It was almost exactly two years ago that eight British-born Pakistani men were arrested in London suburbs on suspicion of plotting a terrorist bomb attack. They were apprehended after more than a half-ton of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer (a basic ingredient in home-made explosives) was discovered at a self-storage facility in Hanwell, U.K., near Heathrow Airport.
The trial, pending, is still revealing information about the accused's connections and training: They have alleged ties to Al-Qaeda and have admitted to being schooled in terrorist tactics in Pakistan.
But the part I want to emphasize is these men were uncovered only after the storage facility's owners became suspicious of their renters' activity and contacted Scotland Yard. These operators' vigilance makes them heroes of a sort, since it has been revealed through testimony that the perps drew up plans for bombing local pubs, shopping centers, trains and nightclubs.
Now, 9/11 may seem long ago to some of you and like yesterday to others. What's true is we'll feel the repercussions of that fateful day indefinitely, particularly in the self-storage industry. Our whole manner of conducting business has been irreversibly altered. "Watchful" is our watch word. We put more emphasis than ever on tenant screening. We have been necessarily solicited in the government's efforts toward Homeland Security. (This recent article from Inside Self-Storage mag explains in detail.)
Just remember, when reflecting on these tragic events, that you have real power to change history. You are not mere renters of space, saviors of stuff, custodians of customer excessyou are watchdogs for your community. Is that more responsibility than you're willing to accept? Then perhaps you're in the wrong business. Self-storage isn't just about breathing room anymore, it's about safeguarding. What goes on at your site IS your business.
How does it feel to be a defender of America?