I was born and raised in the self-storage industry. My family have been investors, third-party managers and facility operators since the early 1990s, and that has provided me with ample opportunities to learn the business.
When I was growing up, my mother was managing one of our facilities in Lufkin, Texas, and I enjoyed helping her in the office. When I turned 15, I officially started working at the site with her and my cousin. I got to see everything the industry had to offer, and I couldn’t wait to experience more. I wanted to contribute to the business and help it grow. Self-storage came naturally to me. I’ve always loved interacting with tenants to make personal connections, and keeping properties in tip-top shape.
When I graduated high school, I became the manager at another facility in our portfolio, this one in San Antonio. The property was up for sale, so I worked hard to ensure it was in perfect condition for the buyer. During this period, I learned a lot about what needs to be done to properly close a transaction, and I felt proud to have assisted with such a large task.
Once the facility sold, I moved back to my hometown and worked as an area supervisor for the family venture, overseeing several locations we managed or owned. Traveling back and forth between properties was fun for me because I was able to meet facility managers and investors I’d heard about my entire life. I also learned how to keep our teams happy while being in a supervisory position.
Spreading My Wings
After a while, I decided to move out of state and part ways with my family’s company. I wanted to carve my own path in the industry, so I found a job in Denver working as a call-center manager. We handled calls for 21 self-storage locations, sometimes video chatting with customers via kiosks. We also directed the onsite managers and assisted with daily operation.
The job was tough, but it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills, such as how to embrace technology while keeping a personal connection with tenants we never meet face to face. This is an experience I’ve drawn on recently, during the pandemic, using the knowledge to operate facilities remotely.
After about two years, my mom came to me with a job opportunity. Though I’d worked hard in my position at the call center, I didn’t picture myself being there long-term. I weighed the pros and cons and decided that if I was going to put in the hard work, it should be with my family business. They needed me, and I needed them!
So, I returned home to work, and I started taking college courses in business management. (My favorite class so far has been marketing.) After a year being back, I’ve learned more in my current role with the company than in any of my previous positions. I created our policy and procedures manual and helped create some training videos. I’ve learned to make budgets, compare charts and more.
The self-storage industry is full of opportunities to meet people, learn new skills and make your own path. It’s shown me that if you work hard and truly care about what you do, you’ll succeed in anything. My advice to anyone who’s interested in a self-storage career is to go for it! This is a great community, and many of us are dedicated to having fun while getting the job done. In my experience, hard work rarely goes unnoticed; and there’s always room to grow, experiences to embrace and things to learn!
Allicyn Bowley has 10 years of industry experience and is director of policy and procedures for Self Storage Science LLC, a provider of auditing, consulting and property-management services. She’s responsible for minimizing liability, ensuring company policies are up to date, and overseeing the company’s Colorado locations. To reach her, call 720.707.9277; email [email protected].