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Marcus & Millichap Broker Self-Storage Sale in Kent, Wash.

Rodgers, Deutsch & Turner acquired the Clock Tower Self Storage complex in Kent, Wash., from Hemstreet Development Corp. for $6.3 million, or approximately $100 per square foot. Built in 1988, the self-storage facility totals 58,148 square feet on more than 5.5 acres. Joel Deis, Chris Secreto and Michael Morgan of Marcus & Millichap in Seattle handled both sides of the deal. For more information, visit www.marcusmillichap.com.

Baker and Greene Join NC Self Storage

Matthew Baker has been hired as facility manager for NC Self Storage, a new climate-controlled, two-acre storage facility in Southern Pines, N.C. Baker has more than 10 years of management experience in the hotel and retail industry.

In addition, Sandra Greene has been hired as assistant manager. She has more than 20 years of experience in working with the state of North Carolina. The business also offers Penske truck rentals. Info: www.ncselfstorage.net

New Orleans Portable Storage Goes Bankrupt, Customers Wait for Belongings

New Orleans Portable Storage, a Harahan, La.-based franchise of the national company Smartbox, has gone under, but the company’s customers have yet to be notified. Some are finding out it may be difficult to reclaim their belongings.

On Jan. 13, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in Charlotte, N.C. On the 14th, local Eyewitness News found the warehouse locked and unattended, with hundreds of storage crates in the parking lot, only some marked with customers’ names. According to a story by WWLTV, most were unlocked and empty.

Eyewitness News was unable to reach company owner Charlie Fonville for comment, but eyewitnesses contacted president and CEO Mike Lowe via phone. He said containers containing any customer goods should be locked inside the warehouse, while outside containers should be empty. But getting inside the warehouse won't be possible, he explained, until the bankruptcy issue can be further settled.

The Harahan franchise is independently owned and operated, but Lowe said his company is working to quickly find a new owner. Smartbox is working with a court-appointed lawyer in the bankruptcy case to get customers their valuables.  It remains unclear how long such a process will take. 

Source: WWLTV.com, Storage company's bankruptcy leaves some without belongings

Sign Bases

Ideal Shield, manufacturer of bumper post sleeves, guardrails and handrails, introduces pyramid and octagon sign bases for convenient, portable or permanent signage needs.

Made of low-density polyethylene plastic, these sign bases are designed to reduce maintenance, increase visibility, prevent fading and cracking, and enhance facility appearance. The pyramid sign base is available with wheels for easy mobility, particularly handy if signage needs to be moved for maintenance, remodels or snow removal. The octagon sign base is available for bolt-in applications.

Both bases weigh 24 pounds each, are tip resistant when filled with concrete, sand or water, and come in blue, red and yellow. Custom colors are available upon request. Info: www.idealshield.com

Hawaii Self Storage Offers 2009 College Scholarships

Hawaii Self Storage (HSS) is accepting applications for its 2009 college-scholarship program. The company is offering a dozen $1,000 scholarships to qualified Oahu public high school students. The deadline for applications is Feb. 16, 2009.
 
For eligible students, the scholarship is renewable for a maximum of two years toward an associate’s degree and up to four years for a bachelor's degree. In the past three years, HSS has awarded more than $150,000 through 51 scholarships.
 
To qualify, a student must be a graduating senior from one of the following public high schools: Aiea, Farrington, Kaimuki, Kalani, Kapolei, Leilehua, McKinley, Mililani, Moanalua, Pearl City, Radford or Waipahu. He or she must be a Hawaii resident formally accepted to or enrolled in a recognized degree program at an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher education and be enrolled full time, with a minimum of 12 credits per semester or the minimum number of credits required by the degree program. To renew the scholarship, the student must maintain a cumulative minimum grade-point average of 3.0 each year.
 
"We see education as key to making Hawaii a better place," said Marketing Manager Shaun Salvador. "Hawaii Self Storage, as a locally owned and community-minded business, understands the importance of educating Hawaii students, and we will remain committed to providing the financial resources needed for students to develop into future community leaders."
 
All interested and eligible students must complete and submit the required application form and essay to Hawaii Self Storage by Feb. 16. For more information, visit: http://hawaiiselfstorage.net/scholarships.asp. Information is also available at www.myspace.com/hawaiiselfstorage.
 
