June 9, 2020

3 Min Read
PODS Founder Launches Red Rover, a ‘Fetchable’ Hybrid of Portable and Self-Storage

Portable-storage pioneer Peter Warhurst, who founded PODS in 1998, has launched a new venture that combines aspects of mobile storage and self-storage. Launched in February, Red Rover LLC specializes in what Warhurst calls “fetchable storage.” Like portable storage, it involves customers storing their items in movable metal containers. However, the new model differs in terms of container pick-up and delivery as well as onsite access.

In the Red Rover model, the customer orders one or more storage units online. The eight-foot wide containers come in eight- and 16-foot lengths and can be combined in various configurations. He then receives a personalized gate code to access the Red Rover self-service lot and pick up a moving truck pre-loaded with his unit(s). He drives the truck to his goods, loads his containers, and returns them to the Red Rover site. With a paid one-month rental, the initial truck use is free from 8 a.m. to midnight, up to 60 miles. No special license is required, and there’s no need to pay for gas or tolls, according to the company website. Rates start at $159 per month.

Traditional portable-storage providers transport containers to and from a requested location, with no truck use by the customer. Red Rover claims its vehicles come with “the latest driver-assist safety features,” so users can feel confident on the road.

In addition, goods stored with mobile-storage firms are generally inaccessible while on site. The customer must wait until he retrieves his container for emptying before he can access his items. Red Rover gives users access to their items on location, so long as they schedule an appointment.

Red Rover’s first market is Tampa, Fla., with its main storage site near the Florida State Fairgrounds. There are two satellite locations: one in Largo, Fla., and the other near the Tampa International Airport. Warhurst, 67, intends to expand to 40 markets nationwide within four years, beginning on the East Coast and working west. Each market would have a primary storage facility along with several smaller satellites, the source reported.

Eventually, Warhurst envisions Red Rover expanding to smaller markets though the use of joint ventures. The startup cost for a large-market operation is expected to be about $4 million, while the joint-venture opportunities will run approximately $2 million, depending on the size of the market. Warhurst prefers joint ventures to a franchise model because they allow Red Rover to have more control, he told the source.

Though Warhurst initially pitched the fetchable-storage idea to PODS, which turned him down, he’s attracted about 24 investors since incorporating Red Rover two years ago, according to the source. He’s been joined in the venture by several former PODS colleagues, including George Spowart, who spent 11 years with the company, five as chief marketing officer.

“We are creating an entirely new industry. We will be very disruptive to the mini-storage and U-Haul segments,” Warhurst said. “We will be disruptive to PODS, too.”

Warhurst sold PODS in 2007 for $430 million. In 2017, he joined the executive team of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based valet-storage operator RedBin, where he was tapped to spearhead commercial growth, raise capital and drive expansion.

Business Observer, Storage Industry Pioneer Rides High Into Another High-Stakes Venture
Red Rover, Website

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