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StorQuest Hits the L.A. Streets to Collect Coats for Charity

At its recent annual company meeting, Santa Monica-based StorQuest Self Storage surprised employees by announcing their immediate participation in a unique charity event to support One Warm Coat. Sixty-five participants set out into the streets of Los Angeles with the goal of getting as many people as possible to donate their coats for people in need.
Company managers and corporate staff were split into four teams and designated to various regions of the city. Each team was armed with a collection box, event fliers and coat drive signage. To encourage public participation, StorQuest offered two months of free rent to anyone who donated a coat that day. To solicit donations, teams cheered at soccer games, sang Christmas carols ... whatever they needed to encourage someone to give a coat. The teams collected more than 200 coats literally off the backs of those walking around the streets of L.A.
Life footage of the StorQuest team efforts can be viewed at
Through December, StorQuest is also using its 45 self-storage facilities as designated One Warm Coat drop-off locations. At select facilities, StorQuest will be offering one month of free rent to anyone who donates a coat.
At the end of the month, all coats will be donated to homeless shelters within StorQuest's local communities, including the L.A. Mission, Martha's Kitchen, Bay Area Rescue Mission, Pomona Youth, Colorado Youth at Risk and the Central Arizona Shelter.
One Warm Coat provides tools and resources to help community volunteers in the collection of clean, reusable coats for donation to individuals.
StorQuest is the operating brand name of storage facilities developed and operated by The William Warren Group.

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U-Store-It Trust Announces 4Q 2009 Dividend

U-Store-It Trust, a real estate investment trust, declared a quarterly dividend of $0.025 per common share for the period ending Dec. 31, 2009. The dividend is payable on Jan. 22, 2010 to common shareholders of record on Jan.7, 2010. 

“We are focused on maintaining liquidity in order to be in the best position to take advantage of the external growth opportunities that may become available to the company,” says CEO Dean Jernigan. “We view internally generated capital as an important funding source for growth on a leverage neutral basis. We declare our dividend on a quarterly basis and we will review our dividend payment rate in light of the economic and investment conditions at the date of each declaration in 2010.” 

U-Store-It Trust is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust. The company owns and manages 367 self-storage facilities around the country.
Source:  CNNMoney,   U-Store-It Declares Fourth Quarter 2009 Dividend

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Mahan and Seider Join BETCOs Texas Sales Staff

BETCO, a single-source manufacturer of self-storage buildings, has added a sales representative and a sub-rep to cover its West Texas territory.

Chris Mahan joined the company as sales representative. For the past 21 years, he has been in general construction and development as an owner and managing member of self-storage facilities in Oklahoma and Texas. For 10 of those years, he designed and constructed self-storage buildings.  

Toby Seider will function as a sub-rep for Mahan. His background includes working for an insulation business. Prior to that, he was president of Ready-Mix of Texas, an  account executive with a bank, and owner of a credit service.

Toby Seider (left) and Chris Mahan (right) recently joined BETCO Inc.

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American Buildings Co. and Supervisor Receive Patriotic Employer Award

American Buildings Co. (ABC) and Curtis Ketchmark, a supervisor at the company’s El Paso, Texas, plant, received a Patriotic Employer Award from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Each year ESGR honors employers and supervisors for their outstanding support of military members. Recipients must be nominated by a service or family member.
Ketchmark was nominated by one of his employees, U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Jim Evans, who has worked at ABC as a press and forklift operator for nearly 20 years. Evans was recently deployed for a second tour of duty in Iraq.
Ketchmark received his award from retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jay Sheedy. The ceremony was attended by Ketchmark’s co-workers, city officials and family members.
ESGR is a Department of Defense organization seeking to promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. Last year, approximately 14,000 employers nationwide were honored through the Patriotic Award program.
Headquartered in Eufaula, Ala., ABC designs, manufactures and delivers of metal buildings and roofing systems for the self-storage and other industries. Products include a range of industrial and commercial structures.

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An Operator's Guide for Dealing With Self-Storage Fire: Prevent, Plan, Protect

There’s not much that strikes fear into the hearts of self-storage owners and managers like the thought of a facility fire. It’s the leading cause of extensive property damage in this business. As the saying goes, “proper prior planning prevents poor performance” and, in the case of fire, it’s doubly true! When a fire strikes, there’s no time to hesitate, as lives and property can be impacted in seconds.  
Proactive Prevention

Prevention is by far the best way to avoid a fire. Preventive measures are ongoing tasks and awareness encompassed in the daily routine of property management. Managers and owners should be vigilant in seeking and correcting all potential issues. Minimize injury and loss by following these simple fire-safety practices:

Electrical. Replace electrical cords that have cracked insulation or a broken connector. Do not exceed the amperage load specified for extension cords. Do not run extension cords across doorways or where they can be stepped on or chafed. Do not plug one extension cord into another. Never plug more than one extension cord into an outlet.

