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Self-Storage Manager Pursues Burglars in High-Speed Chase

On Wednesday, the owner of A&J’s Self Storage in Greenwood, S.C., pursued burglars of his facility through two counties in a high-speed car chase. Danny Brothers arrived at work that morning to find 11 locks broken off of storage units. Already suspicious of a couple who had rented a unit from him on May 21, he saw their car pull up to a unit and decided to investigate. What he saw drove him to heroic action.
Scott Mooney and Leslie Gunderson had backed up their car to an open unit that was not their own. When Brothers saw them, they quickly closed the unit and drove off. When Brothers called 911, he was told to follow them, which he did for nearly 45 minutes, keeping 911 dispatch on the line. It was in Laurens County that an undercover detective apprehended them, quickly backed up by six cop cars.
The couple was turned over to the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office and charged with burglary. Over the course of three days, Mooney, 38, and Gunderson, 25, had broken into a reported 30 storage units, stealing items such as TVs, generators, vending-machine snacks and a table saw. Police said the couple was selling the items to buy drugs.
A&J’s Self Storage uses security including video surveillance, computerized access and night monitoring by police officers.
Source: Greenwood Today, A & J Storage Thiefs Caught After Local Citizen's Car Chase

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Self-Storage Video Surveillance: Choosing a Vendor

Choosing the right security vendor is a bit like developing a budding relationship into a happy marriage. You want dedication, mutual respect and the ability to keep promises. Every self-storage facility has different requirements for its security system, so owners and operators should seek a vendor compatible with their particular needs.

As a self-storage operator, you’re looking for actual protection ... not just the illusion of an impermeable perimeter. Knowing what services you have at your disposal will help you determine which security supplier can help you achieve the best system for your facility. Some sites need intrusion detection, keycard access, video surveillance or even a combination. This article concentrates on video surveillance.

Not all facilities use video surveillance. Some operators install it only to protect employees. Others use it to protect everything within the confines of the facility. Some go beyond the installation and actually monitor security cameras.

Why is video surveillance a good choice for your location? The answer is simple: It’s the next best thing to being there. You may have experienced theft or vandalism in the past with no clue as to who the perpetrator was. But with video, you can see footage of the crime and, in many cases, you’ll be able to identify the doer. Many businesses choose video surveillance as part of their overall security solution because of the nearly conclusive evidence it creates, especially during prosecution. They strive to get the most out of their investment.

Security Recording Options

Protecting your customers’ stored property helps your facility’s bottom line in more ways than one. You not only protect yourself against theft and potentially related lawsuits from customers, you create a service differentiator. You’re able to cite your security system as a feature in your marketing message and sales presentation—not only can customers store their belongings, but they are protected. This creates a sense of heightened security that influences their decision to choose you over competitors.

Video cameras and systems differ in their purpose. The security vendor you choose should tell you the methods that will give you the best type of image capture for your needs. More robust equipment usually costs more but can last longer, and will be able to be upgraded along with improvements in technology. Internet-protocol (IP) cameras, also referred to as network cameras, are an example of a robust product.

When seeking a vendor to install your video system, ask about data-storage options. Some systems record to an onsite storage device such as a digital video recorder (DVR). However, video hosting and offsite recording are becoming popular alternatives.

Offsite hosting and recording offers several advantages. Since the video is hosted online, recordings are safely stored off site. You also don’t need to worry about someone stealing or destroying your onsite recording device. And you always have access to the video when you need it through a Web interface. Since the video is online, you’re also able to grant access to first responders, such as the police, so they can determine the type of response team to dispatch.

Ask your potential vendor about its familiarity with video hosting and offsite recording systems. It’s possible everyone will be saving surveillance footage this way in the future. Some vendors might suggest you have local and online video-recording capability. If it’s in your budget, this is a good idea, as it adds redundancy and guarantees you’ll have video to present in court when needed.

Offsite Monitoring

Intervention specialists watch live video from a surveillance center. If they see anything out of the ordinary, they alert the property owner or the police.

Installing a video-surveillance system can help you mitigate losses due to theft or other crime. It might even reduce your insurance rates. If you use video in your security plan, however, it makes sense to have it watched or monitored.

So how do you manage the video? Your security vendor might suggest onsite guards watch the video feeds at all times. Or it might suggest employing a company of intervention specialists to observe from an offsite location. It might even recommend a combination of both. Outsourcing the monitoring function can actually save money because it allows you to reduce onsite staff.

