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ISS Top-Operators List Hits the Streets

I’ve always been a big fan of lists. I like to-do lists, top 10 DVD rental lists, favorite baby names lists ... you name it.

So I’m happy to bring you a list courtesy of Inside Self-Storage: The 2009 Top-Operators List. We’ve asked real estate investment trusts, franchises, independents, developers and property-management companies for info on their facilities including locations, number of units and expansion plans. The companies who participated are then ranked according to net-rentable square footage.

For those on the list, it’s a chance to see how they fare against other companies in the self-storage industry. Those outside the industry get a good look at just how enormous the self-storage biz really is.

A special thanks to all of the self-storage companies who provided this year’s beautiful pictures, particularly our cover facility, Metro Self Storage. The photos alongside the rankings illustrate how long gone the days of old, grungy self-storage facilities really are. These facilities include luscious landscaping, bright lights and tons of amenities like truck rental and mail services.

If you missed being a part of this year’s list, follow this link to be included in next year’s list.

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Maine Self-Storage Operators Win Delay in Proposed Legislation

Self-storage legislation recently proposed in Maine has been tabled for at least one year, giving facility operators time to work on a bill that makes more sense for self-storage businesses and the state. SP 130, LD 366, relating to the abandonment of records by tenants, was voted "ought not to pass" in a workshop session on March 17.
If passed, “An Act to Protect Confidential Consumer Records in Self-Service Storage Facilities,” would require extensive administrative procedures on the part of self-storage operators in the state. Legislators asked the local self-storage community to suggest alternative language for a new law. The Maine Self Storage Association has agreed to poll its membership, explore options and formulate a bill to be presented in the second session of the legislature.

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Foster Home to Open Thanks to Hawaii Self Storage Co-Owner

On April 1, a new receiving home for foster children will open in Oahu, Hawaii, thanks to the generous contributions of Mike Wood, co-owner of Hawaii Self Storage. Wood donated $1.2 million to build the facility and will give another $8 million to operate the center over the next 20 years. He says he is sympathetic to the plight of displaced children because his own childhood was unhappy.
The Children's Receiving Center will serve as a safe place for children who have been removed from their homes to stay until they can be placed with a relative or put into more permanent situation. Located in the Villages of Ma'ili homeless shelter area on the Leeward Coast, the center will serve approximately 200 children per year. With 10 bedrooms, it accommodates 15 children at a time and has its own medical facility.
Source:, New Home for Foster Children Opens

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Establishing a Self-Storage Stimulus Plan for Tenants

It is now several weeks since the economic-stimulus package has been signed into law by President Obama. I am not expecting it to provide any great stimulus for our industry directly—unless your facility is being taken by eminent domain for a local highway project. I laugh at all the Internet scams people are already running like, “Click on this link to expedite your stimulus check” or “Fill in information to determine the size of your stimulus check.” Thousands of people will fall victim to these scams just because of the media attention.

Have you considered creating your own stimulus program to attract new customers? Unlike the scammers, we have a real product—storage space and moving supplies. We need to create a menu of incentives. It might be “Spin the Discount Wheel of Stimulus” as a closing technique. How about the old carnival dart game with a specific stimulus prize or discount in each balloon? Maybe it’s a personalized letter to current customers letting them know that although street rates are going up, their rates will stay the same for the next six months.

Would an across-the-board increase in everyone’s rent at this stage of the economic cycle result in move-outs? Right now, more than any time in recent history, it might make some people ask themselves why they’re paying $125 a month to keep a pile of stuff they might never use. Increasing rents of current tenants could result in move-outs and create more lost revenue than the increase you might have achieved.

I have always encouraged owners and managers to raise their rates. I still believe that if you are one of the fortunate individuals seeing strong rental activity and occupancies on select unit sizes above 85 to 90 percent, raising rents could still be a good strategy.  However, for the rest of us struggling to stay positive in a negative environment, I urge you to look for creative ways in retaining current customers.

Once you have your own stimulus package in place, get out there and promote it. Go back to prior customers; visit the apartment managers and professional offices. Have an aggressive referral program in place that allows the referring tenant and the new customer to receive a benefit―not just $15 or $20 off next month’s rent, but maybe $50 or $75.

Ask yourself: What is a new customer worth? The extra referral incentive may help keep existing customers or persuade an apartment manager to start handing out your brochure to everyone that walks in his door.

Don’t let the federal government be the only source of a stimulus for Americans.
UPS Store Will Call You—Big Deal!

Watching United Parcel Service’s (UPS) recent TV and Internet advertising campaign is almost laughable to me. The company's big marketing claim is that when you get a letter or small package in your mail cubby at one of its stores, it will text or e-mail you an alert. I have news for UPS: Self-storage managers and owners have not only been doing that for years, but also accept big packages or even entire product shipments for their customers.

Behind the new UPS campaign is the belief that this is a new customer service small businesses and individuals just can’t do without. Guess the company's officials have never set foot in a busy self-storage facility that caters to business customers. UPS and FedEx in addition to Roadway Express and a variety of other common carriers are regular delivery couriers throughout the course of the day.