Know your tenant. It’s your responsibility to know what your tenants are storing and how it may impact the facility and other customers. If you see something in a unit that may be hazardous, you have every right to require that the tenant to remove it from the property. Be diligent and ask the same of your tenants.

Keep exits clear and well-marked. Keep storage areas, stairways and other locations free from waste, paper, boxes, dirty rags and other fire hazards.

Smoking. Do not permit smoking anywhere on the property.

Rental agreements. Audit your rental agreements to ensure compliance. Making sure agreements are signed and the proper insurance addendums in place will be immensely helpful in the event of an emergency. 
Plan for the Worst

Don’t assume a fire won’t happen at your facility―have a good emergency plan in place. By anticipating potential events, you can plan and practice how they should be handled. Just like you did in grade school, practice the steps that will be taken in case of a fire so there’s no hesitation. When a building is burning, there’s no time to read your operations manual.

Your company should have a well-written emergency procedure so each staff member knows what’s expected to happen and in what order.  This should include fire-safety training, how to identify potential hazards, and a specific policy covering how the staff should respond if a fire occurs. Your policy should include who’s called or notified, how the event is documented, and the method by which staff ensures that the property and people are adequately protected.


How you react in the event of a fire depends on how well you’ve prepared for one. This groundwork includes:

  • Knowing the location of the exit closest to your work area.
  • Posting the fire department’s emergency number on or near your telephone.
  • Being aware of the location of fire extinguishers around the facility.    
  • Knowing the location of the nearest fire alarm and learning how to use it.
  • Having an emergency-planning checklist that includes items such as what to take off site. 
  • Developing a good relationship with the local fire department. It should have the facility’s gate codes, contact numbers, etc. 

Protect Your Business

If a fire does occur, the most important thing is to protect human lives; then protect property.  First, call 911. There’s no room for heroics when a fire has erupted. Get help immediately! The speed at which a fire can consume storage units is tremendous. Don’t hesitate even for a second. In the event of a fire, follow these steps:

Don’t panic. Sound the alarm and call the fire department, no matter how small the fire appears. Never attempt to fight even a small fire until everybody has been evacuated. Do not fight the fire if you’re unsure about the type of extinguisher or how to use it, or if the flames are spreading or blocking your escape.

Leave the area quickly. Close doors as you go to help contain the fire and smoke. Go to the nearest exit not blocked by the fire. Since heat and smoke rise, leaving cleaner air near the floor, crawl low under the smoke. Test doors before you open them. Feel the doorknob and the space between the door and the frame. If either is hot, use another escape route.            

Follow directions from fire and security personnel. Once outside, move away from the building, out of the way of firefighters. Remain outside until the fire department gives the “all clear” signal.
After a Fire

A fire is a very emotional and distressing situation for staff and tenants alike. Don’t leave the aftermath up to chance. Be organized. A planned and practiced response can help keep this event as controlled as possible. Staff should be trained on what to say and what not to say. As emotions run high, it’s important that nothing is miscommunicated.

Remember, this is an unusual and traumatic situation for employees. Their response can have a calming affect or make a bad situation even worse. Tenants will usually respond in kind to the atmosphere of a post-fire event. Owners and managers who maintain a composed and professional attitude will have an easier time dealing with the after effects. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Contact your insurance company immediately.
  • Deny, limit or control access to the affected area as needed.
  • Minimize visual impact quickly. Clean up, board up and repaint as the insurance company allows.
  • Coordinate a method of contacting tenants and others who may have been affected. 
  • Make arrangements for any exposed tenant goods to be secured.
  • Quickly replace or replenish any fire-fighting tools or equipment needed. 
  • Document everything. 


Dealing With the Media

After a fire, the last thing you want to see is the event on the six o’clock news. However, as we all know, news of a self-storage fire will be nationwide before the smoke has cleared, literally. To minimize additional damage to your facility, tenants and wallet, make sure you have one designated spokesperson, and that all employees know who that person is and can direct inquiries in that direction.

Staff members need to be highly guarded, as not all reporters will identify themselves at the outset. Make sure tenant and company information is carefully shielded.  The potential of fire in a storage facility is a real danger. This is a clear case of “hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” 

Remember: It may not seem like it at the time, but this too shall pass. Step back and take a deep breath. Be aware of excess stress, emotion, work and hardship on everyone, yourself included. Coach your staff through the situation and recognize their efforts. It’s probably their first time handling a situation like this, too. 
Linnea Appleby is president of Sarasota, Fla.-based PDQ Management Solutions Inc., which specializes in the management of self-storage properties and offers complimentary services such as operational consulting, new-facility startup, property audits and the “Income Finder Service.”  Appleby is a regular contributor to industry trade publications and a frequent speaker at tradeshows and events. For more information, call 941.377.3451; e-mail [email protected]; visit

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S&P: Sovran Self Storages Credit Rating Stable

The corporate credit rating for Sovran Self Storage, a self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Buffalo, N.Y., was raised to stable by Standard & Poor's (S&P) Tuesday. The increase reflects the company’s strengthened financial position following its October stock sale that raised $114 million. 

