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Articles from 2014 In March


Sun City, CA, Self-Storage Manager Killed Over Stolen Dry Cleaning

Wes Uyekawa, a 60-year-old resident “caretaker” at McCall Storage and Car Wash in Sun City, Calif., was allegedly killed last week apparently due to a misunderstanding over some stolen dry cleaning, according to investigators.

Police said suspect Jeremy Robbins, 37, hung some dry cleaning on a back fence while he vacuumed the inside of his car, but drove off the property without the clothing. When he returned the next morning to retrieve the dry cleaning, it was gone. He apparently blamed Uyekawa and attacked him before fleeing the scene.

Responding officers said Uyekawa complained of abdominal pain and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released. Coworker Stephanie Prado found his body the following morning, according to the source. Police believe Uyekawa suffered complications from the injuries he sustained in the attack.

"Wes had nothing to do with it. It was somebody else who took [Robbins’] dry cleaning that he left here. Wes paid a high price for somebody else taking it. That's terrible," Prado said. "He was a happy guy. He didn't deserve this."

Detectives used video surveillance footage to identify Robbins as the suspect. He is currently in custody.

The investigation is ongoing. Police are encouraging anyone with knowledge of the incident to call 951.955.2777.

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SmartStop Self Storage Sponsors Mount Everest Expedition by Climber Greg Paul

Update 3/31/14 – Greg Paul, the veteran climber who will attempt to summit Mount Everest in May after undergoing his second total knee replacement, is currently in Nepal to prepare for the expedition. SmartStop Self Storage and Ortho Development Corp. are sponsoring his preparatory climbs, travel and other expenses, in addition to the Everest expedition.

"My knees feel really good, and I'm feeling ready to go," said the 59-year-old Utah climber, whose 2012 summit attempt was denied after extreme weather, poor route conditions and overcrowding forced guides to cancel the expedition. "It has been an intense 16 months of training. Other than the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012, I have done something related to training six days per week. The closer to departure dates, the more focused and determined I become."

Paul left for Nepal on March 25 and was scheduled to meet his climbing team in Kathmandu today. His party will climb the south (Nepal) side of the mountain on the route first pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary. The Everest expedition is expected to take 71 days, and the climbers hope to summit during a window between May 12 and May 29 when winds at the top recede, according to a SmartStop press release.

To train for his Everest summit attempt, Paul climbed, biked and participated in multiple endurance mountain and road bike races. He attempted to climb Ama Dablam, a 22,349-foot peak in the Himalayas, last October.

He is believed to be the first person to attempt to summit Everest with two artificial knees. "If I can get to the top of Everest with my Ortho knees, anybody ought to be able to climb stairs or play a round of golf with them," Paul said. "I want to be a role model for all those baby boomers who think or feel they are too old to pursue their passions and dreams. Where there is a will there is a way!"


SmartStop Self Storage will sponsor climber Greg Paul’s 2014 expedition to summit Mount Everest.6/18/13 – SmartStop Self Storage, the retail brand for Strategic Storage Trust Inc., is sponsoring a Mount Everest expedition planned for next year by Greg Paul, a veteran adventurer and climber who will attempt to summit the world’s tallest peak after undergoing his second total knee replacement. Ortho Development Corp., an orthopedic device design and manufacturing company, is also sponsoring the trip.

Paul’s attempt to summit Everest last year was denied after extreme weather, poor route conditions and overcrowding forced guides to cancel the expedition. The mountaineer is recovering from his second knee replacement—his other knee was replaced in 2008—but believes he is ready for the training that will be necessary for his 2014 attempt.

“My 2012 expedition was the first commercial expedition to be outright cancelled before anyone had a chance to make a summit attempt,” he said. “I felt like I had climbed well in 2012 and had what it takes to summit. However, I’ll never know for sure unless I’m given the opportunity to try again.”

Paul, 58, believes he will be the first to attempt to summit Everest with two artificial knees. Climber Mark Inglis became the first double amputee to summit the mountain in 2006. The corporate sponsorships will help finance Paul’s preparatory climbs, air travel, the expedition and other expenses.

“SmartStop embraces people trying to reach new heights,” said H. Michael Schwartz, chairman and CEO of Strategic Storage Trust. “Back in 2008, the SmartStop brand did not exist and today it is used on self-storage facilities representing almost $700 million in assets. SmartStop is an example of what is possible.”