Real-time remote surveillance, or remote monitoring, allows trained personnel with the appropriate equipment to view your surveillance system from off site. This is a security option used by a growing number of businesses. If you have real-time surveillance services as part of your security program, you have someone who can intervene while incidents are taking place.

Buying the Best

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential security vendors, determine which companies can offer you ongoing services. Using an IP infrastructure and offsite surveillance personnel allows you to get more out of your investment. But that means your vendor or one of its service providers has to offer monitoring. Does it monitor 24/7? Does the video go to a secure data center? Will it send you daily monitoring reports? Does it have a good relationship with local law enforcement?

Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” If your remote-monitoring vendor offers to watch your cameras for only $30 per month, you’ll likely be disappointed. Understand, this type of monitoring will probably only include watching the video after an alarm has been triggered. It will probably miss the events leading up to the alarm.

If, on the other hand, you hire people to watch your cameras proactively, expect to pay for their time. Consider the return on this investment when compared to hiring onsite security personnel, which involves utilities, staff turnover, etc. Some self-storage companies have saved 56 percent a month by switching from onsite security guards to remote video surveillance.

Choosing a video-security vendor that is able to deliver the right surveillance system for your facility can be tough. But there are companies with the all the resources your business needs. After a few “blind dates” with various prospects, you’ll have enough information to make an informed choice. 

Bryce Witcher is the marketing manager for Mesa, Ariz.-based Iveda Solutions, a full-service company specializing in IP video hosting and real-time remote surveillance. For more information, visit

Remote Video: What You Need to Know

Here is a list of questions to ask potential security vendors when implementing a remote video-surveillance system or service:

  • Can I use my existing analog CCTV cameras?
  • Should I invest in quality network cameras?
  • Should my cameras be stationary or movable (pan-tilt-zoom)?
  • Should my cameras be hidden or exposed?
  • How many and which cameras need to be watched and/or recorded? For how many hours per day?
  • Does my surveillance system allow for hosted video and real-time remote surveillance?
  • Does the system allow my existing security staff to monitor the site?
  • Can I outsource staff to monitor my facility? What kind of daily reporting or audit trail comes with the service?
  • Will the offsite surveillance team call me or the police if something happens on my property?
  • Can multiple first responders (i.e., police or fire department) access my cameras simultaneously without degrading video quality?
  • How can I access my cameras’ recorded or live video?
  • Should I have onsite recording? How will you deliver?
  • How can I keep permanent archives of select events?
  • How many days’ worth of recorded video do I need to keep at all times?
  • What kind of data infrastructure or Internet bandwidth will support my video needs?
  • Do I have, or will my integrator install, the necessary infrastructure for my security application?
  • Does the service use a data center? If so, how secure is it?
  • Is my system scalable? Does it allow for future flexibility?

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ISS Blog

Seeking Self-Storage Knowledge

Gina Six Kudo is the general manager for Cochrane Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She is one of four recipients of the Inside Self-Storage 2009 Humanitarian Service Award.

"You cease to truly live when you quit learning, loving and experiencing what life has to offer.”

This statement is one of the many things I believe in, so when the opportunity crossed my desk to attend a storage-learning seminar I immediately signed up. Presented by industry experts Tom Litton and Alta Walters, I was certain it would be a very information-packed day. True to form, these two storage professionals did just that and sprinkled the presentation with much laughter along the way. 

This first topic may have seemed simplistic to some, but there is a distinct difference between a lock check and a unit inventory. It seems we have been performing the weekly advised unit inventory as a daily project. A lock check is simply that: make sure each unit is secured. A unit inventory, on the other hand, encompasses comparing vacant units against your available rentable units list, which units are overlocked, etc.
One more item that struck a chord with me due to some interesting rental attempts of late is a policy for what types of identification you are willing to accept. Like most of you reading this we naturally accepted a valid driver’s license or government-issued ID card, passport or military ID. Given this presumption, how do you handle an out-of-country identification card? How do you know if it's valid?

Furthermore, if you only accept the above-mentioned items, how do you avoid discrimination claims if you refuse to accept a person’s identification from another country? Having a simple written policy in place sounds like a really good idea to me. 

No matter how hard we try to do things in the right manner in each possible scenario, there is always someone out there willing and able to make a claim against you in some fashion or another. As Ms. Walters pointed out, there tend to be more claims and lawsuits when people are suffering financial hardships and looking to make a quick buck. I think we can all agree there have been a lot of people in the financial hardship boat of late. 

