an investment analyst after college but found the long hours too consuming. Driven by a desire to run his own enterprise, he was ultimately inspired by an episode of “Storage Wars,” the U.S.-based reality-television series. He researched the self-storage industry and poured his life savings into the StorageMart venture, the source reported.

“I researched on it and saw an opportunity,” Howard Sy said. “It is not that big a need now, but it already is abroad. And the market will eventually grow here.”

The first StorageMart took two years from concept to opening last November. The facility offers 24-hour access and individual door alarms. It was designed with bright interiors to attract corporate tenants in addition to residential customers, according to the source. One mistake was installing too many medium-sized units and not enough small units, which quickly leased up, Howard Sy said. The facility offers 161 units and is 40 percent occupied.

Howard Sy believes the detail-oriented work he did in the financial world provided good training for his self-storage venture, and he’s determined to make it on his own. “The nice thing about [my family] is that they push you to do what you want,” he told the source. “I was not obligated to come home and work for the family. Sooner or later, I may join, but I don’t want to go in there without any experience. I want my credentials to speak for themselves.”

Howard Sy’s StorageMart is unrelated to the Columbia, Mo.-based self-storage operator by the same name.


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