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The New Supply Side USA: Five Questions With Company President and CEO James Hawley

Inside Self-Storage talks with Jim Hawley, president and CEO of Supply Side USA, about the company new focus and products.

1. Tell us about Supply Side USA and its products.

Supply Side USA is a retail, consumer-products company focused on self-storage and mail-and-ship centers in the United States and Canada. We develop, package and market a full line of moving and storage products such as high-quality locks, boxes, Bubble Wrap-brand protective packaging, tapes and kits. Our PackRite brand is a recognized leader in a cohesive retail merchandising approach, which provides our customers with an upscale, professionally packaged and merchandised retail program for their stores. 
2. What is your role with Supply Side USA?

My role is president and CEO, focusing primarily on customer sales and new-product marketing. I’m very customer-driven and try to spend as much time in the market as possible, asking questions of store owners and managers to uncover new opportunities to help them with their business. Innovation and marketing drive everything in business, and it’s a passion for new ideas that keeps us a step or two ahead. You will not find a more innovative bunch than the folks at Supply Side USA.
3. The company’s name recently changed. What’s behind this, and what is Supply Side USA’s new mission?

The old Supply Side ceased operation due to financial difficulty last year. We found a buyer for the assets who wanted to put money in the company and keep it going. The name change was fortuitous. Supply Side is a registered trademark and came along with the sale of the company. Our website URL has been for years, so we just followed that use in naming the new company. So now, when you Google “Supply Side USA,” we come out No. 1. It just worked out that way, which is awesome.
4. Why should self-storage operators sell retail products?

Self-storage sites are a perfect place to market protective-packaging products because they have a captive customer with a specific need. Storage customers are there for many reasons: extra space, moving, downsizing, divorce, business and many others. Most have not dealt with the need for protective packaging before and, therefore, need to be educated on how to best keep their belongings.

A well-trained storage operator along with a properly merchandised program can add thousands of dollars of sales and profit to a facility each month and increase the value of the property. Because self-storage is primarily real estate-driven, we find operators often need expertise in retail programs. That’s where Supply Side USA comes in.

We offer a complete program of products and merchandising options to suit their needs for a specific market. We identify 10 or more attributes of each site in a program we call “Store of the Community.” These attributes include space available for retail displays, store location, traffic patterns, competitive landscape, demographics, customer base, etc. Then we customize a program based on those findings.

Most competitors try to jam as much product into the stores as possible under the old sales adage that “a happy dealer is a loaded dealer.” We find this practice tends to overstock most stores and return on investment is compromised. By taking into account each store’s unique market, we can tailor a program that sells. This is a whole different approach Supply Side USA has developed for retail planning. We’re also a one-stop-shop for protective packaging, locks and managers’ items, thereby saving operators time and money.
5. What is the future of retail and self-storage? More green products?

Self-storage retail is always developing. We went through years of trying to sell everything someone would need for every task relating to moving and storage. What we found is the basics do best and provide the best ROI. Current programs are simple: streamlined and effective.

We also found sites selling humidity absorbers in the desert, lock de-icers in Florida and other items that made little sense. These issues are taken care of with our Store of the Community approach. Through our website, we can customize a program that allows operators to limit what a manager can order and even provide an electronic signoff. Ultimately, we see in-store scanning and inventory programs to allow more visibility to what’s on hand and what’s moving.

We’re certainly seeing the development of more green products, rental solutions and packaging-recycling programs. Think about how much product ends up in landfills after a move or season of storage. Protective packaging is a huge contributor to the waste stream. Green products are not only better for the planet, they’re big business, and the companies that capitalize on them will do well.

We fully intend to develop green initiatives in all markets we serve.
“Creating Retail Excellence” is our mantra. We’ve come through a rough time this past year, but are now poised to serve those customers who value excellent retail programs, one-stop shopping, great service and innovation. It’s a goal, not a destination, as we constantly work to improve our customers’ businesses.

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