AMERCO, the parent company of U-Haul International Inc., has used crowdfunding to finance multiple self-storage facilities through an online program called the U-Haul Investors Club. During the last four years, the program has raised more than $65 million in investments, referred to as U-Notes, according to a press release.
The Web-based investment platform is housed at uhaulinvestorsclub.com and is open to non-accredited investors in all 50 states as long as they are adult U.S. citizens. Investors can pick between starting a regular account, an IRA or a college-savings account. U-Notes can be purchased for as little as $100, and there are no fees associated with the program, according to the release.
U-Notes are backed by specific assets, such as U-Haul self-storage locations or rental trucks and other moving equipment, and are registered through the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investments have fixed interest rates and defined payment schedules, with U-Note holders receiving quarterly payments comprised of interest and principal. By the time a U-Note matures, its outstanding principal has been repaid, company officials said.
“U-Haul’s concept here is to apply its do-it-yourself mentality, cultivated through its nearly 70 years in the moving and storage business, to the investment arena,” said George Huang, program manager.
The program was conceived by U-Haul Executive Vice President Jim Shoen during the financial crisis in 2008 as a way for the company to connect directly with investors, according to the release. It launched in 2011 and has funded self-storage projects in Harvey, La., and Lakeside, Ariz.
“The company believes this new complimentary form of borrowing will continue to expand as the public grows more familiar with the concept of crowdfunding,” Huang said.
AMERCO is the parent company of U-Haul International, Oxford Life Insurance Co., Repwest Insurance Co. and Amerco Real Estate Co. Established in 1945, U-Haul has 40 million square feet of storage space at more than 1,000 owned and managed facilities throughout North America.