January 2, 2007

5 Min Read

Barry Switzer knows all about victory. He has one of the highest winning percentages of any college football coach in history. Now, the former head football coach for the national champion Oklahoma Sooners and Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys scores with the founding of Switzers Locker Room in Oklahoma City.

In 2002, Switzer, Hunter Miller, and Drs. Phillip Bird and Andrew Frost formed a partnership to provide self-storage with a difference. The company owns four properties in the Oklahoma City metro area and manages Centennial Storage Center in Frisco, Texas. Two more properties are in the works for spring development as well as the expansion of two existing properties.

The Franchise Concept

Switzers is also venturing into the franchising realm. We have created the proper relationships and built the perfect team to help others get into the self-storage industry, says Craig Bodenhamer, operations manager. The company has three franchises under way. The properties are in the early planning stage, and Switzers is working with the owners on development strategies for each site.

Switzers will create the proper unit mix based on the perceived market demand, and oversee facility construction, Bodenhamer explains. When the store is complete, Switzers will provide staffing and management. Well make sure each property provides the consumer with the same great service, security and efficient storage that marks all our properties, Bodenhamer says.

Its in the Name

To win against the competition, a storage company needs to provide a customer with more than just space for his belongingstrust is vital. Switzer is an icon in Oklahoma, thanks to the states love for college football and his coaching success. He honed his craft at the University of Oklahoma and directed the Oklahoma Sooners to three national titles and 12 conference titles. In 1996, he coached the Dallas Cowboys to win Super Bowl XXX, securing a place in the Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Customers feel they know him and his company, Bodenhamer says. They are comfortable with Switzers, as if theyre storing their possessions with a friend.

Switzers Locker Room owns 253,000 square feet (1,600 units) of storage space. Through construction and expansion, 111,000 square feet (700 units) will be added by the end of spring, and 150,000 square feet (930 units) within the 1½ years. Switzers also manages 66,500 square feet (530 units) in Frisco, Texas. Franchising is expected to add another 250,000 square feet (1,630 units) in the Oklahoma City market in the next two years.

The company selects sites in commercial areas with high visibility and traffic count. Stores benefit from local businesses needing storage room. Oklahoma Citys booming residential real estate market has led Switzers to establish properties near new developments, Bodenhamer says. Careful site selection helps Switzers facilities maintain an overall occupancy of 83 percent. Each facility offers climate-control units, moving supplies, locks, month-to-month leasing and online payments. Twenty-four-hour access is available to approved customers. Each store will accept and delivery freight packages, and the company expects to offer a free rental truck at move-in.

Security is provided by Sentinel Systems Corp.s WinSen management-operating system, and a gate-operating system from PTI Integrated Systems. Cameras and DVR systems also deter crime. As an added measure, gate access is limited to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. However, the company considers its on-site resident manager to be the best security measure. Future properties will include an apartment for management, Bodenhamer says.

Sooner Traditions of Oklahoma is the construction manager for all Switzers properties and Cannon Storage Systems, based in Lawton, is the contractor. All facilities are single-story metal with steel piers and headers; they have metal-panel exterior sheeted walls with a baked-on enamel finish and a metal standing-seam roof.

Learning the Plays

A football connection led to Switzers interest in storage. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, also owns Blue Star Storage in Dallas. I decided if he thought it was a beneficial industry, it wouldnt be a bad idea to test the market in Oklahoma, says Switzer, who obtained plans for his first site from Jones.

In coaching, I have found if you surround yourself with the proper coaches and players, you will always be successful, Switzer says. Make sure you have the right managers; they are your quarterback and ultimately can dictate how your team functions and make all the difference in the world. The company selects personnel who are proficient in dealing with people and teaches them to efficiently administer the facilities. Rita Ingham, regional manager, is credited with doing an excellent job training all site managers.

The company has implemented an efficient warm calling program. It targets several businesses in the local area with letters describing Switzers services. The packages include nail files or emery boards captioned, Your Files Are No Problem for Us, and are followed by a phone call to verify the consumer received the letter. At a later date, facility reps visit with a small gift bag. Yellow Page ads and Internet exposure are also part of the companys promotion. But weve been very fortunate to build our business with customer referrals, word-of-mouth, and excellent locations, Bodenhamer says.

Switzer sees a bright future for the industry. As for American culture continues to put credit in processing more things, self-storage will grow.

I love this industry, he says. Its a good service to provide the people in the Oklahoma City area. 

For more information, call 405.217.8380; www.switzerslockerroom.com.

Switzer to Speak at ISS Las Vegas Expo

Renowned ex-football coach Barry Switzer will deliver the keynote address for the upcoming Inside Self-Storage Las Vegas Expo, the industrys largest trade event of the year, Feb, 20-23, at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Feb. 20-23.

Switzer was the head coach for collegiate and professional football teams, the Oklahoma University Sooners and the Dallas Cowboys. He has one of the highest winning percentages of any college coach in history, and is one of only two head coaches to win both a national collegiate championship and a Super Bowl.

Since his football career, Switzer authored a best-selling autobiography, Bootleggers Boy, written with Bud Shrake with a forward by Joe Paterno. His presentation, Winning Strategies & Beyond, is slated for Feb. 21 at 9 a.m.

For show information and to register, visit www.insideselfstorage.com/expo

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