HSS is Hawaii’s largest self-storage company, with facilities in Kaimuki, Kapolei, Mililani, Pearl City and Salt Lake. A locally owned company, it has numerous programs designed to give back to the Oahu community, including the Lockers for Literacy program and support of athletic teams. The company was named a 2006, 2007 and 2008 Best of the Best by The Honolulu Advertiser.

Washington Gears Up for President's Inauguration

Military and police personnel will be out in full force Tuesday as the  expected 2-3 million people descend upon the nation's capital for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

An army of police, Secret Service agents and military personnel will keep a close eye on Obama as he says the 39 words that will officially make him the nation's 44th president.

Inauguration security also includes technology ranging from satellites and surveillance cameras aimed at the city to electronic sensors sniffing the air for signs of radiation and biological or chemical weapons.

Source:  ABC News,Inauguration Security: Combination of Manpower and Technology

Security Self Storage of Florida Holds Blood Drives

Security Self Storage held a blood drive at two of its Florida locations on Saturday in recognition of January as National Volunteer Blood Donor in Month. The company partnered with The Community Blood Center, an affiliate of the NCH Healthcare System, which worked with local businesses to offer fun venues, donor gifts and raffle prizes for participating blood donors.

The Jan. 17 blood-drive events were co-sponsored by InTroubleZone Productions and John Marazzi Nissan. Successful donors received several free gifts from local businesses as well as discounted items. They were also entered into a drawing for more than 30 prizes at each location from hair, nail and beauty salons, restaurants, hotels, Naples Zoo, Publix, Super Target, Home Service companies and more. Refreshments were provided by Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page.

The Community Blood Center’s goal is to encourage more people to give blood and make life-saving a habit. Details regarding locations, gifts and prizes can be found at www.givebloodcbc.org.

Marcus & Millichap Sell Cotati Mini Storage

Marcus & Millichap sold Cotati Mini Storage in Cotati, Calif., for $830,000. Bobby Loeffler and Tyler Skelly in the company’s Sacramento office listed the 142-unit property for the David & Betty Cate Family Trust. The buyer, Shaw Moaveni, was also represented by Loeffler & Skelly. The buyer paid all-cash for the infill asset. Cotati Mini Storage is a 13,276-net-rentable-square-foot facility on 0.96 acres. It has four single-story buildings, asphalt driveways and a manager’s office. The buyer plans to hold the property for investment. For more information, visit  www.marcusmillichap.com.

Being the Best We Can Be: Self-Storage Management

Whoever came up with the U.S. Army slogan, “Be all that you can be,” wasn’t thinking about self-storage managers, but they could have been. The responsibilities of storage managers certainly require them to be all that they can be on a continual basis.

Topping off the list of responsibilities is the need for managers to provide quality customer service. Fulfilling that job, though, is another whole list. What do I mean? Below, I begin to define the many facets of customer service:

Providing assistance and counseling to our prospective customers when they first inquire about our storage facility. A good customer-service provider can interpret the specific needs (size of space), the value of the product (security, cleanliness, bright well-maintained units, etc.), and the price the customer is willing to pay, and then translate those needs into our objectives (profit). Guiding customers to choose the right unit size for their needs assures them they have made the right choice for the product that they are using.

Adapting to a variety of situations professionally and smoothly. For example, a skilled manager can go from signing a contract with a new customer to handling a delinquent tenant over the phone without missing a beat. Moreover, when conversing with the latter, he can diplomatically convince the tenant to pay late fees without sounding offensive or prompting the delinquent tenant to vacate the unit.

Knowing when to step up to community service by donating space for charity programs, providing boxes for a specific cause or volunteering personal time.

Willingness to open/close gates after hours in order to accommodate a special need by a customer.

Taking a bottle of water out to customers during the hot summer months or a cup of hot chocolate in the winter, just because you have their comfort in mind.

Solving problems with customers, be it to help reserve a rental truck or make a copy of a lost key for a military wife who needs to gain access to the family’s stored records.

Greeting everyone with a smile and firm handshake just to show you care about them and their business.

Way of Life

Is my list conclusive? Not in the least. I’m sure you can think of many other examples. The moral is this: Customer service is an attitude and a way of life.

When I hear from my customers that our managers provide good customer service, I am always interested in what exactly they mean. The points made above were collected from several current and former customers regarding managers. They outline services self-storage tenants identify as the most helpful, courteous and meaningful.

