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Pondering Self-Storage Parallels to College Football Realignment With the ISS Top-Operators Lists

Though not quite the chaos of college football realignment, the top self-storage players continue to be active, as they jostle for position in the 2023 Top-Operators Lists. Here’s how you can access three tiers of data in this year’s release, which ranks the industry’s top 100 facility owners and top 50 management companies by rentable square feet.

Tony Jones

August 11, 2023

4 Min Read
Pondering Self-Storage Parallels to College Football Realignment

College football is around the corner, and if you're a fan, you're probably caught up in all the craziness that constitutes conference realignment. The hoopla, angst and unrest created by university defections to rival leagues—and caused the likely demise of the Pac-12—has been utterly dizzying.

While I can’t promise the same level of chaos within the annual release of this year’s Inside Self-Storage Top-Operators Lists, which rank the industry’s top 100 facility owners and top 50 third-party management companies, the numbers show the sector’s most formidable players have been plenty active.

As always, this yearly compilation not only positions the industry’s leading real estate investment trusts (REITs), multi-facility operators and management companies by net rentable square feet, it offers a glimpse into which power players are in aggressive growth mode, who’s holding steady and who’s selling assets. It also gives us an inkling into who’s lost and gained management contracts as a result of properties changing hands and brands.

Though the overall rate of growth across the lists has slowed after the rocket-ship ride experienced the last couple of years, the total rentable square footage controlled by the 131 companies represented on both lists topped 1.3 billion this year, an increase of 110.5 million square feet from 2022. If all that growth was spread evenly across the ranks it would equate to an average gain of more than 844,000 square feet per operator. In reality, of course, that’s not the case, but there was a swath of sizable, double-digit percentage increases among those in the top 75 of facility owners.

This year’s release once again has three tiers of information available. The simple list rankings are now viewable on the ISS website, while more detailed listings (company leadership; contact information; facility, unit and square-footage figures; operating names and expansion plans) are featured in the September issue of ISS Magazine. The magazine also features an analytical report by yours truly.

The full breadth of Top-Operators data we collect is in the annual ISS Store package, which is ready for purchase. The key to the package is a fully executable spreadsheet in Excel format. This is ideal for anyone who wants to do business with big industry players. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or investigate existing and potential competition, these lists are for you.

In addition to both complete lists in Excel format, the package includes a 21-page PDF companion comprising the analytical report of the list results and a full representation of the rankings in easy-to-read format. The lists feature data on owned vs. managed self-storage facilities for companies that do both, with breakouts for number of facilities, units and square footage for each.

The annual report is always an interesting foray through the ebb and flow of portfolio growth and contraction. Having consistent reporting from year to year allows us to chart square-footage fluctuations over time as well as chronicle the rise of recent aggressors and new players on the scene, such as Highline Storage Partners, KO Management, NexPoint Storage Partners, Spartan Investment Group and many others. In particular, the report tracks activity by the industry’s six largest players, putting their numbers in context with each other as well as the larger rankings. If you’d like to do your own in-depth tracking and analysis, previous lists for 2015 through 2022 are also available for purchase.

To give you a little taste of the data and activity logged on the 2023 lists, we’ve also published a special gallery (viewable to anyone), which provides an inside look at company movement in the latest ranks. It includes historical and comparison data and offers insight to factors that affected the lists this year. I always try to include an Easter egg or two within the gallery that aren’t reported elsewhere.

This year’s rankings are particularly notable because they were compiled before Extra Space Storage completed it’s historic merger with Life Storage. That seismic shift to the self-storage landscape is akin to the Pac-12’s real-life vanishing act or Alabama or Georgia hypothetically deciding to abruptly pull the plug on their football programs. Next year’s listings should be very interesting as a result, but this year’s installment sets the stage for everything that’s headed our way in the next 12 months.

Thank you to all the operators who voluntarily and faithfully submit their data each year. By providing annual updates, you provide the industry with a treasure trove of information and insight to what’s occurring in relation to investment, new development and expansion projects. If we didn’t collect information from you this year, but you wish to participate in next year’s campaign, please complete our online JotForm to ensure you’re contacted when we begin collecting 2024 Top-Operators data next May/June.

About the Author(s)

Tony Jones

ISS Store Manager, Contributing Editor, Inside Self-Storage

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