Ortho Development made both of Paul’s artificial knees. “If I can get to the top of Everest with my Ortho knees, anybody ought to be able to climb stairs or play a round of golf with them,” Paul said.

"Ortho Development is passionate about developing products that alleviate pain and improve the quality of life for patients suffering from limitations brought on by arthritis," said Brent Bartholomew, president of Ortho Development. "Greg Paul is an inspirational embodiment of our company's vision. We are proud to have designed and manufactured the knee-replacement implants, right here in our Utah facility that will help a fellow Utahan reach the top of the world."

An accomplished mountaineer, Paul’s ultimate goal is to conquer the Seven Summits, the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. He has ascended Aconcagua in Argentina, but his expeditions to climb Mount McKinley in Alaska and Mount Elbrus in Russia were forced back by bad weather.

“It takes a year to prepare physically and mentally for Everest,” Paul said. “I plan on doing some preliminary climbs this summer of Mount Rainer, the Grand Teton, Mount Washington and numerous local climbs to make sure my knees and my body, in general, are up to the task. I have also entered some of the hardest endurance bike races in my region.”

In October, he intends to return to Nepal to climb a difficult route on Ama Dablam, known as the Matterhorn of the Himalayas, as a final test before returning to Everest.

Paul will chronicle his Everest attempt on his blog at www.gregclimbing.com. SmartStop will also track his adventure on its blog and social media platforms. Paul will carry sponsor banners with him “to be displayed and photographed throughout the journey and hopefully on all the summits.”

“I want to be a role model for all those aging baby boomers who think or feel they’re too old to pursue their passions and dreams,” he said.

Strategic Storage Trust is a publicly registered, non-traded real estate investment trust. The company’s self-storage portfolio includes 110 facilities in 17 states and Canada that are branded as SmartStop Self Storage. The portfolio includes approximately 70,000 self-storage units and 8.8 million square feet of rentable storage space.

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The Jenkins Organization Buys Self-Storage Facility in Cypress, Texas

The Jenkins Organization Inc., a self-storage operator, developer and management company, recently purchased a facility in Cypress, Texas. The former Big Star Storage at 14820 Cypress N. Houston Road will be rebranded Cypress Self Storage. The property encompasses 48,265 square feet of storage space. The Jenkins Organization plans to expand the facility by adding another 55,000 square feet.

Amenities include all ground-level units, boat and RV storage, onsite management, gated access, video cameras, and packing and moving supplies. The property is one mile north of Telge Road.

“The Cypress Self Storage purchase fits the mold of the types of properties we are currently targeting, which are existing, well-located properties that offer expansion capability,” said Ricky Jenkins, company president.

Formed in 1989 and headquartered in Houston, The Jenkins Organization owns and manages a portfolio of 53 self-storage properties in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, comprising more than 3.5 million square feet of storage space.

Self-Storage REIT Extra Space Concludes 2014 Annual Partner Conference

Self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT) Extra Space Storage Inc. recently hosted its annual Partner Conference in Park City, Utah. More than 100 self-storage owners from properties Extra Space manages as well as company executives, gathered to discuss 2014 strategies and goals, strengthen relationships and take part in an open dialogue, according to a press release. The conference theme, "The Best at Getting Better,” conveyed the company’s commitment to its partners and growth as a core element of its long-term strategy.

Highlights included an opening keynote by Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, who was recently recognized by the “The Washington Post” as the "Nation's Most Popular Governor." Carl Richards, a columnist for “The New York Times,” provided a second address featuring his trademark sketches to cut through the complexities of finance.

"This conference was one way we show our partners that we value them and their feedback. It also allows our partners to see together we have a very bright future," said Spencer Kirk, Extra Space CEO.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Extra Space owns or operates 1,029 self-storage properties in 35 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico. The company’s properties comprise approximately 680,000 units and 75 million square feet of rentable space.

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Entrepreneur Carves Out Cavernous Underground Self-Storage Facility in Kansas

Cave Cavern

By Deb Hipp

Reprinted with permission from "The Storage Facilitator" blog.

