Inside Self-Storage 11/98: US Door & Building Components

December 1, 1998

5 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage 11/98: US Door & Building Components


US Door & Building Components
Looking to the future

By Tom Brecke

Don't accuseJohn McLane or Chip Cordes of letting grass grow under their feet. McLane, founder ofRoll-lite Storage Systems, and Cordes, general manager of Roll-lite, left that companyearlier this year to begin a new venture called US Door & Building Components.

Specializing in the manufacturing and design of self-storage systems and components,the Ocoee, Fla.-based company has begun producing a line of light-gauge framing packagesin addition to flush hallway systems, exterior doors and components for both single ormultistory units. US Door offers a wide range of products, including roll-up doors,hallway systems encompassing corridor piers, filler panels and dummy units, among othercomponents.

And while McLane and Cordes each have nearly 20 years of experience in the self-storageindustry, the pair are looking to the future of the industry, utilizing technology and newdesign as a major boost in bringing their new company into the next century. Like thecompany's logo says: New Company, New Design, New Era.

Design and Compatibility

Cordes saysthat along with the addition of more multiple-facility owners today, the first-time owneris far more savvy than he used to be, and more likely to build a larger facility on hisfirst go-around.

"The first-time buyers are not building little 100- or 150-unit, drive-upfacilities. They're putting up 100,000 square-foot, climate-controlled complexes. Yourfirst-time owner is requiring much more information than in the past," explainsCordes. "These guys are needing more on demographics, percentages, security measuresand the types of products that will work with things like security systems. It's much moresophisticated than it was in the past."

To meet the needs of both the big and small facilities, McLane says US Door isconcentrating heavily on new design and using modular systems that are compatible withexisting security systems, making installation easier for the many conversions targeted intoday's self-storage marketplace. In effect, the company is striving for new designswithout complicating installation or production.

"In the past, too many of the hallway and door systems were made up of individualpieces and parts," says McLane. "Everybody used existing pieces that they had orthat somebody else manufactured, and they brought them together to make a system. But themarket has gotten to the point that it needs a system designed modularly for ease ofinstallation."

From a quality standpoint, US Door's entire manufacturing process is conducted in theISO 9000 environment, a designation that assures customers that what they get is a qualityproduct.

"The ISO 9000 is a very important point because it requires that what you build beapproved by an outside company," says McLane. "They come in and inspect yourbuildings and make sure you're meeting their standards--which means you have productionand failure records available."


To keep pacewith the future of the industry, which according to McLane will be the standardization andcomputerization of equipment and manufacturing facilities, much of the company's machineryis computerized. The high-tech movement is an effort to bring higher-quality products tothe market. And McLane believes that those companies that aren't moving in that directionwill have a hard time competing in the future.

"A lot of our equipment is all computerized in an effort to eliminate human errorin the manufacturing and handling of the material in the manufacturing arena," saysMcLane. We're able to do that with standardized, modularized design systems on 5- and10-foot increments. We can standardize fewer and more dimensional parts and give theindustry what it needs."

Additionally, US Door plans to use the Internet as a strong point in its futureoperations and is gearing up its Website as an ordering outlet, especially for business inEurope, a virtually untapped market.

"We're working very hard to take the company into a high-tech situation by usingthe Internet," explains Cordes. "We see people being able to go to the pages onour Website and see how a building is put together, be able to designate the componentsthey want and be able to order them right off the Internet. From an internationalstandpoint, it will promote the ease of doing business with US Door for the products,hallway systems and individual building components."

Currently, the US Door Website at features a virtual walk-through thatshows how a self-storage metal building is erected. It also provides information on itsproduct-design standards and views of the hallway systems the company offers. Cordes saysthe company plans to have Internet-ordering capability in place by late next year.

"What I think is going to happen with the Internet is, people are going to getinformation about things that they don't know about," says Cordes. "What betterway for us to market our product and the industry as a whole, to people all over theworld, than with the Internet?"

The Future

The question everybody is asking these days is, "When will the current growth inself-storage peak?" While no one has an exact answer, McLane and Cordes were forcedto ask themselves that very question before starting US Door.

Says Cordes: "The biggest question we asked ourselves when we decided to startthis company was, 'How long is this surge in self- storage going to last?' I think thesize of the market is increasing annually faster than we can keep up with it. Sure, thepopulation is increasing, but it's the number of people within the population that are nowaware of self-storage. I think the whole mindset of self-storage is increasing themarket."

That increased knowledge is also being made clear to the decision makers for manycities and towns that are increasingly seeing self-storage as a bonus, not a plight.

"What is clear, is that the need (for storage) is there and more and moremunicipalities are moving toward a friendly relationship with self-storage, becausethey're finding it really serves a need," relates McLane. "In more and morecommunities today, they have zero-lot-line construction with a smaller housing unit.They're trying to stay away from having items like extra cars parked outside and theneighborhoods are adding more deed restrictions."

All of which plays right into the hand of self-storage, which is more than happy topick up the slack and store those extra items.

For more information, contact US Door & Building Components at (407) 877-0100;fax (407) 877-8875 or Web:

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