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More Consumers Seeking Green Products

More consumers are seeking green products, especially those that focus on energy and water efficiency, and there is every indication that trend will only get stronger, according to home building industry product suppliers who spoke at a press conference Jan. 22 during the International Builders' Show.
 
Representatives from Kohler Co., Marvin Windows and Doors, and Whirlpool Corp. talked about innovations that can lower homeowners' water and energy bills and also contribute to better indoor air quality.
 
"The industry is being transformed," says Mike Luzier, CEO for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center. Luzier moderated the press conference. Even as green home builders find relative success in a struggling housing market, it won't be long before sustainable building practices become the industry standard, he adds.
 
The NAHB is providing education and training as well as home certification services to help prepare home builders and remodelers to capitalize on this trend. NAHBGreen, the association's green building program, is expanding every month.
 
Energy efficiency is still the biggest driver, manufacturers said, but demand is also growing for water-efficient fixtures and appliances,  as well as windows and doors that contribute to improved indoor air quality, the speakers said.
 
Only one percent of the Earth's water is available for drinking, washing and other uses—97 percent is salt water and the remainder is part of the polar ice caps, points out Omer "Butch" Gaudette, director of trade relations for Whirlpool Corp. "In the near future, water efficiency will be just as important as energy efficiency is today."
 
"Water efficiency is not just important in water-starved areas," like the arid Southwest, agrees Shane Judd, senior product manager for water conservation at Kohler Co.  Increasingly, metropolitan areas where water supplies can't keep up with sharp population increases are also looking for solutions to manage water use.
 
Right now, there are 100 million toilets in use that each consume 3.5 gallons every time they are flushed. Switching to water-efficient models would have "a tremendous impact not only on water bills, but also for water conservation," Judd says.
 
Advances in technology have now allowed Marvin Windows and Doors to increase the size of its casement windows while maintaining their energy-efficient qualities, thus allowing home designs that take advantage of "daylighting" or natural lighting, so homeowners don't need to turn on their electric lights as often, says Brett Boyum, director of marketing for the Minnesota-based company.
 
And for Marvin and other industry leaders at the forefront of green, building sustainably is "a solid business practice. A sustainable product is a quality product, so a green product is a product that will last," Boyum says.
 
"Consumers and builders are starting to recognize the long-term benefit of green products. If you're not building green, you're not building, " especially in the current downturn, Gaudette says. 
  
The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 200,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multi-family construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with more than 800 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB's builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units for 2009. For more information, visit www.nahb.org.

Arizona Self Storage Association Holds 11th Annual Conference, May 12-13

The Arizona Self Storage Association (AZSSA) will hold its 11th annual conference and tradeshow at the Marriott Buttes Hotel in Tempe, Ariz., May 12-13. This year’s theme is “Survival of the Fittest,” focusing on how to make the most of business in challenging economic times.
 
The show includes separate programs for self-storage owners and managers. The owners’ schedule includes presentations on auditing self-storage, the state of the industry, an Arizona-specific market report, marketing in tough times and how the recession is impacting the business. Managers have access to a sales and marketing “boot camp” complete with role playing and real-life examples.
 
In addition, attendees will get an Arizona legal and legislative update. The winner of the AZSSA “Pioneer Award” for 2009 will be honored during lunch on May 13. The tradeshow will feature more than 50 tabletop exhibits.
 
Conference and tradeshow sponsorships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 602.374.7184; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.azselfstorage.com.

Sommer and Good Named MiniCo VPs

Hardy Good, chairman and CEO of MiniCo Inc., has announced the promotions of Dan Sommer and David Good. Sommer has been named vice president, publishing, marketing and communications, as well as chief marketing officer. Good has been promoted to vice president, information technology, and chief information officer.

Sommer joined MiniCo in 2007 as director of marketing and communications. In June 2008, he assumed leadership of MiniCo Publishing. His responsibilities include corporate communications, marketing strategies and executive management of MiniCo Publishing including e-commerce, webinar programs and other Internet activities.

David Good joined MiniCo in 2005 as director of information technology. In his new position, he will develop and implement next-generation front-end systems for MiniCo’s IT department to include hardware, software and online application development.

