For more than two decades, the driving philosophy behind BETCO Inc. has been meeting the customer’s needs. Over the years, the company has evolved into a single-source supplier for self-storage structures and components. With world headquarters in Statesville, N.C., BETCO built a second plant in Bryan, Texas, in 1999 to reduce shipping time and lower costs for customers in the Southwest. The company also added roll-up doors and hallways to its product line, making it a go-to source for self-storage developers.
spoke with Terry Campbell, who began his career with BETCO 13 years ago as a drafter. He also worked as an estimator before landing in BETCO’s sales department, where he’s now the vice president of sales and marketing. Campbell shares his thoughts on trends in the self-storage industry, the company's goals, and what we can expect in the future of self-storage construction.
ISS: What’s changed in building design in the last five years?
Campbell: Everyone is trying to make their buildings less expensive but add more value. Land in many areas is scarce and expensive so we’re seeing a lot more multi-story buildings. There are more requests for climate control as well.
ISS: There’s been a shortage in raw materials for several years now. How has this affected construction in the self-storage industry?
Campbell: In 2004, when the cost of steel shot up and it caused shortages, we expected the demand to slow down. But it was the opposite. We had record sales that year. It’s happening again right now. In the last couple of months, the cost of steel has gone up about 30 percent. But we’ve had a large amount of orders coming in over the last several weeks. We have been in a position to lock in prices for our customers five to six months out, so we’re able to give them a delivery date. If they don’t take delivery by that time, they have to pay a surcharge if the price of steel has increased. And with the volatility of the fuel market, we’ve had to build fuel surcharges into our contracts.
ISS: BETCO manufactures boat and RV storage. What features are in demand for this growing segment of the industry?
Campbell:We offer fully enclosed boat and RV storage. One of things that we’re seeing that is interesting is the condo concept. Instead of renting the unit, the owner sells the unit. Where a unit may cost several hundred dollars to rent, they sell these units for several thousand and the customer owns it.
ISS: What does next-generation building entail?
Campbell: We just did our first building display to showcase next-generation building at the ISS Expo in Vegas. Our standard building is still the flagship building, but we created this one to expand our range of products. This is part of the quest to be more competitively priced. It uses a different type standing-seam roof with other features that our customers have said they want. It is part of our effort to get more market share. I see this building becoming popular over the next year, especially in certain areas of the country and overseas due to savings in shipping cost versus our standard building.
ISS: BETCO opened its doors in 1984. How has the company evolved over the years?
Campbell: BETCO started off as a building supplier or broker. After a few years, the owners saw that they wanted to have more control over the process and started our first manufacturing facility in Statesville, N.C. We opened the second plant in Texas in 1999. In 2000, we opened our door-manufacturing facility in North Carolina. Our staff has, of course, grown. We’ve added more staff in every department to handle the growth we’ve experienced over the years. There have been times that we didn’t have enough parking spaces for all of the employees needed to get the work completed.
We’re a single-source manufacturer. We provide the engineering, manufacture the building materials and doors, and provide erection of the building. That’s important because the customer only has to deal with one company.
ISS: Tell us about your warranties.
Campbell: Our standard warranties are the best out there. We offer a 40-year warranty on paint, 25 years on the roof, 20 years on the interior structure and partitions and 10 years on door-springs. Also, the labor warranty on jobs that we erect is 10 years; industry standard is two to five. We offer the best warranties because we believe in our materials and services, and we stand behind them.
ISS: How do your door and hallway products differ from others in the industry?
Campbell: When we decided to get into the door business, we looked at all the doors on the market at that time. We took what we liked and tried to improve on it, and tried to eliminate what we didn’t like. We recently made tension adjustors and bearings a standard on all our doors, and the springs have a 10-year warranty.
ISS: What are some of the company’s goals over the next few years?
Campbell: To keep grabbing market share and growing. We’re trying to stay on the edge of products and services, and stay in front of everyone. After every project, we conduct a survey with our customers. We also get feedback from our erectors and sales reps. We use this to improve on our products and our services. We’re also constantly pushing our vendors, our suppliers, to help us stay ahead. We are expanding into other areas, such as Canada and Europe.
ISS: Any predictions for the industry?
Campbell: We’re going to see more multi-story facilities. Climate control is going to keep growing. Local zoning and permitting is making it harder to get into the business, or at least in a way that’s feasible. We’re probably going to see more developers already in the business and fewer newcomers. They know how to do it, how to get the permits from the city and zoning, and do all these things to get going. It’s getting harder for newcomers to do that.
Because of this we offer seminars, at least four a year, for people who want to get into the business. We also have a CD with basic information. And we are in the process of creating an interactive CD and a booklet. With the CD, booklet and our reps, hopefully it will help people new to the self-storage industry get through these hurdles. They can purchase the package from us and won’t have to attend a day-long seminar. If the person purchases from us, they’ll get a credit. We want more educated people out there.
For more information, call 800.654.7813; visit www.betcoinc.com.