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Record-Setting Inside Self-Storage World Expo Helps Industry Professionals Invest in Their Future and Business

The record-setting crowds at last week’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas are proof positive that the industry is striving toward new heights, with participants eager to learn all they can and make the right investment in their future and business. This article shares details about the event, which marked the silver anniversary of the ISS brand.

May 2, 2016

7 Min Read
Record-Setting Inside Self-Storage World Expo Helps Industry Professionals Invest in Their Future and Business

The record-setting crowds at last week’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas are proof positive that the industry is striving toward new heights, with participants eager to learn all they can and make the right investment in their future and business. Now in its 25th year, the ISS Expo aims to inspire, energize and reward participants with the knowledge and confidence they need to move forward and make smart, profitable decisions—whether they’re building a new operation or reinvigorating an existing one.

From the standing-room-only opening session to the overflowing exhibit hall, the event known as the industry’s “largest and most comprehensive conference and tradeshow” exceeded even the expectations of its founder, ISS Vice President Troy Bix. “The ISS Expo has always been the place for new developers, investors, managers and owners to learn about the storage industry and how they can be successful in their endeavors; but it’s also the premier education platform for existing storage professionals,” he says. “They come to the ISS Expo year after year to hone their skills, learn about new products and network with their peers.”

This year’s show experienced attendee growth of more than 30 percent over the 2015 event. Not only were all 50 U.S. states represented but also seven Canadian provinces and 34 countries. Though the throng of approximately 3,600 attendees was an amazing turnout, veterans who have been watching industry cycles of activity weren’t surprised to see the audience swell. Attendees waited eagerly to enter the sold-out exhibit hall featuring products and services by more than 180 companies.

“It was appropriate that the 25th-anniversary expo would be one of the biggest in over a decade,” says Jim Chiswell, owner of industry consulting firm Chiswell & Associates LLC and a long-time expo presenter.

The numbers around the show were outstanding before anyone even arrived on site at the Paris Hotel & Resort. To begin, the education program was more robust than ever, comprising seven specialty workshops, 45 education seminars, 25 roundtable discussions, four vendor presentations and two open-forum Q&As. It also included several seminars designed specifically for Spanish speakers and a legal presentation hosted by the Nevada Self Storage Association. It boasted nearly 100 total presenters.

The exhibit hall also surpassed capacity, being completely sold out. A total of 173 companies showcased their latest products and services on the show floor, with eight setting up shop in a first-ever overflow exhibit area outside the main hall. Some of these companies were among the event’s 29 first-time exhibitors.

“There’s tremendous growth happening in the self-storage industry right now,” Bix says. “Operators are experiencing higher occupancy rates, and new development is underway all over the world. It’s an excellent time to be in self-storage.”  

Laying Out the Path

First-time attendees David Collier (middle) and Tom Collier (right) talk with Alyssa Vanderpool of storEDGE, which offers technology solutions to the storage industry. The Colliers, who opened Extra Life Storage last month in Terre Haute, Ind.,  atttended the show to meet industry vendors and connect with other storage operators. (Photo courtesy of storEDGE.)Among the many industry realities that were reinforced at this year’s expo is the fact that self-storage has become one of the best investments for entrepreneurs. The attendee pool included many new developers, owners and investors, including some who were preparing to close on potential deals. The Development Workshop, a long-time favorite, and the new Investment Workshop, were both packed with inquisitive and aspiring minds. Overall, the show drew more than 1,000 first-time attendees.

David Collier, who opened Extra Life Storage last month in Terre Haute, Ind., with his son, Tom, attended the show for the first time looking to learn more about the industry, connect with other operators and “borrow their ideas.” Like many new owners, the Colliers had a tract of land they wanted to develop and determined storage would be the ideal use. Because their facility sits on less than an acre and includes only 66 units, they were seeking ideas to get a better return on their investment. “We’re looking for additional products and services we can provide,” David says.

 

Nathan Christensen, resident manager for Golden State Storage Tropicana in Las Vegas, attended the expo to explore his own investment path. “My wife and I are managers and had attended previously to take the classes in the Management Track. Lately, we’ve been discussing making the jump to being owners, and wanted to attend the owner/investor education track to further educate ourselves on the owner's mindset,” he says.

Attending these session was an “eye-opener” for the couple, Christensen says. “Gaining insight from experienced and seasoned industry veterans is extremely helpful in guiding us in the right direction.” 

Continuing Down the Road to Success

While those new to the industry were just beginning their journey, established professionals attended the expo to lock in the coordinates for success. “Wall-to-wall attendance at educational workshops and individual sessions is testimony to the serious focus of attendees,” Chiswell says.

This year’s ISS Expo included seven specialty workshops as well as 45 education seminars, 25 roundtable discussions, four vendor presentations and two open-forum Q&As. It also included several seminars designed specifically for Spanish speakers and a legal presentation hosted by the Nevada Self Storage Association. This year’s education program included three fundamentals tracks for newbies: Investor 101, Manager 101 and Owner 101. It then offered tracks for more experienced operators (Advanced Manager, Advanced Marketing, Advanced Owner/Investor, Revenue Management and Technology). It also included a Building Track designed specifically for those on the development side and a Global Track for those exploring international markets.

Kathy Graham, general manager of Storage Near Me, which operates eight facilities in Arkansas and is building another in the state, attended the show to get more insight on property management and marketing. “[The show] gives you a pick me up on how to motivate your managers and yourself while learning to better operate your facilities,” she says.

Scott Simon gained a new perspective on his role as resident manager of A1 U Store It in St. Louis. “I enjoyed my first-ever ISS World Expo convention because I didn’t just learn some new things that will help me manage a facility but heard from speakers that reaffirmed what I was correctly doing, and it gives me peace of mind,” he says.

Education standouts for Simon included the legal seminars. “Those who didn’t attend the law sessions with Scott Zucker and Jeffrey Greenberger missed out on a lot of valuable information to protect us from liability,” he says. “Jeffery hit home with me how critical bailment is to outside parking storage, which I manage at my facility and now will implement more strident protection. Scott explained everything in a way everyone could easily understand.”

Ashley Dawn, a property manager for A Plus Storage of Tennessee LLC wasn’t only a first-time show attendee; she also made her expo speaking debut with a seminar titled, “The Facts of Self-Storage Life: Things You Need to Know About Being Facility Manager.” Dawn was astounded by the wealth of information and camaraderie among the attendees, speakers and exhibitors. “I love the people of self-storage. They’re awesome. Everyone is here to learn and grow,” she says. “There’s so much value in coming here. I wish all owners would invest in their managers and send them to this show.”  

The 45 education seminars that were recorded during the ISS Expo will be available in DVD and on-demand format. DVD pre-orders can be made now. Customers can choose from 45 individual seminars and 13 discount packages covering self-storage ownership, management, marketing, development, construction, investing, revenue management and more.

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