Since 1974, Phoenix-based MiniCo Inc. has been providing insurance programs, publications, products and services created expressly for the selfstorage industry. For more information, visit www.minico.com.

Life Storage Center Drops Lawsuit Against Libertyville

The city of Libertyville, Ill., settled a lawsuit brought by Life Storage Center that will allow plans to move forward on an upscale self-storage facility the company originally proposed in 2007. The Plan Commission had approved the building for 100 Solar Drive, but the Village Board vetoed the idea, prompting the lawsuit.
 
The facility was originally intended for residential customers, but the Board did not want families traveling in and out of a business district, according to Village Administrator Kevin Bowens. Village staff continued to meet with Life Storage and developed a new plan. Now the customer focus will be “incubator” businesses that can operate offices and use storage space on site. Since the new plan was approved by the Board, the lawsuit will be dropped.
 
Source: Libertyville-Review.com, Libertyville settles self-storage lawsuit

Self-Storage Tenant Background and Credit Checks

Most self-storage owner and operators shudder at the thought of conducting tenant background and credit checks. Perhaps it’s the fear of losing business. Hopefully, this article will put those fears to rest.
 
The Research
We were fortunate enough when we started researching this industry that we found Inside Self-Storage. Through the publication, it was suggested to us early on that we do background and credit checks to protect our business. Our first thought process was “Wow! Won’t that scare away our potential occupants?”

As we started doing research on companies offering background and credit checking, the fear of loosing business diminished. We then started looking for different services that could give us software appropriate for our facility, which offers RV and boat storage along with climate- and non-climate-controlled self-storage.

We reviewed a few companies and found one that seemed to be very RV/boat centric, making it a good fit for our needs. The software allowed us to have levels of access for our employees, restricting their viewing of other people’s credit and criminal history, information we felt should be restricted to management exclusively.
We also wanted to be able to adjust certain criteria, leading us to create categories: 

  • Approved
  • Denied
  • Manager’s review

Then we made a few simple decisions: Anyone with a felony criminal record would be denied, as would potential tenants in bankruptcy or collections.


 
The Benefits
After attending many association meetings and conferences we have found few facility managers can say they have no collection issues.  Since we have been using this process, though, we have not had any at our site. Yes, we have a few slow-paying occupants, but now they are all less than 21 days late.

The cost for the service is minimal. For our program, we only pay per occupant, a cost that we pass onto the tenant in our one-time administrative fee. Input time to activate the checks is also nominal. Perhaps most importantly, the only customers we have lost are felons and individuals with bad credit.

The way we look at it, self-storage operators can pay a minimal fee upfront to conduct background checks, or pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for legal fees—not to mention the angst of dealing with delinquencies and lien sales. Wouldn’t it be nice if these were completely a thing of the past?

We think the secret to eliminating tension with tenants when we tell them we conduct credit checks is in how the information is presented. We explain that we do it for their protection as well as our own. Most people readily understand the practicality of keeping the self-storage site safe by eliminating felons and other questionable characters. It makes them feel protected. The ones who give you grief usually have something to hide and they are the ones you send to your competitor.

We have hundreds of people visit our facility and have only turned a way a handful. In hindsight, the few times we have lowered our standards and allowed questionable tenants in the door, we have been sorry. These are the same people who have become slow pays. Plus, one advantage of the software we selected is that you can adjust your credit standards depending on how the economy is doing. 
 


Take Out the Guesswork
We all know you cannot judge a book by its cover, but we are all learning that you can’t judge a self-storage tenant by first appearances. We have noticed a trend: The people we have rejected came into the office well dressed and looked as if they were solid citizens with good credit. On the contrary, these are sometimes the folks with sketchy backgrounds and bad credit. The system reveals credit facts and doesn’t require us to be clairvoyant.

Doing a background and credit check allows you take control of your business. The process saves you endless hours of collections and also gives you an edge on your competitors. Again remember, you can set the criteria so it fits your occupant base. The success is in how you present this to your potential occupants. Homeland security guidelines can help you understand why this process is so important.

We are always trying to find ways to increase our security and protect our facility financially. We have found that signing up for the background and credit check service has been money well spent. 
  