Of course, there were many more important topics covered in the seminar, which obviously I cannot delve into here, nor would it be appropriate to do so. Given the opportunity, I would advise you to partake of whatever learning opportunities come your way. Simple solutions can protect you from incurring any major claims against your business.

The old adage "two heads are better than one" comes to mind. Each person has an area of expertise, and it cannot hurt to avail yourself of knowledge that others possess.

Are you doing all you can to protect your facility from frivolous claims or lawsuits? Do you audit your own files seeking errors and then correct them? Isn’t this something we could all be doing right about now?

Tom Litton will be a featured speaker at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5-8. Get the agenda and register today!

Pennsylvania Self-Storage Fire Suspicious

The fire that tore through New Alexandria Self Storage in Pennsylvania yesterday appears suspicious, according to Rich McNaughton, assistant chief with the New Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department. An investigation is under way by the state fire marshal’s office.
Though no one was injured, the blaze took about 90 minutes to control, and most of the facility’s 42 storage units were destroyed. No neighboring structures were at risk. Volunteer firefighters responded from several local fire departments.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Westmoreland fire at storage complex called suspicious

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MorningStar Mini-Storage Upgrades Website

Morningstar Mini-Storage has launched a redesigned website at that will make it easy for customers to locate, rent and manage their self-storage units. Site features include:

  • An interactive map that allows users to search for facilities by clicking on the map or entering a city, state or ZIP code
  • Detailed information for each Morningstar location including hours of operation, amenities, rental specials, and a Google street map
  • A tool to compare pricing on available storage units and reserve a space online
  • An e-commerce feature that allows tenants to make rent payments online
  • Staff access to the administrative back end that allows them to manage site updates in house 

The site, designed by Burke Communications of Charlotte, N.C., incorporates the company’s updated brand standards and includes professional renderings of many of its facilities.
Morningstar is a developer, builder and operator of specialty real estate across the Southeast. Since its founding in 1981, the company has developed and operated more than 100 self-storage projects.
Source: dBusinessNews Charlotte, Morningstar Mini-Storage Launches New Web Site

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U-Store-It Announces Second Quarter 2009 Dividend

The board of trustees for U-Store-It Trust, a self-storage real estate investment trust, has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.025 per common share for the period ending June 30, 2009. The dividend is payable on July 22, 2009, to common shareholders of record on July 7, 2009.
Wayne, Pa.-based U-Store-It is self-administered and self-managed. Founded in 2004, the company operates nearly 25 million square feet of self-storage space.

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UK's Access Self Storage Rebrands Marketing for Changing Focus

U.K.-based marketing agency 300million has created a new brand identity for Access Self Storage. The companies began working together last year toward creating a new brand position and marketing campaign. The rebrand came about because the company is expanding, with its 50th store opening this month, and because it wishes to place a greater emphasis on mixed-use facilities at its new locations, according to Jill Martin, Access head of marketing.
Martin said the new brand conveys what the company is all about: simple, hassle-free storage at an excellent value. It is being applied to the new Access facilities in Byfleet, Surrey, and Stevenage, Hertfordshire, opening this week. It will also be applied to all future stores.
A new website, designed by Bournemouth- and London-based Red Web, will launch in the next couple of weeks.
Source: Design Week, 300 Million creates new Access Self Storage brand

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Acadia Insurance Offers Self-Storage Coverage, June 1

Beginning June 1, Westbrook, Maine-based Acadia Insurance Co. will offer specialized insurance coverage for the self-storage industry throughout New England and New York. The company’s program includes all lines of business-owner and commercial coverage plus special coverages such as customers' goods legal liability, sale and disposal liability, inland marine coverage for storage modulars and pods, and coverage for the removal of customers' hazardous contents. Arcadia will also provide deliver local services for underwriting, claim and loss control.
Source: Insurance Journal, Acadia Launches Self-Storage Facility Coverage in Northeast

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Investment Real Estate Appoints Marketing and Advertising Manager

Investment Real Estate LLC promoted Julie Lane Purcell to the position of marketing and advertising manager for its management division. She is responsible for directing the marketing and sales of self-storage facilities the company manages, including the development and execution of marketing plans, Yellow Pages advertising, press releases, print advertising, seminars, public relations, mailing campaigns and special events. Purcell joined the company in 2007 as marketing coordinator.
Purcell’s current projects include management of the company’s “Self Storage Is Sexy” campaign and creative direction of company’s national advertising. She is also managing the re-design of the company’s corporate and managed-facility websites.
IRE provides self storage brokerage, construction, consulting and management services to owners and investors in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.

