The Arizona Self Storage Association (AZSSA) is passing its 25-year milestone. Founded in 1996, the organization was created to present a unified voice on issues affecting industry professionals in the state. It now has more than 400 operator and vendor members representing 600-plus businesses, according to a press release.
The AZSSA was launched by a group of operators who wanted to share experiences. Self-storage was a fairly new concept at the time, said Richard Marmor, who served as the association’s first president. Early members included Bill Alter, Allan Bulman, Howard Hansen and Terry Kutzbach. They first met at Kutzbach’s office in downtown Phoenix. “It was quarterly meetings for the first couple of years. Bill always came with Oreos and soft drinks,” Marmor said.
The meetings evolved over the next two years as members sought to educate themselves on important issues and connect with other industry professionals. “It occurred to me to finally ask whether we should consider incorporating as a trade association, so a committee was created,” Marmor said. “We created an outline of ideas of what a trade association could do, such as industry image improvement, networking, legislation, resource development, operator education and standards of conduct—12 major topics in all.”
The Greater Arizona Mini Storage Association was then born; the name change came in 2006. As it grew, so did its mission to help members through critical business problems.
“Our vision hasn’t changed much over the years,” said Chris Rudel, former president and current board member. “As an organization, we have adapted to all the technology and information changes—for the better. While our industry has changed, [AZSSA] has always helped smaller facilities stay informed and remain profitable. From very early on we have always worked together.”
The association’s first tradeshow took place in 2000. That event has since become an annual occurrence that includes a conference and golf tournament. This year, it’ll happen Sept. 22-23 at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Ariz. Show organizers will try a new hybrid model in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with exhibits in one room and networking stations in another. AZSSA also hosts educational webinars for members.
The associations “superpower” is its ability to defend the industry in the legislative and regulatory arena, according to Anne-Mari DeCoster, who served as executive director for 10 years and is now a board member. Its accomplishments include modernizing the state’s lien laws, which provided a blueprint to help other state self-storage associations to push for reform. Through legislative campaigns, defensive interventions and departmental intercessions, AZSSA has proactively changed laws, worked to prevent or amend bad laws, and correctly interpreted storage law for state government agencies 19 times, the release stated.