These services are particularly meaningful because they require personal interaction with renters. In a world that has become less personal via e-mail, voicemail, electronic billing and kiosks, whenever we have the opportunity to provide personal courtesies to customers we should. These moments can be extremely valuable and memorable. Make them all count.

True customer service is a way of developing personal relationships and loyalty with customers. It shows we, as self-storage managers, have a genuine concern for someone’s business, and we are willing to extend ourselves to cultivate a relationship. Don’t forget, the process of storing belongings can be tedious, usually marking a significantly stressful time in people’s lives (a move, downsize of a home, divorce, etc.). If you can provide a positive, friendly, courteous manner for sailing through this tumultuous time, you have succeeded in your role as a manager.

So ask yourself this question today, “Am I being all I can be, and will the people I come in contact with leave with a positive image?” If the answer is “yes,” then you can certainly pat yourself on the back for being a true customer-service manager.

Mel Holsinger is the president of Tucson, Ariz.-based Professional Self Storage Management, which offers self-storage facility management, consulting and development services. He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and a regular contributor to Inside Self-Storage. For more information, call 520.319.2164; visit www.proselfstorage.com.

Supplier Spotlight: Kiwi II Construction Inc.

Kiwi II Construction Inc. was launched by Peter Brady in 1982. At that time, the company was an installer of standing-seam roof products on a variety of commercial and residential properties in the Riverside, Calif., area. Self-storage was still relatively new, and most buildings were commonly constructed of built-up roofing and wood framing with drywall acting as dividers for walls.

Companies such as Public Storage and others owned projects built in this style, and the age of the roofs were causing maintenance issues. Standing-seam proved to be an ideal long-term solution with its low-pitch requirements, light weight and ability to span over ponding areas of the old roof framing with minimal disturbance to the day-to-day operations of the existing facilities.

Kiwi II quickly gravitated to the storage industry as it saw great opportunity for growth and long-term relationships with owners as they expanded to new projects. This quickly led to the company offering its services nationwide.

As the storage industry grew, so did new designs, and competition steel framing proved to be the ideal fit. In addition, the 5-by-10 grid was a cost-effective and versatile system that is still the most widely used system today.

A Decade of Growth

In the late ’90s, Robert Walker, an industry veteran of 15 years, joined the company. Walker concentrated on sales while Brady continued to fulfill the promises made to owners and general contractors on schedules and the quality of work. The relationship flourished and Walker soon became a partner in the company.

Early on, Brady and Walker understood the important role product quality and schedules played, and how the labor force affected both. The company soon had 120-plus field staff working under the supervision of a foreman. Kiwi II created a program to enforce efficiency of onsite costs by sharing profits on labor and equipment-related expenses after the job was completed and punch-listed. This helped to ensure quality and performance.

In 2000, the company outgrew its facility and moved into a new building in Murrieta, Calif. Wayne Woolsey also joined the company and was tapped to head up the new East Coast division, which turned into a great market for Kiwi II. He was later named a third partner.

Surviving Steel Cost Increases

The next hurdle for Kiwi II was the steel price increases in 2000. After years of reasonable and predictable steel pricing, the company struggled with the unprecedented increases. The rise in costs forced the company to look at what it could do to help protect Kiwi II and the owners should it happen again.

To do this, Kiwi’s partners looked at manufacturing, purchasing coil in a raw form so the company would have steel on hand at a known price when bidding jobs. This allowed the company to consign and hold coils for particular jobs once they were under contract, yet gave the company time to finalize the design.

This plan of action has been successful for both Kiwi II and its valued customers as it endured more steel costs increases over the last few years. Many clients took advantage of the offer to purchase the coil well in advance of the steel increases.

Today’s Kiwi II

After several years of growth, the timing was right to open a full-time office in Orlando, Fla., so East Coast clients have access to all the services the company has to offer. In addition, Kiwi II has three full-time outside sales representatives. 

Kiwi II offers a complete package tailored around the storage industry, backed by years of experience and talent. The company’s range of work includes re-roofing, portable storage, RV canopies and condos, climate control, fit-outs in existing buildings, refacing the exterior of older buildings, the construction of single- or multi-story buildings.

Bring in your napkin sketches or ideas and Kiwi II will create a concept layout with potential net rental space and build costs for free.

For more information, visit www.kiwiconstruction.com.