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Finding the Best Erector for a Self-Storage Project

Some people view self-storage building installation as though it were as simple as an oversized Meccano set. This not the case! Poor building erection is a pitfall that can and will drain a developer’s cash flow.

After spending the time and money to develop a project, you expect to recoup your investment and make a profit. You’re looking for a quick, easy lease-up and don’t want to be plagued with roof leaks and constant repairs. Such problems can destroy a site’s potential for getting off the ground and into a profit zone. Construction is not the place to penny-pinch because, in the long run, it will cost you more than it saves.

Never compromise on concrete or erection work, and don’t allow your project to become the victim of a tight budget in phase one. You will jeopardize everything else you have done, potentially losing business and your reputation, if you skimp during installation.
Quality Control

Finding qualified erectors can be aggravating because these are specialized steel workers who custom fit every odd angle. It’s especially tough to find them in hard economic times because there’s a never-ending list of wannabes who need work and will take any job at any price.

Watch out for the unusually low bid. Also be on the lookout for erectors who are just regular contractors, or contractors who hire their brothers, sons, uncles and friends to build your project. The wrong erector can create a costly future for you if he’s training on your job.  

It’s true that basic buildings can be easier to complete, while insulated buildings with steps, large beams, interior hallways, utility rooms and elevators can be tricky. For the qualified self-storage erector, a basic building will simply go up faster than one with challenges. To protect your bottom line, hire an erector who is qualified to complete all aspects of a building regardless of its requirements, in a high-quality finish with organization and speediness.

Finding a good erection company begins by getting quotes from at least three self-storage contractors and reviewing them for differences. Make note of how quickly the contractors return your calls. Ask questions and request five client references from each company. Call references for an opinion of the company’s workmanship, diligence, attention to detail, ethics and timing of the schedule. Keep in mind the erector won’t refer you to any jobs that turned sour, so listen intently and read between the lines for hints of potential challenges.

Make sure all candidates have built self-storage buildings before and, if possible, travel to those sites to examine the workmanship. Do they have a site in development? If so, visit the work in progress and ask yourself: Is the material laid out in an organized fashion? Is the site clean? Do the employees look like they’re working as a team?
Meet and Greet

Arrange to meet your candidates and review your facility plans. Ask them for a sample set of drawings to review general details. They should also bring an example of a more complicated job to demonstrate how they overcame a particular challenge. Listen closely for their professional description of the work. This will give you an opportunity to see if the erectors can read drawings and evaluate their level of knowledge.

Here are some poignant questions to ask your prospective erectors: 

  • How many storage buildings have you completed?
  • How many phase-one, -two or -three project references do you have?
  • How many standing-seam roofs have you installed? (Always choose standing seam over screw-down or shingles.)
  • Are pinning and gluing insulation used at the eave?
  • Have you worked with all of the major door systems?
  • Do you unload the building and supply the unloading equipment?
  • Do you supply the concrete anchors, bits, metal bits and cutting blades?
  • How many workers will be on site?
  • How long will it take to complete the project?
  • How busy is your schedule?
  • How do you handle extras? (Extras should be submitted in writing and at a discounted hourly rate since they are already on site.)
  • How do you handle manufacturer problems?

The interview will help you screen out the inexperienced erectors from the successful ones who will get you through the project without problems. If you choose well, the erector should have the experience to solve any unforeseen situations as they arise while moving your project forward in a timely fashion.

Your finished building should be clean and presentable and pass structural inspection. The units should be swept out, the site cleaned and all doors in working order. When the project is complete, inspect the building with the foreman and address any items before he packs up and leaves the site.

Insurance Matters

All erection crews in Canada must have two types of insurance: liability and workers’ compensation. Get written confirmation of these coverages. Do not hire an erector without insurance because you can and will be left holding the bag for liabilities. Keep in mind that any and all subcontractors used along the way will also need to present insurance.

Misunderstanding and miscommunication is the greatest nemesis to a smooth and successful self-storage development. Take the time to read the erector’s terms and conditions carefully, and be sure to discuss, clarify and satisfy in writing any precarious items.
Finding the right erector company is the gold in your investment. The installation is the first step to ensuring your long-term profitability, not a mere requirement or obstacle along the path to success.
George Gray is the president of the Ontario-based Grayveld Builders Corp., a design/build/erection company specializing in self-storage development. For information, call 866.855.2769; visit

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