In May, S&P had lowered Sovran’s outlook to negative, citing concerns over the impact the recession was having on the REIT. Fitch Ratings, another credit-rating agency, also downgraded the company to below investment grade earlier in the year.

The stock sale enabled Sovran to pay down some of its debt and reduce its overall leverage. Fitch restored the REIT’s investment grade rating shortly after the stock sale was completed.
Source:  The Buffalo News,  Sovran Credit Rating Raised 

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Self-Storage Marketing Expert Presents Webinar and Live Seminar on Social Media

Derek Naylor, president of Storage Marketing Solutions, will present a free webinar on Jan. 20 titled "SelfStorage and Social Media: How to Make it Work Without Wasting Time and Money," an online event open to all self-storage professionals. Naylor will be joined in the presentation by Rebecca Morse, circulation and social-media manager for MiniCo Publishing. The event will take place at 1 p.m. ET.
The webinar will introduce participants to various social-networking websites and provide information on how to start using social media to benefit self-storage operations. Topics will include:

  • The ever-growing social network
  • Live demonstrations of social-media sites
  • Time-saving tools to increase efficiency
  • How self-storage facilities are using social media
  • Getting startedBest practices for your facility 

Naylor will also present a live seminar titled “Social-Media Mastery for Self-Storage Operators” at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas on March 1. The seminar will address how self-storage operators can best take advantage of social-media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. During the session, Naylor will provide a clear, actionable plan to manage and profit from social media, explaining what they are, how businesses are using them to make profit, how they fit with self-storage, how to use them to attract tenants, and pitfalls to avoid.
The ISS Expo includes a comprehensive, nine-session track of marketing-related seminars as well as a Marketing and Sales Boot Camp. For expo details, visit
Storage Marketing Solutions implements innovative, results-oriented marketing strategies for its self-storage and mobile-storage clients across the United States. Naylor has consulted in the area of marketing and sales for a diverse assortment of businesses. His strategies for these entities are directly responsible for generating more than $250 million in increased sales revenue. Naylor is also a frequent contributor to Inside Self-Storage magazine.
To register for the social-media webinar, visit

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SiteLink Promotions and Discount Module

SMD Software/SiteLink, a provider of self-storage and portable-storage management software, released a new software feature, a Promotions and Discount Module, which customizes, combines and tracks facility specials. The module analyzes the source, volume and effectiveness of every promotion so operators can better target specific regions, customers groups and national accounts. It also handles promos and coupon codes on facility websites where prospective tenants can see the same specials managers use at the store.
SiteLink users lower discounts by combining specials on merchandise, rent and other charges. Multi-store operators manage all campaigns and offers from the module’s Corporate Control Center.
“Our new Discount and Promotions Module optimizes investment in marketing and advertising, and invariably raises return on every dollar spent,” said Markus Hecker, chief operating officer.
Established in 1996, SiteLink has more than 8,000 installations worldwide.

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A-1 Self Storage Supports Troops in Operation Homefront

Ten A-1 Self Storage facilities in California will serve as donation drop-off sites for Operation Homefront’s Southern California chapter. The organization provides emergency assistance and morale to U.S. troops and their families. 

A-1 Self Storage also donated storage units to store collected items until they can be distributed to military families. Operation Homefront provides aid to families struggling with both emergencies and the problems of everyday life. Drop-off locations are for small items only, such as non-perishable food, backpacks, diapers and holiday items. Due to availability of space, no furniture or large items will be accepted. 

A-1 Self Storage has 17 locations in the greater San Diego area and more than 40 locations across California. A-1 Self Storage is part of the Caster Cos., a third-generation family-owned company headquartered in Southern California since 1959.

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Bancap Brokers Sale of Global Self Storage in Victorville, CA

Bancap Self Storage Group Inc. brokered the sale of Global Self Storage in Victorville, Calif.  The seller was a regional bank that had foreclosed on the property earlier this year. The buyer was the real estate affiliate of U-Haul which will re-brand the property with that name. Bancap President Dean Keller was the listing agent and sole broker in the transaction.

The property sold for $4.5 million, significantly less than the property’s development costs. The seller provided purchase financing to facilitate the sale.
Built in 2007, the single-story self-storage facility contains approximately 87,000 square feet of storage space in approximately 600 units. The property also has 150 exterior RV and boat storage spaces, many of which are covered. Occupancy was approximately 43 percent at the time of sale.
Bancap has completed more than $850 million in self-storage sales, including many lender-owned properties, numerous portfolio sales, and a record-setting single-property sale of more than $31 million. 

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