Managers are constantly on the phone, e-mailing or texting customers to inform them their shipments have arrived.  So, UPS, I urge you to keep looking for some really new customer service the self-storage industry has not already been offering for years.
Safe Travels, Sir

No matter your religious background, you have to admire a man who is willing to put his successful business life on hold for three years while he takes on a mission for his church. I am referring to the commitment recently announced by Ken Woolley, chairman and CEO of Extra Space Storage Inc., who left his position on April 1. The company's board of directors voted to elevate the current president, Spencer F. Kirk, to succeed Woolley as chairman and CEO.

Woolley founded the Salt Lake City-based company in 1977. He is considered a visionary in the self-storage industry for his leadership and management skills in building Extra Space from a small, private company to the second largest owner/operator in the United States and one of the largest self-storage enterprises in the world. Extra Space currently operates 654 self-storage properties in 34 states and Washington, D.C., with approximately 450,000 units and nearly 50 million square feet of space.

I admire the personal and professional commitment Ken is making and the example of putting other’s needs before his own that he is showing us all.

 Self-Storage Talk Continues to Grow

The commitment from Inside Self-Storage in creating Self-Storage Talk, which is well above 2,000 online members, is paying big dividends to managers and owners from every corner of the United States and around the world. The positive atmosphere is maintained by a host of moderators who are also making a personal commitment to policing the site for any rule infractions.  

There is no other resource where you can review past and current posts and provide your own perspective on the issues others are dealing with day-to-day. And the price is right—FREE. A stimulus brought to you by ISS.

If you have not taken advantage of this outstanding resource, log into and become a new member of this dynamic online self-storage community. I’ll be looking for you. I’m MisterJim444.
On a Personal Note

Many of you who know me personally know I am a proud grandparent. Back in February, our daughter, Alyssa, and her husband, Jim, were blessed with a second son. Nathan Sydney Vercellotti weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. His grandpa got to see him when he was only minutes old. This is such joyful time in my life and I just had to share it publicly. Welcome to our world, little Nathan! 
 Jim Chiswell is the owner of Chiswell & Associates LLC. Since 1990, his firm has provided feasibility studies, acquisition due diligence and customized manager training for the self-storage industry. He has served for a number of years on the Inside Self-Storage Editorial Advisory Board, is a moderator on the  interactive online community and is faculty member of the Self-Storage Training Institute. He can be reached at 434.589.4446; e-mail [email protected]; visit

Malagisi Honored as Top 20 Producer at Sperry Van Ness

Sperry Van Ness (SVN), one of the nation’s largest commercial real estate firms, has honored Nicholas J. Malagisi as one of its Top 20 Producers. Malagisi, who works out of the company’s Buffalo, N.Y., office, is SVN’s national director of self-storage. He has focused on investment real estate in the Northeast for more than 25 years.
Founded in 1987, SVN has more than 990 advisors in 150 markets. Based in Irvine, Calif., the firm provides brokerage, consultation, asset management, property management, leasing, accelerated marketing and auction services.

Sperry Van Ness/Commercial Realty Sold $41M in Investments in 2008

Sperry Van Ness/Commercial Realty, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based affiliate of Sperry Van Ness International Inc., announced that it sold more than $41 million in investment sales in 2008. The branch closed seven self-storage transactions in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, as well as a multi-family deal, retail center and mobile-home park in New York.
Founded in 1987, Sperry Van Ness is one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the nation, with more than 990 advisors in 150 markets. Based in Irvine, Calif., the firm provides brokerage, consultation, asset management, property management, leasing, accelerated marketing and auction services.

Lucas Facilitates Sale of Handy Self-Storage in Thornton

Joan Lucas of Joan Lucas Real Estate Services LLC represented the seller in the sale of Handy Self Storage in Thornton, Colo. The property sold on March 13 for $2,125,000 at an 8 percent cap rate. The sale was financed by a local bank, and the buyer was completing a 1031 exchange.

Lucas is an affiliate of the Argus Self Storage Sales Network based in Denver.

Strategic Storage Trust Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

Strategic Storage Trust Inc., based in Ladera Ranch, Calif., celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 20. The company is a publicly registered, non-traded real estate investment trust with $1 billion of common stock. The company’s portfolio includes 3,024 self-storage units with 407,000 rentable square feet of storage space.
Over the past year, Strategic Storage Trust has acquired six self-storage facilities in prime markets throughout the United States.
Source: OCMetro, Ladera Ranch’s Strategic Storage Trust turns one

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EPA Sends Polutant Proposal to White House

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to regulate carbon dixoide and other greenhouse gases as polutants and a significant threat to human health under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA submitted its proposal to the White House Friday. The proposal was previously rejected by the Bush Administration.

The EPA's finding concluded that six greenhouse gases should be considered pollutants under the 1970 act, but does not outline how or what to regulate. If the White House approves the finding, the EPA and lawmakers will begin discussing what and how the regulation would be handled. 

The finding shows potential health impacts from warming include longer and more severe heat waves; increased smog in some areas; dangerous flooding caused by stronger storms; and diseases, including malaria and dengue fever.

Source:,  EPA: Greenhouse Gases Threaten Humans



Dow Soars After Banking Plan Announced

The Dow Jones jumped nearly 500 points Monday after the Feds announced a plan  to help banks remove bad assets from their books.

Major stock indicators surged more than 6 percent, including the Dow. Monday's 497-point Dow advance marked the fifth-biggest point gain in the history of the index.

The Treasury Department’s bad asset cleanup program will use money from the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund and involve help from the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the participation of private investors.

Source:,  Dow Soars Nearly 500 Points on Banking Plan

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