Terri Heil is the business development manager and Ed Heil is the manager of operations and security at Lake Havasu RV & Boat Storage of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Both belong to the Arizona Mini Storage Association and are regional chairpersons for the Arizona Mini Storage Association.  For more information, call 877.764.1961; visit www.lakehavasustorage.com.  
 

Certain Food Pairings Leads to Better Health

While everyone knows eating more fruits, vegetables and fish can boost health, a new article demonstrates how the right combination of foods is even better.

In "Natural Selections" in Men's Health's Best Life magazine, February 2009 issue, epidemiologist David Jacobs calls these combinations food synergy. He says evolution has tested food pairings and that's why they're healthier for us.

The right food combinations can help people lose weight, prevent cancer, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, the article states. Here are the food combinations discussed in the article:

  • Tomatoes and avocadoes
  • Oatmeal and orange juice
  • Broccoli and tomatoes
  • Blueberries and grapes
  • Apples and chocolate
  • Lemon and kale
  • Soy and salmon
  • Peanuts and whole wheat
  • Red meat and rosemary
  • Turmeric and black pepper
  • Garlic and fish
  • Eggs and cantaloupe
  • Almonds and yogurt

Source:  Seattle.pi.com,  Food Combinations Can Improve Your Health

Sea Watch Realty Brokers $1.1M Self-Storage Sale

Sea Watch Realty in New Bedford, Mass., brokered the sale of Pleasant Street Self Storage in West Bridgewater to North Shore Capital Partners LLC. The 302-unit facility, located adjacent to Route 24, sold for $1.1 million. The storage facility was sold by Augusta Realty Co. of Falmouth. Steve Stressenger and Douglas Munro of Sea Watch Realty were the listing brokers for the property. For more information, visit www.seawatchrealty.com.

ISS Blog

Spotlight on Top Operators

The hotel and restaurant industries have Mobil Travel Guides and AAA to paste them with stars. Siskal and Ebert made movie critiques nearly as famous as movie-going itself with a thumbs up or thumbs down. Forbes has its list of the world's richest people, and each year People Magazine publishes magnificient pictorials of the world's sexiest men alive (Dare I say, There ain't nothing wrong with that!).

While I'd like to say that Inside Self-Storage was going to follow in the footsteps of People's photographers, I can do only what my publisher allows. And so, sometime long ago (in the '90s), we created the Top-Operators List for the self-storage industry. It's nowhere near as scintillating as the sexiest men alive, but it sure stirs the pot in the storage world.

This year's Top-Operators List is currently in the works, slated for an April Inside-Self-Storage publish date. Who will make the nation's top-100 multi-facility operators in the world of self-storage? Well, that remains to be calculated (by square footage) and determined. But I wanted to remind or alert any readers who'd like to participate that the time is now: Fill out your Top-Operators List Form immediately. And then stay tuned for the great unveiling in the April issue if ISS. It's sure to get a thumbs up, five stars ... or at least a nod of approval from my publisher.

Obama's First Day as President

After a day of celebrations, including an evening gala, President Barack Obama is ready for work.

Obama began the first full day of his presidency with a prayer service at the National Cathedral in northwest Washington. He is expected to meet with his economic team and top brass from the Pentagon.

In accordance with his campaign promises, Obama will meet with the top U.S. officers to discuss a plan to have combat forces out of Iraq in 16 months, an adviser said.

Source:  CNN.com,  Work Begins for President Obama

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Big Yellow Wins HSBC Contract

Self-storage group Big Yellow has won a contract with an affiliate of HSBC Specialist Investments to manage a portfolio of 10 self-storage facilities. The storage sites, located in the north of England and Scotland, will be branded as Armadillo Self Storage.

Big Yellow will be entitled to certain management and incentive fees over the five-year contract period.

Big Yellow was founded in 1998 by Nicholas Vetch, Philip Burks and James Gibson and listed on AIM in May 2000, moving to the Official List of the London Stock Exchange in 2002. For more information, visit http://www.bigyellow.co.uk/.

Source:City A.M. Big Yellow Wins Management Contract

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Big Yellow Sells Four Self-Storage Properties to Partnership
Big Yellow Self Storage Reports a Drop in Profit