Public Storage, a self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT) and management company, announced the passing of co-founder and chairman emeritus B. Wayne Hughes on Aug. 18. He was 87.
Hughes died at his home at Spendthrift Farm, a thoroughbred-breeding ranch in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s survived by his wife, Patricia, and children Wayne Hughes Jr. and Tamara Gustavson.
Hughes and business partner Kenneth Q. Volk Jr. founded Public Storage in 1972. Hughes served as president and co-CEO from 1980 to 1991. He then became chairman and CEO until his retirement in 2002.
Hughes, whose first name is Bradley, was born on Sept. 28, 1933, in Gotebo, Oklahoma. His family moved to Southern California when he was a child. It was there he was introduced to horse racing by his father. He received a scholarship to the University of Southern California, where he graduated in 1957, and later became one of the school’s largest donors. Hughes also served in the Navy, and founded American Homes 4 Rent, a Calabasas, Calif-based REIT that invests in single-family rental homes.
Hughes purchased the 700-acre Spendthrift Farm in 2004 and re-established its horse-breeding program. One of its stallions, Cloud Computing, was the winner of the 2017 Preakness Stakes, an annual thoroughbred horse race held in Baltimore. Another horse, Authentic, won the 2020 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“Wayne was my mentor in every sense of the word. His practical, no-nonsense approach to business and natural ability to ‘think outside the box’ were the keys to Public Storage’s success,” said Ron Havner, company chairman of the board of trustees. “He continually pushed us to innovate, so we made lots of mistakes; but we learned, kept growing and improved the business.”
Havner called Hughes a dedicated family man and generous philanthropist. “His charitable contributions span numerous organizations and beneficiaries, with finding a cure for childhood leukemia as his greatest passion,” he said. “He embodied the American dream—a classic entrepreneur who started with nothing and built several successful businesses in addition to Public Storage. He was iconoclastic.”
“On behalf of the over 5,000 employees of Public Storage, I want to acknowledge Wayne’s invaluable contributions to the company’s success. His legacy at Public Storage lives on through our culture of integrity and our commitment to our customers, our employees and the communities we serve,” said Joe Russell, CEO and president. “We send our deepest condolences to Wayne’s entire family, including his daughter, who serves on our board, and his son, who is a former board trustee.”
Based in Glendale, Calif., Public Storage has interests in 2,895 self-storage facilities in 39 states, with approximately 197 million net rentable square feet. It also holds a 35% interest in Shurgard Self Storage SA, which has 243 facilities in seven European countries, with approximately 13 million net rentable square feet.
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