Not many people get into the self-storage business as the result of a joke. For Coby Cullins, though, that’s exactly what happened. Cullins, a small-business owner, enjoys spelunking, the sport of exploring caves. So when two of his employees came across a former limestone mine and military storage complex being auctioned online in April 2013, they sent him the link, hoping to get a laugh. Instead, the idea intrigued Cullins, who’d read about limestone caves being converted into office space in other cities.

Since World War II, the federal government had owned the property in Atchison, Kan., a town on the Kansas-Missouri border that’s best known as the birthplace of aviator Amelia Earhart. The 2.7-million-square-foot complex spans 60 acres below ground and 125 acres above. Sections of the cave run as deep as 150 feet.

‘What Have I Gotten Myself Into?’

Exploring caves was one thing. Carving out a business from an old limestone mine would be another. Cullins already owned two businesses in Springfield, Mo.: National Safety Compliance, which helps employers meet OSHA requirements, and NSC Printing & Ministries, a provider of printing services to churches and missionaries.

It wasn’t as if Cullins would need to start from scratch. The U.S. Army had already converted the cavern into storage areas by installing concrete block walls and floors, electrical lighting, sump pumps, air-handling equipment, and an extensive (100,000 cubic feet per minute) dehumidification system. Over the years, the facility was used to store thousands of parachutes, medical supplies and US. Department of Defense documents.

Cullins saw the listing on a Friday, bid $510,000 that Saturday, and won the property on Sunday from GSA Auctions, a government website. Cullins, who missed the chance for two previous showings of the property, got to see his new cave one day after buying it. “What have I gotten myself into?” he wondered as he explored the mammoth cavern, unable to navigate the maze-like pathways without a map.

Even though he had no experience in the self-storage business, Cullins knew a climate-controlled cave safe from floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters would be perfect for all sorts of storage needs. But traditional self-storage is probably not going to be the main source of income, he realizes, seeing potential for the storage of business inventory, business records and heavy machinery.

Cullins promotes his business online and in Yellow Pages directories but also markets it during public tours of the facility five days  per week. “Those tours have brought in the majority of our storage clients,” he says.

Adding On

Meanwhile, in the newly branded Citadel Caverns and Mo-Kan Underground Business Center, Cullins also has opened Extreme Underground, a cave complex for laser tag, archery, miniature golf and rock climbing. The attraction draws 200 to 300 people every weekend.

Furthermore, he recently hired an architecture firm to conduct a feasibility study, which came back favorably, to establish an underground center for storage of digital data. The architecture firm is searching for potential tenants.

Plans are even in the works for a “doomsday resort.” The Vivos Group in Del Mar, Calif., wants to use part of the cave for the Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort. For a $99 monthly membership fee or a one-time charge based on the size of a recreational vehicle, a member will be able to park an RV underground indefinitely during catastrophes, natural disasters and nuclear wars, and live in it with a year’s worth of supplies (costing $1,500 per person). The plan envisions space for 1,200 RVs and 5,000 people.

Even during non-apocalyptic times, members will be able to use the Vivos Resort and its many proposed amenities for up to 90 days  per year. Those include a skateboard park, survival classes, field games, a restaurant, a kitchen, and a lounge and spa. The deal isn’t finalized yet, Cullins said, but negotiations are underway.

An Underground Town

Self-storage may never be as glamorous as a doomsday resort, but it’s still going to be a consistent revenue source for Citadel’s underground space, which offers climate-controlled storage for a price that most people pay for outside units. Storage rooms start at $35 a month for a 5-by-10. High-security storage in the same size starts at $75 monthly. Citadel offers caged storage, and storage for boats, RVs and other vehicles.

“We bring the boats inside and take them out when customers need them,” said Brent Donaldson, facility supervisor. “All the customer has to do is hook [it] up and leave.”

As he zipped around the cavern on a motorized golf cart, Donaldson remarked that the space is like a small town. He and another maintenance staffer clean concrete floors with street sweepers, do a weekly check on 28 sump pumps (to pump out groundwater during heavy rains), maintain a gas-fired dehumidification system, and keep an eye on ceiling-crack monitors previously installed by Army engineers.

Cullins said the storage facility started with 10 10-by-10 units and a couple of high-security units, with more under construction. Right now, about 46,000 square feet of the cave is taken up by equipment from a local foundry.

