Gina Six Kudo is the general manager for Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She is one of four recipients of the Inside Self-Storage 2009 Humanitarian Service Award.
For over two decades I’ve been involved in the self-storage industry, and during that time some amazing things have happened. I’ve witnessed an industry fairly heavily biased by old money geared toward almost strictly bottom-line improvement, move toward a more all-inclusive industry full of people from a widely varied set of skills and backgrounds.
Even going back to the days of the exclusive club there were those who stood out. If you’ve been in the business for any length of time or attended any tradeshows you’ll know the names: Buzz Victor, Daniel T. Webster, William Kenney, Mel Holsinger, Jim Chiswell, RK Kliebenstein, Ken Woolley and so many more who are considered pioneers in our industry.
The reason some of these names pop out is because of their insightfulness into what the industry could become. They showed us how some ingenuity and innovation could propel us all forward as a group, learning and supporting each other.
We’ve grown from less than 20,000 facilities nationwide to more than 53,000, and have expanded to other countries where burgeoning markets are forming. In some of these countries the facility owners are pioneers with no laws or codes on the books for them to work from. Talk about a new and exciting world!
I’ve also witnessed us move from a retired mom-and-pop industry to an evolved, professional one full of knowledgeable people. One of the most exciting things I think I’ve witnessed is the camaraderie among competitors. Not once have I ever heard one owner say to another, "Forget it, I learned the hard way so should you."
Polling on Self-Storage Talk to determine which industries self-storage managers were in prior to the self-storage industry brought forth a plethora of responses and such a wide array of backgrounds. Although each is so different the one thing everyone seems to have in common is the desire to excel at what they do.
Just from the simple fact that all of these people come together to share and learn from each other every day on Self-Storage Talk tells you we’ve gotten away from the everyone-for-himself mode. Even in just this past years’ time, I’ve seen people rise up and offer assistance to others on the forum seeking work or trying to launch a new business. When one succeeds there is a shared sense of accomplishment by all involved in assisting that person to the success level.
Collectively we show a more positive industry perception than any number of other cutthroat industries. Sometimes it is frightening how intimate a group we are, yet how large at the same time. I think it proves that as a unit, if we put our minds to a common goal—whether it's a wholly educated, supportive self-storage industry or any other shared concept—we can accomplish our goal with a united front.
We’ve come a long way from my great-grandmother renting out her old barn to a local mattress company, and I for one am glad to have become part of such a great industry of compassionate people.
Join the discussions on the Self-Storage Talk forum today. Here are a couple of hot threads to get you started: