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Inside Self-Storage 4/99: National Development Services Inc.

April 1, 1999

4 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage 4/99: National Development Services Inc.

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National Development Services Inc.

Designing and building a future in self-storage

Adeveloper of self-storage facilities, National Development Services Inc. (NDS)has completed more than 125 projects throughout the United States since thecompany's inception in 1987--that's almost 4.8 million square feet and as muchas $140 million worth of development, says Mike Parham, owner and president."I started the company based on seeing a need for someone who could providedevelopment services within the self-storage industry, and those servicesinclude everything from consulting to developing to construction tomanagement," Parham says. With as much as 80 percent of the company'sbusiness being design/build projects--and a majority with institutionaldevelopers such as Shurgard, Storage Trust, Security Storage and Sovran--NDSprovides its clients the organization of its complete building program, frommarket selection to land acquisition, design, construction and management of theimprovements.

"We're doing all of the architecture and engineering in house, and we'vebeen very successful in that we've been able to go in and cut the period fromthe time the client picks out a site to the time they have the whole designplanned. And, we guarantee a price from the very beginning," says Parham.One of the reasons the company has dedicated itself to design/build projects, hepoints out, is the experience he had during the company's first three years ofbusiness. "We spent about 50 percent of our time redesigning every projectwe received from an architect or engineer who had never done a self-storageproject before. Their designs were too costly, and didn't incorporate all of thefeatures that are necessary to be both cost-effective and user-friendly."

If 20 years in the self-storage industry hasn't schooled Parham in the needsof self-storage owners and what features a facility's design should include, hisongoing interaction with customers has. The company's corporate headquarters, a6,000-square-foot building located in San Antonio, Texas, is adjacent to aself-storage project that NDS owns and operates. Each month, the company's 28employees rotate the responsibility of managing that facility--whether it be asecretary, a project manager or the president himself.

"We do this so we can keep our eyes on what's important to theself-storage customer, because what we provide is all in relation to the enduser. We need to be able to go to our customers and make recommendations basedon what's happening in their market," Parham says. "That's anotherreason we've chosen design/build--we're able to take a cursory look at themarket and recommend a different project design based on the most cost-effectivemethod of building and the availability of material. Our objective is to makesure that what we develop is the best, most cost-effective, most marketableproduct."

According to Parham, NDS has never lost a bid to a local contractor when itcomes to building self-storage facilities, and the company hasn't had to bid aproject in eight years. The reason for that, he says, is because of thecompany's expertise, experience and buying power. "When somebody hires meto do something," says Parham, "they have immediate access to myexpertise and my base of subcontractors and vendors. That's important, becausethere is a lack of skilled labor in the country today. Our clients see us aspeople they can depend on to get the job done, that understand theirbusiness."

In addition to running his business, Parham has contributed to the industryby speaking at numerous self-storage seminars and expos. "I want people tobe educated so they don't go out and make mistakes that cause problems for usall as an industry," he explains. This also gives him the opportunity tolearn more about his clients and their customers. "The thing that makes NDSunique is the amount of time we spend identifying our clients' needs and tryingto fulfill those needs. From being a developer, ourselves, we understand thatpretty well. Our clients can grow with us, and us with them. We're able to takea project and develop it with them over time."

With approximately 72 percent of the company's clients being repeat business,and completing anywhere from $15 to $25 million worth of work each year, thesuccess of NDS is self-evident. Will the company seek to expand? "We're notgoing to be the largest company in the self-storage industry. If we do $25million a year, that's probably our limit. We don't really want to do much more,because then we would lose the capability of the way we do business with ourclients."

NDS does it all: regional market analysis, site selection, development duediligence, business plans, brokerage, site planning, subcontracting, valueengineering, inspection services, operations management, marketing and more.Whether it be for an institutional developer or a smaller chain, NDS assistsclients in more than the construction of a facility, but in the designing andbuilding of a future for their business.

For more information about National Development Services Inc., contactMike Parham at (830) 980-8250; Web: www.ndsinc.com.

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