Annual costs for utilities, mowing, environmental upkeep and two maintenance employees run about $300,000, Cullins said. “This facility takes a large amount of money to operate and keep in usable condition,” he added.

Deb Hipp is a freelance writer in Kansas City, Mo. She writes for The Storage Facilitator, SpareFoot.com, SelfStorage.com and other websites, as well as her own Tales from the Bark Side blog. She enjoys working with animals and is involved in the Kansas City, Mo., animal-rescue community. Read the original article here.

ISS Blog

Your GPS Guide to Customer-Service Education at ISS Expo

Your GPS Guide to Customer-Service Education at ISS Expo

Depending on the needs of your self-storage operation, there are hundreds of ways to strategically navigate your way through the education curriculum during the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, which kicks off this Sunday in Las Vegas with two pre-show workshops before hitting full speed on Monday morning. To maximize your experience, I think it’s helpful to plot your education course ahead of time based on specific areas of your business that you’re trying to strengthen.

With nine education tracks running between March 31 and April 1, it might be a little overwhelming to get a bird’s eye view of the show and pick out the sessions that will be most meaningful to you. To get a great side-by-side, hour-by-hour breakdown of the event, I highly recommend our handy “Agenda-at-a-Glance” to get you started. Full session descriptions are available on the ISS Expo website, in the printed Show Guide and even on the individual DVD pre-order pages of the ISS Store for the 30 seminars we’ll be videotaping.

One critical area that is top of mind for many operators is customer service. While there is one session solely devoted to the topic, which we’ll get to shortly, there are other presentations that touch on key aspects of service and customer engagement that should prove beneficial to your business operation. If you’re attending the expo with customer-service concerns or looking to customize a DVD bundle in this arena, let the following serve as your GPS guide.

On Monday at 1 p.m., you’ll want to sit in on “Handling Tricky Customer-Service Issues in Self-Storage,” presented by Stephan Ross, president of Cutting Edge Self Storage Management & Consulting. This session is all about dealing with the unusual-but-inevitable encounters all managers or customer-facing employees will eventually face, including dealing with angry or unstable customers and handling unusual needs or requests. As part of the discussion, Ross will talk about procedures that should be in place and how to properly “close” the interaction once an issue is resolved.

On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., the show’s new Game-Show Learning track kicks off with “Self-Storage Family Feud: Play Your Way to Marketing Excellence.” Hosted by Emma Nostrand, client relations specialist, and Barry Finder, client relations manager, at SpareFoot, this spin on the popular television show “Family Feud” will cover a range of topics including self-storage features customers care about the most, how to entice customer love online and ways to increase revenue per square foot while keeping tenants happy. Oh, and winners will receive prizes!

At the same time as “The Feud,” Shari Sutton, owner, and Heather Saldaña, marketing executive, of Sutton Watkins Advertising & Marketing will present “Community Marketing for Self-Storage” as part of the Marketing track. While this may not seem like a customer-service session on the surface, I firmly believe community outreach is an important extension of any business and can significantly shape customer-service perception from local businesses and residents. Effective grassroots marketing can prompt customers and community influencers to promote your brand and become your most vocal supporters.

Finally, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, we’ve got “Self-Storage Disaster Recovery and Social Media” on tap from Jeffrey Greenberger, a partner with Katz, Greenberger & Norton LLP; and Dan Kryzanowski, key account manager, with SpareFoot. This is an important session that will discuss the types of disasters that could strike a self-storage business, how operators should communicate to customers during such instances, and what legal actions they may need to take after a catastrophic event. Having a response plan is critical in the face of disaster, and how you communicate with tenants and the community can either strengthen or damage your business reputation.

There you have it. You’ve reached your customer-service education destination at this year’s expo. There are many other excellent education seminars on the schedule to help you deal with other issues related to self-storage ownership, management, marketing, investment, finance, building, development, liability and more. Let us know what education route you plan to take in the comments section of this blog.

Uncle Bobs Self Storage Renovates Former Otis Elevator Building in Chicago

Uncle Bob’s Self Storage is nearing completion on a conversion project that will transform the former Otis Elevator building in Chicago into its newest facility. Built in 1926 and vacant since 2009, the structure at 1625 S. Ashland Ave. spans a full city block between 16th and 17th streets in the Pilsen neighborhood. The location is scheduled to open on April 1.

