The Arizona Self-Storage Association (AZSSA) has reinstated its district-liaison program to better connect with self-storage operators in areas outside the state’s primary markets. The designated liaison will give members in rural areas a voice within the organization and provide access to a board member, who’ll serve as a mentor, according to a press release.
“It’s vital to have representation in parts of the state such as Flagstaff, Yuma, Lake Havasu and the White Mountains,” said Amy Amideo, executive director.
The AZSSA initially launched the liaison initiative 20 years ago. The primary goal was to recruit a local person from each outlying area to serve as an extension of the association board and help inform new members about state statutes and promote collaboration. However, the program was initiated before the organization had an executive director or a tie-in with a board mentor, the release stated.
“With the industry changing at a rapid pace, including the advent of a new type of owner—investors/owners with little or no industry experience—the district liaison is needed more than ever to help maintain the integrity of the self-storage industry,” AZSSA officials said. The association expects the program to help re-establish relations with long-time members as well as provide support and a sense of community to new owners and managers of small operations, according to the release.
Some of that connection has been lost as a result of the pandemic, including the cancellation of many in-person events. When Amideo recently replaced Anne Mari DeCoster as executive director, she launched a “Ruralpalooza” tour as part of the association’s 25th anniversary, visiting the state’s rural markets and introducing herself to facility operators.
“While I was out meeting the owners and managers, I was also building relationships and seeing who might be a good fit for the district-liaison position,” Amideo said. “With COVID shutting everything down, this was the only way I could think of to introduce myself and let them know that AZSSA was here for them during this pandemic.”
“In the past, our dealings [with AZSSA] were primarily over the phone,” said Doug Hayhurst, owner of Xtra Space Self Storage in Mayer, Arizona. “Having a liaison is tremendous help to understand some of the issues we run into. It’s great to get that insight. It makes a big difference.”
The AZSSA has made it a priority to re-establish in-person events, including workshops and networking opportunities, as well as grow the local industry as a community, Amideo said.
Founded in 1996, AZSSA comprises more than 600 member facilities owned by approximately 300 owner/operators and more than 100 vendor members. Services include a legislative watch and legal resources, communications, an online facility and vendor search, education events and networking, and an annual conference and tradeshow.