The facility will offer three stories of self-storage including 726 climate-controlled units in various sizes. “This is a comprehensive rehab of a historic Chicago structure, and we are thrilled to be part of the evolution of this neighborhood,” said John S. Mengel, president of JSM Venture Inc., the Chicago-based self-storage developer handling the renovation.

The project included pouring new concrete floors, installing new HVAC and lighting, the addition of a service elevator, and the replacement of all exterior windows and doors. Interior loading areas are equipped with large roll-up doors with keypad access at the north and south ends of the facility. There is also drive-in access to a ground-level loading area for passenger vehicles and a loading dock for commercial vehicles, JSM Venture officials said in a press release.

The facility will serve the areas of Little Italy, the Near West Side and University Village. The property is the 12th Chicago-area location added by Uncle Bob’s in the last two years. “The great people of Chicago have treated us well, and we’re pleased to be able to serve them in this growing area,” said Matt Moore, area manager of Uncle Bob’s Chicago portfolio.

JSM Venture specializes in the conversion and redevelopment of existing industrial properties. The company targets in-fill urban locations that have an unmet demand for self-storage. Since 2005, it has acquired and developed more than 1 million square feet of self-storage space.

Uncle Bob’s Self Storage is owned by Sovran Self Storage Inc., a real estate investment trust that acquires and manages self-storage facilities. The company operates more than 450 facilities in 25 states.

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Chilean Self-Storage Operator Converts Florida Complex into Massive Mixed-Use Space

Red Megacentro, a Chile-based real estate developer and self-storage operator, is converting a 185,000-square-foot industrial complex in a Miami, Fla., suburb into a mixed-used facility featuring self-storage, full-service executive offices, a kitchen-fixture showroom and even a K1 Speed indoor go-kart track. Called Megacenter Palmetto, the collection of warehouse/flex space is the company’s first redevelopment project in the United States.

The developer, which operates several self-storage locations in Chile under the Mi Bodega brand, decided to venture into the U.S. market because of its “geographic diversification and opportunities for value creation,” according to Pablo Wichmann, CEO of Megacenter Business Parks, Red Megacentro’s U.S. subsidiary responsible for redeveloping the property formerly occupied by Regal Kitchens.

The center at 8600 N.W. South River Drive in Medley, Fla., is near the Miami International Airport, Dolphin Expressway and Florida Turnpike.

Red Megacentro purchased the property in January 2013 for $7 million. The center is more than 70 percent leased and will feature 30,000 square feet of self-storage and 80 executive office suites, according to the source. For the remaining space, the developer is targeting “small bay users and startup companies,” Wichmann said.

“We can accommodate any small to medium-size [business] with a mix of office, self-storage units and out small bay warehouse [space],” he said.

The developer originally intended to designate half of the building’s space for self-storage but changed its plans when K1 Speed wanted to lease 82,200 square feet for its go-kart track, according to Mort Fetterolf, director of industrial services at commercial real estate firm Colliers International of South Florida. Colliers has been hired by Megacenter Business Parks to identify additional U.S. acquisition possibilities, including existing self-storage properties, Fetterolf said.

Including the MegaCenter Palmetto project, Red Megacentro has more than 7.5 million square feet of real estate currently in operation in Chile, Peru and the United States. The company focuses on redevelopment projects rather than new construction, Wichmann said.

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21st Century Storage Buys Airport Road Self Storage in Monterey, CA

21st Century Storage, a privately held company based in Aspen, Colo., recently acquired Airport Road Self Storage in Monterey, Calif. The three-story facility at 1118 Airport Way encompasses 43,179 square feet of storage space and includes 480 drive-up and interior units. Due to its proximity to Monterey Regional Airport, the facility will not be rebranded to another name, according to the source. The property serves commercial and residential customers in Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach.

In its efforts to be more eco-friendly, 21st Century Storage hopes to incorporate some of its green initiatives to the acquisition including adding LED lighting, geothermal pumps and solar panels.

Clayton Gentry, president of 21st Century Storage, said he’s excited about the acquisition and sees it as an opportunity to serve the area residents with a great storage experience.

21st Century Storage operates five facilities in California, Missouri, New Jersey and Philadelphia.         

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